Silverlight 4 BETA

Microsoft has today launched version 4 of Silverlight, included with this release:

  • Comprehensive printing support enabling hardcopy reports and documents as well as a virtual print view, independent of screen content.
  • A full set of forms controls with over 60 customizable, styleable components. New controls include RichTextbox with hyperlinks, images and editing and Masked textbox for complex field validation. Enhanced controls include DataGrid with sortable/resizeable columns and copy/paste rows.
  • WCF RIA Services introduces enterprise class networking and data access for building n-tier applications including transactions, paging of data, WCF and HTTP enhancements.
  • Localization enhancements with Bi-Directional text, Right-to-Left support and complex scripts such as Arabic, Hebrew and Thai and 30 new languages.
  • The .NET Common Runtime (CLR) now enables the same compiled code to be run on the desktop and Silverlight without change.
  • Enhanced databinding support increases flexibility and productivity through data grouping/editing and string formatting within bindings.
  • Managed Extensibility Framework supports building large composite applications.

Silverlight RichTextArea

After 4 versions Microsoft have finally provided Silverlight developers with a means to process Rich Text content as standard.  What does this mean for the vectorlight RichTextBox?  Well we're evaluating the new Silverlight 4 RichTextArea and looking at how/if it can be integrated with the vectorlight RichTextBox but for now the vectorlight RichTextBox will continue to be developed as an alternative to the new standard control.

Printing

After many requests there is now substantial support for printing.  It is possible to provide any UIElement whether it is in the visual tree or not to the print API for printing.

Context Menus

There is also support for the right mouse click giving us the possibility of created context menus that work on IE, Firefox and Chrome rather than the previous javascript hack used to make an IE only context menu.

Clipboard

Previously if you wanted to access the clipboard you would have to use javascript which, wasn't always reliable, however there is a new Clipboard object allowing us to place content and also retrieve content from the clipboard.

External Dragging and Dropping

This interesting addition allows you to drag and drop files from the desktop onto your Silverlight application, this is handled by the new Drop event that is present on UIElement.  This opens up whole new possibilities for user interaction with you Silverlight application and is particularly useful for file upload applications.  For more information there is a new tutorial showing how to implement file drag and drop here.

Displaying HTML

There is a new WebBrowser object that allows you to render HTML content within your Silverlight application.  It is even possible to use the HTML as a brush which opens up a host of possibilities.  Unfortunately this functionality only works when your Silverlight application is running in Out of Browser mode.  There is an example of using the WebBrowser control in the Tutorials section.

Communicating with External Applications

With Silverlight 4 you are able to talk to external applications such as Word Excel etc.  Some of the possibilities here include creating an Excel spreadsheet and sending it to Excel to open. It is also possible for two or more Silverlight applications to communicate with each other.

Web Camera and Mic

As well as communicating with other programs you can also now communicate with hardware such as a users web camera and microphone.  It should also be possible to access USB devices too.  We have put together a simple example showing how to use the Web Camera in your own Silverlight applications.

Google Chrome

After some initial tests there are still problems with Silverlight 4 and Chrome (most notable the Black background when running in windowless mode), however Microsoft have said Chrome is now an officially supported browser so hopefully we we see full compatibility in the final version.

Liquid Silverlight Controls

These will be tested over the coming weeks and changes will be made where necessary to bring compatibility with Silverlight 4.

 
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