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Silverlight 2.0 Beta Debuts

Silverlight 2.0 includes a subset of the .NET Framework, which enables you to write .NET managed code that runs in Silverlight.

Beta 1 of Silverlight 2.0 is now available. Silverlight 2.0 was previously known as Silverlight 1.1. Unlike the 1.0 release, Silverlight 2.0 includes a subset of the .NET Framework, which enables you to write .NET managed code that runs in Silverlight. The runtime download is 4.38MB for Windows, and it works in Internet Explorer as well as FireFox. For Macs, the download is slightly bigger, 7.67MB, and runs in Safari and Firefox. An open source runtime is being developed by the Mono team with some help from Microsoft. You can download the runtimes for Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 here.

To develop applications with Silverlight 2.0, you should download the Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008 Preview from http://tinyurl.com/2k8la2. Blend 2.5 is only for Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 at this stage. If you want to work with WPF or Silverlight 1.0, then you need to grab the Expression Blend 2.0 beta.

If you have Visual Studio 2008, download the Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio at http://tinyurl.com/6oy63o. This download lets you build Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 projects inside Visual Studio. You can download the Silverlight 2.0 SDK here; you can find samples and tutorials here.

Silverlight 2.0 includes a Deep Zoom feature that allows the user to zoom in on an image, and the extra detail is fetched over the Web only as needed. This is similar in principle to how Google maps work. To create content ready for Deep Zoom, download the Deep Zoom Composer.

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The extended support phase for Visual Basic 6 ended in April 2008, but Microsoft has released an updated support statement for the VB6 runtimes and components that ship as part of Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008. Continued support also applies to about 35 VB6 components that don't ship with Vista or Windows Server 2008, such as Microsoft Common Controls. Another set of components is said to be unsupported, but has compatible upgrades available: This set centers primarily around data access and Microsoft Jet. Unfortunately, the document at present doesn't contain links to any runtimes, upgrades, or even specify the minimum version number supported, which is strange given how much time the people at Microsoft who created the document have had to prepare.

On a brighter note, the VB team has released the Microsoft Visual Basic Power Packs version 3. This utility contains the line and shape controls, as well as the PrintForm and printer compatibility packs of previous versions, and it adds a new Data Repeater Control for .NET. The Data Repeater control allows you to drag-and-drop controls and data bound controls onto a repeater panel as part of your Windows.Form or UserControl. This enables you to create custom layouts for each data item. When displayed at runtime, the Data Repeater control repeats each panel as needed. If you have a thousand items, the Repeater Control doesn't create a thousand panels, but instead initializes only enough panels needed to fill the on-screen viewable area of the control, reusing those panels as the user scrolls. If you're tired of the limited layout of data grids, and you want to give your app a fresher look, download the power packs 3.0 and give the Data Repeater a try.

About the Author

Bill McCarthy is an independent consultant based in Australia and is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for the last nine years and sat in on internal development reviews with the Visual Basic team for the last five years where he helped to steer the languageā€™s future direction. These days he writes his thoughts about language direction on his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.

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