Windows Phone Developers: Enjoy the new controls, toolkit, and final tools!

16 September 2010

Today the Windows Phone developer tools have been released (Scott’s post here, Windows Phone post here). Everything you need is easy to get started with (download here), from the free Visual Studio express to the free Expression Blend designer tools, emulator, and plenty of controls and tools to help you along the way.

There isn’t much I have to add as it’s a fun-filled day of tweeting, blogging, downloading, installin’ and building apps.

Make sure to see the official documentation of What’s New in the Final Release.

Official Panorama and Pivot Controls

Personally, the biggest news of the day is that the Microsoft official Panorama and Pivot controls are now in the tools (we missed getting them in the beta, that’s water under the bridge now though, right?).

Taking some credit here for the Silverlight implementations, Jeff Wilcox developed the Pivot control, Dave Relyea created the Panorama control, and David Anson was instrumental in working on both. (Now you know who you can complain to). I also want to point out that there have been many other teams at Microsoft, especially those who work with the mobile operators, who did a lot of the early heavy lifting in defining the model and working to explore this area, having done very similar work. I think together we’ve all learned a lot and built some impressive controls for this new platform – let us know!

The controls are built right into the tools that you can download here.

My introductory post on the controls is still valid:

You’ll also find MSDN documentation on Panorama and the Pivot control.

Introducing the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit

It’s pretty hard to imagine a Silverlight platform without an awesome side dish a.k.a. the Silverlight Toolkit. The Windows Phone platform is no different, and we’re pleased to announce that the Silverlight Toolkit site now includes a new SKU, the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit.

Goodness in the bits include:

  • ContextMenu
  • DatePicker
  • GestureService
  • TimePicker
  • ToggleSwitch
  • WrapPanel

David Anson has a really nice overview of all the new controls in the phone toolkit, including XAML samples and APIs. John Papa also covers some of the new controls here.

Progress Bar performance note

And yet another reminder: if you are using the indeterminate ProgressBar built into the Windows Phone platform, please follow my instructions to make sure you have a smooth, fluid user interface experience. You need to use a special workaround to offload the animations to the compositor thread and remember to toggle IsIndeterminate back to false when you no longer need it.

This is super important because so many applications are doing potentially heavy processing when they are showing a progress bar like this. The performance issue is not evident in the emulator as much as on actual Windows Phone 7 devices by the way.

Applications Applications Applications

I’ve been able to travel around the world meeting with developers to check out their apps. There are some amazing and fun apps being built using these tools, and we have been learning a lot about best practices, caveats, tips and tricks.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be working to provide more app development guidance, so let us know how things go.

I’d highly recommend that you take the time to subscribe at least initially to these blogs to keep on top of these tips & tricks:

Hope you have fun exploring the RTM release of the platform!

Jeff Wilcox is a Software Engineer at Microsoft in the Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), helping Microsoft engineers use, contribute to and release open source at scale.

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