Introduction to Silverlight

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In this article, we are going to have a fresh look at "what is Silverlight,how to install it,How will I know if Silverlight runtime is installed on my machine,what is XAML".

Overview of Silverlight

Silverlight is a technology that enhances the building of business and media rich application that mostly runs in the browser. It is also one of the best technology to build Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) that is built using HTML and XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language). The Silverlight applications can be easily developed using Microsoft Visual Studio and/or Microsoft Expression Blend IDE (Integrated Development Environment).

A Silverlight application can be developed using C# and VB.NET programming languages apart from other .NET supported Languages. Despite the fact that Silverlight applications are written in .NET supported languages, it is cross-browser and cross-platform compatible.

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What is Silverlight?

Silverlight is a web-based platform for building and running RIAs (Rich Internet Application).. This platform comes as part of browser plug-in that runs inside the browser. Silverlight supports vector-based graphics, animations, full video integration as well as tools for building rich line-of-business applications.

  • Silverlight applications are cross-browser and cross-platform applications, it can be built using Visual Studio, Expression Blend.
  • Silverlight supports .WMA and MPEG 4 based audio videos.
  • Silverlight applications can be written using HTML, JavaScript, XAML as client side and C#, VB.NET as server side languages.
  • Silverlight doesn’t support ADO.NET classes directly; however it supports .NET Generics, collections and threading apart from Web or WCF Services.
  • Silverlight applications supports network access, COM interoperability, local file system access, navigation framework, printing, drag and drop, multi-direction text rendering, clipboard access and many other features.
  • Silverlight supports RIS (Rich Internet Application) development
  • Silverlight supports multiple lines of business features like navigation framework, printing, drag and drop, clipboard access, multi-directional text rendering etc.
  • All the XAML created for Silverlight can be used to WPF (Window Presentation Foundation)

A Silverlight application utilizes following components

How to install the Silverlight Plug-in?

Silverlight runtime (plug-in) can be installed by going to Silverlight official website > Download here . Silverlight plug-in is necessary to run the Silverlight application in the browser. Please note that .NET Framework is not needed on the client machine in order to run the Silverlight application, just installing the Silverlight runtime (plug-in) is more than enough.

How to get the IDE to start developing Silverlight application?

In order to easily and efficiently develop a Silverlight application, you need an IDE. An IDE can be a FREE version of Visual Studio, Visual Web Developer Express (2010) that can be downloaded from here.If you have complete Visual Studio installed on your system, you do not require Visual Web Developer as it is a deprecated version of Visual Studio.

If you have Visual Studio installed on your system and you are not seeing Silverlight template while creating a new project, you may need to install Silverlight tools for Visual Studio, that can be downloaded freely from here and clicking on Silverlight (x) Tools for Visual Studio (x) link.

How will I know if Silverlight runtime is installed on my machine?

It is very easy, just browse any web page having Silverlight on it (for example see here) and if you are seeing the Silverlight contents on your page then Silverlight is installed on your machine otherwise you will get an icon saying “Install Microsoft Silverlight” instead of Silverlight content and you will need to click on the icon to start downloading and installing Silverlight.

To confirm that the animation you are seeing is built on Silverlight not in Flash or others, you can right click the animation. If you are seeing the context menu as Silverlight, rest assured that it’s a Silverlight animation and your browser already has Silverlight installed.

What is XAML?

XAML stands for eXtensible Application Markup Language, is an XML-based language that is somewhat similar to HTML. XAML defines the appearance and layout of the element, apart from that timelines, transformation, animations and events can also be specified.

<Button x:Name="btnSubmit" Content="Submit" Width="100" Height="25"/>

XAML also helps us in multi-user development scenario where a designer can work on the XAML to design the page independently and a developer can take that XAML page and directly use it to integrate the events and methods.

Almost all XAML elements are objects that maps to the classes in the Silverlight runtime. For example, when we declared Button above, we actually created the instance of the Button object.

Hope this article was useful. Thanks for reading, hope you liked it.

Keep reading my forth coming articles on Silverlight. To read my series of articles, click here.

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About the Author

Full Name: Sheo Narayan
Member Level: HonoraryPlatinum
Member Status: Administrator
Member Since: 7/8/2008 6:32:14 PM
Country: India
Regards, Sheo Narayan

Ex-Microsoft MVP, Author, Writer, Mentor & architecting applications since year 2001. Connect me on | |

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