Become a Design All-Star – Check out the new .toolbox design program for Silverlight!

What a ride this has been! This is what I and other more than 30 people from different companies have been working on together for the last 6 months: .toolbox.

A bit more than a week away from when we went live we already have around 2,500 students from 80+ countries around the world!

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.toolbox is an online design training program where you will find two study tracks: Design Principles and Design Scenarios. You can take the training, present evaluations, collect badges and share your status via Twitter and Facebook. Do you have what it takes to get the ultimate Design All-Star badge?!

Design Principles is all about learning how to do better UX and design in general. We have received HUGE number of requests for this type of content. You will find 12 modules on this track, each about an hour long so 12 good hours of UX lectures 🙂

Design Scenarios is all about learning how to use Expression Blend and the design aspects of Silverlight. We have 12 modules, each about an hour long. The evaluations will only cover what is on the video but in addition we’ve included assets and a guide where you can follow a hands on lab. Some of the mini apps we have in the school are: SketchFlow Prototyping, Music Mixer, Canvas, Games, Business, Avatar Creator, Weather and more…


Since we first released Expression Studio 1 and Silverlight 1 the need train developers and designers in the use of this new platform has been huge. Everyone knows how to use Flash or Photoshop but no one knew how to use Expression Blend. All this time Microsoft has been growing investment on Silverlight resources and building better websites with learning materials. These days passionate community members also drive amazing blogs where they share tips and tricks to use Expression Blend.

For a couple years I drove a program called Artist in Residence which invited designers to Microsoft to work with developers to learn Silverlight and Blend. I also did the internal Artist in Residence where dozens of Microsoft teams, from XBOX to Office, to Bing to MSN got trained in the use of Silverlight and Blend.

After all these interactions I realized we were reaching maturity level in the business where we needed to go broader and reach many more people. Even though having designers visiting us in the campus was unbelievably fun and one of the most memorable experience of working for Microsoft, you can only reach so many people that way. An online design training program was a better solution moving forward and so we came up with the idea of creating the .toolbox.

The .toolbox is a website that trains developers and designers, evaluates knowledge, awards badges for achievements and that then shares your status via Twitter or Facebook. We hired multiple companies to help us build this site: Avlade produced all the Design Scenarios modules. Archetype many of the mini apps you will build in the school. Fuel Industries created the whole website and also a couple of the mini apps. Template Monster provided 3 beautiful sample templates from their library. Internal Microsoft UX designers contributed to the creation of the Design Principles modules.

If you have any questions/comments about .toolbox drop me a comment here and if you run into issues while taking the training please post directly to the Expression Blend forum. Remember to label your questions with TOOLBOX and then you question.

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