Notes from the Silverlight Atlanta Firestarter

UPDATE: A full list of resources from the Silverlight Atlanta Firestarter is up:

Here are a few quick notes that I took during the Silverlight Atlanta Firstarter.   I didn’t even attempt to take comprehensive notes, but I did jot down a few things that I found interesting.  These are more for my reference than anything else.  You won’t find a lot of content for each talk, but you’ll find a few things that I found important and worth jotting down.

At the very least, I put links to everyone’s blog or home page if I could find it.  That way you can easily look up the person if you’re interested.

Overall Impressions

Overall, the event was great.  I’m very thankful to all of the volunteers and sponsors who helped put it together.  I’m really excited about continuing my “getting started” efforts in Silverlight and am looking forward to future meetups and events.

Though they introduced a very large amount of information, it was generally presented very well and served as an excellent broad introduction to Silverlight.


  • Corey Schuman emceed the event and introduced the speakers.  Great job!
  • Glenn Gordon was present as the “Developer Evangelist” from Microsoft.  He brings free Microsoft events, resources, and information to developers in the Southeast.  Cool.

Keynote: Tim Heuer

Tim Heuer is a program manager for Silverlight at Microsoft.

  • Tim doesn’t have a CS degree – I found this encouraging because I do not have a CS degree, but I want to get involved in web development
  • Apparently, Silverlight is really big with Yahoo! Japan.
  • Tim mentioned Kevin Dente on TwitterCan’t remember why.
    • Update: Tim has been a guest on Kevin Dente’s podcast, “Herding Code,” which Tim recommended listening to.  Thanks Alan for the reminder!
  • Search: Super Employee Alfred – A really cool example of SEO and Deep Link functionality within SL.

Silverlight Soup to Nuts: Shawn Wildermuth

I really wanted to pronounce his last name “Vildermuth.” Shawn Wildermuth did the talk on “Silverlight Soup to Nuts.” (For the record, his rotating profile picture on his blog is freaky as hell).

  • – A national tour for agilitrain giving workshops and classes about all the new stuff in Silverlight 3.
  • With XAML, you can name only the elements you want to appear in IntelliSense.  This reduces the clutter (such as label3,label20421,etc.) of having everything named.
  • Rock Scroll – Visual Studio Plugin – this is a cool plugin that Shawn had installed on his computer that puts a top-down look at all your code directly into the vertical scroll bar.  Plugin is written (or published) by Scott Hanselman of Microsoft.
  • Ctrl K + Ctrl D – used to format code in Visual Studio (if you needed a hint that I’m brand new to developing apps in VS, here it is)
  • SLExtensions – Because no one should have to write their own converters.  Silverlight Contrib and Silverlight Extensions recently merged.
  • this.OnPropertyChanged(“Name”); – can’t remember why I wrote this down

Anatomy of a Silverlight App: Tim Heuer

Tim’s back.

  • Silverlight Tools
    • Minimum
      • Silverlight Developer Runtime
      • SDK
    • Recommended
      • Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (you can even use the free Visual Web Developer)
      • Visual Studio Tools for Silverlight
      • Expression Blend 3
      • Expression Encoder 3
      • See
  • Somebody asked how you can get MS software other than retail – When applicable: Microsoft Action Pack, StudentSpark? (A program that gives students free access to developer software), BizSpark (a program that gives start-up free developer software)
  • – a place to get free fonts
  • Fonts must be embedded as a resource – please respect the usage rights of the font developers
  • Loaded += new … – Some events belong in the Loaded section, for after the UI has loaded.
  • .xap file is really just a zip file and contains:
    • appmanifest.xml
    • assemplies
      • your app
      • dependencies
    • content
  • Install Experience – See whitepaper for best practices.  See post on Tim’s blog.

Data Services: Rik Robinson and Steve Porter

Rik Robinson presented on Data Binding

  • {Binding …} – This is used in XAML to bind data to a XAML element.

Steve Porter also presented.

Note: At some point Chad Brooks was introduced.  He’s an Architect Evangelist from Microsoft.  He can be reached at Chad < dawt > Brooks < at > Microsoft < dawt > com.

Lighting up the UI: Mason Brown and Roger Peters

I can’t remember exactly who presented what from my notes, but Mason Brown did more of the graphics side and Roger Peters did more of the development side.

  • “Design Width” in Blend is only for design time and doesn’t interfere with the actual end presentation.
  • You can double click on a control from the left panel in Blend to easily add it to your UI with minimal code clutter.

It was hard to take notes on a lot of this stuff because it was so visually intensive in Blend.  I really liked the explanation of behaviors, though.

Update: A demo of the UI they wrote here.

Outside the Plugin: Jason Rainwater

Jason Rainwater presented on using SL 3 to interact with the browser and vice versa.  Very cool stuff.

He mentioned checking out SL 3 resources on MSDN.  I had trouble finding a link to that other than what directs to

Note: During one of the breaks, I was talking to someone whomentioned SubSonic as a possible way to interface MySQL with Silverlight and/or WCF.  I’m going to have to check that out.

Media: Corey Schuman

Corey Schuman presented on media in Silverlight.  This was a great introduction to media in Silverlight.  It’s incredible how easy it is to create a media player in Silverlight.

Sketch Flow – Rob Zelt

Rob Zelt spoke about SkitchFlow.  It was really neat to see an in-depth look at this new tool that comes with Blend 3 and SL3.  Great job.

Deployment Strategies – Sergey Barskiy

Sergey Barskiy talked about setting up a successful Silverlight deployment.  He also has a really cool accent.

  • WCF diagnostics
  • system.diagnostics.xmlWriterTraceListener

He didn’t get a chance to go over localization and reporting (I really wanted to see reporting), but he put a follow-up post on his blog for those interested in those technologies.

Community and Ecosystem – James Ashley

James Ashley presented on the Silverlight ecosystem and all of the wonderful communities and resources available to help a programmer succeed in Silverlight.

I would type out my notes from his talk, but he managed to quickly post the content onto his blog.

Sidenote: His use of the word “phenomenology” in his blog subtitle is the only direct opportunity I’ve had to apply my degree in philosophy since starting learning Silverlight.  Well done.

Last Things

Death. Judgment. Heaven. Hell.  … err … I need to finish this post…

Shawn mentioned as a way to connect with other developers in the Atlanta area.

Thanks again to everyone for all their hard work!  I have so many wonderful ideas.