You want to start authoring Silverlight applications? These are the programs you need to install to have a full toolset to get started creating Silverlight. If you do not have a license for the tools then you can always get the trials. Visual Studio Web Developer Expressi and DeepZoom Composer are free though!
Authoring Silverlight applications requires to layers: design and coding.
Make sure you install .NET 3.5 SP1
before anything else. By now, most Windows computers have this already so on most cases you don’t have to worry about it. What is .NET 3.5? It is the thing that the latest generation of Windows applications need to run (Expression needs this to run). If you want to learn more about it check this out
… but trust me, you need it.
for PC and/or Mac - This is the Silverlight plugin. In life there is a Flash plugin, a Shockwave plugin, a QuickTime plugin… Silverlight is also a plugin.
Install Microsoft Expression Blend 2
install Expression Blend 2 Service Pack 1 on top
of it. - Expression Blend is the authoring tool to design user interfaces for Silverlight. It’s kind of like the Flash or Director of Silverlight. It’s the tool you use to integrate graphics (vectors + bitmaps), animation, audio, video, controls, layout, text and more.
Install Expression Design 2
- This is a vector based illustration tool. It’s not a Photoshop like program, it’s more like Illustrator. I love it and I have been using it for 5 years. The color selection methods are WAY better than Illustrator and take much less to launch. It’s not a print tool like Illustrator and doesn’t have all the features that Illustrator does but it’s great for icons, controls and UI design. It can also import Illustrator artwork
Install Expression Encoder 2
and then install Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1
on top of it - Encoder will compress or encode video or audio that you can then integrate into your Silverlight application. It’s not like a FinalCut or Premiere. This tools simply “encodes”. It’s very easy to use and makes encoding a piece of cake for people like me who are not video pros. It has some goodies like adding Markers or packaging your video in custom video skins.
Install DeepZoom Composer
- Super cool and easy to use. Free tool. If you want to see what is DeepZoom check out the HardRock Memorabilia
- (Tip: drill into the post stamp in one of the envelopes of a Beatles letter in there…)
For development or coding
To create Silverlight you need two things 1) XAML (XAML is kind of like an HTML language that helps you design your user interfaces) and 2) .NET Code.
You use the Expression tools to create XAML - so if you install the tools listed above you are covered here.
If you also want to add some code or programming to your user interfaces to create functional applications then you need to add some .NET code. .NET code is like Flash’s ActionScript or Director’s Lingo. We just happen to call it .NET. .NET supports different languages. The one I recommend you use if C# (C Sharp). It feels similar to ActionScript 1 and 2 but much more to ActionScript 3. In the Flash tool, you can design and code right within the same tool. You open the Actions panel and you type ActionScript. Now, in the world of Silverlight you *design* using the Expression tools, mainly Expression Blend and then you add the code (C#) using a separate tool. There are mainly 3 tools you can use to type in your C# code:
1) Notepad - The good ‘ol text editor. You can write C# here and have Expression Blend automatically launch it when you need to do so. I use it myself most of the time because I do not code too much and don’t need advanced functionalities from Visual Studio. This is as primitive as you can get though, Notepad.
2) Visual Studio Web Developer Express. This is what I should be using! This edition of Visual Studio is FREE! and it now supports Silverlight aid tools like Intellisense. You can get these Silverlight goodies (called Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1) and create C# code in super cool coding environement.
Install Visual Studio Web Developer Express 2008 SP1
3) Visual Studio Professional. This is for developers but designers can also use it. It’s really powerful. Great debugging, deployment and development features, tons of documentation, support etc. This one is not free but if you want power and a robust environment this is what you need. Besides creating Silverlight you will be able to add code to WPF applications, Mobile, Web, ASP.NET and more.
Install Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1