What Skills Do You Need *Before* Learning Silverlight

Shadowman (is that his real name? Is Silverlight Geek mine?), asked the following in a comment connected to a previous blog entry: "What skills should a developer have before learning Silverlight?  In other words, should someone new to Silverlight be an ASP.NET developer?  Would he need to know Javascript or XML?  What is the recommended "prerequisite" knowledge to start my journey with Silverlight?"

 Great question!

On the one hand, the answer is none. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to learn Silverlight as your first programming experience. But…to paraphrase David Platt , it is also possible to have an appendectomy through your mouth: it just takes longer and hurts more.

The truth is that right now our learning material is targeted at existing .NET programmers, and we more or less assume you have some familiarity with

  • HTML
  • Javascript (at least the fundamentals)
  • DHTML (the fundamentals)
  • Basic programming concepts (conditionals, event handlers, etc.)

You can pick up the pieces you are missing both by context and by reading. A great book to have by your side if you have not worked with JavaScript and/or DHTML would be either or both of JavaScript the Definitive Guide (Flanagan) or DHTML The Definitive Reference (Goodman). You can find reference to both on my personal web site – click on Books, then on Recommendations, then on Technical And Programming. But you don't need either, because everything you do need is available in the Microsoft help files, if you like reference material rather than tutorials.  Plus, our videos walk you through how to do any number of tasks (and we're adding to our collection of videos all the time)

For the 1.1 material, we also assume you have some familiarity with the .NET CLR, managed code and C# or VB.

 Finally, some of the videos do assume you've worked with ASP.Net, but only some.

So, to answer specifically:

  • ASP.NET: not necessarily (always a good skill to have, but not needed here unless you want to marry the two technologies)
  • BLOCKED SCRIPT Yes, you need to know at least the fundamentals for version 1.0 (for 1.1 and later, you'll probably C# or VB or one of the other managed code languages instead, but you can still use Javascript or another interpreted language)
  • XML: No, unless you have specific need of it

You didn't mention XAML and that is something you will need to know. XAML is the markup language for Siilverlight, and it is closely related to XML. But I believe you can learn XAML without first learning XML, with no problem. You can do so from the help files, from our videos and white papers, or from any of the very good books on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) which also uses XAML (the XAML used in Silverlight is a subset of the XAML used in WPF). I recommend 3 WPF books on my web site, so you might want to try one of those,

 Hope that helps.




About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty is an independent consultant and programmer with three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects. He is the author of 2 dozen books and multiple Pluralsight courses, and has been a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP, Microsoft MVP and Telerik MVP.
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