When I migrated my blog over to a new provider and blogengine, I lost some images,replaced them using VS2010, so some screenshots look 'newer'.

Series  - Create a UserControl with Silverlight 2.0 Beta x  

Part I   - Create a UserControl with Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 (this post)
Part II - Create a UserControl with SilverLight 2.0 Beta

Wanting to know what all the hype is really about, I started to think about creating a web application with Silverlight.
Before I will create an application, my idea is to start of with a UserControl. A really simple one too. For the application I am going to maybe be building with Silverlight, I need a UI component to choose the gender of a person.
You could use two radiobuttons, make them a member of the same group and we're off. But with Silverlight we can try a more graphical approach, maybe a more intuitive control. I want to create a control that has the Male and Female Symbol that are clickable, through clicking on a symbol you select the gender.

I installed:

  • Microsoft Expression Design
  • Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008 Preview
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft Silverlight Tools Beta 1 for Visual Studio 2008

First thing you learn when starting to use this technology is that you really need a designers eye on things. So if you are not a creative person, that likes designing stuff, maybe you need a designer to do it for you.
We are going to try to do the design ourselves for now.

Create Solution and projects
First I Fired up Visual Studio 2008. I created a new Silverlight Application (so it is easy to try our control out).

Create Silverlight Application

As soon as you click OK, you are presented a choice, because Silverlight will be hosted on or inside a web page, you have to choose from the following options:

  1. Create only the Silverlight app and let Studio generate an HTML page for you to test the app with (only in bin/debug)
  2. Add a Website project to your solution
  3. Add a Web Application Project to your solution


Select hosting application type

I choose option 3. a Web Application Project. Now I got two projects inside my solution. I right click on the Page.xaml file and choose "Open in Expression Blend"


Open in MS Blend

Rightclick on the Silverlight project file and choose "Add New Item..." from the menu

Add new item to Silverlight application project in Blend Add New Item

Select UserControl as template and give the control a name.

Give the xaml file for your UserControl a name New Item

Rightclick in the area named: "Objects and Timeline" in the left side of Blend, on the UserControl and select Rename, give the control a name (GenderChoose), it cannot be the same as the name you gave the .xaml file (this is confusing, because the New Item dialog suggests you name the Usercontrol, but all you do is name the xaml and these names both must be unique.

Rename the UserControl in blend Rename Control

Because the background of the LayoutRoot is white  We need to change it to transparent, we do this by selecting the LayoutRoot inside the UserControl

Select LayoutRoot Grid in Blend Select LayoutRoot

After this,we select the little square that is on the right of the BackGround Brush setting

Background brush

In the contextmenu choose "Reset" and the background is transparent

No brush


Now it is time to fire up Microsoft Expression Design, it is a vector based drawing and design tool. I need to create the Male and Female symbols with it.
Click File > New and create a document with Width: 120 px and Height 140 px.
From the toolbox select an Ellipse

Select Ellipse

Draw a circle and select a line, to draw the arrow on the upper right of the circle. Set the width of the line to 10px. You should be making something like this:

Male symbol inside Microsoft Expression Design Male Symbol

Select all paths in your drawing, than click Object > Compound Path > Make, or use Ctrl + 8. Than again select all on your drawing

Compounded path

and paste into your control in Blend.

Male symbol pasted into Blend Path inside Blend Control

Rename the Path to MalePath. Do the same for the Female symbol (draw, make compound path, copy and paste into Blend) and rename this path into FemalePath. Give the paths a color you like, by selecting and choosing the right color in Brush option. Now we got something like this

Symbols have color Colors added

And the result in Xaml is this:

   1:  <UserControl
   2:      xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/client/2007"
   3:      xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
   4:      xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008"
   5:      xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
   6:      mc:Ignorable="d"

   7:      x:Class="HC.Silverlight.Tyout.GenderChooser"
   8:      d:DesignWidth="288" d:DesignHeight="160" x:Name="GenderChoose">
  10:      <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Height="160" Width="244" >
  11:          <Path x:Name="MalePath"    
  12:              MouseLeftButtonDown="MalePath_MouseLeftButtonDown" 
  13:              MouseEnter="MalePath_MouseEnter"    
  14:              MouseLeave="MalePath_MouseLeave"   
  15:              Stretch="Fill" StrokeThickness="10" 
  16:              StrokeLineJoin="Round" 
  17:              Stroke="#4C0E1B4B" 
  18:              Data="M71.182777,43.484818 C88.632889,57.770176 91.340874,83.323097 77.231247,
  19:                  100.56004 C63.121323,117.79601 37.536755,120.18899 20.086346,
  20:                  105.90402 C2.6360354,91.620079 -0.071950652,66.066154 14.037977,
  21:                  48.829205 C28.147804,31.592951 53.732468,29.20006 71.182777,
  22:                  43.484818 z M71.687004,42.605003 L102.30298,5.2050009 L104.313,
  23:                  34.850189 M71.437004,42.401001 L102.053,5.000001 L72.594521,8.885973" 
  24:              Height="120.23" 
  25:              HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
  26:              Margin="2.93199992179871,2.15100002288818,0,37.6189994812012" 
  27:              VerticalAlignment="Stretch" 
  28:              Width="109.313" 
  29:              d:LayoutOverrides="Width"/>
  30:          <Path x:Name="FemalePath"  
  31:              MouseLeftButtonDown="FemalePath_MouseLeftButtonDown"    
  32:              MouseEnter="FemalePath_MouseEnter"    
  33:              MouseLeave="FemalePath_MouseLeave"   
  34:              Stretch="Fill"   

  35:              StrokeThickness="10"   
  36:              StrokeLineJoin="Round"   
  37:              Stroke="#4CF502E4"   
  38:              Data="M 75.6667,46.1667C 98.2183,46.1667 116.5,64.2245 116.5,86.5C 116.5,108.775 98.2183,126.833 75.6667,
  39:                  126.833C 53.1151,126.833 34.8333,108.775 34.8333,86.5C 34.8333,64.2245 53.115,46.1667 75.6667,
  40:                  46.1667 Z M 76.5,126.5L 76.5,185.167M 103.833,159.167L 48.8333,159.167"   
  41:              HorizontalAlignment="Left"   
  42:              Margin="122.833000183105,0.166999995708466,0,10.8330001831055"   
  43:              Width="91.667"   
  44:              d:LayoutOverrides="Width"/>
  45:      </Grid>
  46:  </UserControl>

Listing 1

Now we open Visual studio again, we get the file modified message

We select Yes to all and in the upper side of the Studio Design screen we click reload.
We open the code window for our GenderChooser class (GendserChooser.xaml.cs) and I wrote the following code:


   1:  namespace HC.Silverlight.Tryout
   2:  {
   3:      #region Enums
   4:      /// <summary>
   5:      /// Tells which Gender
   6:      /// </summary>
   7:      public enum GenderChoice
   8:      {
   9:          /// <summary>
  10:          /// Gender for man
  11:          /// </summary>
  12:          Male = 0,
  13:          /// <summary>
  14:          /// Gender for woman
  15:          /// </summary>
  16:          Female = 1,
  17:          /// <summary>
  18:          /// Not sure :-)
  19:          /// </summary>
  20:          Unknown = 2
  21:      }
  23:      #endregion
  25:      #region Delegates
  26:      /// <summary>
  27:      /// Handles GenderChosen Event
  28:      /// </summary>
  29:      /// <param name="sender"></param>
  30:      /// <param name="e"></param>
  31:      public delegate void GenderChosenEventHandler(object sender, GenderChoice gender);
  32:  #endregion
  34:      public partial class GenderChooser : UserControl
  35:      {
  36:          #region Events
  37:          /// <summary>
  38:          /// GenderChosen
  39:          /// </summary>
  40:          public event GenderChosenEventHandler GenderChosen;
  41:          #endregion
  43:          #region EventHandler
  44:          /// <summary>
  45:          /// Raises event, if EventHandler not null
  46:          /// </summary>
  47:          /// <param name="message"></param>
  48:          private void OnGenderChosen(object sender, GenderChoice selectedGender)
  49:          {
  50:              if (GenderChosen != null)
  51:              {
  52:                  GenderChosen(sender, selectedGender);
  53:              }
  54:          }
  55:          #endregion
  58:          #region Privates
  59:          private GenderChoice _Gender = GenderChoice.Unknown;
  60:          private SolidColorBrush _MaleColor = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(255, 14, 27, 75));
  61:          private SolidColorBrush _MaleColorDisabled = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(70, 14, 27, 75));
  62:          private SolidColorBrush _FemaleColor = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(255, 245, 2, 228));
  63:          private SolidColorBrush _FemaleColorDisabled = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(70, 245, 2, 228));
  64:          #endregion
  66:          #region Properties
  68:          #region Colors
  69:          /// <summary>
  70:          /// Gets or sets MaleColorDisabled, the color if the Male symbol is disabled
  71:          /// </summary>
  72:          public SolidColorBrush MaleColorDisabled

  73:          {
  74:              get { return _MaleColorDisabled; }
  75:              set { _MaleColorDisabled = value; }
  76:          }
  78:          /// <summary>
  79:          ///  Gets or sets FemaleColorDisabled, the color if the Female symbol is disabled
  80:          /// </summary>
  81:          public SolidColorBrush FemaleColorDisabled
  82:          {
  83:              get { return _FemaleColorDisabled; }
  84:              set { _FemaleColorDisabled = value; }
  85:          }
  87:          /// <summary>
  88:          /// Gets or sets MaleColor
  89:          /// </summary>
  90:          public SolidColorBrush MaleColor
  91:          {
  92:              get { return _MaleColor; }
  93:              set { _MaleColor = value; }
  94:          }
  96:          /// <summary>
  97:          /// Gets or sets FemaleColor
  98:          /// </summary>
  99:          public SolidColorBrush FemaleColor
 100:          {
 101:              get { return _FemaleColor; }
 102:              set { _FemaleColor = value; }
 103:          }

 104:          #endregion
 106:          /// <summary>
 107:          /// Gets or sets GenderChoice
 108:          /// </summary>
 109:          public GenderChoice Gender
 110:          {
 111:              get { return _Gender; }
 112:              set 
 113:              { 
 114:                  _Gender = value;
 115:                  SetColorAccordingToChoice();
 116:                  OnGenderChosen(this, _Gender);
 117:              }
 118:          }
 119:          #endregion
 121:          #region C'tor
 122:          public GenderChooser()
 123:          {
 124:              // Required to initialize variables
 125:              InitializeComponent();
 127:          }

 128:          #endregion
 130:          #region MouseEvents
 131:          private void MalePath_MouseEnter(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
 132:          {
 133:              MalePath.Stroke = MaleColor;
 134:          }
 136:          private void MalePath_MouseLeave(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
 137:          {
 138:              if (Gender == GenderChoice.Male)
 139:              {
 140:                  MalePath.Stroke = MaleColor;
 141:              }
 142:              else
 143:              {
 144:                  MalePath.Stroke = MaleColorDisabled;
 145:              }
 146:          }
 148:          private void FemalePath_MouseEnter(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
 149:          {
 150:              FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColor;
 151:          }
 154:          private void FemalePath_MouseLeave(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
 155:          {
 156:              if (Gender == GenderChoice.Female)
 157:              {
 158:                  FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColor;

 159:              }
 160:              else
 161:              {
 162:                  FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColorDisabled;
 163:              }
 164:          }
 167:          private void MalePath_MouseLeftButtonDown(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
 168:          {
 169:              Gender = GenderChoice.Male;
 170:          }
 172:          private void FemalePath_MouseLeftButtonDown(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
 173:          {
 174:              Gender = GenderChoice.Female;
 175:          }

 177:          #endregion
 179:          #region Private Methods
 180:          /// <summary>
 181:          /// Sets color for Male and Female according to Gender chosen
 182:          /// </summary>
 183:          private void SetColorAccordingToChoice()
 184:          {
 185:              switch (Gender)
 186:              {
 187:                  case  GenderChoice.Unknown:
 188:                      MalePath.Stroke = MaleColorDisabled;
 189:                      FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColorDisabled;
 190:                      break;
 191:                  case GenderChoice.Female:
 192:                      MalePath.Stroke = MaleColorDisabled;
 193:                      FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColor;
 194:                      break;
 195:                  case GenderChoice.Male:
 196:                      MalePath.Stroke = MaleColor;
 197:                      FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleColorDisabled;
 198:                      break;
 199:              }
 200:          }
 201:          #endregion
 202:      }
 203:  }

 Listing 2

I use the SolidColorBrush to change the color of the symbols, (I only change the Alpha channel). I decided to make properties for the colors, that way the colors are dynamic.
An enum is used for the Gender choice, a property Gender of type GenderChoice (the enum) holds the current Gender.
In the setter for Gender the method SetColorAccordingToChoice is called in this method the current Gender is read and accordingly the richt colors are set on the symbols.

Control in startup state Control has Female selected
Control in action

The control in action, the first picture shows the control in startup state (symbols greyed out), the second picture shows the female symbol selected, under the hood the Gender is filled with GenderChoice.Female and the GenderChosen Event is fired.

All in all I think Silverlight is cool for it's purpose. It is possible to create strong graphics for your application and use them programming the language you already are used to.
The fact that not everybody is a designer is really the downside. A lot of developers will be better of creating windows or web apps using standard controls.
Ofcourse with Silverlight 2.0 standard controls are available, but the strong point of Silverlight is it's decoupling of UI from logic.

When designers are going to adopt Blend and MS Design, it could be really taking off, but until that time we have to do it ourselves.

Series  - Create a UserControl with Silverlight 2.0 Beta x

Part I   - Create a UserControl with Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 (this post)
Part II - Create a UserControl with SilverLight 2.0 Beta

Henry Cordes
My thoughts exactly...

Comments (3) -

Rob Leclerc | Reply

31/05/2009 13:56:23 #

I come from a Java background but for the past few months I've been programming with C# and Silverlight. I've been trying to get my head around Dependency Properties and how one "ought" to structure their code in Silverlight, but all the examples seem to be much more complex than they need to be, and so I feel that must be missing something.

For instance, most of the code above could have been written in about 40 lines with something like what you see below. On your follow up post you got into Dependency Properties and this tacked on another 30 lines, but I fail to see how this improved the code in anyway. It's longer, and more complex, and seemingly would be harder to maintain. As long as you have an event handler rigged up, subscribers can be notified of events as they happen and it seems like you are good to go?

I don't mean this to sarcastic, as I genuinely feel like I am missing something, but in many example using "advanced" Silverlight techniques, the complexity is a lot greater than it needs to be and I don't see where the nutritional value is.

public SolidColorBrush FemaleColor { get; set; }
public SolidColorBrush FemaleDisabled { get; set; }
public SolidColorBrush MaleColor { get; set; }
public SolidColorBrush MaleDisabled { get; set; }

public GenderChooser()
    FemaleColor = new SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(255, 14, 27, 75);

private void MouseLeave(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
   if(sender == FemalePath){
       FemalePath.Stroke = FemaleStrokeDisabled;
   else if(sender == MalePath){
       MalePath.Stroke = MaleStrokeDisabled;

31/05/2009 18:51:58 #

At the time I wrote this post, Silverlight 2 was in Beta. The reason why I did the second version on the post where the existence of Dependency Properties, as I write in the post, I had no kwnoledge of Silverlight or WPF at the time and the posts are my way of sharing my learning experience with everybody who is interested.
I really can imagine that it is overwhelming.

You are right in your suggestion that my code could be simplified by using the Mouseleave event on the control and checking in there what the sender is.
I don't think you are missing something here Smile
I am the first to agree, I have my limits and in this case I missed something, so thank you for pointing that out!

About Dependency Properties, I understand at first glance it looks a overengineered solution, but it is not.
You could choose to ignore them (as you point out), but than your controls are no longer functioning like Silverlight (or WPF) controls. You see a Dependency Property never really "has" a value…, its value depends on various external factors.  
I could try to explain everything, but I will point you to Josh Smith's blog, he wrote some excellent posts explaining Dependency Properties:

Rob Leclerc | Reply

01/06/2009 06:09:16 #

Agreed, all this can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like I am learning something new every ½ hour. The depth of C# and the patterns implemented by the Microsoft team really are staggering. Only today did I realize that dependency properties are injected for use in XAML.

Are very nice implementations of some sophisticated (but clean and succinct) Silverlight programming can be found in the BlackLight Media player (http://www.codeplex.com/blacklight) (See Instructions below). The MediaPlayer uses a dependency property to expose its “MediaSource” property so that you can add your custom MediaPlayer control to you Page.xaml with:

<MediaPlayer MediaSource=http://mymovie.wmv/>;

Finally I figured out how Silverlight controls like, TextBlock, were able to have attributes such as “Text”. Since the MediaPlayer wraps the MediaElement,there is no way to set the “Source” of the MediaElement in the Xaml of the MediaPlayer element without creating a dependency property (in this case “MediaSource”). Here MediaSource is essentially a proxy for setting the “Source” property of the MediaElement.

1.  Download “BlackLight Binaries.zip”,
2.  Unzip, then find the file /Blacklight.Silverlight.Controls/BlackLight.Controls.dll
3.  Place this in “Program Files/Microsoft SDKs/Silverlight/v2.0/Libraries/Client”
(So that it is with the rest of your silver light libraries)
4.  Now download the source code “Blacklight Source.zip”  and unzip
5.  Got to the directory /Blacklight Source/Blacklight.Controls/Blacklight.Controls/MediaPlayer/
6.  Create a new Silverlight Web application called MyApp and Drag and drop MediaPlayer.xaml and MediaPlayer.xaml.cs to the same location as the Page.xaml in MyApp (Or in a subdirectory of that same folder which we will name “Controls”)
7.  Open MediaPlayer.xaml and change the “x:Class” from its BlackLight name to: “MyApp.Controls.MediaPlayer” and then change the namespace of MediaPlayer.xaml.cs to “MyApp.Controls”
(Now your media player will just use the binaries from BlackLight.Controls and you can fork this player all you want) .
8.  Find your favorite .wmv movie and place it in ClientBin of your MyApp.Web directory.
9.  Open Page.xaml and add the element:
a.  Add to the UserControl:
xmlns:MyVideoPlayer="clr-namespace:MyApp.Controls" >

b.  Add within the Layout grid of Page.xaml

< MyVideoPlayer:MediaPlayer

10.  Find out what port your ASP.NET Development Server is going to run on so you can set the port properly in “MediaSource” which is a DependencyProperty of MediaPlayer (Just like “Text” is in TextBox”).  You can also set an address to another website hosting a .wmv  file.
11.  Now compile and run.

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