What's new in Expression Blend Service Pack 2

Expression Studio 4.0

With Expression Blend 4 Service Pack 2 (SP2) with the Windows Phone Developer Tools installed, you can design Silverlight-based applications for Windows Phone.

Windows Phone development

important noteImportant

Expression Blend for Windows Phone is available only when you install the Windows Phone Developer Tools Hh134806.xtlink_newWindow(en-us,Expression.40).png.

Expression Blend for Windows Phone provides the tools you need to quickly and easily build Silverlight applications for Windows Phone, including item templates, graphic tools, animation tools, built-in behaviors, and sample data.

After you create your Windows Phone application, you can build and then preview it in either directly on a Windows Phone device or by using the Windows Phone Emulator, which is integrated into Expression Blend for Windows Phone and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 to make the testing and debugging of your Windows Phone application easier and more efficient.

XNA support

Windows Phone Developers Tools provide two frameworks for developing Windows Phone applications. Developers can choose the Silverlight framework for event-driven, XAML-based development or the XNA framework for loop-based game development that enables immersive gaming and entertainment experiences.

With Expression Blend 4 SP2, you can combine Silverlight and XNA projects in the same solution.

Project system enhancements

The project system contains solution and project items that represent the references, data connections, folders, and files that you need to create your application. Enhancements have been made to the project system to ease the transition from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 7.1. Most notable are the following:

  • C# or VB   You can now select either a C# or VB when you create Windows Phone projects.

  • Upgrade existing Windows Phone 7 projects   You can easily upgrade your Windows Phone 7 project to Windows Phone 7.1.

  • Create new Windows Phone 7 projects    You can still create new and modify existing Windows Phone 7 projects, including VB-based Windows Phone 7 projects.

important noteImportant

You cannot create XNA projects in Expression Blend 4. Use Visual Studio for Windows Phone to create your XNA project. After your XNA project is created, you can then open your XNA project in Expression Blend for Windows Phone and use the Expression Blend tools to design your XNA project.

Implicit style support

Expression Blend 4 SP2 supports setting implicit styles when developing for Windows Phone. Implicit styles enable you to apply a specific style to all elements of a specific type. In other words, a control will inherit a style from a control to which a style has been previously applied. Implicit styles make it easier to customize the appearance of multiple instances of a control. With implicit styles, when you change one instance of the the style, all other instances of the same style are updated.

Windows Phone application manifest file

The XML manifest file is now automatically updated when you add a reference to a background project task . The XML manifest file contains phone application metadata, including information such as product IDs, versioning details, runtime types, paths to resources, phone capabilities, and other application-specific information. The file is automatically updated every time you build or deploy your application.

Portable assemblies support

Expression Blend 4 SP2 supports the installation of portable class library projects. In Visual Studio, portable library tools provide the ability to create new class libraries targeting various .NET platforms without the need to recompile your project. Portable class libraries makes it possible to store most of the application logic in portable assemblies, and then implements the logic in applications that have form-factor specific user interfaces.

VideoBrush support

VideoBrush is now supported in Expression Blend for Windows Phone. A VideoBrush paints an area with a video rather than a solid fill, a gradient, or an image. The video is provided by a MediaElement control. You can use a VideoBrush in a variety of scenarios. For example, you can apply a video to the Fill of a shape (Rectangle, for example), the contents of a Path, the Background of a Canvas, or the Foreground of a TextBlock.

Improved data binding support

You can now bind data to a DependencyObject-derived object. By binding data to a DependencyObject-derived object, you can now format a string directly in the data binding as opposed to using a converter to format the data at runtime.

Support for PathListBox and shapes

PathListBox objects are now supported in Windows Phone projects. The PathListBox object is an Expression Blend control that adds the ability to display a list of items along a path. In addition, shapes such as Star and Pie that were introduced in Expression Blend 4 are now available for Expression Blend for Windows Phone projects.

Support for Silverlight 4 behaviors

You can use built-in behaviors to quickly extend the functionality of a Windows Phone project. All of the built-in Expression Blend Silverlight 4 behaviors are now supported in Windows Phone projects, including Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) behaviors such as CallMethodAction.

Compatibility with Silverlight 3, Silverlight 4, WPF 3.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and WPF 4

You can still create and modify Silverlight 3, Silverlight 4, WPF 3.5 SP1, and WPF 4 application projects in Expression Blend 4 SP2.

Interoperability with Visual Studio

Because Expression Blend 4 and Visual Studio 2010 use the same project format, you can use Expression Blend 4 SP2 to convert a Visual Studio 2008 project into a Visual Studio 2010 project.

important noteImportant

You cannot open an Expression Blend 4 project in Visual Studio 2008 because Expression Blend 4 uses the same format as Visual Studio 2010 and does not create backward-compatible projects. If you do not have Visual Studio 2010, use Visual Studio 2010 Express, available as a free download from the Microsoft /Express web site Hh134806.xtlink_newWindow(en-us,Expression.40).png.

Samples, documentation, guides, and community

A variety of resources are available to help you develop your Windows Phone application. You can access the Expression Blend 4 User Guide by pressing F1. You can find other resources by clicking any of the resources that appear when you click the Help menu, Expression Blend software development kits (SDKs) and Expression online content.

The User Guide contains documentation, tutorials, sample code, and sample applications for Expression Blend, Expression Blend for Windows Phone, and Windows Phone development.

Forums, blogs, and websites are available for users to ask questions and share information with the Expression Blend and Windows Phone communities. To locate this content, on the Help menu, click Online Community, and then select a resource from the list.

The following resources may be particularly useful when developing for Windows Phone:

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