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Get Started with Silverlight 4

Silverlight 4 is the latest version of Silverlight and the following “Get Started” sections will outline tools and features based on the Version 4 release. The “Get Started” Section is intended to simplify your overall search for Silverlight resources as well as your learning process by sharing links to the extensive Silverlight content on SilverlightShow. So let’s get started with Silverlight 4 at the speed of light!

Table of contents:


What is Silverlight in brief?

Silverlight is a powerful development platform for creating interactive user experiences in rich media and business applications targeted for the Web, desktop, and mobile devices when online or offline. It is a free plug-in powered by the .NET framework that is compatible across multiple browsers, devices and operating systems.

Silverlight supports advanced data integration, multithreading, HD video using IIS Smooth Streaming, and built in content protection. You also have access to unique capabilities such as Deep Zoom and Pivot for interactive and data visualization requirements. You can build sleek modern UI’s and provide secure interaction with desktop files, devices, data and applications such as Microsoft Office. With the release of Silverlight 4, you have an even richer toolset including webcam and microphone, printing, drag and drop, Out of Browser, WCF RIA Services, clipboard support and much more. Start experimenting with Silverlight 4 today!

The following SilverlightShow articles will guide you safely through your first development experiments:

Key Silverlight 4 Features

Capturing the WebCam in Silverlight 4

Silverlight 4 Out of Browser and Elevated Permissions

Silverlight 4 Desktop Drag and Drop

Silverlight 4 How to Command Control

Advanced printing in Silverlight 4

Line of Business Application Series


Developer/Designer Tools

The primary tools to develop and design Silverlight applications are Visual Studio, code editor and debugger with extensive capabilities, and Expression Blend, the interactive design tool. This A-team of tools is Windows only.

Visual Studio:

Silverlight 4 is only compatible with Visual Studio 2010 and you can try out the full version free for 90 days. After 30 days, you must register the product to obtain a free key which extends your trial an additional 60 days. Visual Studio 2010 does support multi-targeting, so you can also do development with Silverlight 3. You may also use the Visual Studio 2010 Express edition, which is a light-weight version of Visual Studio and which can be installed trough the Web Platform Installer for free. In some installation tutorials, the express edition is simply referenced as Visual Web Developer 2010 Express, which is included in Visual Studio 2010 Express.

Expression Blend 4:

Expression Blend is part of Expression Studio. You can download and use Expression Blend 4 60 days for free.

What does Expression Studio include?

Expression Web is a development tool for building standards-based Web sites. It includes SuperPreview, which enables you to debug your web pages in multiple browsers.

Expression Design is a companion tool for Expression Blend and Expression Web enabling you to do professional illustration and graphic design.

Expression Blend is, as you already know, an interactive design tool for creating engaging Silverlight and WPF applications and your best friend, when experimenting with Silverlight design, interaction and animation concepts. Expression Blend also offers a concept called behaviors, which enable you to rapidly add rich interactivity to the UI without writing any code. You can find an overview in the Behaviors and Triggers in Silverlight 3 SilverlightShow article.

SketchFlow is a sketching and prototyping tool with flow diagram, sample data, interactive review, in context feedback and documentation support. SketchFlow is a part of Expression Blend. Do not miss the Sketching and Prototyping with Blend article on SilverlightShow when you try out SketchFlow.

Expression Encoder is a tool for encoding, editing and publishing video content. It can also be use for screen capture purposes to produce training/support material.

Silverlight 4 Tools

If you have already Visual Studio 2010 installed, you can download the Silverlight Tools from the Microsoft Download Center. The download package is an add-on for Visual Studio 2010 to provide tooling for Microsoft Silverlight 4 and RIA Services. The download includes the Silverlight 4 SDK, the Silverlight 4 developer runtime, Silverlight 4 tools for Visual Studio 2010 and WCF RIA Services for Silverlight 4.

To simplify the installation, you can also use the Web Platform Installer (Web PI), which will outline all the required downloads you need. This is especially useful, if you plan to use Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. The Silverlight Toolkit and WCF RIA Services Toolkit are separate downloads, which will be listed by the Web Platform Installer.

You can find out more about WCF RIA Services in these two SilverlightShow articles: WCF RIA Services Series and Building N-Tier business applications with .NET RIA Services Series.

Adam Kinney has set up a Step by Step guide to installing Visual Studio 2010, Expression Blend 4 RC and accompanying Silverlight Tools.


Silverlight Tools available on Codeplex

There are various Silverlight related tools and libraries available on Codeplex, which can help you build Silverlight application easier and better. This section includes a list of various tools and libraries, which can speed up, enrich and inspire your development and design experience with Silverlight. Most of the libraries have been updated to Silverlight 4.

Silverlight Toolkit (a product of the Microsoft Silverlight Product team)

The Silverlight Toolkit is a collection of Silverlight controls, components and utilities made available outside the normal Silverlight release cycle. It includes full open source code, unit tests, samples and documentation for over 26 new controls covering charting, styling, layout, and user input. The Silverlight toolkit has been updated for Silverlight 4.

MVVM Light Toolkit

The MVVM Light Toolkit by Laurent Bugnion is a set of components helping people to get started in the “Model - View - View Model” pattern in Silverlight and WPF. It is a light and pragmatic framework that contains only the essential components needed.

The toolkit helps you to separate your View from your Model so that you can build loosely-coupled applications that have better maintainability, extensibility, testability and blendability features, which simply stands for the design-development workflow.

There are various MVVM frameworks out there; you may prefer to use a different one. We have listed especially this framework as it is very well documented from installation up to creating your first MVVM app in Expression Blend and Visual Studio, whether it is targeting the web or the Windows Phone 7 Series.

To check out the concept behind MVVM and how to apply it in your Silverlight applications, you can take a look at the Data Driven Applications with MVVM Series on SilverlightShow.

Prism - Patterns & Practices: Composite WPF and Silverlight

If you are building enterprise applications, the Composite Client Application Guidance will help you to more easily build modular Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight client applications and utilize specific design patterns.

MEF – Managed Extensibility Framework

The Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) is a new library in .NET Framework 4. This library simplifies the design of extensible applications and components. Before you go on a MEF test drive, why not check out the Introduction to Managed Extensibility Framework with Silverlight 4.0 SilverlightShow article?

Microsoft Silverlight Media Framework

Microsoft's open source Silverlight Media Framework enables developers to quickly deploy a robust, scalable, customizable media player for IIS Smooth Streaming delivery.

Microsoft Silverlight Analytics Framework

The Silverlight Analytics Framework is an extensive web analytics framework, which supports out of browser scenarios, offline scenarios, multiple analytics services, support for designers in Expression Blend, A/B Testing, SketchFlow prototypes and logging of video experiences with the Microsoft Silverlight Media Framework.

Silverlight SDK for Bing

The Silverlight SDK for Bing provides a working sample control for the consumption of Microsoft Bing search results.

ESRI ArcGIS Silverlight Toolkit

The ESRI ArcGIS Silverlight Toolkit SDK is an extension of the ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight/WPF, which you need to download to build a complete web mapping application. This toolkit includes a number of controls, widgets and tools that you can use to enhance your web applications.

Physics Helper for Silverlight, WPF, Blend, and Farseer

If you are planning to create games with Silverlight, the Physics Helper for Silverlight, WPF, Blend and Farseer will be a great timesaver for you. It contains several Behaviors and controls which allow you to draw objects in Expression Blend 3, and have those objects translated directly into Physics objects using the Farseer Physics Engine.


WriteableBitmap allows the direct manipulation of a bitmap and could be used to generate fast procedural images by drawing directly to a bitmap, however its API is minimalistic. The WriteableBitmapEx library extends the existing API with fast 2D drawing functionality, conversion methods and functions to combine (blit) WriteableBitmaps. If you are planning to work on graphically rich applications, you should definitely check out this library.

SLARToolkit – Silverlight Augmented Reality Toolkit

SLARToolkit is a flexible Augmented Reality library for Silverlight with the aim to make real time Augmented Reality applications with Silverlight as easy and fast as possible. It can be used with the Webcam API that was introduced in Silverlight 4 or with any other CaptureSource or a WriteableBitmap.

Artefact Animator

Artefact Animator provides an easy to use framework for procedural time-based animations in Silverlight and WPF.


Additional Silverlight Developer Tools

Silverlight Spy by Koen Zwikstra (Silverlight MVP)

Silverlight Spy is a runtime inspector tool providing unprecedented access to all aspects of any Silverlight application. You can explore the UI element tree, monitor events, extract XAML, and interactively execute DLR code, view statistics etc.

Shazzam by Walt Ritscher (Client App Dev MVP)

Shazzam is a WPF/Silverlight Pixel Shader Utility. The tool is a code generator and also creates a customizable test page and significantly reduces the time to create and add pixel shaders to your Silverlight application.

.NET Reflector

.NET Reflector, available by Red Gate Software, can be used to explore and analyze compiled .NET assemblies. You can view the assemblies in C#, Visual Basic, and IL. .NET Reflector v6 is free, whereas .NET Reflector Pro has a price of $195 at the moment. .NET Reflector was originally created by Lutz Roeder, who is a Microsoft Software architect working on Silverlight and Expression; .NET Reflector was acquired by Red Gate Software in 2008.


Frequent stops for any Silverlight Developer/Designer


The Silverlight.NET is the official go-to Silverlight community site. The website features How-To videos, Hands on Labs, Silverlight focused blog feeds. The site also has a special section for community project samples, for Silverlight project showcases as well as user forums.

Silverlight 4 Training Course on Channel 9

The training course includes videos of new Silverlight 4’s new features (Webcam, Drag and Drop, Printing, Rich Text, Out of Browser, Elevated Trust applications etc.) and Business Apps with Silverlight 4 (WCF RIA Services, MVVM, Data binding, MEF, and Validation etc.).

You can also download this Silverlight 4 Training series, including a whitepaper listing all of the new Silverlight 4 features, several hands-on-labs that explain the features, and an 8 unit course for building business applications with Silverlight 4.

SilverlightTV by John Papa

To catch the inside scoop on Silverlight, you need to watch Silverlight TV. The shows include exclusive interviews with the Silverlight product team, interviews with community leaders plus bits and pieces of the latest action in the Silverlight Universe.

SilverlightCream by Wynapse

SilverlightCream is an awesome collection of up-to-date Silverlight content. Almost every day it provides you with new links to Silverlight applications, code samples, games, tutorials and resources produced and hosted by the Silverlight community.

Project Rosetta by Adam Kinney

If you are already experienced in Flash, you may want to check out Project Rosetta’s Flash to Silverlight section, which provides tutorials on relating Flash concepts to Silverlight.

Design Toolbox - .toolbox

If you are more into the design aspects of Silverlight or want to improve design skills, .toolbox is an innovative and fun online learning experience. The site provides videos, samples and exercises on design concept and the fundamentals of creating Silverlight applications using the Expression Studio Tools.


Silverlight’ers Blogs

Scott Guthrie: great tutorials and source of breaking news

Jesse Liberty: Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 programming content by the Silverlight Geek

Tim Heuer: detailed articles and samples on anything Silverlight

Adam Kinney: articles and samples on Expression Tools and design in Silverlight

John Papa: catch the inside scoop on Silverlight with Silverlight TV

Pete Brown: Windows Client Developer content (WPF, Silverlight, Windows 7, Windows Phone, C++)

Nikhil Khotari: articles and samples on WCF RIA Services

Jose Fajardo: articles on user experience and design

Andy Beaulieu: articles and samples on Silverlight game development and physics

Sparkling Client: podcast about Silverlight and other RIA technologies.

Twitter Lists

@John_Papa/silverlightmvp: All of the Silverlight MVPs & Community Leads

@John_Papa/msftsilverlight: Microsoft Silverlight'ers

@adkinn/flash-and-silverlight: designers and developers with skills using both Flash and Silverlight

@adkinn/expressionblend: Tweeps with Expression Blend skills

You can use these Twitter lists to find many interesting tweeps from the Silverlight community.


More SilverlightShow Article Series

SilverlightShow offers numerous programming articles on key Silverlight topics. You will definitely find lots of interesting content once you dig into the entire articles collection on SilverlightShow. Here are a few more links to recently published series:

Corporate Web applications Series

WP7: Windows Phone 7 Series

Internationalization/Globalization in Silverlight Series

Leveraging the ASP.NET Membership in Silverlight

The show must go on …

Do not forget your daily dose of Silverlight news on SilverlightShow. To stay tuned with the latest news, updates and articles available subscribe to the SilverlightShow RSS feed and follow @silverlightshow on Twitter.