Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Designer's Perspective: Working with Silverlight and Expression Blend

Deb: For too long now, I've been sitting on the sidelines, content to edit Steve's posts. But it's time to start representing the designer's viewpoint when it comes to using Silverlight 3 and Expression Blend 3.

I was first attracted to Silverlight for two reasons: 1) visualization is very important to me and Silverlight lets me design some very compelling visualizations, and 2) Expression Blend promised me significantly more autonomy, and the ability to do whatever I could imagine without relying on a developer to translate my vision for me.

While I haven't become as autonomous as I would like, Blend keeps improving and for the most part, Blend 3 is a joy to work with. I have my moments of frustration, sure, but they are more than offset by the power and independence I've been given. The goal of my posts will be to reduce the frustration factor even further for fellow designers.

I can summarize my attitude toward XAML by saying this: in general, the only legitimate reason for me to go to the XAML is to finetune the sizing of rows and columns. Other than that, I shouldn't need to even look at it. I think this should be the ultimate test of Blend's ability to meet the needs of designers: no XAML coding required.

The point of view I represent is that of someone who has graphic arts training, who is adept at Adobe tools such as Photoshop, who is an extremely heavy user of the Internet, but who knows nothing about C# or .NET. Perhaps it may be difficult for some readers to understand someone with this background, but there are a lot of us out here. There are many things that may be obvious to a developer that can only be painfully learned through trial and error by a designer. Given the relative 'youth' of the Silverlight tools and their accompanying documentation (sparse), only the Internet, powerful search engines and the sharing of the Silverlight community make solving the problems we confront relatively painless. And it always helps to know that the pain of being an early adopter of Silverlight will be compensated for by the advantages that come from being among the first to learn these skills.

No comments: