image Today at the MIX 09 conference we announced the immediate availability of the Silverlight 3 Beta 1 SDK.

First of all here are the all important URLs:

Developers Runtime:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=143433

Silverlight 3 Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008 SP1:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=11dc7151-dbd6-4e39-878f-5081863cbb5d

Silverlight 3 SDK Beta 1:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=d09b6ecf-9a45-4d99-b752-2a330a937bc4!

Silverlight 3 Beta 1 Documentation:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc838158(vs.96).aspx.

Blend 3 Preview:
http://www.microsoft.com/expression/blendpreview

Microsoft .NET RIA Services March '09 Preview
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=76bb3a07-3846-4564-b0c3-27972bcaabce&displayLang=en

So what is in it?

This was highly expected and there is a lot of excitement about it so I thought it may be nice to list some of the new cool features included in this release:

1.

Support for Higher Quality Video & Audio

 

Rich, high quality media has always been one of the strengths of Silverlight since version 1 (hence big the number of sites that adopted it as their technology of choice for video streaming), Silverlight V3 is still another step forward in this by providing a number of additional features.

 
  • Support for native H.264 video and AAC audio compression
  • Full screen 720p HD playback (thanks to its ability to leverage GPU HW acceleration)
  • Full supports Smooth Streaming for almost instant playback and optimal bandwidth and CPU utilisation
  • Extensible media format support thanks to the new RAW AV Pipeline using 3rd party codecs
  • Industry leading content rights protection using PlayReady technology
   

2

Enhanced visual experiences

 

We listened to what developers and designers told us they wanted to see in the next version of Silverlight to allow them creating even more exciting user experiences and among the many additions to the platform are:

 
  • Support for Perspective 3D Graphics which allows to apply content to a 3D plane that can be rotated or scaled in space without writing any additional code
  • A lot of bitmap enhancement including Pixel Shader Effects, Bitmap Caching, new Bitmap APIs
  • Themes support which will allow developers to apply styles to applications changing the way the app looks at runtime
  • New animation effects such as spring and bounce and custom created ones which will allow developers to implement their own mathematical formula to describe an animation
  • Improved text rendering which provides for better looking and faster font and text effects and animations
  • Enhanced Controls Skinning which allows to sharing styles across different applications
   

3

Improved support for developers productivity

 

While Silverlight has always provided excellent support for developers via the tight integration with Visual Studio and a set of built-in controls, the new version keep adding on top of this and provides yet more features that will make designers happy:

 
  • 60+ high-quality, fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting and media, new layout containers such as dock and viewbox, and controls such as autocomplete, treeview and datagrid… and did I mention dev will have access to the controls source code?
  • Support for Deep linking which allows bookmarking a page within an app
  • Improved support for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Enhanced data support allowing things like:
    • Element to Element binding (for example linking the volume in a media player to a slider)
    • Data forms with data validation
    • Support for client and server side business objects allowing for example paging, filtering and sorting of data which in conjunction with the new .NET RIA services will allow to perform complex operations against server side data
   

4

Out of browser capabilities

 

You asked and we answered!!! Now it is possible to host Silverlight apps on the local machine and add a link to the desktop to launch the app outside of the browser and even if the machine is offline!

 
  • Desktop shortcuts and start menu support –place an application on the desktop and be one click away from your customer.
  • Run outside of browser –no longer need the distraction of the browser chrome
  • Safe, secure, sandboxed – an application can be trusted without security warnings, keeping your customers safe.
  • Consumer friendly non-administrator install – applications are held in a cache and do not require any privileges to run
  • Built in auto-update – an application will check for new versions on the server and update on launch
  • Connectivity detection (in browser, out of browser) – can detect a loss of connection and then chose to cache users work until the reconnect
  • Windows 7 integration – on Windows 7 support will be provided for superbar integration, multitouch, and location awareness services such as GPS support so that your application can react to the users location eg for mapping or location targeted information.

 

Designers, designers, designers!!!

And what about designers? While Silverlight has always been a huge success with developers who are able to work with tools familiar to them (such as Visual Studio), designers keep asking us to improve their experience in designing applications using Silverlight and so we are also providing a preview of the new Expression Blend 3 and some of its main features are:

  • Expression Blend 3 will include a new set of features called SketchFlow designed to make it easier for you to experiment with dynamic user experiences and create compelling prototypes. It enables the navigation and composition of an application to be modeled in a very visual manner from a simple prototype that uses a series of sketches, to something much more evolved. A prototype can be made as real and interactive as it needs to be to communicate design intent and SketchFlow can leverage all the existing features of Expression Blend

    NOTE: I am not sure SketchFlow will be included in the preview version released today… stay tuned for more info about this…
  • Native import of Photoshop and Illustrator assets which simplifies the work allowing designers to keep using the tools they prefer and sill be able to create stunning interfaces in Blend… with full support for individual layers which retain their original layer effects, layout, editable text, and vector content
  • New Behaviors feature which allow to add interactivity to application WITHOUT having to write code
  • Support for Sample Data which allows to design interfaces when there is no access to live data!This allows generating sample data or import sample data from an XML file and makes it available to controls on the artboard at design-time
  • Source control integration with Visual Studio - Team Foundation Server which allows to include the work done in Blend into the full source control system plus gives access to all the development lifecycle features of the suite such as work item management, team builds, document sharing, and reporting making designers a first class citizen in the project development process!!
  • Intellisense support for coding C#, VB.NET and XMAL

Do you need more?

In addition to this:

We are launching a new official Silverlight blog to keep you informed and updated with what is going on in the Silverlight world: http://team.silverlight.net/

The World Wide telescope is available in Silverlight via its web client: http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/webclient. If you have never heard of the World Wide Telescope, it is a technology which allows to browse high resolution imagery taken by telescopes worldwide… if you have never seen it… you have to now!!!!

ASP.NET MVC 1.0 has been released and is available here.

Version 2 of of the Web Platform Installer beta has also been released. Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 (Web PI) is a free tool that makes it simple to download, install and keep up-to-date with the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework and Visual Web Developer. In addition, install popular open source ASP.NET and PHP web apps with the Web PI.

The Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit has also been released on MSDN. Itenables developers to integrate and enrich their Web-based applications with Windows Live Messenger. With the Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit, you will get instant access to:

  • Real-time presence and communications
  • Contact relationships
  • Rich profile data

SuperPreview is a stand-alone visual debugging tool that makes it faster and easier to migrate your sites from IE6 to IE7 or IE8. With SuperPreview, you can ensure that your Web sites work correctly in IE8 while also maintaining compatibility with earlier versions of IE.

SuperPreview shows your web pages rendered in IE6 and either IE7 or IE8, depending on which version you have installed on your machine. You can view the pages side by side or as an onion-skin overlay and use rulers, guides and zoom/pan tools to precisely identify differences in layout. You can even compare your page comp to how the targeted browsers render the page.

 

 

What next?

I really think my next few days will be REALLY busy trying out lots of this!!!! And if you are an Academic in the UK and want to learn more… there is still some time to sign up for out Silverlight Insight sessions where I will cover some of the new features too!!! Check my previous blog post for more info!!!

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