Your first silverlight application!

If you are new to silverlight and interested to learn, you have come to the right place. Few of you might have already worked on it and few of you may be experts already. Silverlight is no more a brand new technology. I know that.

Still, this article is intended for the audience who doesn’t know what is silverlight and who never got a chance to work on Silverlight 1, 2, 3 versions.

So, what is silverlight?

Simply, it’s a powerful platform for creating interactive user experiences for web, desktop and mobile applications. You can create styling, animations, vector graphics and perspective 3D in your silverlight applications. That’s really cool right.Silverlight allows you to leverage your knowledge of .net to create client side applications that are hosted on and delivered over the web. It is a subset and superset of WPF. Don’t worry about WPF now as that is not a prerequisite to learn silverlight.

If you already know something about flash, then yes, silverlight is a similar technology from Microsoft initially invented as a competitor to flash but offers lot more than flash in application development perspective.

You will be able to utilize your existing .net programming skills to develop highly interactive & rich user experiences using silverlight.

Version info and Development environment?

When I am writing this article silverlight is currently in its 4th version.

Silverlight is shipped with full support in Visual Studio 2010. You can also create silverlight applications with Visual Studio 2008. However, there is no good designer support. So start with VS 2010 if you have it. Visual Studio 2010 is a perfect platform to develop silverlight applications.

When you have free time, just have a look at Microsoft Expression Studio. It has complete capabilities for designing layouts, doing animations and all in silverlight. But, Visual Studio is more than enuf for you to start learning it.

Here are few important things you should know about silverlight
  1. Silverlight is a cross browser, cross platform plugin. (Silverlight applications you develop on one browser works on other browsers too. Yes,Cross browser compliant!. I myself have tested it on firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. It works.
  2. Silverlight plug-in is powered by the .net framework. So, when writing code to create silverlight apps, you can write it in c# or Language of your choice. The runtime has a light footprint. Say around 5 MB.
  3. Silverlight applications can also be run from your desktop just like your traditional windows applications.
  4. Silverlight application run in a sandbox so there will be limitations also. All the classes and libraries you have used so far in .net may not be supported when writing silverlight application. Just dont get surprised!
  5. Silverlight is based on XAML. XAML is a declarative markup language with XML Syntax which can be used to create user interfaces in silverlight. Just like you used HTML to create user interface, you can use XAML to create UI for silverlight applications. Again, this is very rough. Do not compare HTML with XAML! both are different and dominant in different areas.
  6. We have already around 150 silverlight Controls which are waiting for you to use it!
In coming articles, I will talk more on the Visual Studio 2010 support for silverlight, XAML, creating Layouts and Other things which you can do with silverlight. Now, let’s quickly start with a small application. I have made a small video tutorial to demonstrate this. Just play the video below.

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