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What's New in Silverlight 3?

(3 votes)
Emil Stoychev
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Emil Stoychev
Joined Oct 15, 2007
Articles:   23
Comments:   98
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6 comments   /   posted on Mar 18, 2009
Categories:   General

Silverlight 3 was just announced on MIX09 – I’m sure you are all pretty excited about the new features included in this release. There is a lot to talk about – offline support, styling, binding, controls, media, animation, graphics, etc.

This article aims to give you a brief overview of the new features as well as links to in-depth articles explaining the details.

Let’s start by organizing the new features in groups:

DataBinding

  • Element to Element Binding – enables property binding to CLR objects and other UI components via XAML. Usage scenarios available soon 
  • Data Validation
    • facilities to validate data via two way databinding
    • provides skinnable control which allows designers to specify an error call-out
    • built-in support for commonly used controls such as TextBox, CheckBox, etc.
    • See that in action and learn how to use it

Styling

  • Based on Styles – a new feature widely used in WPF – provides ability to have styles based on other styles. This is also known as “cascading” for those who are familiar with CSS. Learn how to use that and see usage scenarios  
  • Resetting Styles – in Silverlight 3 is possible to set a Style multiple times. That helps for easier skinning of your application. 
  • Merged Resource Dictionaries – this feature allows you to use externally defined resources. A widely used scenario here is to share same resources between different applications. Available samples

Offline support

Out-of-browser applications allow you to take you application offline, put links to it on user’s desktop and/or start menu and access local data within user’s documents. Learn more on how to build such app and see a demo >> 

Controls

Part of the controls included in the Silverlight Control Toolkit now are also part of the Silverlight SDK:

  • WrapPanel
  • DockPanel
  • ViewBox
  • AutoCompleteBox
  • TreeView
  • Label

There is also one new control included:

Another great feature added in Silverlight 3 is the multiselection in the ListBox – this allows the user to make multiple selections. Read more how to use this feature (available soon)

Caching

The Silverlight browser plug-in by itself is around 4.6mb. As it develops and provides more and more built-in features over the time it is important to retain a small core runtime. Adding assemblies from the SDK or other third party ones makes the deployment package (the XAP file) bigger and that affects the end users. To deal with this problem Microsoft now cache locally (on user’s machine) framework assemblies on first use. Sounds cool, but personally my hope is to start caching not only assemblies that are part of the framework, but also a third party ones. For example if I use the Telerik or DevExpress Silverlight controls then it would be awesome if Microsoft also caches their assemblies. Pushing third party dlls in your XAP makes it really large and time consuming to download.

Another caching feature of the new Silverlight is the so called Cached Composition. It renders a visual tree of a set of elements to a bitmap and then uses the bitmap to render. This can greatly improve the graphics performance because in this way the element tree is rendered only once.

Animation

  • Easing – mathematical functions that describe an animation. Animation Easing functions makes it a lot easier to animate your objects with realistic behavior. There are a number of built-in effects such as Elastic, Bounce, Circle, Cubic and more. Read on how to use these effects and make fascinating UI (available soon)
  • Text Animation – a new option allows you to disable readability optimizations (such as Clear Type, anti-aliasing) while animating text. There is really no point in using anti aliasing while you are animating some text –it just slows down the performance. Learn how to make use of this feature (available soon)

Graphics

  • Bitmap APIallows the developers to write to the pixels of a given bitmap. That makes it possible to create a basic photo editor functions such as red eye correction, blur or fish eye effects.
  • Pixel Shader Effects – the long-dreamed blur and drop shadow effects. Developers can also write their own pixel shader effects using a special shading language called HLSL. See how to use these effects (available soon)
  • Perspective 3D – one of the most exciting features available in the new release – allows perspective transforms that can be applied to any XAML elements to simulate rotating or scaling in the 3D space. Read more how you can apply 3D to your elements >>
  • Hardware composition – support for GPU to draw on screen. This can hugely improve the performance of full screen video and bitmaps. Read here you can take advantage of using the GPU (available soon)

Deep Zoom

  • Enhanced performance - you are now able to show collections of a few thousand items with highframerate thanks to the Silverlight 3's hardware acceleration
  • Status information - you can provide status information when an image is completely downloaded
  • The MultiscaleImage control is now able to show different views of the same data using multiple DeepZoom images. For example one of the images displays the entire scene, and the another focuses on just one object.

Media

H264 and RAW support – provided ability to playback H264 and AAC content. Now it is also possible for developers to write their own codec to stream audio and video.

True HD playback in fullsreen

Text Support

  • Compressed fonts – now you can ZIP fonts and load them in your app. Check out how do to that in this tutorial (available soon)
  • Support for local fonts – you can now make use of local fonts installed on user’s machine.
  • TextBox’s caret is now styleble – there is a CaretBrush property on both TextBox and PasswordBox making it possible to style the caret on those controls. How-to is available (available soon)

Networking

  • Network change detection – with the ability to go offline with your application you will sometimes need to know whether you are connected to the internet or not. There is a handy event and a property to understand that and to detect a change in the connection. See how to implement network change detection and how you can benefit from this feature
  • Local connection – allows client-side communication between two or more Silverllight applications. This is useful when you have more than one Silverllight controls on a given web page and you want to be able to establish a connection between them. Tutorial on how to do that is available (available soon)
  • Binary XML – to improve the performance on your WCF services now you can compress the data being transmitted by using a binary XML instead of using a regular textual one. Read on how to make use of binary XML (available soon)

Accessibility

The Silverlight plug-in now provides access to all system colors. This lets partially sighted people to make changes such as high contrast color schemes for readability using familiar operating system controls.

Summary

That’s it. In my opinion it is quite a big list of exciting new things included in this release. There are some major features that really make me happy like element to element binding, validation, offline support, etc. I’m excited to see how Silverlight evolves over the time and I'm pretty positive about its future.


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Comments

  • ppopadiyn

    RE: What's New in Silverlight 3?


    posted by ppopadiyn on Mar 19, 2009 01:39
    Are there something new for the Expression Blend ?
  • -_-

    RE: What's New in Silverlight 3?


    posted by SorinD on Mar 21, 2009 04:32
    Is licensing controls using LicenseProvider available?
  • emil

    RE: What's New in Silverlight 3?


    posted by emil on Mar 24, 2009 03:56
    @ppopadiyn, yes, there are a couple of good new features. Read about Expression Blend 3 here:

    @SorinD, sorry, I'm not aware of such information.
  • -_-

    RE: What's New in Silverlight 3?


    posted by Core on Oct 06, 2009 06:38
    Isolated Storage still limited to user profile base rather than machine base?
  • emil

    RE: What's New in Silverlight 3?


    posted by emil on Oct 07, 2009 08:46
    Yes, limited to user profile
  • -_-

    http://www.grammarsoftware.com


    posted by software to check grammar on Nov 21, 2009 13:39

    Hey, check out these software to check grammar

    Regards,

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