S. Somasegar is the corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. Learn more about Somasegar.
We recently revamped the website for the Visual Studio Express Editions and made it Silverlight enabled.
The approach was to add Silverlight without making it look like we just dropped something new into our existing site without any thought. I loved how the site turned out and decided that it would make an interesting case study for people out there who are thinking about taking their own website and giving it a new life with Silverlight.
Each Express product has a lot to offer that we want to showcase, but our goal was to keep things “thin”. The previous Visual Studio Express site had Product Tours we wanted to continue to offer; however, using static HTML would be a significant amount of HMTL coding, significant increase in the number of pages, and the menu navigation would get too complex. Silverlight offered the best solution in that it allowed us to create hot spots on a screenshot of the product and associate the hotspots with an image. Using Silverlight, we were able to contain substantial interactive content and numerous graphical links on one landing page, instead of splitting the core navigation into several HTML pages. The end user experience is much more fluid.
The tools and frameworks that were used for this project were the Silverlight 1.0 runtime and the SIlverlight SDK along with Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite, Expression Blend, and Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008.
Over time, we are taking more and more of our existing web properties and enabling Silverlight content to deliver richer and more immersive experiences.