New Episode: Ward Bell on Building Modular Applications Using Silverlight and WPF

by dboynton 8/17/2009 12:36:07 PM

How do you build line-of-business applications in Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) that can be maintained and extended over a period of years? How do you design and code to handle real-world complexity? Composite Application Guidance (a.k.a., "PRISM") from patterns & practices offers guidance, libraries and examples--in small, free-standing, digestible chunks--that you can use to tame the complexity.

In this episode of, I sit down and chat with Ward Bell to learn how to compose complex UIs from simpler views, integrate loosely coupled components with "EventAggregator" and "Commands", develop independent modules that can be loaded dynamically, and share code between Silverlight and WPF clients.

ARCast.TV - Ward Bell on Building Modular Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight and WPF

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ARCast | Architecture | Silverlight | Windows Presentation Foundation | Mashups

"Devsigners," On Your Feet! Expression Studio 3 Available Today

by dboynton 7/22/2009 4:42:00 PM

microsoftExpresion On July 10th, Microsoft announced the RTM of Silverlight™ 3 and the RC of Expression™ 3. Today, I’m very happy to be able to tell you that the final release of Expression Studio 3 is now available.

This is truly a coming-of-age for the Expression products. They’ve always been solid, but with this release they have the full range of features and functionality that many of us knew could be there but just wasn’t yet. I mean, the SketchFlow™ rapid prototyping tool alone should be enough to get you jazzed about Blend™ 3.

These tools have always been produced for use primarily by designers, but I’ve found that I’ve become very dependent on Blend to layout the interfaces for my WPF and Silverlight applications. This is a growing trend I’ve seen picking up stream over the past few years, creating an interesting hybrid role I like to call “the devsigner.” We all knew it would happen eventually, but Expression has really made this practical since all of the Expression products use the same project and source code files as Visual Studio™, creating a designer-developer collaboration that you just can’t find anywhere else.

If you haven’t tried any of the Expression products before, give them a try. You can download a 60-day trial from the Expression web site. Also, there is tons of information available on the product teams’ blogs.

For more information, here are some good sites to bookmark:

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Expression Blend | RIA | Silverlight | User Experience | Windows Presentation Foundation | XAML

XamlFest St. Louis is Wicked Cool!

by dboynton 2/2/2009 12:56:00 PM

This past week, a veritable bomb of XAML-related info exploded in the Microsoft offices in St. Louis as XamlFest came to town. This two-day training seminar featured John Pelak, a Microsoft Architect Evangelist from Boston and a whole lot of XAML coding.

XamlFest1 XamlFest is a training program that was created to introduce developers and designers to eXtensible Application Markup Language and the Microsoft technologies that use it, namely Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight 2. More so than other technologies, this kind of program is necessary because designing and building applications using XAML is very different from previous UI technologies. XAML is extremely powerful and getting your hands around what it can do and how it does it can be intimidating. Thus, the XamlFest agenda takes you through an introduction to the XAML language and how it is used in WPF and Silverlight. It also shows you how you can use Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Blend 2 to develop more quickly and efficiently.

The event was attended by approximately 60 people both days, filling the training room at the Microsoft office to near capacity. Those who attended were primarily developers, but there were a few designers in the mix as well. John kicked things off on Thursday morning by showing some demonstrations of WPF applications, giving the attendees a solid feel for what can be done with the technology. After that, it was all WPF. We focused on laying out an interface in XAML using containers and controls, and then how to use .NET managed code (in this case, C#) to implement functionality for those controls. Right after lunch, I did a walk-through of Expression Blend 2, a designer-centric tool for doing visual XAML design. This talk covered productivity tips and tricks in the Blend UI, custom style and resource management, custom control development and UI animation using storyboards and the timeline tools. Finally, John took us home on day one with a great overview of databinding in WPF using custom collections and lists.

Day two was completely focused on Silverlight. We started off with an overview of Silverlight 2 and moved quickly into building a Silverlight application. We worked through the basics of how Silverlight applications are built inside of a web page and moved quickly to showing how we could pragmatically port the WPF application we worked on the day before to Silverlight 2. While not everything works the same, we were able to, over the course of the morning, replicate all the functionality of the previous day’s application and even add a few additional features. John finished up right before lunch, so I took over for the afternoon session.

XamlFest2As it was a Friday, I thought we’d have some fun and work on a “real” application using the skills presented over the previous day-and-a-half. I laid out a project to build my band, Lake 32, a media management application for our web site. Basically, I wanted a Silverlight 2 application that would bind to an underlying data sources for music, video and pictures, as well as a means to let people sign-up for our electronic newsletter. I encouraged everyone to form into groups and work together to develop a visual concept and collaborate to design and develop the application. The kicker is that the teams have a week to submit their application to a Live Mesh folder I setup for them and the best designed application, to be judged by the guys in the band, will be put on our home page. I was excited that most of the group stuck around and worked on this, the final team packing up three hours later. I can’t wait to see what all these teams come up with!

I had several conversations with XamlFest attendees over the course of the two days and everyone seems to have enjoyed the training and got a lot out of it. John did a fantastic job engaging the group and getting them to code along with him. I know I speak for many that the words, “This is wicked cool! Ship it!” spoken in a thick New England accent will stick with me for a long time to come. I mean, I said it to my kids this weekend when they rearranged some furniture in my library. They didn’t get it, but I don’t care.

While this XamlFest is over, John and will be working together to try and put this event on in other cities throughout the central region of the country, and hopefully XamlFest will be coming to your town soon. I’d like to personally thank all the folks in St. Louis for coming and participating in this event. It never ceases to amaze me what a vibrant and engaged community we have here in St. Louis. Until next time, XAML ON!

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Events | Expression Blend | Silverlight | Windows Presentation Foundation

XamlFest Coming to St. Louis in January 2009

by dboynton 1/6/2009 10:06:00 AM

After speaking at the St. Louis Day of .NET last month on building WPF and Silverlight applications using Expression Blend, I had several people come up to me and, very excitedly, tell me how they wish there was more in-depth training available for not only Blend, but for XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language).

Well, your wishes have been granted.

XamlFestLogo I'm very pleased to announce that we'll be hosting a two day free training event called XamlFest at the St. Louis Microsoft offices from Thursday, January 29th to Friday January 30th. This will be a classroom style event led by fellow Softie John Pelak and, to a lesser degree, myself. We'll be going in depth on the XAML markup language and how it is used in both WPF and Silverlight 2.0 applications. We will also go deep on how to use Expression Blend to visually design application interfaces.

Here's all the information on the event:

The event will take place on Thursday, January 29, 2009 to Friday, January 30, 2008.

This event is targeted toward software developers and designers who want to learn more about XAML, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight 2 and Expression Blend 2. We can accommodate 40 people for this session and registration will be accepted on a first come/first served basis.

Date Time Topic
Thursday, January 29th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Introduction to WPF, XAML, Expression Blend
  10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Break
  10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Building Visually Rich Applications: The role of the Integrator in building "designable" applications
  12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch, Mingle, Prizes
  1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Instructor-led WPF walk through and assisted development
  3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Assisted development
Friday, January 30th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Introduction to Silverlight, Data Binding, LINQ
  10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Break
  10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Platform Centric Design Best Practices: Creating WPF and Silverlight XAML for Web and Local Client Solutions

  12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch, Mingle, Prizes
  1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Instructor-led Silverlight walk through and assisted development
  3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Assisted development


Microsoft North Central District: St. Louis, Missouri
3 City Place Dr., Suite 1100
St. Louis, MO 63141
Phone: (314) 994-1800
Fax: (314) 991-8762

To register for XamlFest, send an email with your contact information to Only 40 seats are available, so be sure to register early if you want to attend. Also, we ask that, if you find you can't make it for the session, please let us know so we can let someone else come in your place.

Please register early, because we anticipate the seats filling up fast. I look forward to seeing at XamlFest at the end of this month.

<XamlFest />: Bringing the Out-Of-This-World Power of XAML Down to Earth

by dboynton 9/19/2008 4:09:00 PM

XamlFest I am an old school Windows developer. I spent a large percentage of my career actually writing software to run on Windows desktops, some of it for internal use at large enterprise IT shops, some for sale in the consumer market. Since the release of .NET earlier this decade, my primary outlet for delivering Windows solutions have been WinForm projects in Visual Studio, and while they are very practical and capable of delivering great functionality, incorporating an intuitive and memorable user experience tends to be difficult. Certainly I can leverage GDI+ or even DirectX to build some compelling UI features, but on a typical project timeline where the ship date was a week ago and the budget has long been in the red, we tend to settle for the status quo and deliver what we can.

This is one of the reasons why I was so excited when I first got my hands on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). This was truly a game-changing technology for developing rich, interactive experiences on the desktop. One of the most powerful aspects of WPF is that fact that the UI layer is designed and implemented in eXtensible Application Markup Language, or XAML. This XML-based markup language gives you with the ability to not simply mock up the UI, but to build the UI, exactly they way you want it to look. And what's more, XAML provides the capability to use transitions, timelines and event triggers so designers and developers alike can implement UI level effects and activities without this code residing in the business layer or even in the UI code behind files.

Sounds great, right? So why hasn't WPF taken over the world yet? It's very simple: WPF is new. Really new. And big. Really big. The object model for WPF itself is intimidating, but then when developers who've worked with standard visual design tools for the past fifteen years get their first look at XAML, the standard response is, "Wow, I don't have time to learn all that."

Enter <XamlFest />
<XamlFest />is a free two day seminar being hosted around the country to help show that XAML and WPF are not overwhelming or even particularly hard. If you live in the central part of the US, you can attend <XamlFest /> in Houston, Texas. Here's the 411:

Monday & Tuesday October 6th and 7th

The capacity for this event is 40 people and registration is done on a first come/first served basis.

Microsoft South Central District: Houston, TX
One Briar Lake Plaza
2000 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. S. #350
Houston, TX 77042
Phone: (832) 252-4300
Fax: (832) 252-4545

Daily Agenda

Date Time Topic
Monday, October 6th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Introduction to WPF, XAML, Expression Blend
  10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Break
  10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Building Visually Rich Applications: The role of the Integrator in building designable applications
  12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch, Mingle, Prizes
  1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Instructor-led WPF walk through and assisted development
  3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Assisted development
Tuesday, October 7th 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Introduction to Silverlight, Data Binding, LINQ
  10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Break
  10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Platform Centric Design Best Practices:

Creating WPF and Silverlight XAML for Web and Local Client Solutions

  12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch, Mingle, Prizes
  1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Instructor-led Silverlight walk through and assisted development
  3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Assisted development


You can register at the following link:

This program was originally intended only for Microsoft partners, but is now open to everybody. If you don’t have a Microsoft partner account, please send an e-mail with the names and e-mail addresses of your attendees to Don’t forget to mention you are attending the Houston event.

<XamlFest /> Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What if I don’t have Visual Studio?
A. No problem, every attendee leaves with Visual Studio 2008 Pro!

Q. What if I don’t have Expression Blend?
A. Again, no problem! Everyone leaves with Expression Studio 2.

Q. What if I don’t have an idea for a starter project?
A. We’d like you to leave with something personal, but if nothing comes to mind that’s OK too. It’s the main reason we’re planning a few guided sessions where you can fallow along with us. These sessions should take no more than two hours, so if something sparks your interest you’ll still have time left for assisted development.

Q. What if I don’t have a laptop?
A. You can still participate in the training in the mornings and lunch, but assisted development in the afternoon is a harder problem to solve. We have no problem with people pairing up, so you might want to check with friends or co-workers to see if there interested.

Q. Can I just come for the training and skip assisted development?
A. XamlFest is about empowering designers and developers to deliver great user experiences and we believe a key component is hands-on assisted development. If you are unable to participate in the afternoon sessions please wait until the day before the event to register. This will give others the opportunity to sign up first, and if there’s still space available you’re welcome to join us.

<XamlFest /> -- Come as you are, leave Xamlized!

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Events | Windows Presentation Foundation | XAML

Follow-Up to Pluralsight Next Web Roadshow Event

by dboynton 6/18/2008 9:36:00 AM

I'd like to thank everyone who came to the Next Web Roadshow event we held in St. Louis last week. The turnout was phenomenal and, based on your feedback, it looks like the material was very useful and on topic.

As promised, our presenter, Mike Henderson, has posted a set of links to resources from his presentation.

For the sake of simplicity, I'm re-posting Mike's links here:

WPF Information:
MSDN WPF samples
Code Project's WPF Pages
Vista x64 Forums on WPF
XCeed's WPF Wiki

Good WPF-related Blogs:
Josh Smith
Mike Hillberg
Beatriz Costa
Tim Sneath 

Silverlight Information:
Silverlight splash screen + dynamic content sample 
Silverlight Cream 
MSDN Silverlight Dev Center
Silverlight 2 Controls Source Code

Good Silverlight Blogs:
Brad Abrams
Expression Design + Blend
Joe Stegman
Mike Harsh
Mike Taulty
Scott Guthrie

ASP.NET Information:
MSDN ASP.NET Code Gallery
123ASPX Index 
4 Guys From Rolla

Good ASP.NET Blogs:
DotNet Slackers
Scott Mitchell

Programming WPF 
Essential WPF 
Apps = Code + Markup 
Professional ASP.NET 3.5
ASP 2.0 Website Programming 
Essential ASP.NET

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Events | Silverlight | Windows Presentation Foundation

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