How will MS’s SilverLight controls cater for Designers and Developers?


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Whilst working on the prototype of Silverword it became apparent to me that Microsoft have an insanely complicated task ahead of them in creating a set of framework controls that appeal to both designers and developers.

After I completed my first stab at the Silverword prototype it occurred to me that I could of created the solution several different way’s based on who I wanted to optimize it for, a designer or a developer.

Let’s take for example the way I did my “top menu – sub menu” controls. I went through three different designs before settling on the one that made it into the prototype.

In the end I chose to create 3 separate user-controls for each of the top menu-items. I favored the designer in me as the determining factor for the solution. Basically I wanted to give the freedom to the designer to creatively position each of the elements on the sub-menu the way they wanted. If they wanted to add icons or change font’s it was completely in their control.

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The first solution I came up with for the “top menu” involved having an XML list of menu-items that I would programmatically iterate and create menu items from using a template menu control, this is very similar to the out of box visual studio menu controls (in the ajax toolkit and/or the standard controls). The solution was very biased towards the developer in me and it didn’t really give much freedom when it came to visual layout.

If you think about it visual studio with all it’s beautiful user controls are really designed with the developer in mind, it’s not a designers tool. There isn’t really anything in there to give designers freedom to make it look the exact way they want!

A designers tools are things like Photoshop, illustrator, expression design etc. So knowing what I now know great care should be taken when building framework controls in blend because it’s not as simple as portin visual studio controls into blend, it will fail to meet the needs of designers!

I now know the mammoth task ahead for Microsoft!

For all of you out there screaming for controls please please take the time to play with SilverLight and build your own controls. You’ll soon realize that it’s not as black and white as you may think!

8 responses to “How will MS’s SilverLight controls cater for Designers and Developers?

  1. Can you post a list of the controls that are being planned for release by Microsoft? Thanks!

    — Ken

  2. Mate im just an ordinary developer, i also wish i knew that information🙂

  3. Ha! Who’re you trying to kid. I’ve read your blog – you’re no ordinary developer!

  4. Compared to the coder’s at Microsoft, im ordinary! Those guys can code!🙂

  5. Well that is the thing really. That huge and lumbering collection of ASP.NET developers saw silverlight 1.0’s release and kind of collectively said “oh cool” and then went back to whatever it is we do.

    But when 1.1 came out and you could crank out sh!t in managed code eyebrows went up and people started cranking away.

    Now, the issue for me is (like many developers) what do I need to do to get a “textbox” control and other form elements?

    There are third party vendors already offering items, but that’s no fun without understanding what is under the hood.

    So, I started to roll my own SilverLight controls (as you mentioned) so I could go “textBox tb = new texBox():”

    …and it just doesn’t work like I would expect. For instance I can embed an image as a resource but there is not way to fetch that back out of the assembly. I can only conclude that this is because we are still in “alpha” and much will change in the coming weeks and months to a final ship?

    I sure hope so.

  6. http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/11/29/net-web-product-roadmap-asp-net-silverlight-iis7.aspx

    So controls will be included going forward…which means they can be extended. Nice.

  7. What an awesome announcement from Scott. Those guys are working magic over there! I can’t wait to get my hands on the beta.

    Exciting times ahead!

  8. hi great site thx

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