Flash to Silverlight

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Two main applications are used to create Silverlight applications: Visual Studio the integrated development environment (code editor, build automation, debugger) and Expression Blend the interactive design tool. In this tutorial we'll walk through downloading and installing each application and look at other tools and frameworks that are available.

Get the tools for your Operating System 

Visual Studio and Expression Blend, the primary tools for building Silverlight applications, are both Windows only. The tools are tested to work in both standalone and virtualized installations, such as Windows running on a Mac via Parallels. If you don’t have a copy already, check out Windows 7 which is definitely the best version of Windows yet.

If you do not have a Windows installation available, the other options are Silverlight development on the Mac using Gestalt or on Linux using Moonlight.

Installation Summary 

The process to install the tools for Silverlight 4 is now easier than before. If you are not familiar with Microsoft tools or Windows, though, it can still be a little confusing to follow the needed steps. In this section, I will provide a brief outline of the installation steps. The following section will then walk through the process of a fresh install step-by-step.

  • If you don’t have Visual Studio 2010 installed, follow the step-by-step instructions below.
  • If you already have Visual Studio 2010 installed (indicating you know what you’re doing already), feel free to install the Silverlight 4 Tools RC2 for Visual Studio.
  • Once Visual Studio and the Silverlight tools are in place, install Expression Blend 4 RC.

Install Silverlight Tools and Visual Studio 2010 

The following step-by-step instructions explain how to install the Silverlight 4 Tools and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express using a download and installation tool called the Web Platform installer, known as the Web PI for short.

The Web PI provides a guided way to install the tools needed for Silverlight development. The steps below will install the following components:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4 – runtime needed to run Visual Studio and Expression Blend
  • Visual Web Developer 2010 Express – a free, light-weight version of Visual Studio
  • Silverlight 4 RC2 Tools for Visual Studio 2010 – Silverlight runtime, SDK and templates
  • Silverlight Toolkit – extra Silverlight controls and utilities, includes source

Download and Install the Web Platform Installer

The following steps illustrate the installation process on a Windows 7 installation using both Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3.6.

To begin the process, click the image below:

Install Silverlight Tools

Internet Explorer 8 walkthrough


After clicking the button above, the page will begin to repeatedly refresh (making a clicking noise each refresh). The page is just watching for the completion of the Web PI installation, so it can begin the Silverlight Tools download.

The File Download dialog will open asking if you to Run or Save “wpilauncher_n.exe”. Click Run.


A Security Warning dialog will open after the file downloads asking if you want to run the “Web Platform installer” software. Click Run.

UAC dialogs gray out the entire screen and print screens are not availableWindows will then open a User Account Control dialog asking if you want to install software on this computer. Click Yes.

The page will then detect when the Web PI has finished installing and attempt to run it as an add-on. This causes an information bar to be displayed at the top of the page. Click the information bar and select Run Add-on.

Internet Explorer will then open a Security Warning dialog, asking if you want to run this ActiveX control. Click Run.

Internet Explorer will then open another dialog, asking if you want to allow this website to open a program. Click Allow.

UAC dialogs gray out the entire screen and print screens are not available Windows will then open a User Account Control dialog asking if you want Web PI to make changes to this computer. Click Yes.

Firefox 3.6 walkthrough


After clicking the button above, a dialog will be displayed with the title Opening wpilauncher_n.exe. Click Save File.

The Firefox Downloads list will then open. After the download is complete, right-click the file and select Open.

UAC dialogs gray out the entire screen and print screens are not availableWindows will then open a User Account Control dialog asking if you want to install software on this computer. Click Yes.

Once the Web PI has finished installing, click “Finish your installation” on the web page.


A Launch Application dialog will open letting you know the link needs to open an application. With Web PI selected, click OK.

UAC dialogs gray out the entire screen and print screens are not availableWindows will then open a User Account Control dialog asking if you want Web PI to make changes to this computer. Click Yes.

Run the Web Platform Installer

Now with the Web PI installed, let’s install the tools!

Following the steps above you should see Web PI open to a screen with “Install Silverlight 4 Tools RC2 for Visual Studio 2010” checked. Click Install.

A checklist appears listing the Tools and extra components described above. After reviewing the license terms, click “I Accept”.

Web PI will then download the five components and begin installing the .NET Framework. Once the Framework has been installed you will be required to reboot Windows. After rebooting, Web PI will begin installing Visual Web Developer 2010 Express, then the Silverlight Tools, followed by WCF RIA Services and the Silverlight Toolkit.

Once you see the “Congratulations!” screen, click Finish. Then in Web PI click Close. Congratulations, you have the tools, now let’s go get Blend.

Install Expression Blend 4 RC 

Expression Blend, the interactive design tool used to create and design Silverlight applications, is included in a suite of tools called Expression Studio. Expression Studio version 4 is not available yet, but a Release Candidate of Blend is available and is compatible with Silverlight 4.

From the Expression Blend 4 RC page, download and run the “Blend_Trial_en.exe” file.


Windows will then open a User Account Control dialog asking if you want to install software on this computer. Click Yes.


The License agreement screen will open. After reading the license, click Accept.


The Enter product key will then show, click the “here” link.


To obtain a trial key, you must prove you are human by entering a captcha. Click Submit and then Copy the resulting key.

Paste your trial key into the Enter product key screen and click Next.

On the options screen you can change the installation folder, if you’d like. Otherwise click Next.

Once Blend is installed, the Thank you screen will then happily pop up. Click Finish.

Next Step »

With tools installed it's time to create something! Let's start at The Beginning.

For a list of additional tools, utilities, code samples frameworks read the list available on the Downloads page.

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