Relaunching My Blog, and a Silverlight Retrospective

After 2.5 years of radio silence, I’ve decided it’s finally time to relaunch this blog.  My last post was about the release of my Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 5 book, which just so happened to coincide with the “death” of Silverlight.  At the time, I had become burnt out from writing on top of maintaining a job, so between this and also finding the carpet swept out from underneath me given the fate of Silverlight, I no longer felt the need or desire to write any more.  I stand by my announcement that I will never ever write another book again, but I’d still like to take the opportunity via this blog to give back some of the hard won knowledge that I’ve gained to the developer community.  So I’m happy to announce that you’ll now start seeing renewed activity here, but with a new focus towards building professional business applications using HTML5 technologies (HTML, JavaScript, and CSS).

Before moving onto the next phase of this blog, however, I thought it might be worthwhile closing off the previous chapter, given that I had focused heavily on Silverlight, with a bit of a wrap up and a retrospective of Silverlight – a post-mortem if you may.  I think people tend to forget what a challenge it was to develop applications for the web just a few short years ago, and now unfairly (in my opinion) malign Silverlight and those who used it.  I’d like to set a few things straight, or at the very least detail my perspective on it, if I may.

Why Silverlight Received Traction

Silverlight had its roots in WPF, which automatically made it appealing to WPF developers.  Rather than just being bound to Windows, WPF developers could transfer their existing skillset to developing applications with Silverlight that easily deployed via the web, and could also run on Apple OS X!

I was not a WPF developer at the time – instead I had been developing various web-based business applications using ASP.NET WebForms and the Microsoft AJAX Toolkit.  These applications worked, and impressed clients and users, but it was certainly primitive and flawed.

Remember, the ASP.NET MVC CTP only appeared at the end of 2007, and didn’t hit V1.0 until March 2009!

My interest in Silverlight started in the Silverlight 2 Beta days (mid-2008), before Silverlight had a clear business application focus.  However, I immediately saw its potential in this area, and started writing articles on the SilverlightShow.net website in 2008, specifically targeting building business applications with Silverlight – one of the first, if not the first to do so.  Silverlight enabled me to write well-structured applications using C# on both the server and the client, and create rich user experiences with ease, without worrying about cross browser concerns.  Remember, this was a time when:

  1. Chrome didn’t exist (its first release only came in September 2008), and JavaScript on all other browsers ran incredibly slowly.
  2. IE6 was still an extremely popular browser.
  3. HTML5 support in browsers was still a long way off.
  4. CSS rendered inconsistently between browsers, and was limited in features.
  5. Libraries like knockout.js, backbone.js, require.js, breeze.js,  etc didn’t exist yet.
  6. Single Page Applications (SPAs) didn’t really exist (beyond GMail, which had the support of Google behind it).
  7. Frameworks like angular.js, durandal.js, and Ember.js didn’t exist yet.
  8. All the browsers behaved differently, and testing was a nightmare. (It still is, but less so)
  9. Mobile devices were not widespread.  It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when most mobile phones weren’t able to browse the web, and tablets were big clunky things running full Windows.  The iPhone only came out in 2007, and the iPad only in 2010.
  10. Browser plug-ins were used widely – particularly Flash.
  11. Installing the .NET Framework needed a 100+mb download, when Silverlight was only a 5-7mb download.

The above factors contributed to making web application development a nightmare.  This made Silverlight a very attractive platform for us as developers.  Silverlight started getting much more love from Microsoft than WPF had ever seen, and was rapidly gaining traction with developers accordingly.  Microsoft’s message was essentially “if you’re building business applications for the web, you should be using Silverlight”.  WPF was getting little to no attention, and Silverlight was getting lots, so given the choice it made sense to focus on that instead of WPF.  Especially given that from version 3, Silverlight was obviously much more focused towards business application development than WPF was.  It had a DataGrid (for better or worse) long before WPF, validation summary and validation styles on input controls, a DatePicker control, PivotViewer control (from version 4), the Visual State Manager, RIA Services, text in WPF was fuzzy and gave users headaches (until .NET V4.0 fixed this issue), and it could run on Apple OS X.  They are just some of the benefits off the top of my head.  Interestingly, Silverlight has many features that even “Modern UI” applications (i.e. Windows 8 applications) still don’t support.

Why Silverlight Started to Lose its Shine

Silverlight was inevitably misused at times.  I personally never saw Silverlight as being suitable for use on public facing websites (with the exception of sites that could take advantage of its awesome streaming video support), but I strongly believed in its ability as a solid technology for building web applications upon.  As in, data centric applications which typically (but not always) ran within a corporate network.  And it suited this scenario very well.  But it would obviously provide a barrier to entry when it comes to the “drive by” nature of web surfers on the open web.

Silverlight also had a perception issue.  People were expecting it to be something it was never realistically going to be.  In particular, there was a desire for Silverlight to run on mobile devices.  Unfortunately, that was just never going to happen, and some saw that as being an indicator that Silverlight had failed.  That said, given the rapidly rising use of Apple Macs and the fact that it ran on these machines meant that it still had a major advantage over WPF.

Over the following years, Silverlight was advancing rapidly, version to version.  Silverlight really matured when it hit version 4, however, during this time, the “native” web was also maturing rapidly.  We started to see JavaScript libraries appear (Backbone.js, Knockout.js, etc) which made developing native web applications much easier and more robust.   HTML5-supporting browsers started gaining widespread adoption, reducing the need for plug-ins.  The rise of iPad use within businesses, and Apple’s steadfast refusal to support Silverlight on it, started working against Silverlight.  Silverlight was starting to lose its competitive advantage, and it started to become much more viable to build business applications using native web technologies.

And Then Everything Fell Apart…

Silverlight was still getting a strong focus, marketing, and love from Microsoft, until suddenly it just stopped.  Just like that, it disappeared overnight, and no-one from Microsoft could be drawn in to talk about Silverlight and its future.  We’d heard some rumours that Silverlight may not have a future, care of ex-Silverlight program manager Scott Barnes (aka @MossyBlog), and this appeared confirmed when Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools division let it slip that Microsoft’s “strategy has shifted” toward HTML5.

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.
Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.
- Dead Parrot Sketch, Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The silence on Silverlight’s future spoke more than words, and was the worst thing Microsoft could have ever done.  The resulting unease and uncertainty inevitably led to the ecosystem collapsing, with tens of thousands of developers suddenly left out in the cold.  Not only were developers cheated, but the effects extended to:

  • Contractors and development shops who had projects cancelled
  • Authors whose book sales fell through the floor
  • Component vendors who had invested heavily in developing components that nobody wanted any more
  • Businesses who had invested in a technology that had no future

Having personally invested greatly into Silverlight, and falling into multiple of the above categories, I was one of the thousands that felt the repercussions.

It’s interesting to now see companies that promoted Silverlight to their clients and had developed many Silverlight applications now marketing themselves as specialising in migrating Silverlight applications away from the platform.

My Position on Silverlight’s death

I am still, to this day, monumentally pissed off with Microsoft and their handling of Silverlight’s demise.  It just never needed to be as bad as it was.  I personally felt that Silverlight had reached a reasonable maturity by version 5, and didn’t really need to go too much further.  Actually, I think Silverlight went too far in a number of aspects.  In particular, adding 3D support to Silverlight 5 was completely unnecessary.  It added to the runtime size, I suspect it was the reason for Silverlight 5 being released so long after Silverlight 4 (18 months), and I’m still yet to see any application that ever used it.

That said, Silverlight was never perfect.  These points from Paul Stovell about WPF all apply to Silverlight too, and are quite valid criticisms.

“Native” web technologies have really matured, and for many business applications there now is really little need to build them on a technology like Silverlight.  There was a very steep learning curve, but I have quite happily been building applications with HTML, JavaScript, and CSS for almost 2 years now.  It has its ups and downs sometimes, but then again so did working with Silverlight!  JavaScript application frameworks have now come of age, though they are still very much in flux (Angular and Durandal are now in the process of merging, for example).  It really is possible to create well-structured rich business applications these days for the native web.  It’s funny, I was recently flicking through my Silverlight 5 book, and I realised how many of the topics can be handled easily in JavaScript now.  Sure, there’s a few things that only Silverlight can do, but for the most part, the native web has well and truly caught up.

I do miss the Silverlight PivotViewer control though.

Microsoft obviously had the foresight to see this, however, there was no reason why Silverlight needed to die.  All it needed was an inclusion in the product line roadmap (a minor and drawn out release schedule would have sufficed), some acknowledgement as still being an important part of the Microsoft family of products, and some continuing promotion of its value as a business application platform.  The silence from Microsoft just reinforced the consensus that Silverlight was dead.  I can’t think of a worse way to handle this scenario that could have caused any more damage than it did.

The damage that’s been caused extends far beyond just the Silverlight ecosystem.  The damage also extends to a major loss of developer faith in Microsoft as a platform provider, which can’t be understated.  This is especially important in an era when their flagship operating system (Windows 8) is struggling to gain traction, while its key competitor (Apple OS X) is surging in popularity.  Simultaneously, mobile devices and open technologies like the web are becoming more and more capable, and tying people less to Microsoft platforms.  I’ve discussed with numerous fellow developers how we’ve each lost the faith required in Microsoft to invest our personal time in their newer technologies – ultimately this will only hurt Microsoft.

My Experience in the Aftermath of Silverlight’s Demise

I lost a few things when Silverlight died.  Firstly, I lost my hard won standing in the developer community – suddenly nobody was really interested in what I had to say any more.  I had been running the Silverlight Designer and Developer Network, but numbers fell away rapidly, until it was no longer viable.  I refocused on building WPF applications, and eventually onto HTML5 applications.  WPF wasn’t being advanced, so there wasn’t a lot to talk about there, and I was far too new to the web development community in order to stand up as an expert (because I wasn’t).

Boxes Of Books

Boxes Of Books

The one thing, however, that saddened me the most was what happened with my Silverlight 5 book.  My Silverlight 4 book had been well received, but I felt that I could do much better.  So I practically rewrote it (adding 200 pages in the process) for Silverlight 5.  I was (and am) so proud of what I had accomplished with that book – it is so much better than the Silverlight 4 version.  I carefully crafted something that was really well structured, well written, and would guide developers through building business applications with Silverlight without getting lost.  The few reviews I got backed that up.  If you haven’t written a book (and I typically recommend against it), it requires a massive amount of effort.  I worked 7 days a week, for 6 months on it (fitting a job in-between).  Unfortunately, it was all for nothing, as few people ended up buying the Silverlight 5 version, given that it came out after the doom and gloom hit the Silverlight ecosystem.  Sales fell flat (as happened for all Silverlight related books), and all the effort I put in was not rewarded.  As it is, most of the copies sent to me by the publisher are still sitting in the cupboard (pictured), and I don’t really know what to do with them all, as nobody wants them.  If you’re interested and are in the Sydney area, let me know – I’d be happy to give them away to anyone who will use them.

The Future of this Blog

I now plan to start posting a lot more on this blog.  I’m still focusing on business applications for the web, just the technologies used will be different.  I will throw in some posts about WPF and other topics at times, but the key focus will be on building applications using native web technologies.  One thing I’d like to do is some video tutorials, and I hope to include them as a part of many posts where appropriate.  I’ve got a lot of things to blog about (my last project alone generated 111 ideas that I noted down to blog about) – let’s see how I go getting through them!

Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 5 Now Available

I’m happy to announce that my book Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 5 has now been released.  Preparation of this edition has been an enormous task, and I’m so glad to see it finally make it out into the wild.  What I had planned to be a short task of simply updating the Silverlight 4 edition of the book with the new features available in Silverlight 5 blew out to become a huge endeavour. Not only did I update the book for Silverlight 5, but I also rewrote much of the existing content to make it easier to read, and expanded upon the concepts I had covered in the previous edition (the chapter on MVVM got a huge update, as did discussion of collection views, along with many other topics). In addition, I also covered many new concepts too (such as MEF, and modularising your application).  All this new content has added another 200 pages or so to the book from the previous edition.

Most importantly, I have peppered the book with workshops, that walk you through the steps involved in implementing the topics covered in the book.  All the steps you need to follow are listed right there in the book, saving you the need to read a mass of text and interpret it in order to apply it to your project.  This makes it easy for you to apply the principles being covered without fumbling about and having to rely on any prerequisite knowledge.

If you’re not familiar with the Silverlight 4 edition, I took what I believe to be a rather unique approach, in that I attacked the subject of how you build business applications in Silverlight in a somewhat linear fashion.  Many (most?) technology books tend to be focused on the technology itself, with the topics not organised in order of how you would use them.  As a reader of these sorts of books, you’re required to apply the technology to your problem.  With my book, I took a problem-centric approach.  The problem being that you’re building a business application, and the book showing you how the technology can help you reach a solution, from beginning to end.  Ideally you’ll read  and follow this book from start to finish.  That said, it is still usable as a reference book if you so wish.

To demonstrate the process that the book follows, here’s the table of contents:

  1. Getting Started with Silverlight
  2. An Introduction to XAML
  3. The Navigation Framework
  4. Exposing Data from the Server
  5. Consuming Data from the Server
  6. Implementing Summary Lists
  7. Building Data Entry Forms
  8. Securing Your Application
  9. Styling Your Application
  10. Advanced XAML
  11. Advanced Data Binding
  12. Creating Custom Controls
  13. The Model-View-View Model (MVVM) Design Pattern
  14. The Managed Extensibility Framework
  15. Printing and Reporting
  16. Out of Browser Mode and Interacting with the Operating System
  17. Application Deployment

The benefit of this linear approach is that the workshops actually guide through the process of building a business application in Silverlight step-by-step.  You can follow through the workshops in order, and have a fully functional application at the end.

All in all, I’m actually really proud of this edition of the book.  I put a lot of work into it, and it’s become the book that if I were building business applications in Silverlight, I would want to have it by my side.

It saddens me greatly that Microsoft have let the “Silverlight is dead” rumour get out of hand, and depresses me that many people have been turned away from using Silverlight, and will not buy my book because of it.  I strongly believe that Silverlight is one of the best technologies available for building line of business applications, and I see it being so for quite some time yet.  It’s a mature platform, with a strong community around it.  Sure, Silverlight can’t beat HTML5’s reach, but you’ll no doubt find it quicker and easier to develop applications in Silverlight when there’s no need for your application to run on an tablet or phone.

If you are planning to buy the book from Amazon, please consider clicking on the cover of the book above, which will use my affiliate link to take you there.  And once you do have it and have been reading it, it’d be great if you could leave a review!

Now that the book is done, I’ll be doing some more blogging now.  Not everything I wanted to write about made it to the book, so I’ll be covering some of those topics.  Feel free, however, to suggest a topic in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do!

What’s New in Silverlight 5

I presented “What’s New in Silverlight 5″ at the Sydney Silverlight Designer and Developers Network meeting (which I run), focusing on the new business application related features in Silverlight 5 (Jose Fajardo covered the new 3D features). You can download the source code for the application I wrote demonstrating the new features here (also includes my PowerPoint slides):

Download

The sample currently demonstrates the following new features in Silverlight 5:

New XAML Features

- Custom markup extensions
– Implicit data templates
– Binding in style setters

New Debugging Features

- Setting a breakpoint in XAML to debug a binding

New Control Features

- RichTextBox overflow
– ClickCount
– ListBox/ComboBox type ahead searching

New Elevated Trust Features

- Elevated Trust inside the browser
– Create/display new OS windows
– WebBrowser and toast notifications whilst inside the browser
– Unrestricted access to the file system (without user involvement)
– Default file name in SaveFileDialog

TechEd Australia 2010 (+ Upcoming SilverlightShow.net Webcast) Sample Application

This is the sample application for my TechEd Australia 2010 session on Taking Silverlight Applications Outside the Browser, and my webcast for the SilverlightShow.net website of the same name. This sample implements a schedule builder for the TechEd Australia 2010 conference, which it does so by displaying the sessions using the PivotViewer control (http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/pivotviewer/), like so:

The details of the corresponding session are displayed when you zoom in on a speaker’s photo. You can then hover the mouse over the photo, and an add/remove icon will appear that you can use to add or remove the session from your schedule.

You can then export your schedule to Outlook (when running outside the browser with elevated trust permissions), or to an iCal file. The conference ran between 24-27 of August, 2010, so you will find the data in your Outlook calendar then.

This application demonstrates the following Silverlight OOB features:

- Checking the whether the application is running outside the browser
– Checking the whether the application is installed
– Checking the whether the application has elevated trust permissions
– Detecting when the install state changes
– Toast notifications
– COM Interop to create appointments in Outlook
– Checking for updates to the application
– Custom chrome
– Writing directly to file

This application is also a good example of how the PivotViewer control can be used to create impressive applications.

Note that the toast notification ideally would be used to display a notification to the user 10 minutes before their next session. However, since the conference is over, and implementing it like so would be hard to demonstrate, the notification will simply be displayed when the application is running outside the browser, and the user adds a session to their schedule.

I’ve split the application into two downloads – one for the source code, and one for the data. This means you don’t need to download all the data if you only want to look at the code (although you will need the data to run the application). If you wish to run the application, you will need to unzip the data into your Web project’s folder. Don’t worry about adding the data to your Web project. There are *a lot* of files, and it will take a long time. Simply unzip the data into the Web project’s folder, such that the .cxml file is in the same folder as the HTML/ASPX page that hosts the Silverlight application.

You can download the source code here:

http://www.box.net/shared/s133o7ge6g

And the data here:

http://www.box.net/shared/b3mt73kor4

Note that to run this project, you will need the PivotViewer control, which you
can download from here: http://www.silverlight.net/learn/pivotviewer/.

My thanks go to Rob Farley of LobsterPot Solutions who collated and processed the TechEd data, and kindly gave me his permission to use it in this demo.

If you missed my presentation, or didn’t make it to TechEd, you can catch me doing it again for the SilverlightShow.net website as a webcast next week.  The details of this webcast are here: http://www.silverlightshow.net/news/Free-SilverlightShow-Webinar-Running-Silverlight-Outside-the-Browser-and-with-Elevated-Trust.aspx.  It’s scheduled for September 7, and will go from 8am – 9am PDT.  This is 1am Sydney time, and you can get your local time here.  Miss that, well it will be posted online for you to view at your leisure.

Everything I cover is discussed in further detail in chapter 14 of my book Pro Business Applications with Silverlight 4, which has just been released! :)

REMIX10 (Melbourne) Demo

It’s been a while since I last posted, as I’ve been flat out writing books (Professional Visual Studio 2010 as a co-author, and Pro Business Applications With Silverlight 4 on my own).  So I haven’t had much in the way of free time to post anything here.  However, I’m at REMIX10 in Melbourne at the moment, and am speaking on what’s new in Silverlight 4.  I’ve put together a demo of some of the new features which I’ll be presenting, and you can download the code for the demo here:

http://www.box.net/shared/yt5v7sqoue

You can also spin it up and give it a go here:

http://www.peerplacements.com/Demos/REMIX10/SL4NewFeaturesDemo.html

PDC09 News

Unfortunately I’m not at PDC09, but luckily the keynote today was being streamed (I will be on a bandwidth diet for the remainder of the month now) and came with some brilliant news for Silverlight business application developers.

After a laptop giveaway that was very Oprah (everyone gets free multitouch laptops!), the Gu came out (aka Scott Guthrie) for an epic keynote that even included an appearance by Scott Hanselman.  The announcement of Silverlight 4 was pretty much expected, but the breadth of new features it will contain pretty much takes away most reasons people will find to use WPF over Silverlight.  There was announcement after announcement after announcement – with major new features just receiving a single bullet point on the slides.  What has been included in the (expected) 5mb runtime is phenomenal.  I’m not going to go into all these features as Tim Heuer has done a fantasic job (as usual) of writing those up, but I will skim over what (in a business sense) I see as being important to business application developers.  Obviously the UserVoice site demonstrated its value, with people being able to vote on their most requested features.  Apparently 9 of the top 10 voted feature requests have been implemented in Silverlight 4 (although I’m not so sure of that regarding mobile incl. iPhone support).  Certainly the ones I voted for and really wanted are now included!

  • Printing + Print Preview – everyone wanted that.  Will stop the “Silverlight’s not ready for business because it can’t print” crowd (although I wrote up ways around that).
  • Commanding!  So important for MVVM.  MVVM will finally not need (as many?) nasty hacks.
  • MEF support!  I’m yet to discover this fully though as it was not covered in the keynote.
  • Rich text box – great news for displaying and editing documents.  I’m yet to find out if/how XPS documents get supported.
  • Drop target support – Scott Gu demonstrated dragging a Word document onto a Silverlight application which opened in the Rich text box!  Still need to see details of this example as to how it was achieved.
  • Web browser control – host any web page (including Flash even!) in your app.  So cool for integration and migration possiblities.
  • Clipboard support!  Demo included copying the contents of an entire datagrid into Excel – very cool.
  • IDataErrorInfo for validation.  Is this the end of nasty exceptions being raised for validation – I’m still to find out.
  • RIA Services – released version to work with the VS2010 beta 2.  I still need to investigate the other new features – I’m not sure what they are yet.  At least I can now write the RIA Services chapter of my VS2010 book!
  • WCF bindings – I believe I heard something about a wider range of bindings now available in WCF?  Hopefully wsHttpBinding.  I need to investigate.
  • Scroll wheel support in all of the controls out of the box (I don’t know why this wasn’t in V3 actually).
  • More data bindings (I believe – still to investigate if it’s on par with WPF now).
  • Implicit Styling – now themes can be developed without needing the (not so bad) hack that was the ImplicitStyleManager.
  • Out of sandbox, including accessing files on the client machine (user profile folders only) which is a big boon for a more streamlined user experience.  Also allows apps to be run with elevated trust.
  • COM object access, enabling integration with Office applications!  Not much good for cross platform support though.
  • Right-click / context menu support
  • Mention of keyboard support in full screen mode.  Security was a big concern for why this wasn’t permitted previously, now available to trusted applications (only).
  • Cross-domain calls (for trusted applications only).
  • Somebody mentioned custom chrome on Twitter – I think that was a mix up with Google Chrome (the browser) support, as Tim’s blog entry doesn’t mention it and I don’t recall hearing it in the keynote.

As you can see (and this isn’t all the new features – just the ones I’m most interested in!) there are a ton of new features for business application developers in Silverlight 4 – really almost everything we really wanted.  I think while there will still be a use for WPF, Silverlight 4 is going to seriously reduce the requirement to use WPF and the full .NET Framework – great for developers that have to/ want to support multiple platforms too.  Now we just need the long awaited mobile support – but not mention of that :(.  I’m very excited about this release and look forward to having a good play with it so I can report on it in an informed manner.  Note that you need VS2010 beta 2 to play with this.  Looks like Silverlight 4 development won’t be supported in VS2008.  But for Silverlight development VS2010 is much much much better!  You can get the beta here.

Disclaimer – this is a preliminary summary – I can’t guaranteee just yet until I’ve played with it all that all the above is correct.  Please forgive me if I misreported something…!

Interesting stat that Scott Gu mentioned – apparently 45% of internet connected devices now have Silverlight installed.  The reach of Silverlight is rapidly expanding – and I’m guessing will even more with the Winter Olympics site in Silverlight (I believe – unfortunately the streaming viewers were not allowed to view that demo) :(.

Silverlight 3 Released + RIA Services Installer Issue

As you probably know already, Silverlight 3 RTW has been released.  Download the tools for Visual Studio here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=9442b0f2-7465-417a-88f3-5e7b5409e9dd

I made the mistake of uninstalling RIA Services before installing the Silverlight 3 RTW Tools thinking it would be a part of the installer (which it wasn’t).  Silverlight 3 RTW has a new project template called Silverlight Business Application that relies on RIA Services, and doesn’t appear in Visual Studio as a project template unless RIA Services is installed.  When I found it wasn’t installed I tried to install it again the installer told me it needed the Silverlight 3 Beta SDK to be installed in order to continue!  Brad Abrams from Microsoft let me know that there would be an update to the RIA Services installer soon, but in the meantime I came up with a hack to the installer to get it to install.  Download Orca, a .msi editor from here:

http://www.technipages.com/download-orca-msi-editor.html

After installing it, right click on the RiaServices.msi file and select Edit with Orca.  Select the InstallExecuteSequence table, and change the DependencyCheck action to Installed (instead of NOT Installed).  Then select the InstallUISequence table and make the same change to its DependencyCheck action.  Save the file, and try to install it again and it should install!  It’s a hack, and should be fixed soon, but in the meantime if you’ve uninstalled RIA Services like I did or you’re just getting started with Silverlight this should get you going.

Update: No sooner than I blog this then I’m told that the July Preview of RIA Services has been released.  So much for my impatience :).  Get it here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=76bb3a07-3846-4564-b0c3-27972bcaabce&displaylang=en#filelist

One more note, unfortunately the ComboBox control still doesn’t have the SelectedValuePath and SelectedValue properties for databinding in foreign key scenarios – a pet peeve of mine.  Tim Heuer from Microsoft said when I asked him that they have it down on their list but it didn’t make it this time unfortunately.

SDDN Sydney Meeting

As Miguel has posted, there is a new Silverlight Designers and Developers Network (SDDN) group starting in Sydney, and meeting for the first time this coming Tuesday, May 5th.  I will be speaking about styling in Silverlight, based upon my current article series hosted over at the SilverlightShow.net website.  I’ll be covering styling from introductory concepts through to advanced topics.  Here’s the invitation if you’d like to come along…

This meeting we will see Chris Anderson (blog), from Peer Placements will be discussing advanced styling in Silverlight for both developers and designers. Topics will cover styling strategies, tools, advanced xaml techniques, fashions, and a discussion on designing user experiences.    

Jordan Knight (Blog) from Readify will run through the exciting new features in Silverlight 3, and demonstrate how you might use them in a real working reference application. This in depth session will cover perspective 3D, pixel shaders, navigation features, out of browser and much more. Other concepts like Model-View-ViewModel, dependency injection, unit testing and designing template friendly (read designer friendly) applications will also be touched upon.  

WIN!  

Attendees will have the opportunity to win a copy of the full Expression 2 suite, worth $1000!  

When and Where?  

The date and time: Tuesday May 5 at 6:00 PM for a 6:30 PM start.  

The venue is the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel, Level 2, Pyrmont, NSW. See map for details.  

Attendance is FREE, but please RSVP by entering your details in the registration in the registration tool on the site (http://www.sddn.org.au) or send an email to info@sddn.org.au.  

Who will this group interest?  

The focus of the group is not just on developers. Traditionally developers have had great community support, whereas designers not so much… now that Silverlight 2 is out we plan to change this.  

Silverlight is as interesting for developers as it is for designers. Due in part to Silverlight’s excellent separation of design and development concerns we have new problems to solve around finding the best ways to work together.  

To this end the SDDN will facilitate an ongoing discussion and promote the development of ideas and best practices for anyone who works with Silverlight.  

To register interest head over to http://www.sddn.org.au. Use the registration tool in the header of the site.

Building a Silverlight Line-Of-Business Application – Part 7.2

After a slight delay due to preparing for my Code Camp and SDNUG presentations, here’s part 2 of my styling series.  In this article I cover fashions in UI design, choosing fonts and colours, and using animations and icons and themes.  I then take a look at some good examples of design in Silverlight.  Based on feedback from my first article I threw in some additional discussion about designing user experiences vs designing user interfaces.  You can read the article here:

http://www.silverlightshow.net/items/Building-a-Silverlight-Line-Of-Business-Application-Styling-Part-7.2.aspx

Building a Silverlight Line-Of-Business Application – Part 7.1

Part 7.1 (yes, .1) of my series on building a line-of-business application with Silverlight is now available on the SilverlightShow.net website here:

http://www.silverlightshow.net/items/Building-a-Silverlight-Line-Of-Business-Application-Styling-Part-1.aspx

This is the start of a 7 part mini-series on styling the application within my main series of building line of business applications.  As I expected (and hoped) this article (being predominantly opinion based) is generating some controversy so join in and add your own comments – the designer-developer interaction needs to be argued and discussed widely and I thought I’d get some going by prodding it with a big stick.  This is the only opinion article in this mini-series – don’t worry I’ll be getting to the real stuff soon.  The articles in this series will be released on a weekly basis so expect  part 2 in a week or so.  For these articles I’m still working in Silverlight 2 as Silverlight 3 doesn’t have a go-live license yet (and we have no idea when it will) and many people have been working with my existing framework so I want to keep helping them.  I will be noting new Silverlight 3 features throughout the articles where appropriate though that would allow you to do whatever it is in a better way.