Unless you've been under a rock or too preoccupied watching your retirement fund dwindle away to what used to pass for gas money, you know that the big news out of Microsoft today is the release-to-web of Silverlight 2.0. I know for many of us, this has seemed like a day that couldn't arrive too soon. It seems like a long time, but when you stop to consider that Silverlight 1.0 was released just over a year ago, the product team really did a fantastic job getting this done.
ScottGu posted on the release this morning, so I'll refer you to his post for all the delicious details about the final set of features that made their way into the RTW of Silverlight 2.0. For my part, I'll repeat the major developer-centric features Scott talked about for you here:
- WPF UI Framework: Silverlight 2 includes a rich UI framework that makes building rich Web applications much easier. In includes a powerful graphics and animation engine, as well as rich support for higher-level UI capabilities like controls, layout management, data-binding, styles, and template skinning. The WPF UI Framework in Silverlight is a compatible subset of the WPF UI Framework features in the full .NET Framework, and enables developers to re-use skills, controls, code and content to build both rich cross browser web applications, as well as rich desktop Windows applications.
- Rich Controls: Silverlight 2 includes a rich set of built-in controls that developers and designers can use to quickly build applications. The Silverlight 2 release includes core form controls (TextBox, CheckBox, RadioButton, ComboBox, etc), built-in layout management panels (StackPanel, Grid, Panel, etc), common functionality controls (Slider, ScrollViewer, Calendar, DatePicker, etc), and data manipulation controls (DataGrid, ListBox, etc). All Silverlight controls support a rich control templating model, which enables developers and designers to collaborate together to build highly polished solutions.
Rich Networking Support: Silverlight 2 includes rich networking support. It includes out of the box support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS, and standard HTTP services. It supports cross domain network access (enabling Silverlight clients to directly access resources and data from resources on the web). It also includes built-in sockets networking support.
- Rich Media Support: Silverlight 2 includes built-in video codecs for playing high definition video, as well as for streaming it over the web (including both live and on-demand support). Silverlight includes support for adaptively switching video bitrates on the fly based on network conditions (enabling users to avoid seeing the dreaded "buffering..." message), placing and metering ads within video streams, as well as enabling content protection.
And most impressively, all of this comes in a download package just 4.63 MB in size. That's really amazing stuff. I encourage you to download and install the RTW package today.
Expression Blend 2 SP1
For many of you, Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 CTP has been key to building your Silverlight 2.0 application for the past several months, myself included. In order to support the RTW release of Silverlight 2.0, the Expression team released Service Pack 1 for Expression Blend 2 today as well. This will update the current version of Expression Blend to support Silverlight 2.0 design and development. Also, if you are using the trial version of Blend, you can install SP1 to update your trial software. In addition, SP1 will extend your trial period an additional 60 days.
Beyond enabling Silverlight 2.0 projects, SP1 enables two key new features in Expression Blend 2: Control Skinning and Visual State Manager.
Control skinning gives designers the ability to visually customize controls to enable them to exactly fit the function they play within an application, while the ‘Visual State Manager’ gives a flexible and visual way to control precisely how each element of a control will behave and look in a given state. Whether an element in a control snaps into position or glides, moves in a linear fashion or with inertia, the designer has the freedom to quickly and accurately experiment with different interactions before finely tuning and finalizing the user experience of the application.
To begin building your Silverlight 2.0 applications in Expression Blend 2, download it here.
So, it's been a big day of releases and there even more to come. As you may recall, there is this little conference call the Professional Developers Conference in LA at the end of the month. I see Silverlight playing into a lot of the other big announcements that are going to be made that week. Will you be there? I will. If you'd like to synch up while we're in LA, please leave me a comment on this post and we'll see about chatting at PDC.
Have fun Silverlighting.