Chapter 1

Welcome to the Silverlight and WPF World

New and continually evolving technologies have always been, and will always be, attractive to cutting-edge people. To touch and use them is almost like touching the future. The most fortunate among us get to design and develop something based on these technologies and produce amazing new software. Contemporary end users are bored with the static nature of previous development norms and increasingly expect friendly, good-looking, and interactive interfaces. Design is a competitive advantage in many of the products we use today. Software with a beautiful interface is always more viable than similar software with an unattractive interface. Design can provide a substantial return on investment in software applications.

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Identify the basics of Microsoft Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technologies.
  • Differentiate between designer and developer roles.
  • Recognize products in Microsoft Expression Studio 4.
  • Understand how Microsoft Visual Studio can fit into your design process.

Introducing Silverlight and WPF

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a comprehensive user interface platform with which developers and designers can create amazing, visually stunning Windows applications. With WPF, developers and designers can build rich desktop applications based on vector graphics, and WPF maintains a clear separation between the user interface and the business logic.

Silverlight and WPF 

Silverlight is a lightweight platform for building Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). RIAs usually run inside the browser and can provide a rich experience similar to traditional desktop applications. Silverlight doesn’t have all the features of WPF; it’s missing some features, such as the ability to work in real three-dimensional space without third-party plug-ins. Also, for security reasons, it typically does not have access to local devices and other system components—those that are not usually available through a browser. Don't think of that as a deficiency, though; Silverlight has other great advantages. For example, designers can build mobile applications in Silverlight and run them on the new Windows Phone 7 series of devices. Silverlight applications can also run as connected or disconnected desktop applications. All these platforms have commonalities—but each has its own niche and needs as well.

The Designer/Developer Workflow

It’s no secret that creating a great user experience takes two types of people, each of whom thinks differently: designers and developers. Until recently, designers and developers didn’t usually work closely together, and they used tools from totally different families. But that’s rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The WPF and Silverlight platforms unify and simplify the designer/developer workflow.

Expression Studio: The Designer’s World

Expression Studio

Designers need a design suite optimized for their role, one that lets them collaborate effectively with developers, create high-quality interfaces, and add interactivity to WPF/Silverlight applications. To meet this need, Microsoft created Expression Studio—a professional suite of front-end design tools for both the WPF and Silverlight platforms.

Visual Studio: The Developer’s World

Visual Studio

Developers have had their own tailored world almost since the beginning of software development as a discipline. The .NET developer’s tool of choice is Microsoft Visual Studio. This integrated development environment (IDE) simplifies designing, developing, testing, debugging, and deploying applications. With Visual Studio, developers can be more productive while building their products.

You can easily make this a point to YOUR company OR hide it all together.