As Microsoft’s alternative to Adobe Flash evolves, so does the development tools designed to assist developers in creating content for Silverlight. At MIX10, concomitantly with the unveiling of Silverlight 4 Release Candidate
, the Redmond company also announced the availability of the first Beta for Expression Blend 4
. At MIX10, the software giant emphasized the fact that Expression Blend 4 was designed to enable developers to build applications for the next version of Silverlight, which is scheduled to be released to web in April 2010.
In addition to being tailored to Silverlight 4, Expression Blend 4 also plays nice with Silverlight 3, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) 3.5 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and WPF 4. Developers can turn to Expression Blend 4 to build both websites and applications for Silverlight 3 and 4, and desktop apps for WPF 3.5 SP1 and WPF 4.
“Blend 4 now supports Silverlight 4 and WPF 4, and of course it works great together with VS 2010. As many customers still need to deliver SL3 (and of course, Windows Phone) or WPF 3.5 projects, Blend can now handle multi-targeting – which is the ability to target a project at either the current or the previous generation of the platforms,” Christian Schormann
, responsible for product planning and definition of Expression Blend and Design, and for long-term product strategy of the Expression suite as a whole, revealed.
But, at the same time, Blend 4 expands beyond Silverlight and WPF, the tool allowing developers to create applications for Windows Phone 7 Series
, according to Microsoft. But this is not the only evolution of Blend 4. SketchFlow, for example, was taken to the next stage, with the addition of new behavior.
Another change involves the extra flexibility introduced for the creation of layouts. Blend 4 is capable of translating drawings made by devs into custom layout panels, without requiring them to write a single line of code. “With the new PathListBox control, this is exactly what you do: You simply draw one or more curves or shapes, and Blend will layout elements or data along the geometry you created. A radial list box? Instead of writing a radial layout manager, just draw a circle. A spiral? Just draw it,” Schormann stated.
At the same time, Blend 4 brings to the table smooth layout morphing between layouts. This is done through a feature called Fluid Layout, which makes possible smooth transitions between layouts. In addition, the promise from Microsoft is that Blend 4 streamlines the process of building business applications, by simplifying the workflow between developers and designers, and that it introduces new transitions.
“In Blend 4, we’re adding transition effects that are applied during a state transition, just like transitions in a video editor,” Schormann explained. “Blend comes with a set of new shader effects specifically for transitions and you can also roll your own.”
Expression Blend 4 Beta is available for download here
Silverlight 4 Release Candidate (RC) Build 4.0.50303.0 is available for download here
Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP are available for download here
Visual Studio 2010 Premium Release Candidate (RC) is available for download here
Visual Studio 2010 Professional Release Candidate (RC) is available for download here
Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Release Candidate (RC) is available for download here