If one has not worked in WPF/Silverlight, he/she first need to understand the tools which are available:
Visual Studio, Expression Blend, Expression Design.If one has not used these tools and wants to navigate to Silverlight ,he/she has to have a hands-on on these, because until then one may not realize how valuable each is to his/her end goal.
As a developer you may most likely want to start with Visual Studio. If you’re an old school developer, you will stare at the XML code and wonder what to type and finally after roaming allot you will jump to Toolbox provided. If you’re a drag-n-drop type (either with winform or webform), you’ll probably go directly to the toolbox and design panel of visual studio for reference. But, if you understand XML, you’ll eventually stop using the designer because it’s just too much of a pain to deal with in Visual Studio. Visual Studio is the best environment [today] if you want to modify markup or code. Don’t choose Visual Studio if you’re a drag-and-drop type of developer. Here is when you’ll begin to wonder about that “Blend” thing you heard about ::
Blend is the best tool to build an interface along with some key interaction details (read: animations). The problem with blend till now was,there’s absolutely no intellisense in XAML, which I find ridiculous. And, just to put salt in the wound, you can’t even edit code (C# and VB) files with the tool.But, that was the case during our Silverlight 2.0, but now with time things grow up and more advance features comes up. So, now with Silveright 3.0 (the new baby from Microsoft) has stretched his arms towards this shortcoming and has covered the same to a great extend. Now, we have full intellisense in XAML with soothing the wound , as now you can code (c# and VB) files. As, you can’t do everything in XAML and will have to move some things to code.
So, to bring the new age of design environment really close to developer side this tool is now an additional asset for designer, Specifically (Designer with Developer mind, one who understand the xaml in-out, like me).
And a most common thing and the most important of all- but we have to face it. Most people start looking at WPF and Silverlight because they want GLAM. They want to enrich applications with all kinds of vow – wow animations and transitions. This drives me crazy, but I’m not surprised. Choose WPF and/or Silverlight not because it can bring JAZZ, but because it’s the next generation user interface technology. This means, if you’re building a new Windows application, don’t even look at Win Forms. WPF is the way to go. Microsoft hasn’t said it, but this is what I believe. If you have an existing app, I’d recommend you start looking into interlope scenarios.
Whether you’re looking at WPF and/or Silverlight as the next gen platform or not, you’re still going to want that glam.This is when you should take a look at the often ignored, step-child of the Expression suite.Expresion Design.
Expression Design is a vector graphics editor.Design is best used to build creative visual interfaces. You might do this with windows, buttons, and other framing elements, for instance.So, Design is the tool to get a better interface for adding glam to the user interface.
Note that I’m not referring to animations.Use Blend for animation;Use Design for static visual elements, like rotation etc
As a developer who is very comfortable with mark-up, I’ve found that this has changed for me over time. I still believe it’s a great workflow that supports some moderate back-and-forth, between Visual Studio and Blend — but my habits have changed over time. As I’ve become more and more familiar with XAML,
I tend to create visual and interactive effects in Design and Blend, respectively, and then just look at the XAML to figure out how it’s done.
Occasionally, I’ll open my app in Blend, but not too often. This just depends on how big of an effect I’m trying to implement. It also depends on what is the scenario at that time. Visual Studio too is the great tool to work on when I want to have some Event handling for Mouse-Over and Mouse-Enter, etc.
The bottom line is, get some experience in all three of these tools. You’ll find your own comfort zone.
For augmenting XAML editing with a light-weight tool for learning Xaml , you can use – Kaxaml.
No matter what you grow into, know there will be growing pains. WPF and Silverlight have a huge learning curve,
But you’re buying into the future. The curve is there for a reason, but will hopefully be lessened as the tools improve.
I’m also hoping for some major improvements in SILVERLIGHT 4.0