Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Pain of Silverlight

I'm starting to write the Stocks application with Silverlight. I installed Visual Studio Orcas. That took forever. I installed the Silverlight extension to VS and the Silverlight 1.1 runtime. That was a lot to install! But that's the hard part, right? Microsoft development tools are great, right?

Uhh, no. Creating a Silverlight project was easy enough. I was surprised to see that VS did not provide any kind of visual designer for Silverlight. It was basically just an XML text editor for creating XAML. I was able to quickly throw together Hello World. I hit the Run/Debug button, and hit my first problem. VS had a problem passing the URL for my Hello World page to Firefox (the default browser on my system.) So I changed my default browser to IE, and tried again. Hey that worked.

I played around with the IntelliSense in the Silverlight/XAML editor. I only saw graphical options. No form elements. I needed a way for a user to input a Stock symbol for my Stock app! So what to do?

There is a visual designer for Silverlight, Expression Blend. So I downloaded that (yet another download) and cranked it up. I created Silverlight project in it. I looked for a text input box in the palette, but didn't see anything I consulted the Help. It indicated that there should be something in the palette for this:

Further exploring Help reinforced this:

The icon I see there sure looks like the Icon in the first screen, near the blue circled 4. But when I use Expression, I only get the TextBlock option. That's also the only option I got when I used IntelliSense in Visual Studio. I'm getting the impression that Silverlight does not currently support any kind of text input!

It appears that I am not alone in this frustration. Luckily that led me to some text controls that somebody else made...

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