First Look at Using Expression Blend with Silverlight 2

Last week I did a First Look at Silverlight 2 post that talked about the upcoming Silverlight 2 Beta1 release.  In the post I linked to some end-to-end tutorials I've written that walk through some of the fundamental programming concepts behind Silverlight and WPF, and demonstrate how to use them to build a "Digg Search Client" application using Silverlight:

In this first set of Silverlight tutorials I didn't use a visual design tool to build the UI, and instead focused on showing the underlying XAML UI markup (which I think helps to explain the core programming concepts better).  Now that we've finished covering the basics - let's explore some of the tools we can use to be even more productive.

Expression Blend Support for Silverlight

In addition to releasing the upcoming Beta1 of Silverlight 2, we are also going to ship Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio tool support for targeting it.  These tools will offer a ton of power for building RIA solutions, and are designed to enable developers and designers to easily work on projects together.

In today's post I'm going to introduce some of the features in the upcoming Expression Blend 2.5 March preview.  After demonstrating some of the basics of how Blend works, we are going to use it to build a cross-platform, cross-browser Silverlight IM chat client:

The above screen-shot shows what the application looks like at runtime on a Mac.  Below is a screen-shot of what it looks like at design-time within Expression Blend:

We'll use Expression Blend to graphically construct all of the UI for the application, as well as use it to cleanly data-bind the UI to .NET classes that represent our chat session and chat messages.

<Download Code> Click here to download a completed version of this sample. </Download Code>

All of the controls we'll use to build the chat application are built into Beta1 of Silverlight 2.

Disclaimer: I am not a designer (nor am I cool)

Let me say up front that I am a developer and not a designer.  I'm also not very cool.  While I understand the techniques to create UI, I sometimes choose bad colors and fonts when putting it together (only after I did all the screen-shots for this post did a co-worker helpfully point out that there is actually a site dedicated to banning some of the fonts and colors I used. Ouch).

For those of you with artistic skill out there - please be gentle with me and focus your attention on the features and techniques I demonstrate below, rather than on the font and color choices I use. :-)

Getting Started: Creating a new Silverlight 2 Project

Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2008 share the same solution/project file format, which means that you can create a new Silverlight project in VS 2008 and then open it in Expression Blend, or you can create a new Silverlight project in Expression Blend and open it in VS.  You can also have both Expression Blend and VS 2008 open and editing the same project as the same time.

Since in my previous Silverlight tutorial series I already showed how to create a new Silverlight project using VS 2008, let's use this post to show how to create a new Silverlight application using Expression Blend.  To do this, simply choose File->New Project in Expression Blend, select the "Silverlight 2 Application" icon, and click ok:

This will create a new (VS-compatible) solution file and Silverlight application project:

Blend includes a full WYSIWYG designer for Silverlight 2 applications.  When opening Silverlight pages and controls you can switch the design-surface to be in design view, a XAML source view, or a split-view that shows both the design view and XAML source view at the same time (and which supports live edits of both).  Above we are using the split-view option.

Understanding Some Basics: Adding Controls to the Surface

Expression Blend has a slightly different tool palette then Visual Studio (it more closely resembles what you'd find in a design tool like Photoshop). 

Blend supports vector graphic editing:

Blend also supports adding and working with controls.  There is a special icon on the Toolbox for layout controls (Grid, Stack, Canvas, Border, ScrollViewer, etc), text controls (TextBox, TextBlock, etc), and an icon that displays the controls you've recently used:

Clicking on the final ">>" icon on the tool palette displays all of the controls that are available to be used:

Make sure to click the "Show All" checkbox in the top-right hand corner of the Asset Library if you don't see the control you are looking for.  You can also use the "search" textbox to filter the controls by name.

Important: Blend supports a design experience for all controls (both the built-in ones as well as any custom control or user control that your application references).

Once you select a control from the toolbox, you can click and drag on the design-surface and draw out the control.  You can also drag controls from the asset tool onto the artboard.  By default you get automatic rules and positioning placement markers when you add and interact with the controls on the design-surface (below is a form with the built-in button, calendar and slider control on it):

Understanding More Basics: Working with Control Properties

You can select any object on the design-surface and then click on the "properties" panel on the right-hand side of the screen to customize its properties:


Above I'm changing the "Background" brush of the button to be a deeper blue gradient (the third tab circled in red under the "Brushes" node allows us to configure the gradient brush). 

Useful Tip: The properties window includes a search box near the top that you can optionally use to filter the visible property names:

Because all UI objects in Silverlight and WPF are composed using vector graphics, we can shape/stylize/transform controls however we want.  For example, we could either set the "Transform" properties on our Button control or click on the corner edges of it to rotate/skew/scale it:

This gives us a lot of power and flexibility to quickly and easily customize the experience however we want:

Useful Tip: You can zoom in and out of the design surface by holding down the ctrl key and then use the wheel of your mouse to control the zoom depth.  You can then move the viewable region of the design surface by holding down the space bar, which will cause a hand-cursor to display, and then you can hold down the mouse and use it to drag the currently visible region around the screen.  This later tip is useful when you are zoomed way in and want to easily move the visible content around.

Building our Chat Application: Defining the Layout

In Part 2: Using Layout Management of my previous Silverlight tutorial series I talked about the layout management system within Silverlight and WPF, and how we can use layout panels to easily control application layout and flow.  Expression Blend makes defining layout rules easy, and includes built-in tool support for using these layout panels.

Remember that our goal in building our chat application is to have UI that looks like this:

To do this we'll start by defining a three row <grid> layout on our page.  We'll do this by hovering the mouse over the left margin of the design-surface and then click where we want to establish a new row definition (below I've already setup a top row definition - the cursor location circled in red indicates where I'll click to add a second row definition):

Clicking on the top-left corner of the design surface (circled in red below) allows us to toggle whether the design surface is in Canvas layout mode or Grid layout mode. 

When in Grid layout mode Blend will show us whether a particular row or column has a fixed width, or whether it is proportional to the size of the control.  Above the "empty locks" indicates that the three rows are currently proportional to each other (meaning they will all increase proportionally if we resize the browser to get bigger):

If we click the top and bottom locks we can set those rows to have a fixed height instead, and leave the middle row to fill the remaining height. 

One last step we can take is to click on the top margin and define a right-hand column as well - which we'll set to have a fixed width (and leave the left column to dynamically resize):

Once we do the steps above, our XAML file with have a Grid defined like so:

Useful Tip: Above we have a fixed width and height set for our Silverlight application (notice the Width and Height attributes on the root <UserControl> element).  We can cause the application to instead have a dynamic size and automatically flow and size to fit the containing HTML element or browser window size by removing the Width and Height attributes completely (I talk about this at the end of my layout tutorial here).  If we want to set a design-time width and height on our application, we can do that by setting a d:DesignWidth="640" and d:DesignHeight="476" attribute on the root UserControl element.  This will cause the designer to default to that size dimension when using the designer on the application.

Building our Chat Application: Adding Controls and Colors

Now that we have the core layout of our chat application defined, let's add some controls to it and start to customize how it looks.

We'll start by selecting the root Grid layout panel and customize its background color to be a blue gradient.  One easy approach we can use to select a particular control is to use the "Interaction" panel and then click the control we want to select within it:

We can then use the "Brushes" property panel to customize a blue LinearGradient brush for the background of our Grid:

Once we have this set we'll work on the bottom of our chat window, and add a "Send" button to it:

For our chat message textbox we'll use a standard textbox.  But to add a little more pizzazz we'll first add a border control with a "RoundRadius" of 5 and a Background and BorderBrush like so:

We'll then embed our TextBox within the Border control. 

Important Tip: To nest the TextBox within the Border control using the design-surface, we'll want to double-click the Border control within the interaction window.  This will set it as the active insertion control in the design surface, and highlight it in yellow like below:

We can then use the control toolbox to select a TextBox control and add it into the Border control.  We'll set the TextBox's background and border brush to pick up the nice curved look from the parent Border control:


The XAML markup generated by Blend will look like below (notice how the TextBox is nested under the Border control - it wouldn't have been if the Border hadn't been the active insertion control):

We can repeat the above process for the header row as well, and embed a TextBlock within a Border control and add a image control to the right column to create UI like so:


The XAML markup generated by Blend looks like below:

Last but by no means least, we'll add another Border control in our center row and add a ListBox control inside it.  We'll configure the Border control to stretch across both columns in our Grid, and customize its background and foreground colors.  We'll then put some test message inside the ListBox as placeholder text (we'll customize the UI and databind real values later):

The XAML markup generated by Blend looks like below:


And now when we run the application we have a basic chat IM client (with hard coded values) running in the browser.  As we resize the browser the application will automatically flow and resize to fit the window.

We still have a bunch of UI work to-do to make our IM client look less lame, but at least we now have something up and running.

Building our Chat Application: Adding "ChatMessage" and "ChatSession" classes

Now that we have created our initial UI within Expression Blend, let's open up the same project in Visual Studio and add some chat classes that we can use to bind our UI against.

We can open up the project in Visual Studio either by selecting File->Open Project inside VS 2008 and selecting the project file for our project, or within Expression Blend we can right-click on the project node and choose the "Edit in Visual Studio" menu item to launch VS 2008 with the project open:

VS 2008's Silverlight support in Beta1 has project management support for Silverlight 2 solutions, full intellisense and event-wireup support, and support for debugging Silverlight applications running both on Windows and the Mac.  VS 2008 also has split-view editing support for Silverlight .xaml files.  For example, here it the same Page.xaml file we built above in Blend open inside VS 2008:

The VS 2008 design-view in Beta1 isn't interactive (meaning it is still read-only).  Changes you make in source-view, though, are updated immediately in design-view - which gives you a nice XAML-pad experience (and VS 2008 supports full XAML source intellisense with Silverlight 2 Beta1).

For this blog post we aren't going to be using the Visual Studio XAML editor.  Instead we are going to create some classes that we'll use to represent a ChatSession and associated chat messages.  We'll then use Expression Blend to bind our UI controls against these.

We'll start by adding a new class called "ChatMessage" that defines two public properties:

We'll then create a class called "ChatSession" that represents a chat session.

The ChatSession class above has three public properties.  The first two properties represent the remote user name and avatar on the other end of the chat. 

The third property is a collection of the past chat messages.  Notice that its type is not a List<ChatMessage> collection - but rather an ObservableCollection<ChatMessage> collection.  ObservableCollection might not be a familiar class to you if you are coming from an ASP.NET background - but those coming from a Windows Forms or WPF background are probably familiar with it.  Basically it is a generic collection class that raises change notification events when items are added/removed from it (or when items that implement INotifyPropertyChanged within it have their properties changed).  This comes in very handy when doing data-binding - since UI controls can use these notifications to know to automatically refresh their values without a developer having to write any code to explicitly do so.

The ChatSession class then has two public methods - one whose job it is to connect to a chat server, and another whose job it is to send messages to the chat server.  For the sake of simplicity (and because I don't have a chat server) I've just faked out these methods.  In real-life we would probably use the network sockets implementation built-into Silverlight to connect to a remote chat server.

The ChatSession class implements the INotifyPropertyChanged interface - which means it exposes a public "PropertyChanged" event.  We'll raise this event within our class when we change the properties on it.  This will enable listeners (for example: controls data-binding against it) to be notified when changes in the property values occur - which allows them them to rebind the values.

Implementing Fake Data for Design-time Databinding

From a purely functional perspective, the above code is all we need in order to implement our chat client.  To help improve the design-time experience in Blend, though, we'll also add a constructor that checks whether we are in runtime or design-time mode, and loads up our ChatSession object with "fake data" if it is being hosted in a designer:

We'll see in a moment how this helps make it easier to visualize data-bound data in the designer.

Building our Chat Application: Wiring up UI using DataBinding in Expression Blend

Now that we have the ChatMessage and ChatSession objects defined, we can use them within Expression Blend to databind our UI controls. 

I introduced how data-binding in Silverlight and WPF work in my Tutorial 5: Using Databinding and the ListBox control to display list data post from last week.  In today's post we'll be using Expression Blend to wire-up the databinding expressions instead of manually typing them.  We'll start by using the "Data" panel under the "Project" panel inside Blend:

We'll click the "+ CLR Object" link in the "Data" panel to pull up a dialog that allows us to pick any .NET object to databind our UI controls against.  We'll use it to select the "ChatSession" object we just created:

This will cause the ChatSession object to be added to our Data tray, and expose its properties (and sub-properties) in a tree-view:

We can then bind any of our UI controls in the design-view to these properties by selecting them in the "Data" tray and dragging/dropping them onto the UI controls in the design-surface.  For example, we could replace the static "ScottGu" label with a {Binding RemoteUserName} databinding expression by dragging the RemoteUserName property from the Data tray on top of it:

When we drop the "RemoteUserName" property onto the TextBlock, Blend will prompt us like above to either Bind the property to the existing TextBlock, or create a new Control to represent the property.  If we choose the default (bind to the existing control), Blend will then ask us what type of binding expression we want:

We'll indicate we want a "OneWay" binding to the TextBlock's "Text" property.  When we click ok our control will be updated with a {Binding RemoteUserName} expression for its "Text" property. 

We can repeat this drag/drop interaction for the Image control (with the RemoteAvatarUrl property) as well as the ListBox (with the MessageHistory collection property).  When we are done Blend will show our "dummy" data within the design-view surface like so:

You might be wondering about the contents of the ListBox - why do the items show up as "ChatClient.ChatMessage"?  Well, right now the ListBox is binding to a collection of custom .NET objects and the "ChatClient.ChatMessage" string is the value being returned by calling "ToString()" on the ChatMessage instances.

We can modify this to look better by adding a <DataTemplate> to the ListBox like so:

Note: For the Blend 2.5 March preview release of Blend you have to define datatemplates in source-view.  In future preview releases you'll be able to use the designer to define them as well.  This feature is already available for WPF projects if you want to play with it: As a designer, you can interactively create the look of data with a full WYSIWYG experience. Just create a WPF project to try it out.  

Doing this will then cause our UI to look like below at design-time:

The benefit of having this "dummy data" show up at design-time is that it enables us to get a much better sense of what the UI experience will be like at runtime, and allow a designer (or a developer) to easily work on the UI without having to wait on the rest of the application to be built.

Building our Chat Application: Updating our Button and ListBox UI using Styles and Control Templates

One of the things I talked about in my Part 7: Using Control Templates to Customize a Control's Look and Feel Digg tutorial was about how Silverlight and WPF allow developers and designers to completely customize the look and feel of controls.  This provides a tremendous amount of flexibility to sculpt the UI of an application and create exactly the user experience desired.

We could use the Control Template feature of Silverlight and WPF to customize the Send button and the ListBox structure in our chat application above to have a little more of a polished look and feel.  We could do this by creating "MessageHistory" and "SendButton" style resources that we store within the App.xaml file of our project.  Each of these style objects would then have a Control Template that overrides the look and feel of the control and changes its visual structure.

Note: the Blend 2.5 March preview release of Blend you have to define control templates in source-view.  In future preview releases you'll be able to use the designer to define them as well.  This feature is already available for WPF projects if you want to play with it - just create a WPF project to try it out.  

For example, the below ListBox Control Template could be used to remove the outer double border around the ListBox control and define a "flat" look with just a scroll-bar for the list container:


Applying this template to our ListBox would then cause it to render with a much flatter look around the edges:

We could get even fancier with our Button control template, and not only define a custom button shape - but also define various story-board animations to apply to the shape to provide custom UI behavior when it is in "MouseOver", "Pressed", or "Normal" states (these can all be encapsulated within the Style definition - meaning the page developer never has to-do anything to enable them):

Once we have our "MessageHistory" and "SendButton" style objects defined, it is easy to use Expression Blend to apply them to controls on the design-surface.  

Clicking on the "Resources" tool Window within Expression Blend lists all of the resource locations within our project:

We can expand the "App.xaml" node to see the styles that are available for us to use within it.  To apply a particular style to a control on the page, we can simply drag/drop it onto the control.  For example, here is what our send button control looks like before we apply the "SendButton" Style:

Dragging/dropping the SendButton style onto it will change it to our custom Control Template shape/structure:

Because our "SendButton" style has state animations defined within it, the button will change at runtime depending on how the end user interacts with it. 

By default the button will look like this:

When an end user moves the mouse over it the balloon will subtlety change to a lighter color:

When in the push down state the button will depress and its shadow will disappear:

When released the button will pop back up.

These subtle animations and interactivity gestures can add some really nice polish to an application.  Best of all, a designer can build and customize this functionality entirely themselves - the developer implementing the page functionality does not have to be involved nor write any code to enable it.

In future preview releases of Expression Blend 2.5 designers will be able to not only define the shape/structure of this button - but also define all of the animation transitions for it - entirely using the design surface (no source editing or coding required).

Implementing our our Chat functionality

Now that our we've used Expression Blend to databind our control UI, and to tweak and polish the interactivity of the UI, let's go back to Visual Studio and write the code that implements the UI chat behavior functionality.

Specifically, we'll add the below code to our Page constructor to initiate a ChatSession with a remote user, and then handle the scenario where the "Send" button is clicked to send a message to the remote user.

When we add the above code and re-run the application we'll see that our UI now databinds to a ChatSession with "ScottGu" as the RemoteUserName (instead of the fake design-time data we defined earlier).  When we type text in the message TextBox and click the customized Send button our Listbox is automatically updated with the chat history:


Why did the ListBox automatically update you might wonder?  It did this because the ListBox was data-bound to the ChatSession.MessageHistory property - which is of type ObservableCollection<ChatMessage>.  This means the collection automatically raises change notifications when a new ChatMessage object is added to it, which the ListBox then detects and uses to update itself with the new data. 

No explicit code was required by us to have the ListBox reflect these changes.  The clean view/model binding architecture of our application automatically handled it for us.


I've only shown a few of the features supported with Expression Blend.  All of these features work for both Silverlight and WPF projects.  All of them will also ship in the upcoming Expression Blend 2.5 March preview - which will be available to download (for free) shortly. 

I think you'll find that Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio bring a tremendous amount of productivity and power for building great RIA solutions.  Developers and designers can use them together when working on the same projects (and avoid accidentally stepping on each other).  You can also easily have both open together on one machine and edit a single application with them at the same time.

I'll be blogging more about Expression Blend (and a bunch of features in it that I haven't covered yet) once it is available for download.  I'll also post the above simple chat example for download once Silverlight 2 Beta1 ships so that you can open and run the code yourself.

<Download Code> Click here to download a completed version of this sample. </Download Code>

Hope this helps,



  • Thanks, just what I needed as a beginner.

  • Hi Scott

    congratulations. Thats looks sooo cool and will be definitly the best what microsoft have brought since ASP.NET 1.0
    Silverlight will change the world of web development

  • Nice, good article Scott, waiting for more.... looks like life is getting easier :)

  • Thanks Scott,

    Without you it is difficult to survive in this world.

  • While I like what is happening here, I think blend is moving away from its core, the designer. Sounds like this should be part of Visual Studio (just like Flex is now using Eclipse) and let Blend move to the Photoshop crowd.

    Anyway, I am finally starting to like what I see, but I much rather use JavaScript (not JScript.NET or anything like that). But, I digress. What is really bothering me is that I am now 100% on OS-X after leaving a decade plus on Windows. So, my question is this, will Expression Blend 2.5 be ported to OS-X so we can start writing applications using the Mac as my core development platform and then I can target IEx on Windows, Firefox and Safari. I ask because Expression Media (a.k.a. iView) is on the Mac and shipped with Office 2008 Media Edition. Will we see the rest of the Expression toolset on native (Intel) OS-X?

  • Hi Scott,
    Nice article. Would you please show me what difference between Blend 2(Descember preview, I am evaluating) and Blend 2.5 in your article? Do they have different release schedule?

  • Hi Collen,

    >>>>>> Would you please show me what difference between Blend 2(Descember preview, I am evaluating) and Blend 2.5 in your article? Do they have different release schedule?

    Expression Blend 2 supports WPF 3.5 and Silverlight 1 and will be shipping soon. Expression Blend 2.5 will be the release after that and will add Silverlight 2 support.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Scott!

    This is awsome! Thanks a lot for your tutorials.

    I'am really looking forward working with Version 2 of Silverlight.

    Christian Pfeil

  • Hi Scott,
    great article. As WPF developer, I am thrilled from Silverlight 2.0. Can you show what important parts from WPF will be missing in SL?


  • Will Blend 2.5 support source code control providers?

  • When will Blend 2.0 and 2.5 be released?

    /Mikael Söderström

  • The designer in me (which doesnt or has never existed) fears the thought of having to do some front end design type stuff - I'd rather leave it to the fluffies (designers) as there better at deciding which colour a button should be than me - but still looking forward to next weeks beta1.

  • >>>>>> I'm also not very cool.

    I beg to differ. Comic Sans is not cool, but writing quality blog posts like these makes you a pretty cool guy.

  • Scott... Is there any chance that the Expression stuff might migrate into the MSDN Professional subscription from the rather more expensive Premium subscription?

  • Comic Sans... FAIL :-)

  • Grt work. 2 question
    1) Will Silver light 2.0 support Windows server 2000
    2) Will I be able to create such design woth VS 2008. I am a developer and would like to play with silverlight. But I do not want to use 2 tools to create one new stuff.

  • Hi Scott,
    Blend 2.5 looks great, being able to use the same solution file in both blend and makes the lives of both the designer and developer easy in terms of file structures and sharing resources.
    One question that I have though, will expression blend have support for source control integration?

  • Hi Scott,
    I've been following these blog series, and there is still something not clear to me:
    How does it integrate with standard ASP.NET webforms? Can you integrate Silverlight / XAML into an ASP.NET form, like, for example, replace my asp buttons with WPF vectorized ones?
    Sorry if it's a dumb question, I'm just a bit confused with all this! :)



  • This post and the previous one are very good! 10/10 Thank you for all these :-)

    And don't make fun of BillG! :-) I believe he is somewhere here around!

    Have a nice day!


  • This is looking good. Well done Scott!

  • Woohoo!
    Keep it up and we'll have no trouble taking Silverlight to the top!

  • Hello,scottGu.
    When the blend2.5 will be available for download?

  • Bug found!

    PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs("RemoteUserName"));

    will all throw a NullReferenceException if the PropertyChanged event isn't hooked. You shouldn't rely on the fact that data-binding is hooking this event but rather check if the event is not null:
    if(PropertyChanged != null)
    PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs("RemoteUserName"));

    I can't wait to code for Silverlight 2 myself!
    Thanks for the interesting post Scott!

  • hi

    i did read something about wpf that can have 3d future in blend.. will it be possible that blend also do 3d with silverligth with the new futures coming?

  • Hi Scott,

    Is Motion Path Animation Supported in Silverlight 2.0. This currently exists for WPF. Do we have the option to create it in Expression Blend 2.5 for Silverlight 2.0 Applications??

  • Dude, no way you are human :) :)

    Awesome post!

  • Hey Now Scott,
    This is an instant classic.
    Thx 4 the info,

  • Scott;

    I know who the famous "ScottGu" is, but who is "BillG"? :-)



  • Hi Scott!

    My guess is that the calendar control's mirror is just a fake one since DrawingBrush will not be available in SL2.0 Beta1 afaik.

    Could you please confirm this? (Or tell how the mirror was done if it's not fake).

    What are the plans about DynamicResource for better separation of Resources from Markup and Content.


  • Scott, at what point (beta #), do you think we will have design-time support in VS2008 for SL 2.0?

    Secondly, can you tell us what features that are going to be in final release that are NOT going to make it in Beta 1?


  • "Let me say up front that I am a developer and not a designer. I'm also not very cool."
    This is actually one of the points with WPF I think Microsoft is lacking guidance on. I'm a developer, and the projects we work on we can rarely afford a professional designer. I'd really like to see some solid design guidance geared towards developers. Something similar to Framework Design Guidelines & FxCop, that we can give a developer and say "at least don't break any of these rules."

  • Everytime you make a post I think "There goes my printer ink cartridge!". It's always worth it so keep up the great work.

  • Really Great Stuff Scott, how do you manage all this, and MVC as well. Just a couple of questions from a programmable graphics perspective:

    a) Will Blend 2.5 Preview support Polygons, Points, PolyLine editing in the Silverlight Projects
    b) Can I create Animations/Storyboard objects though code (Without XAML) in Silverlight 2.0 to enable me to create database driven paths/animations ? Currently I seem to be stuck with XAML declarations/instantiations.

    Cheers cannot wait until March, So its been Frustrating that its been a Leap Year


  • Chat log is the best!! :D Nice post Scott!

  • I believe you're part of an advance wave of a Comic Sans revival. Fonts styles are cyclical, and Comic Sans is the disco kid awaiting his comeback. No joke: I did a MIX08 remix theme completely centered around showcasing Comic Sans, but chickened out at the last minute for fear of the Comic Sans backlash.

    It's interesting that Comic Sans is the only widely available font in the "Script" font family, and the only Script font out of 10 included in the Silverlight core fonts.

  • The exciting thing about Silverlight 2.0 is the embedded CLR engine. At the moment though, the UI facilities seem kind of.. well, cheesy. Everything looks like a flash video game from 5 yrs ago. I've downloaded and tried the Expression stuff, not all that impressed. My primary role is not as a designer, but I've used Fireworks quite a bit and IMO, Fireworks is worlds better. This doesn't bode well for Expression given that most consider to Fireworks to be a distant runner up to Photoshop. I'm wondering if others have this view as well. Anyone less than impressed with the Expression line?

  • Scott.. you Rock!!!

  • Scott-
    I'm sitting with my fingers crossed that your team will soon deliver these very attractive tools, which allow me to leverage the skills of my staff more effectively. The key, as always, will be making sure they reach a production ready stage. Where can I find more information on the integration path for the overall MS suite of development tools, and what functionality will be available. Something that allows me to start dedicating significant R&D and training resources to leverage these, and to start focusing my design/architecture plans around them would be very much appreciated.

  • You used Comic Sans.. that is totally not cool ;-)


  • When looking at your code above does Silverlight intend to support something like CSS? It'd be great to be able to have all TextBlocks formatted from a central file and not inline.

  • Scott, I feel like a frickin' genius right now. And it's all because you have taken the time to share your knowledge, by writing highly useful blog posts like this. You're the man!

  • That's a *superb* balloon button!

  • I have to agree with Tony Eury Jr. It seems like some of this functionality should be in Visual Studio, not Blend. Or in both :-) The obvious comparison is between Flash/Flex and Blend/VS (will there be an Express version that supports Silverlight?) Blend looks like it would be easier for a developer to use than Flash is, but it's hard to imagine a developer wanting to use it over VS. Anyways, this a great tutorial. I think it is definitely succeeding at creating excitement in the web developer community.

  • Awsome..Excellent article for WPF n Silverlight newbies like me..I gonna try all these asap. :)

  • *applause* great article

  • Hi Jack,

    >>>>>>>> Will Blend 2.5 support source code control providers?

    Blend will have built-in source control in the future. I'm not sure exactly when this shows up - but I know it is definitely on the roadmap.



  • Hi Mikael,

    >>>>>> When will Blend 2.0 and 2.5 be released?

    We'll be making some announcements shortly. Not too far off now.



  • Hi Sandeep,

    >>>>>>> Thanks for such an in-depth article. Just a suggestion, is you could please share the code to the project for those who wish to refer back to basics in time.

    Yes - I'll be updating all of my posts to include the source code shortly. I've been holding off to make sure it all works with the final Beta1 bits before posting.



  • Hi Mike,

    >>>>>> I beg to differ. Comic Sans is not cool, but writing quality blog posts like these makes you a pretty cool guy.

    Haha - thanks! ;-)


  • Hi Rory,

    >>>>>>> Scott... Is there any chance that the Expression stuff might migrate into the MSDN Professional subscription from the rather more expensive Premium subscription?

    That is a good question - I'm not really sure. I do know, though, that we'll be making the beta versions available for free download to everyone. There are also trial editions that extend a pretty long period of time for released bits.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Vikram,

    >>>>>>> Grt work. 2 question

    >>>>>>> 1) Will Silver light 2.0 support Windows server 2000


    >>>>>>> 2) Will I be able to create such design woth VS 2008. I am a developer and would like to play with silverlight. But I do not want to use 2 tools to create one new stuff.

    You can create this application using just VS 2008 (similar to how I built the Digg app in my last series). You won't get all of the WYSIWYG interactive designer features - but building the application is ceretainly possible.



  • Hi Wessam,

    >>>>>>>> One question that I have though, will expression blend have support for source control integration?

    Blend will have built-in source control in the future. I'm not sure exactly when this shows up - but I know it is definitely on the roadmap.



  • Hi Juan,

    >>>>>>> How does it integrate with standard ASP.NET webforms? Can you integrate Silverlight / XAML into an ASP.NET form, like, for example, replace my asp buttons with WPF vectorized ones?

    You can use Silverlight controls within an ASP.NET page. We even have a control that helps with this hosting.

    You can't, however, replace the HTML buttons on the page with vector based ones currently. Instead you'd replace the entire form with a silverlight control and have it do a post or JSON callback to the server when doing submissions.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Langmuir,

    >>>>>> When the blend2.5 will be available for download?

    We'll be posting it very soon - stay tuned to my blog for exact details on when it is available.



  • Hi Thomas,

    >>>>>> Bug found!

    >>>>>> PropertyChanged(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs("RemoteUserName"));

    >>>>>> will all throw a NullReferenceException if the PropertyChanged event isn't hooked.

    Doh - good catch! I will update the source when I ship the sample to handle this.



  • Dear Scott,
    1. Will Silverlight2 support offline (local data storage)? Or can Silverlight2 be used to develop smart client application? (when online, update/upload data) If it can, will data synchronization be included?
    2. Can Silverlight2 call external app or integrate native code libraries? Even, windows API?
    3. Does silverlight2 expose COM interfaces out?
    4. When do you think Silverlight2 will be stable and can be applied in enterprise development? Means we could release Silverlight2 client to our customers.

    Thanks a lot!

    Always support you and your BLOG!

  • AMAZING! Control templates are freakin' awesome. Can not wait to build applications with this. :)

    Btw Scott. I'd seriously reco renaming App.xaml --> Application.xaml. Verbosity is king in 2008! No more 8.3 thought, right? :)

  • Will the new beta version of Blend 2.5 include the VSTA IDE?

  • I am curous if the UI of silverlight will be able to integrate the web browser control in order to show HTML content and to use existing sites/functionalities.

    Reporting Services would be a important asset which must be used in silverlight for enterprise applications.

    Will this be included in the roadmap ?


  • hi Scott

    are you chinese?

  • Hey Scott,
    I am unable to wire up UI using Databinding...when I click on +CLR Object, I don't see the classes ChatMessage and ChatSession...but the layout in the project panel is same as the one shown by the figure in your blog...where do you think I am going wrong? It would be great if you could share the complete code with email ID is
    Thanx :-)

  • Hey Scott,

    Great example to get us all would be great if you could share the email ID is

  • Good news
    I like silverlight

  • Thanks Scott, this will really help us understaning the Silver light development.

  • When the expression blend and silverlight must be available to download?

  • Hi,

    I am sure that most people know how to do this, but I am afraid I need a little help with this. How do you import a project or solution to VS2005 / VS2008.

    Normally, I create my projects using the visual studio option [location=http], and visual studio takes care of all the IIS and virtual directory stuff. My guess is that if I manually copy a solution or project to C:\inetpub\wwwroot\ then there are still steps to complete the process. Can anyone please tell me what these additional steps are, or the best way to import a project from an internet download or from another computer (via USB key for instance)? Thanks.

  • Hi Scott -- nice work on the keynote today. I worked with Darren David on the mobile demo he gave.

    I'm trying to follow through this tutorial, but get block when it comes to binding. When I click the "+ CLR Object" button, neither the ChatMessage or ChatSession classes appear as options. I did define them in VS as described.

  • Hi Scott,

    Any word on when Silverlight will support the System.Data and System.ServiceModel namespaces?

    I'm looking forward to the full release of Silverlight 2.0.


  • Hi scott,

    I was just wondering if you guys have any plan to port the silverlight runtime to iphone specially now that they have released the sdk for iPhone, I am sure this would give an edge to silverlight over flash

  • Scott, I really wish you would answer the questions posted by Tony Eury Jr...expression seems to be a tool targeted at the photoshop crowd and not the developer genre. To be honest as a developer, I want integration with VS, not a graphic arts tool.

  • Hi Scott,
    I was playing with the DataGrid control shipped with the Silverlight 2.0 BETA 1, I was trying to do conditional formatting of the row but could'nt find the row data bound event, is there a work around or this functionality is not supported.

  • this is great work, but can you make a video tutorial instead? they tend to deliver more message, clearly and quickly, and keep the reader/viewer focused.

  • We're a team currently using silverlight to develop a large scale application that relies heavily on typographic content.
    A problem we're running into is decent font rendering. Since Silverlight renders the text, we cannot for example leverage Safari's way of rendering fonts giving us an undesired cross browser look. Is font rendering something that will be fixed out in the future (since at this time the features are minimal)?
    One of our possible workarounds will be to overlay HTML in certain cases but this will of course cut back on the richness of our app.
    How does the future look? Silverlight is a fantastic tool but we need better typographic options. (And Blend for OSX)


  • Looks great, especially the ease to switch to Visual Studio. Very stable for a first beta!

  • Good tutorial. The "HtmlPage.IsEnabled" property was the only new one to me that didn't come up immediately with a search. After modifying my search terms a bit I found that I needed to add:
    "using System.Windows.Browser;"
    Other than that it was very understandable tutorial.

  • I'm following up on the above post about font rendering. The font rendering in silverlight is really bad. When will this improve? Cross browser shouldn't have to mean that mac users have to cope with bad type rendering.

  • I'd second the drop to MSDN Professional for Blend or at least some kind of version I can use to test how my applications look when transferred to blend. I'll want to release applications that designers can use blend on to modify the interfaces, it'll be a real pain if I can't test what they'll see before I ship.

  • Nice post. Thank you.
    I'm interested in voice/video peer to peer chat development. Is it possible by means of Silverlight? Does Microsoft plan to develop an alternative to Flash Media Server or something like that?

  • Hi Scott, Thanks for your articles about sliverligh 2. I have a request, there are very very few articles about animation of Silverlight in MSDN or Blogs and most of them have very simple examples, That would be great if you guys provide us some articles on that topic too.

  • Hi Scott, great post has usually! I'm having a strange problem. I can´t use ObservableCollection on VB. I've tried on C# and it works exactly has you've shown on your sample but, I can´t define a variable of type ObservableCollection on VB. Is it a bug on Silverlight Namespaces for VB?

  • Hi Scott,
    Great Post!!!
    When can we have the source code for this chat example for download?

  • Dear Scott,

    1. Can Silverlight load some local files (local data storage)? Or can Silverlight2 be used to develop smart client application? (when online, update/upload data) If it can, will data synchronization be included?

    2. Can Silverlight2 call external app or integrate native code libraries? Even, windows API?

    3. Can I use Silverlight 2 Beta for commercial projects without some huge risks?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Can you give a little guidence on using the DesignWidth and DesignHeight specifications. The xmlns:d= definition is cut off on the screen image and I haven't been able to "guess" it and get the design specs to work. Thanks.

  • Sure. DesignWidth and DesignHeight were introduced in Expression Blend 2 to allow you to design UserControls without enforcing a fixed size at the root so you could view the contents. We have specific adorners that show up when you select the root element (the UserControl type) and if you don't have fixed height/width, so you can resize to set these.

    VS 2008 Silverlight support does not include this feature yet, but we are hopeful in the future.

    Program Manager, Expression

  • Im having the same issue as Josh. When I go back into Blend after adding the two cs files in Visual Studio, I have issues.

    I click +CLR and all that shows up is App. ChatMessage and ChatSession don't show.

    What am I missing?

  • Thanks for the great tutorial. I was able to get a very simple SilverLight 2 page into my asp/ajax web site. You mentioned that you can remove the control width/height then just let the control resize with the browser window. Unfortunately, I can't get this feature to work when I integrate the silverlight control between .

  • I am also having the same problem as a couple others have. I have set up the ChatMessage and ChatSession classes and have no build errors, yet when I use +CLR Object it does not show them as possible selections.

    Please advise if anybody has figured this out?

  • I answered my own problem shortly after posting!

    Make sure you put each class in its own file. I had embedded them in the Page.xaml.cs file.

  • Interesting article. But the chat really work ? Could I chat with connected users ?
    The MessageHistory is on the client. Isn't it ?

  • This is a great sample. Thanks.

  • Hello!
    I want to ask that in your blend, it have 4 parts to create a new project silverlight is:
    - WPF Application(.exe)
    - WPF Control Library
    - Silverlight 1 Site
    - Silverlight 2 Application.

    But my blend only have three and don't have Silverlight 2 Application in "new project"! Please help me! Thank you so much!

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