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Introducing Microsoft Silverlight 2

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    How to do Real web graphics with Silverlight

    Aside from the legacy developers who are still using a text editor or by rote methods for web design, there are two major camps for professional web graphics design. They are the Silverlight and the Flash design groups. The current goal of both is to provide web designs with professional looking graphics and control appearances.

    Silverlight is the recent entry into the graphics arena. Based on the WPF graphics capabilities built into the release of the .NET version 3.5 that provides graphic control shaping, shading, motion, and both 2D and 3D effects. This book gives an excellent introduction not only into the Silverlight version of graphic capabilities, but also shows, in graduated steps, how to build the code into a web design using both Expression Blend and Microsoft Visual Studio.

    Part I of the book is involved in the initial introduction to Silverlight and involves the use of layout managers, control appearance, and use of the two development tools to position and manage elementary displays. Controlling dynamic behavior of the displays is programmed using events, transforms, storyboards and paths. Programmers of WPF based GUIs will recognize these techniques as identical to the ones used in application design.

    Part II of the book moves on to applying standard and advanced controls such as the Image, Listbox, DataGrid, and Calendar. Custom control design is introduced next. This is where the lessons start to pay off. With the new content based control basics, almost anything that can be imagined can be designed. I have used a book on WPF Recipes to animate a control along a path using storyboards. In time, I expect to see some websites using Silverlight to do some sophisticated 3D presentations.

    The last chapters of Part II are concerned with expanding the roles of Silverlight to add a host of features. Included are Web Services, connection to a MySql database through PHP scripts, use of Java Server Pages to contain the Silverlight code. Also, AJAX control of Web Services is demonstrated.

    Among the most interesting aspect of this section is the use of Deep Zoom. If you have seen this demonstrated on the Microsoft web pages, it opens up a way of including immense amounts of visual detail in a zoomable image than can expand or shrink by thousands of sizes controlled by the mouse wheel.

    I found this book to be an excellent introduction to Silverlight and rated it appropriately. Once you get the feel of what can be done, visit the Microsoft site for more training. Silverlight 3 is almost ready for release and it provides even more visual capabilities for site presentation. Silverlight is becomming available on Linux under the Moonlight name. This is making Silverlight a force in multi-platform website design. I have placed Silverlight in my must have web techniques skill set and I am looking forward to making them display my concepts for my market area.

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