Home > Articles > Programming

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Designing with Blend

As noted earlier, in addition to offering an Express version of Visual Studio, the Windows Phone SDK includes an Express version of Expression Blend specifically for use in developing phone applications. You can launch Blend by looking for the shortcut key, or you can open it directly with Visual Studio. If you right-click the MainPage.xaml file, you will get a context menu like the one shown in Figure 2.12.

Figure 2.12

FIGURE 2.12. Opening Blend directly in Visual Studio

When you select Open in Expression Blend, Blend will open the same solution in the Expression Blend tool with the selected XAML file in the editor, as shown in Figure 2.13. You should save your project before going to Blend to make sure Blend loads any changes (Ctrl+Shift+S).

Figure 2.13

FIGURE 2.13. The Blend user interface

Although Expression Blend is thought of as purely a design tool, designers and developers alike can learn to become comfortable with it. And although Visual Studio and Expression Blend share some of the same features, both developers and designs will want to use Blend to build their designs. Some tasks are just simpler and faster to do in Blend. Chapter 5, “Designing for the Phone,” covers which tasks are better suited to Expression Blend.

Like Visual Studio, Blend consists of a number of panes that you will need to get familiar with.

The first pane (labeled #1 in Figure 2.13) contains multiple tabs that give you access to several types of functionality. By default, the first tab (and the one in the foreground) is the Projects tab (although a different tab could be showing by default). This tab displays the entire solution of projects. The format of this tab should look familiar; it’s showing the same information as the Solution Explorer in Visual Studio. The next pane (#2) is the editor pane. This pane contains tabs for each opened file (only one at this point). MainPage.xaml should be the file currently shown in the editor. Note that the editor displays the page in the context of the phone so that you can better visualize the experience on the phone. On the right side of the Blend interface is another set of tabs (#3) that contain information about selected items in the design surface. The selected tab should be the Properties tab. This tab is similar to the Properties window in Visual Studio but is decidedly more designer-friendly. As you select items on the design surface, you’ll be able to edit them in the Properties tab here. Finally, the Objects and Timeline pane (#4) displays the structure of your XAML as a hierarchy.

Let’s make some changes with Blend. First (as shown in Figure 2.14); select the “hello world” text in the designer.

Figure 2.14

FIGURE 2.14. Selecting an object in Blend

After it’s selected, you can see that eight squares surround the selection. These are the handles with which you can change the size or location of the TextBlock. While this object is selected, the Objects and Timeline pane shows the item selected in the hierarchy; as well, the item is shown in the Properties tab so you can edit individual properties (as shown in Figure 2.15).

Figure 2.15

FIGURE 2.15. Selecting an object to edit in the Properties pane

If you type “text” into the search bar of the Properties pane, the properties that have that substring in them will appear (to temporarily reduce the number of properties in the Properties pane). You can change the title by changing the Text property, as shown in Figure 2.16.

Figure 2.16

FIGURE 2.16. Updating a property in Blend

After you’re done changing the text, you might want to click the “X” in the Search bar to clear the search criteria. This will remove the search and show all the properties of the TextBlock again.

Selecting items and changing properties seems similar to what you can do in Visual Studio, but that’s just where the design can start. Let’s draw something. Start by selecting a container for the new drawing. In the Objects and Timeline pane, select the ContentPanel item. This will show you that it is a container that occupies most of the space below our “hello world” text on the phone’s surface.

We can draw a rectangle in that container by using the left toolbar. On the toolbar is a rectangle tool (as shown in Figure 2.17). Select the tool and draw a rectangle in the ContentPanel to create a new rectangle (also shown in Figure 2.17). If you then select the top arrow tool (or press the V key), you’ll be able to modify the rectangle.

Figure 2.17

FIGURE 2.17. Drawing in a container

The rectangle you created has eight control points (the small squares at the corners and in the middle of each side). In addition, the rectangle has two small control points in the upper-left side (outside the surface area of the rectangle). These controls are used to round the corners of rectangles. Grab the top one with your mouse and change the corners to be rounded slightly, as shown in Figure 2.18.

Figure 2.18

FIGURE 2.18. Rounding the corners

Now that you have rounded the corners, you can use the Properties pane to change the colors of the rectangle. In the Properties pane is a Brushes section showing how the various brushes for the rectangle are painted. The rectangle contains two brushes: a fill brush and a stroke brush. Selecting one of these brushes will allow you to use the lower part of the brush editor to change the look of that brush. Below the selection of brush names is a set of tabs for the various brush types, as shown in Figure 2.19.

Figure 2.19

FIGURE 2.19. Editing brushes

The first four tabs indicate options for brushes. These include no brush, solid color brush, gradient brush, and tile brush. Select the stroke brush, and then select the first tab to remove the stroke brush from the new rectangle. Now select the fill brush, and change the color of the brush by selecting a color within the editor, as shown in Figure 2.20.

Figure 2.20

FIGURE 2.20. Picking a color

Now let’s put some text in the middle of our design to show some data. More specifically, let’s put a TextBlock on our design. Go back to the toolbar and double-click the TextBlock tool (as shown in Figure 2.21). Although we drew our rectangle, another option is to double-click the toolbar, which will insert the selected item into the current container (in this case, the ContentPanel). The inserted TextBlock is placed in the upper left of our ContentPanel, as also shown in Figure 2.21.

Figure 2.21

FIGURE 2.21. Inserting a TextBlock

After the new TextBlock is inserted, you can simply type to add some text. Type “Status” just to have a placeholder for some text we will place later in this chapter. You should use the mouse to click the Selection tool (the top arrow on the toolbar) so that you can edit the new TextBlock. You could use the mouse to place the TextBlock exactly where you like, but you could also use the Properties pane to align it. In the Properties pane, find the Layout section and select the horizontal center alignment and vertical bottom alignment, as shown in Figure 2.22. You might need to set your margins to zero as well to achieve the effect (because Blend might put a margin on your item depending on how you draw it).

Figure 2.22

FIGURE 2.22. Centering the TextBlock

Next you can edit the font and size of the TextBlock using the Text section of the Properties pane. You will likely need to scroll down to reach the Text section. From there, you can change the font, font size, and text decoration (for example, bold, italic, and so on). Change the font size to 36 points and make the font bold, as shown in Figure 2.23.

Figure 2.23

FIGURE 2.23. Changing the text properties

At this point our application does not do much, but hopefully you have gotten your first taste of the basics of using Blend for design. To get our first application to do something, we will need to hook up some of the elements with code. So we should close Blend and head back to Visual Studio.

When you exit Blend you will be prompted to save the project. Upon returning to Visual Studio, your changes will be noticed by Visual Studio; allow Visual Studio to reload the changes.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020