Using Tools

In most of the examples in this Short Cut, the XAML I have shown is fairly compact and straightforward. The reality is that most interesting XAML is much more complex than I can show you in a simple code example. Hand-coding complex XAML can be difficult, but that is where tools come in.

There are several tools that help you work with Silverlight XAML:

  • The Expression Toolset (including Design and Blend)

  • Visual Studio (including the Silverlight JavaScript Application Project)

  • Third-Party tools (e.g., Photoshop and Illustrator)

Expression Toolset

New to the Microsoft family of products is the Expression set of tools. Expression includes four tools:

  • Expression Design: An Adobe Illustrator-like tool for creating vector-based designs

  • Expression Blend: A design tool that works directly against XAML and inter-operates with developer-level tools (e.g., Visual Studio)

  • Expression Web: A professional web design tool

  • Expression Media: A multimedia asset-management tool as well as a video-/audio-editing and transcoding tool

For the Silverlight developer, the three parts of Expression that are of most interest are Expression Design, Expression Media, and Expression Blend.

As of this writing, Blend is released and Design is in beta. Currently Design is compatible with Silverlight, but Blend is not. Blend is not slated to have any Silverlight compatibility for its initial release. Even in light of this, Blend can be useful for Silverlight development if you know how to work around the changes, ...

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