Monday, November 22, 2010

Using the Visual State Manager

Part of the job of the designer or creative that you typically see being done in Expression Blend is skinning and templating controls, views, and other objects. For the most part, all controls have built-in templates, and in Visual Studio it is very difficult to get at these as they are part of the framework and not exposed. Expression Blend has a great tool to help you get at the templates by creating copies of templates for any control, putting them into your code and allowing you to edit them in the Designer using the Visual State Manager area labeled States that was mentioned earlier.

This States tab, and moreover the entire Visual State Manager infrastructure, was built as part of Expression Blend but has been added to the underlying framework as of Silverlight 4. You can tweak the code in Visual Studio, but the VSM was designed for use in Expression Blend or specifically to make it easier for designers to work with visual states of objects. Here, you will use the VSM to create a custom skin or template and then use the VSM to help build or change the default animations and transitions between states.
Start by creating your custom control template.

Creating a Control Template(s)

Since control templates are baked-in, sometimes creating a control template can be very difficult to extrapolate independently without Expression Blend. In Expression Blend it's really simple.

1. Start by selecting the control. At the top of the design surface, you see a breadcrumb that shows the control in question as the root item. If you select the breadcrumb, you will get a drop-down menu that lets you select either Edit Template or Edit Additional Template.

2. Normally you select Edit Template, which displays an additional menu consisting of Edit Current, which will be disabled; Add Resource, which will also be disabled; as well as Edit a Copy or Create Empty. You will also generally want to select Edit a Copy, at least until you understand the templates enough to build them from scratch and know what "states" are available. For most people, it is easier to just edit a copy of the default template.

3. When you select Edit a Copy, the Control Template dialog appears. Because a control template is a style resource, a box comes up so you can give the resource a proper name. All the correct settings are there by default. You do have the option to have the new control template put into the application or you can also create a new resource dictionary and have the control template go there.

4. Once you select the settings you want, click the OK button. All of the underlying code required to support this new custom template (that is a copy of the one baked in) is added to your project; in addition, the control is bound to this new custom template. Now you click the States tab.

All the states and transitions to each state are divided into what is a tree. When you select any of these, that state is applied visually in the design surface. In addition, the state properties show in the Properties pane so that they can be customized as needed visually without going into code. However, you can open the project in Visual Studio and edit the template if you want to. You will also note that the Visual Tree shows all the elements of the template for you to select as well, and you can remove any element you do not need to complete your custom control template.

Note: The Visual Tree is a representation of your UI and how it is rendered visually and how the underlying engine renders elements to the screen. Some things might not be in the Visual Tree because they are in a collapsed state. In other words, Visibility='Collapsed' rather than Opacity='0' where the Opacity='0' is considered to still be in the Visual Tree.

Customizing Visual States

When customizing elements of your control template, you generally are going to use the VSM States tab and the Visual Tree in the Objects and Timeline viewer, as well as the design surface and Properties pane. (You can also edit it in the raw XAML if you are comfortable with that but, keep in mind that some default templates can be very complex.) Often when you are customizing the control, the entire look and feel needs to change. When you select your control, you can go to the Visual Tree and delete anything you do not want or entirely replace it by pasting in whatever it is you want or editing it on the design surface.

To change the state, select the correct state in the VSM State tab, which turns on the State Recorder, and change the control however you like. For example, if you select the state of a button, that state is shown on the control on the design surface. You then can select the element of the control in the object tree of the control that you want customized and edit it - say, change the color or add a transform.

There is also in the VSM tab on each element, a Transitions drop-down that you can select to add specific transitions to one state or the other as needed. Right on the transition, you can set the timing of the transition as well; however, the transition details are edited elsewhere. The last important element of working with transitions that you will need to know is that when you select a transition, you get the Timeline view next to the object tree. This allows you to do custom key frame animations.

note: this article is an edited version of a a section of a chapter I wrote for the WROX title: Silverlight 4 Professional, check it out on: )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Native Code On Phone 7

So a friend of mine showed me this article and he tried it and it worked ( In any case he tried it and it works but I'm pretty sure this won't get by the app store... :) In any case here is the article on how this guy got some native code going on phone 7:

Windows Phone 7 & “native” apps, the missing link!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Building and Using Expression Blend Behaviors

Behaviors are a cool way of adding functionality to XAML design elements in Expression Blend. The idea is that some rich functionality that would be hard for a designer to do can be wrapped in a way that can then be used as a drag-and-drop feature to add that functionality to a XAML element in Expression Blend. A Behavior then is an ‘object’ that implements a certain base class and member(s) so that it can be easily consumed in Expression Blend as a drag-and-drop ‘behavior’ on the design surface. To build a new behavior you need to start in Visual Studio.

Implementing Behaviors

Implementing a Behavior is straightforward and can be as complicated or as simple as you like. To start with, you will need Expression Blend installed so you can test your behavior in Expression Blend. If you are already in Expression Blend, right-click the project and click "Open in Visual Studio," which this implies correctly that you need both Expression Blend AND Visual Studio installed to create and test a Behavior. Once the project is opened in Visual Studio, right-click and select "Add New." Then in the "Add New" dialog, select Class. Give the class a name, and then you need to get the Expression Blend Library into your project. To get the base class (and the associated name space), you must add a reference to the System.Windows.Interactivity name space that comes with the Silverlight 4 framework. Right click on references and select "Add Reference.” Once the namespace is included, you are ready to build out the class you created into a Behavior. You need to start by adding the namespace at the top like this:

using System.Windows.Interactivity;

This gets the base library (namespace) you need so you can inherit from the behavior base class. Next, of course, you need to set up your class to inherit from TargetedTriggerAction and make your class look in effect like this:

public class SomeBehavior : TargetedTriggerAction

TargetedTriggerAction is our base class, where you will be able to apply it to a class of type FrameworkElement. For the purposes of this example, the Behavior will also be targeted specifically at Shape objects. The next step is to implement Invoke, which is what is fired when the Behavior is applied to the target. Invoke needs to look like this block of code:

protected override void Invoke(object parameter)

From this point, you need to get a reference to the object that your behavior targets and do to the object whatever is necessary to make the object do what you want it to do (the ‘behavior’). In this case, you typically would add a member event handler to the targeted object event to the associated object, and you start be creating a location for the reference to the target object:

Shape TargetElementItem1;

Now when Invoke is called, you would get your reference, cast it to a Shape and place it into the member reference:

TargetElementItem1 = (Shape)(this.AssociatedObject);

This code then needs to be in the Invoke member. At this point, the implementation for each Behavior will be increasingly different for each Behavior that you build. This example changes the color back and forth between two colors when a user clicks on the shape. Next, you need to add these members to the Behavior class like this:

Brush Color1;
Brush Color2 = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(0,0,0,0));

This gives you a color to switch to and the reference to the base color of the class. To populate Color1 with the base or start color of the object, add this second line to the Invoke method:

Color1 = (Brush)(TargetElementItem1.Fill);

Now that the Behavior has a reference to the colors and the Shape is typed and referenced, you can then add your behavior logic. In this example, add two event bindings to the Shape reference like this:

TargetElementItem1.MouseLeftButtonDown += new
TargetElementItem1.MouseLeftButtonUp += new
These lines won’t actually work until you add the two methods, which should look like this:
void TargetElementItem1_MouseLeftButtonUp(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
TargetElementItem1.Fill = Color1;
void TargetElementItem1_MouseLeftButtonDown(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
TargetElementItem1.Fill = Color2;

This completes the Behavior. You should now be able to use it in Expression Blend.

Consuming Behaviors

Besides visual behaviors, you can also add non-visual functionality as you might in a command. Therefore, if you are familiar with commanding, a good way to look at Behaviors is as "commands for designers in Expression Blend." To be able to use Expression Blend to work visually on an element, you need to be able to see the element that you want a Behavior to be applied to. For example, in the last section, you built out a simple behavior. Now you need a Shape to apply the Behavior to. You can start by dragging a Rectangle from the toolbar onto the design surface in Blend. Then you need to set the fill to a solid color brush using the Properties pane. The XAML code might look like this:

<rectangle fill="Green" />

Now you should open the Asset Explorer from the toolbar. On the left side of the Asset Explorer, select Behavior and you will see that your behavior is one of the Behaviors listed as well as others that are built in to Expression Blend. Select the Behavior you want and drag it onto the object, in this case Rectangle, and you are finished. The XAML code will appear something like this:

<rectangle fill="Green">
<local:SomeBehavior />

If you look at this closely, you will note that there is a couple namespaces referenced here. You will find these referenced at the top of the XAML document that were inserted by Expression Blend dynamically. A designer or creative is not going to care, but as a developer, it is important for you to realize this. Behaviors, as you can see, are a way to provide rich functionality that is bound to controls in XAML that also, and more importantly, is easy for designers and developers to use in building, maintaining, and customizing the UX/Design of views in Silverlight applications.

(note: this article is an edited version of a a section of a chapter I wrote for the WROX title: Silverlight 4 Professional, check it out on: )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Codeplex Projects Everyone Should Know About

(a guest post by Ryan Davidson and chapter 3 of Hacking Silverlight)

First of all, we should probably explain what Codeplex is. is a collaborative website where individual contributors create, maintain, contribute, and share code samples for various Microsoft technologies. In this chapter, you will get a brief introduction to some of the open source tools that everyone should know about. These projects include design tools, development tools, libraries and toolkits, back-end and server-side technologies. They include samples of best practices by some of the most accomplished Silverlight users today. These projects showcase people hacking Silverlight in new and interesting ways.

It’s important to note that all of these projects are open source, created by people who have a desire to help the overall Silverlight community. If you find the projects useful, take some time to contribute, or better yet, start your own. Codeplex is waiting. First up, it’s infectious, it’s compelling, it’s the MVVM fever and it’s time for you to break out of your pedestrian design patterns.

MVVM Light Toolkit…

“MVVM is so hot right now!” Pardon the Zoolander reference, but it does seem appropriate as an introduction to MVVM due to the incredible popularity and overall buzz around the Model-View-ViewModel design pattern within the Silverlight community.

So what is MVVM? We could easily, and others already have, dedicate an entire book to answering this question, so I’ll just skim over the details and say that MVVM is a architectural pattern that helps developers create applications that are cleaner, easier to maintain and extend, and also highly testable. It’s a variation on the Model-View-Controller pattern that takes advantage of the rich data binding capabilities of Silverlight. The ultimate goal of MVVM is creating a development workflow with true separation between the user experience layer (View) and the programming or business logic layer (ViewModel). Or more simply, you can work on and test either the front end user experience or the back end logic without having to worry about what the other half is doing.

MVVM is just a pattern, all the toolkits (including MVVM Light), classes, and frameworks are just helpers to expedite your implementation of the MVVM pattern. The power of MVVM is really in the rich data binding. Let’s take a moment to look at the data binding syntax in XAML and the C# code behind with a basic TextBlock control.

<textblock text="{Binding Welcome}">

public class MainViewModel : ViewModelBase
public string Welcome
get{ return "Welcome to MVVM Light";}
public MainViewModel(){ }

What is happening is the TextBlock has a Dependency Property of a Text value. That value is bound to public Welcome property inside the MainViewModel class. This value of Welcome is determined at runtime. What this gives us is a way to determine the value of a property based on multiple inputs including, user defined preferences, resources, styles, or data binding. The beauty of data binding is that if a property changes in either the ViewModel or the View the data remains bound to the Dependency Property and will update both visibly in the View and in ViewModel data objects accordingly.

How does this binding work? There is a lot of magic that Microsoft has set up and tested for us already. All you really need to know is that you need to set up the Welcome property to use the INotifyPropertyChanged event. Then whenever the property changes it raises the property changed event to all objects bound to that property. Those objects can be set up to handle the event and update properties accordingly.

How do you bring the View and the ViewModel together? First you’re going to create a new XAML prefix in your App.xaml:


Then set up your MainViewModel as a data source within your Silverlight Application.

<?xml:namespace prefix = vm />
<vm:mainviewmodel key="MainViewModel" isdatasource="True">

Then in your MainPage.xaml you can set the DataContext of your UserControl to your View Model.

<?xml:namespace prefix= [default] NS = "" />
>usercontrol class="MvvmLight2.MainPage" xmlns="" datacontext="{Binding Main, Source={StaticResource Locator}}">

Now all the child elements of your UserControl inherit the data context of your ViewModel and can be bound do any data exposed in the ViewModel using the Binding syntax we mentioned earlier.

Another very useful benefit of MVVM is Blendability. Blendability is the ability to consume and design against your ViewModel data within Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2010 visual designer. You can use the ViewModel data to design against which can greatly inform your user experience design. The beauty of an MVVM application is that you can see your data inside Blend.

The MVVM Light Toolkit was created and is lovingly cared for by Laurent Bugnion with the ultimate goal of creating an approachable version of MVVM. I say approachable because only the most essential components are included. Don’t call it, "dumb down", it’s just streamlined. All the power is there. The goal of the MVVM Light Toolkit is to "break the monotony" of writing all the standard code and allow you to build your whole application rapidly. Another benefit of the MVVM Light toolkit is that the code works the same in WPF and Silverlight (with a few small exceptions). Plus, since this works in Silverlight it means it will work on the Windows Phone 7 as well.

The installer on Codeplex is packaged as a MSI installer. Follow the installation instructions to set up the necessary elements. Once the install is complete you can create a new Silverlight project type called MVVM and the base MVVM components will be in place ready to use.

MVVM Light Toolkit Version 3 SP1 was release in March 2010 with some great new additions including templates for the Visual Studio 2010 and Blend 4 including a Windows Phone 7 template. There are two DLLs in the install; one is called Essentials which includes RelayCommand, ViewModelBase and others including Commands, RelayCommands, Messaging and much more, the other is called Extras which has more useful elements including; EventToCommand which is a behavior (we’ll learn more about behaviors later in this chapter). EventToCommand allows you to bind any event on any framework element to any command. This removes the annoying restriction of Silverlight and WPF that required you to only bind on a Button based element’s click event.

One final note on performance, MVVM Light Tooklit, as with all open source projects is constantly being optimized. The Databinding elements that MVVM relies on have been heavily optimized by Microsoft and should have little impact on your overall application performance. This is something to consider when thinking about using MVVM for your application.

To read full installation instructions, find additional resources, and of course, download the current source code visit the Codeplex project at
Another critical Codeplex project for developing in is the Silverlight Toolkit.

Silverlight Toolkit

User interface made awesome!

When a new version of Silverlight is released it comes with a set of included elements including controls, templates, themes, samples, etc. The Silverlight Toolkit is an open source project sponsored by the Microsoft Silverlight product team where developers can contribute, enhance, and ultimately use the hottest new controls in Silverlight without having to wait for the next version of Silverlight to be released.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Silverlight Toolkit is the iterative development model. Controls are developed over time and constantly receive valuable feedback from the community. As controls are developed they fall into one of four Quality Bands: Mature/SDK, Stable, Preview, and Experimental. These controls can make creating otherwise tricky or cumbersome user interface elements a snap. The tools have been created in response to a need for a common set of user interface scenarios. Rather than hacking together a user control from scratch by yourself, this project puts the community to work for you.
In addition to helping to create great functionality with controls, you have to make things look good. You knew that right? Anyway, that leads me to another very powerful feature of the Silverlight Toolkit controls, themes. Themes are the visual styles that you can apply to any control. If your application has a certain look and feel, or you have some brand guidelines you have to follow, you can use one of the included themes or break it open and modify it to match. Once your theme is created you can save it as a resource and apply it to everything inside your Silverlight application with a few clicks in Blend. Yeah, it’s that powerful.

Getting started with the Silverlight Toolkit is easy. You download a single Windows Installer package, which does all the heavy lifting for you. It will install all the components on your system so you can get started right away using the new controls and themes in Blend or Visual Studio.

Open up a new project in Expression Blend 3 and under the Assets tab you’ll see a list of new Controls that you can use.

Figure 3.1A – Toolkit in Blend

You can learn more about Silverlight Toolkit and the controls included at

Now that you have your interface data bound and stylized, it’s time to explore how we can use those control elements to present content with the Silverlight Media Framework.

Silverlight Media Framework

Have media, we’ll serve! The Silverlight Media Framework (SMF) gives media producers all the tools they’ll need to serve up amazing quality content using Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming.

As bandwidth pipes open up and high speed internet connections proliferate more and more users expect the highest quality content delivered quickly wherever they are. In the past that was a Catch 22. You couldn’t deliver high quality content without your user having to wait for lengthy downloads or you could get your content quickly but at a lower quality. Those days are gone. With IIS Smooth Streaming the server knows how fast the connection is and scales the quality of your content accordingly. It’s such a simple idea but it has taken years to finally hit the main stream.

What SMF offers you is a complete set of tools to prepare, encode, and deliver your content anywhere using Silverlight. SMF is still in its infancy, but it already has some very high profile implementations including the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Smooth Streaming alone not enough to convince you to use Silverlight? Well, Smooth Streaming is just one of the multiple tools included in SMF. There are also DVR type controls, logging, with future releases planning to implement advertising, improved API, better plug-in support and improved accessibility. The future is bright, and in full HD.

The download has all of the necessary DLLs which you’ll need to include in your project solution as resources. In addition, you’ll need to download and install the IIS Smooth Streaming Player Development Kit for everything to work properly. Once you have things set up you can take your content and stream it to the world. You can learn more at

Sometimes just serving up high quality video isn’t enough. Lets take a look at how the Silverlight Hyper Video Player is pushing video into the future.

Silverlight Hyper Video Player

"Can we do for video what hyperlinks did for text?" -- Jesse Liberty
That is the question that is driving the Silverlight Hyper Video Player (SLHVP) project. There is a lot of video available on the web these days. The subject of these videos can be simple entertainment like a dog riding a skateboard or complex like a college lecture on particle physics. Wouldn’t it be great if while you were watching these videos you could learn more about what you’re seeing just by clicking, like clicking a link on a webpage?

Let’s create a quick "for instance". Say you’re watching a TED Lecture and the speaker uses a term you’re not familiar with. With the Hyper Video Player you can click on a link that shows up at that moment in the video. The link takes you to a dictionary definition of that term. Let’s say you are really enjoying the video and don’t want to pause it to look up the term. You can bookmark the link so you can return to it later. These are just two very simple potential user experiences within the Silverlight HVP.

Silverlight has impressive video play back capabilities, but this project is really about taking video to the next level. It’s adding functionality that just hasn’t existed before, and that is what Hacking Silverlight is all about. The theory behind this project is that a video can and should be ‘clickable’ like a web page. It’s just information after all. You should be able to link related content to any moment of any video to create a richer, more engaging experience for your users.

One of the best parts of the Silverlight HVP project is the training materials being developed to teach about Silverlight HVP are using Silverlight HVP to deliver it. Nothing speaks better about a technology than using it to promote itself.

So how does one go about creating content for the Silverlight HVP? First of all, you will need some video. You’ll need to set up meta data and key frames that correspond to information inside the video. Then it’s time to let the project come to life. When you play back your media you’ll notice call-outs, links, and summaries all appearing as the video plays. It’s the ultimate in enriched user experience and the potential for this technology is amazing.

Getting started is easy. Version 1 of the SLHVP project was released in March 2010. The download is a project solution with full source code. Open the project and you’re off. Visit to download source code and start watching some Silverlight HVP enabled mini-tutorials.

Let move away from video in Silverlight and take a look the next frontier, Silverlight games.

Farseer Physics and Physics Helper

Want to make a game? Want to use physics in that game? Enter Farseer Physics and Physics Helper, the ultimate in Silverlight physics. In the real world, just like in programming, objects have properties. Properties like mass, inertia, velocity, etc. When objects interact in the real world these properties affect each other, and what Farseer does is give you these "real world" properties inside Silverlight.

Sometimes all you want to do is have two balls bounce around the screen. Well instead of having to figure out all the complex calculations between object properties, you can plug in Farseer Physics and you’re off. Farseer physics does have one limitation, it only supports 2D. Once you use it, however, you won’t mind that it’s only 2D, trust me!
So let’s talk about Physics Helper for a moment. Physics Helper takes the Farseer Physics engine and packages the most common physics computations into Behaviors. I’ll talk more about behaviors in the Expression Blend section below. Just know that the Physics Helper is a huge time saver when building any game that requires physics. You can learn more about Physics Helper at

To apply the physics to your application you will need to set up a PhysicsControllerMain. This will let Farseer know where your "world" is. Once your "world" is created, you can add properties to it like gravity and special collisions. The best part of Physics Helper is that the all the complex math is taking place behind the scenes and you don’t have to worry about it.

PhysicsControllerMain _physicsController = LayoutRoot.GetValue(PhysicsControllerMain.PhysicsControllerProperty) as PhysicsControllerMain;

_physicsController.Simulator.Gravity = new Vector2(0, 500);

_physicsController.Collision += new PhysicsControllerMain.CollisionHandler(_physicsController_Collision);

Finally, all you have to do is register some XAML or other UI elements using the PhysicsObject. This includes them in the "world" and applies all the properties you’ve set up in your world to them.

Ellipse ball = _physicsController.PhysicsObjects["ball"].uiElement as Ellipse;

Starting to use Farseer is really easy. Many of the available downloads include simple samples. The beauty part is simple samples of physics can scale to any size project. The object forces are the same. Go to a and start playing with the samples. It won’t take long before you’re building entire virtual worlds that look and function like the real world. Neo and Morpheus will be so proud!

Balder 3d

Silverlight is a very powerful platform for all sorts of content presentation experiences including games. However, Silverlight does not offer rich 3D capabilities out of the box. Integrating or creating your own 3D engine can be a serious undertaking and thankfully the Balder 3D project is breaking through 2D barriers to implement true 3D in Silverlight.
Balder was created by Einar Ingebrigtsen and is described as a "Managed Game Engine with both 2D and 3D support targeting Silverlight, XNA and OpenGL." That’s right you don’t need to use Silverlight, but currently it’s a great platform to develop games in.
You can use Balder in two ways. One, you can download the DLLs, include them in your project solution as resources and get started leveraging Balder’s core feature set right away. Two, you can download the Balder source files and get your hands dirty exploring the guts of a complete managed game engine.

Implementing the Balder engine in Silverlight is very simple. Once you have all your resources you just need to add the Execution namespace illustrated below and you Execution:Game object has the core features ready to hook up in your code behind. Inside the Execution:Game object you can add your 3D meshes, light sources, and a camera for true 3D effects.

<usercontrol class="Balder.Silverlight.SampleBrowser.Samples.Events.Mouse.Content" xmlns="" x="" execution="clr-namespace:Balder.Core.Execution;assembly=Balder.Core">
<grid name="LayoutRoot">
<execution:game width="800" height="600">

Once you’ve downloaded the DLLs you can include them as resources in your project. You can add Physics to your 2D and 3D models easily with the Farseer Physics engine which I will talk more about in the next section. Head to to get the latest source code and see some samples in action.

The projects we’ve highlighted so far have talked about how to create rich data binding, stylized controls, rich media delivery and an outstanding game environment. Now we’re going to talk about a project that will make creating all of these easier, Behaviors!

Expression Blend – Behaviors Library

Have you ever had to develop an interface? Expression Blend is your friend. It’s a huge time saver when creating visuals for Silverlight, plus it has some incredible features to help you develop Silverlight applications faster. Besides the graphics capabilities, Blend offers a rich XAML editing view, a unique Storyboard driven animation layout, and many more features. What we’re really interested in here are the features you probably haven’t heard of. Let’s start with behaviors.

Behaviors save time, which, be honest, you don’t have enough of. This Codeplex project will introduce you to some of the most useful behaviors already included and ready to use in Expression Blend. That’s right! You just need a default install of Expression Blend to take advantage of behaviors.

If you’re one of those "afraid of code" types, Blend has your back and behaviors are your best friend. You can think of behaviors as drag and drop code. You can work in a design view and add functionality to your elements just like dragging a file from one folder to another. You want this button to start a video? Use a behavior. You want this little ball you created to bounce around the screen? Use a behavior. It’s so simple it’s scary, like some magic voodoo hamster is inside your computer making everything just work.

Do you have a specific visual effect that you’re trying to re-create and you can’t find it within Blend? Take a look at the Effects library, also part of the Codeplex project. There are lots of visual effects you can use such as motion blur, bloom, gray-scale, and more are being added all the time.

Now, conversely, let’s say you’re one of those "I need to code everything myself" types. Behaviors still give you plenty to get your hands dirty. You can build customized behaviors in Visual Studio. You can also use the Effects library as a template for creating your own custom Effects with Pixel Shaders.

The installer package available on Codeplex will put all new elements directly into your Blend Library and they will be available to use the next time you start up Blend. Now go play!

Earlier we talked about Silverlight 3d but if you’re really hard core and maybe doing a bit of XNA on the side then this might be your thing…

Silver Sprite

Speaking of play; let’s talk games! How would you like to build once, play everywhere? Silver Sprite gives XNA developers a tool set that allows them to publish their games on the web using Silverlight without making code changes to their game. This is the essence of Hacking Silverlight. With Silver Sprite you can take your code base and run it using Silverlight without having to change virtually any code. XNA is the language that Xbox and Zune games are developed in.

Getting your game prepared to run in Silverlight takes essentially only two lines of code. Create a new Silverlight project. Then add all your game resources into that project. In the Main XAML page add a game namespace which references your project and a game class object to a canvas. That’s it.


<?xml:namespace prefix = game /><game:game1 name="game"></game:game1>

Believe me, being able to port games from platform to platform that easily without making code changes is the holy grail of development hacks. Every developer, including you, would much rather write code once, and be able to deploy it everywhere. It saves time, money and sanity.

Silver Sprite 3.0 is still in alpha at the time of publication, but it already gives you some great features to port your game to Silverlight. You can easily import and leverage your graphics, fonts, and other game resources simply by adding them to the Silverlight project. Silver Sprite does all the tricky work for you.

Visit the Codeplex project at to download the DLLs and find examples of Silver Sprite in action.


The projects in this chapter are all great examples of making Silverlight work for you. In the truest sense, they are all Hacking Silverlight. The best thing about these projects, and Codeplex for that matter, is that everything you’ll find is open source. The best thing about open source is that there are new projects starting up constantly. These are just a few of the projects that we find useful and we think will inspire you to push Silverlight to the next level. Your next challenge is to take some time and do a Bing search, visit Silverlight community sites and blogs, and of course visit There is likely to be some impressive new projects popping up every day. Happy Hacking.