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Blend for Visual Studio 2012 (Windows Store apps)

Blend for Visual Studio 2012 helps you design and build user interfaces by providing you with an accurate design surface and tools that let you visually create and edit Windows Store applications. These new design tools take advantage of Windows 8 technologies to create dynamic applications that run on a wide variety of Windows-based hardware. You can choose to design your user interface using HTML or XAML.

Blend for Visual Studio

A Windows Store app built using HTML uses the same technology that a web site uses. However, a Windows Store app is not deployed page-by-page from a web server. Instead, it is installed locally on the user's computer. Like any native Windows application, a Windows Store app built using HTML has direct access to the underlying platform and is able to share information with other applications.

  • Visual design   Visually edit HTML, CSS, and Microsoft design style controls. What you see in Blend is what users will see in Windows 8.

  • Interactive Mode   Design your app in states that would otherwise be available only at run time, without having to endlessly compile and run.

  • App building   Drag and drop Windows app controls onto the design surface, set their properties, and style them.

  • Powerful code generation   When you add a new style or element to an app, Blend takes care of all the syntax and generates concise, reliable, and predictable code.

  • Debugging   Visual Studio can debug JavaScript, but only Blend lets you visually debug HTML and CSS. The Winning Properties virtual rule shows you the CSS cascade for any element. The Computed Values virtual rule shows you how Windows 8 will compute CSS property values for each element. The Live DOM panel updates to display run-time changes.

To learn more about the Blend workspace, see Design your first Windows Store app (HTML).

To start designing your first Windows Store app built using HTML, see Design your first Windows Store app (HTML).

A Windows Store app built using XAML gives you more control over the styling and animating of controls. Visual Studio also provides a XAML Designer. Much like Blend, the XAML Designer in Visual Studio provides a main design surface and a toolbox to drag-and-drop controls.

  • Animation   Use the Objects and Timeline and States panels to create complex animations for your app. The visual state design features in Blend also enable you to work with the new Windows 8 theme animations.

  • Visual States   Use the States and Device panels to create a Windows app UI that takes advantage of view states and orientations supported in Windows 8.

  • Transitions   Add pre-defined or create custom transitions for your app by using the States panel.

  • Styles and GroupStyles   Customize the default control styles by the comprehensive styling and editing features available in Blend. You can also customize Windows 8 GroupStyles.

  • Template editing   Edit control templates by using the Objects and Timeline panel or the Breadcrumb bar. While in template editing mode, you can add Windows 8 theme animations by using the States panel.

  • Data Binding   Data binding tools support the following binding types: DataContext, DataSource, ElementName, RelativeSource Self, RelativeSource TemplatedParent, and StaticResource.

  • Layout   Create Windows app layouts using built-in layout containers such as GridView, ListView, StackPanel, WrapGrid, and more, all of which can be customized to suit your needs.

  • Control creation   Create controls on the artboard quickly and easily by using the Tools and Assets panels.

  • Property editing    Modify and edit objects quickly and easily by using the Properties panel.

To learn more about the Blend workspace, see Blend app workspace (XAML).

To start designing your first Windows Store app built using XAML, see Design your first Windows Store app (XAML).

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