Free Tool: Silverlight Spy
Learn what's going on -- everywhere -- in your Silverlight app.
I don't do a lot of Silverlight development (in fact, I do more WPF development than Silverlight), so I don't know as much about Silverlight as I should. So a tool like Silverlight Spy by Koen Zwikstra at First Floor Software is absolutely essential for me; but I expect even experienced Silverlight developers will value it. Silverlight Spy lets you get at every bit of a Silverlight application: every value on every element, every property, every event… everything.
Silverlight Spy has even got a pretty good user interface: Enter the URL for your Silverlight app into Silverlight Spy's UI and it displays the application in one pane with three other panes that let you get under the hood of the application. One pane holds an explorer that lets you drill down through the application that you just loaded to any element. More useful (for me, at any rate) is that you can click on an element in the Silverlight application's UI and the explorer displays that element in the object tree -- with the element's related information. You can also modify any of these properties to exercise your application.
If you're doing Silverlight development and not using Silverlight Spy, you're just making life difficult for yourself.
Peter Vogel is a system architect and principal in PH&V Information Services. PH&V provides full-stack consulting from UX design through object modeling to database design. Peter tweets about his VSM columns with the hashtag #vogelarticles. His blog posts on user experience design can be found at http://blog.learningtree.com/tag/ui/.