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Oct 17, 2010

Building My first Windows Phone 7 App: Silverlight Basics, Controls, and More…

The Mobile Spoon is excited to continue with the series of posts about developing our first Windows Phone 7 App using Visual Studio 2010.

Last week I wrote about How to install Silverlight for Windows Phone 7, check it out if you are looking for useful tips and some extra resources.

Today I will write about my experience as a non-professional Silverlight developer, trying to learn my way around Silverlight for Windows Phone 7, looking for some help etc.

So first of all, Visual Studio 2010. At last, a new look. Gray is out, dark purple is in. On my Windows 7 Lenovo T400 laptop it is running a bit slowly. That's a bit annoying, but that's life.

Visual-Studio-Windows-Phone-7-Mobilespoon

Silverlight:

If you haven't heard of Silverlight before, that is Microsoft's Flash killer. The technology is similar to WPF but is targeted to developing advanced web based applications.

The idea behind Silverlight is that the UI design is separated from the actual code. That enables 2 people working on the same module: one is responsible of the visual design (look & feel, icons, animations) and the second is responsible of the code behind. The code behind is actually the code (not sure why they "downgraded" the term to be "behind"…) – it' can be C# or any other .Net language – which is what I like about Silverlight over other "web" development tools: once you are in the code – it's exactly like anything else from Microsoft – simple, friendly, easy to debug.

Nice, the only problem is that I only have myself at the moment, which means I had to get my hands dirty with some XAML (XML based user interface files creating Silverlight UI in runtime) work. Not the easiest thing to do if you have no idea what you are doing, but Google is very helpful in those things… :-)

(XAML files can also be edited using Microsoft Blend – a powerful UI editor for visual designers – part of the visual studio installation).

Using the split view, you can edit your XAML and see a nice preview of your app pages (no Forms in Windows Phone 7 – they are now Pages…).

XAML-Split-View

*Note: Since this is not a development blog, I will not write about how to develop using Silverlight. This articles series is about my first impressions of the Windows Phone 7 development experience.

Windows Phone 7 Emulator:

The emulator is fantastic. A bit slow, but enough to get the feeling of how things will look and behave on a real device. Comparing to the Windows Mobile emulator which was a nightmare, this one looks like a modern and simple tool to use. It also stores your development apps once you they were used, which is very convenient.

Windows Phone 7 Emulator

Panorama & Pivot Controls:

If you had a chance to look at the Windows Phone 7 video demonstrations (more Windows Phone 7 Stuff) you probably saw the use of Panorama view – where the HUB is actually a wide page and the phone lets you navigate through small portions of it.

Microsoft created 2 pre-configured controls called "Panorama" and "Pivot". They are extremely useful if you want your app to be completely aligned with the Microsoft UI design principals. The risk is that if everyone will create similar apps it may become boring after a while…

Panorama-View-Windows-Phone-7 Pivot-View-Windows-Phone-7

Since I'm thinking of building a simple To-do list, I decided my main view will be based on the Pivot Control. The Panorama view may look cooler, but the title is so big it doesn't leave much room for the actual content…

That's it today, I will continue to play with Silverlight for Windows Phone 7, and write my impressions of it while also trying to build a simple application at the same time.

Stay tuned for more updates…

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