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Tour of the Blend Workspace

If you’re new to Blend, take a moment to become familiar with the Blend workspace. This topic takes you on a quick tour.

In this topic:

Blend has two default workspaces: the Design workspace and the Animation workspace. You can switch between them by pressing CTRL-F11.

The Design workspace lets you focus on general authoring. The Animation workspace moves the Objects and Timeline panel under the artboard so that the timeline has more room to be displayed.



The Design workspace (left) and the Animation workspace (right)

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Menus

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Artboard

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Tools panel

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Projects panel, Properties panel, and Resources panel

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Objects and Timeline panel

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Results panel (layered in the Objects and Timeline panel when in the Animation workspace)

A workspace in Blend for Visual Studio consists of all the visual interface elements. These include the artboard, panels, workspace configurations, authoring views, and menus.

Workspaces

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Document tabs View all the project documents that are open, including windows, pages, resource dictionaries, and user controls.

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Active files Determine the current open document on the artboard and also see all the files that are open in the document tabs.

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Views Use one of three real-time authoring environments:

  • Design view Use Design view to author documents by using a visual representation on the artboard.

  • Code view Use Code view to author or edit your XAML code.

    NoteNote

    The Tools panel, Objects and Timeline panel, and Properties don’t work in Code view. In addition, most menu items are disabled in this view.

  • Split view Displays both Code and Design view. You can also change the orientation of the windows using Split View Orientation on the View menu.

The Blend workspace is customizable and uniquely scalable. You can change panel orientation, dock or float panels, resize the panels by dragging the edges, zoom the artboard, and toggle the snapping of objects on the artboard. Additionally, you can change the workspace color scheme by using the Theme property in the Options dialog box (available through the Tools menu).

The artboard is your work surface. Visually design a document by drawing objects and modifying them.

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Visual design surface   Set artboard options, such as changing the background color, in the Options dialog box.

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XAML editor   Edit your XAML code in the XAML editor.

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Artboard controls   Use these controls to zoom the artboard, turn on the rendering of effects, set snapping options, and turn on file annotations.

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Document tabs   Use when you have more than one document open on the artboard to switch between them by clicking the corresponding tab.

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View buttons   Use these buttons to switch between Design, XAML, and Split views.

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Object handles   Use the object handles to modify the object by using your mouse.

Watch a short video: Configure Installed Features The artboard.

You can use the Tools panel in Blend for Visual Studio to create and modify objects in your application. You create the objects by selecting a tool and drawing on the artboard with your mouse.

Tools panel

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Selection tools   Select objects and paths.

Use the Direct Selection tool to select nested objects and path segments.

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Gradient and brush tools

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View tools   Adjust the view of the artboard, such as for panning and zooming.

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Path tools

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Brush tools   Work with the visual attributes of an object, such as transforming a brush, painting an object, or selecting the attributes of one object to apply them to another object.

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Shape tools

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Object tools   Draw the most common objects on the artboard, such as paths, shapes, layout panels, text, and controls.

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Layout panels

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Asset tools   Access the Assets panel and to show the most recently used asset from the library.

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Text controls 

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Common controls 

Watch a short video: Configure Installed Features The Toolbar.

The Tools panel shows the most popular controls, but you can find all controls in the Assets panel. In fact, you’ll find everything you can add to your artboard including controls, styles, media, behaviors, and effects.

Assets panel

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Search box   Type in the Search box to filter the list of assets.

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Grid mode and List mode   Switch between the Grid mode view and the List mode view of assets.

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Assets categories   Click a category or subcategory to view the list of assets in that category.

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Styles   Show all the styles that are contained in the resource dictionary.

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Description   View a description of the selected assets category or subcategory.

Use this panel to organize the objects on your artboard and, if you want, to animate them.

Object and Timeline panel in animation mode

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Objects view View a visual tree of a document. You can drill down to varying levels of detail. You can also add layers to further organize objects on the artboard. That way you can lock and hide them as a group.

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Record mode indicator See whether you’re recording property changes in a timeline.

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Storyboard picker View a list of storyboards that you’ve created.

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Close storyboard Close the current storyboard.

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Storyboard options Create, duplicate, reverse, delete, rename, or close a storyboard.

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Playback controls Navigate through the timeline. You can also drag the playhead to navigate through (or scrub) the timeline.

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Return scope to Scope the objects view back to the previous root object or previous scope. You can do this only when you’re modifying a style or template.

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Record a keyframe Record a snapshot of the properties of the selected object at the current point in time.

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Snapping options Set timeline snapping, snap resolution, and turn off timeline snapping.

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Show/hide, Lock/unlock Show or hide the visibility and locking options for the objects view.

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Playhead position on the timeline Show the current time in milliseconds. You can also enter a time value directly in this field to jump to a particular point in time. The precision depends on the snap resolution set in the Snapping Options.

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Playhead Determine what point in time the animation is at. You can drag the playhead across the timeline to preview animation.

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Keyframes set on timelines Change a property value at a specific point in time.

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Change order of objects Set the display order of objects. Click this button to arrange objects in the structure view by Z order (front-to-back) or by markup order (the order in which they appear in XAML view).

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Timeline zoom Set the zoom resolution of the timeline. Zooming in lets you edit an animation with more detail, and zooming out shows more of an overview of what is happening over longer periods of time. If you zoom in but can't set a keyframe at the position in time that you want, verify that the snap resolution is set high enough.

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Timeline composition area View the timeline, and move keyframes around by dragging them or using their shortcut menus.

Use this panel to view and modify the properties of an object. You can also set them directly on the artboard. If you do, the property changes will be reflected in the Properties panel.

Properties panel

Categories   Expand and collapse categories of properties. Click Expand 6375953d-074c-421a-bbb3-6f5055b67b64 and Collapse  to show or hide category details.

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Name and Type View the icon, name and type of the selected object.

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Arrange by Arrange properties alphabetically by name, source, or category.

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Brush properties Set the visual properties for brushes such as Fill brush, Stroke brush, and Foreground brush.

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Color editor Use for solid color and gradient brushes.

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Color picker Select a color.

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Color chips View the initial color, current color, and last color

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Eyedroppers Use the color of any element on your screen. The Color eyedropper is available when the Solid color brush is selected. The Gradient eyedropper is available when the Gradient brush is selected.

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Properties and Events Set properties or choose events for a selected element.

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Search box Search for properties. Filter the properties that are displayed by typing in the Search box.

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Brush editor tabs Use to select a brush editor. You can choose No brush, Solid Color brush, Gradient brush, Tile brush, or Brush resource.

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Color resources Apply the exact same color to different properties. The Color Resources tab includes Local Resources and System Resources.

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RGB color space Modify the color by adjusting the values for the R, G, or B (red, green, blue) number editors.

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Alpha channel Modify the Alpha value by using the number editor next to A.

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Convert color to resource Convert the selected color to a color resource. Color resources are available when you click the Color resources tab.

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Hex value View the hexadecimal value of the color displayed.

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Gradient slider Appears only if a gradient brush is selected.

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Show advanced properties View categories of properties that are less commonly used.

Watch a short video: Configure Installed Features Properties panel.

Use the Projects panel to manage the files in your project.

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Search box   Type in the Search box to filter the list of project files.

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Solution   Contains the application project and the corresponding files.

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References   Includes project references such as DLL files.

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Linked item   An arrow is superimposed onto a linked-to item icon, meaning that the item does not exist in the project folder.

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SampleData   Includes generated sample data files.

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MainWindow.xaml   The code-behind file for the main document.

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ResourceDictionary   A set of resources that can be shared throughout your project.

Watch a short video: Configure Installed Features The Project panel.

This panel helps you simulate various views of your app when you run it.

Device panel

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Display   Preview different display sizes and resolutions for the app.

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Orientation   Preview different orientations for the app: Landscape or Portrait.

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Edge   Preview different edge alignments for your app: Both, Left, Right, or None.

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High Contrast   Preview the app based on the selected contrast setting. This setting, when set to a value other than Default, will override the RequestedTheme property set in App.xaml.

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Override scaling   Preview the app based on an increased display scale. If the display scale is 100%, selecting Override scaling will simulate a display scale of 140%. If the display scale is 140%, the simulated scale is 180%.

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Theme   Preview the app based on the selected theme.

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Minimum width   Previews your app based on the minimum width setting. The minimum width can be changed in App.xaml.

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Show chrome   Select or clear the Show chrome check box to turn the simulated tablet frame around your app in the Design view on or off.

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Clip to display   Select or clear the Clip to display check box to either clip the entire document or show the document display.

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Deploy target   Select the target device where your app will be deployed when it builds.

If you’ve found a video or article that’s helped you become familiar with the Blend workspace, please share that with us. After we review the content, we might add a link to it so that others can benefit from your discovery.

If you’d like to suggest a new video, we’d also like to hear from you. If we receive similar requests from others, we’ll create one as our time and priorities permit.

No one knows your business better than you. So please tell us what resources have helped you to become familiar with the Blend workspace, and what areas have not been well explained by us, or by anyone in our community, so that we can better evolve our content to help you.

Please share your suggestions here.

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