Even a chimp can write code

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Silverlight UI Controls

Update [Apr 2009]: The post below is now obsolete. There is now a great ecosystem of UI controls for Silverlight. You can start with the Silverlight Toolkit, a Microsoft provided collection of Silverlight controls, components and utilities made available for your development with a permissive license (MSPL). Besides, there are excellent controls from ComponentOne, Telerik, Infragistics etc. There's also some good documentation on Silverlight Controls on MSDN.

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If you've played with Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 Beta or 1.1 Alpha bits, you've no doubt noticed that while there's Canvas, TextBlock and other such controls, there is no Button or ListBox or even layout elements like StackPanel or Grid. Rest assured, your UI development needs are always on our mind.

If you download the Silverlight 1.1 Alpha SDK, you'll see a UI controls package in there. You didn't think we'd leave you in the lurch, did you? Although it is very easy to whip up a Button control with XAML and some code in Silverlight, that detracts from your app building. To address this, we've released a modest set of controls in the Silverlight UI Controls package. These include:

  • Button
  • ScrollBar
  • ScrollViewer
  • Slider
  • ListBox

Also included are a couple primitives like RepeatButton, Thumb and GripThumb.

All of the controls in that package are managed code controls i.e. they rely on Silverlight 1.1 Alpha and the CLR and Silverlight framework in it.

These controls currently sport the Silverlight "Dawn" look and feel. We're releasing source code for these controls so you can modify and customize them as appropriate. There is a readme file with additional information and the code is peppered with comments, all which the agile diehards are free to ignore, 'cause the code is the documentation. The control behavior is in C# code-behind files, while the control templates, i.e. the visual aspects governing look and feel, are in XAML markup files. Another example of separating UI from behavior, as architecture astronauts have been telling us since the dawn of time.

Silverlight 1.1 Alpha SDK - UI Controls

Controls such as ScrollBar, ScrollViewer, ListBox and Slider are composed of other controls. We picked this mix because it accentuates the diversity of the control set and allows you - the designer or developer - to look at the source code and understand the Silverlight framework, the inter-dependencies between controls, and not to mention, the quirks in the control set arising from some features being absent in the 1.1 Alpha.

Please use these controls in your applications targeting Silverlight 1.1 Alpha. In fact, it should be pretty simple to take the XAML pieces, tie in some JavaScript and have all of this run on 1.0 Beta. But I'll leave that to the community.

As always, direct comments and bug reports on the UI controls to the Silverlight Forums. If you have questions about the control roadmap or other considerations made while developing this set, drop me a line here.

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