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Silverlight 2 - Adobe Flex Killer Is on Its Way!

Silverlight 2.0 kicks ass and I can't wait to start dropping more hardcore blog posts regarding it

First off, let me just say that I've been waiting for this day for almost a year now. When Silverlight 1.0 came out, I was terribly disappointed but I was also really eager as well. I saw potential in that JavaScript-only cross-platform runtime. When Silverlight 1.1 came out (which I think was actually only a few days after 1.0) as an alpha, I was even more intrigued and excited. Sure, it had no controls, no layout panels, and no data binding, and very little networking support - but it ran with a .NET CLR back-end, and it was cross-platform. I was writing C# code in Visual Studio that would eventually run (and could be debugged!!) on Safari on Mac OS X.

Now the first of what I consider the true Silverlight releases is here - Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1. Microsoft has been getting an unfair onslaught of bad press from developers regarding Silverlight. In the good old days, we used to slam and insult Microsoft for taking too damn long to come out with releases, and the releases they gave us were incomplete and didn't have what we wanted. So Microsoft actually listened and with Silverlight and some other recent projects, they are adopting a "Release Early, Release Often" methodology where we're getting premature bits so that Microsoft can solicit vital feedback before releasing the actual betas. So instead of thanking Microsoft for giving us early access to this stuff, we end up giving Microsoft even more crap for "releasing half-baked product".

Silverlight 2.0 kicks ass and I can't wait to start dropping more hardcore blog posts regarding it. Scott Guthrie's tutorials are a fantastic place to start. The issue I have, however, is that all of the tutorials assume you have installed Silverlight 2.0 tools for VS 2008. There is a small issue with that and I'm not sure everyone's aware of it.

First, you must not install the SDK or Silverlight 2.0 runtime if you plan on installing the VS 2008 tools. The VS 2008 tool installer is a chain install that gives you everything, and actually requires that nothing be previously installed. Second, the Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 tools for VS 2008 installer requires the presence of your original VS 2008 installation media! This might have easily been overlooked in testing. When you are installing the VS 2008 tools for Silverlight, it actually looks for the file vs_install.msi. If you don't have this, you're screwed. Thankfully I keep expanded ISO images on a spare USB hard drive for just such an occasion, but it was damn frustrating until I figured out what was going on.

So, if you make sure you're working off a clean system that has nothing Silverlight-related installed, and you've got VS 2008 installed and the "Visual Web Developer" option for VS 2008, then you're good to go. Also, I believe these tools will not work on the Express editions of VS 2008 - you need the full-blown Pro or better edition.

I'll be posting more on Silverlight 2.0 in the coming days and weeks, provided I can find enough spare time to squeeze it in between all the other stuff I'm doing. I am very excited about finally getting my hands on this release and I hope everyone else is too!

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More Stories By Kevin Hoffman

Kevin Hoffman, editor-in-chief of SYS-CON's iPhone Developer's Journal, has been programming since he was 10 and has written everything from DOS shareware to n-tier, enterprise web applications in VB, C++, Delphi, and C. Hoffman is coauthor of Professional .NET Framework (Wrox Press) and co-author with Robert Foster of Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed. He authors The .NET Addict's Blog at .NET Developer's Journal.

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