Silverlight 2.0 (beta)

I’d picked up Silverlight 1.1 pretty quickly and initially got stuck into to solving its pretty close to non-existent keyboard support. However, other time factors got involved and although my solution worked ok it was always going to be a poor substitution to the real deal. So it was with renewed enthusiasm that I downloaded the latest incarnation, VS2008 templates and all. Unfortunately it’s taken me most of the day to get my development environment installed (requiring a number on uninstalls of previous beta sdks) but so far the wait seems to have been worth it. The first thing that strikes you is the far more mature project templates in VS2008 with creation choices including hosting the project in a new web site or via a HTML page. The latter is interesting because it hides the page…although the former is the weapon of choice if you want to avoid all those annoying ‘enable javascript’ browser prompts. Next things is you get split designer view ala Expression Blend. Although my early experience with the design surface is pretty…well pointless. More of an instant preview than a UI surface, I’m sticking with the XAML for now. The next thing that stuck me is the lack of all the supporting files, e.g. javascript, manifests, etc. Well VS has kindly hidden those, or rather bundled them up in another one of the ever common zip-thats-not-a-zip-but-is-only-renamed files, much like the Office docs. Still that’s great for me, since I do have some idea what they are and probably won’t want to have to interact with them like I did before. Obviously the well publicised changes are there, all the lovely WPF like controls albeit without any glossy 3D. What did strike me as unusual is that coding the page is still a bit…odd. For example, the steps I went through to put a caption on a button (without RTM first) were…
1. Drag button onto UI surface – Nope nothing
2. Drag button onto XAML – yes
3. Properties of button – nothing
4. Click in button tag to bring up intellisense – yes
5. Look for something like text or caption – nothing
6. Enter text in the ‘innertext’ of the tag – not allowed
7. Examine every possible attrib’ via intellisense – tried ‘content’ and that worked
8. Looked for name – no
9. Looked for x:name – yes, still using the x namespace

Ok, so if you read any of the SDK you’d figure it out, but I was interested to see if the approach had become…obvious, it hasn’t. For me it still remains the most cumbersome of the developer experiences but that’s probably more due to the improvements elsewhere against the relatively immature interface for Silverlight. I realise there is a lot more to think about but it still fills a bit clunky. I’d certainly like to see VS giving me member fields for controls rather than me having to code that manually via FindName. Still, I’m very excited to start some Silverlight projects in earnest, I’ve a couple of ideas, so hopefully…watch this space for some demos.

One thought on “Silverlight 2.0 (beta)

  1. Paulio March 10, 2008 / 9:18 pm

    Well I don\’t know what happened in my first attempt, but taking a look at the prebuilt code I\’ve discovered that I do get the member fields so I don\’t need to go via FindName! Sorry Microsoft, I\’ve done you a dis-service there.

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