I received a wonderful and very kind email from saleh alabbas who asked this canonical question: “imagine you have good knowledge in C#, what plan you would draw for yourself to become an expert in developing web and Silverlight applications?”
I’m asked this so often, in so many ways, I thought I’d devote a quick column to trying to answer this unanswerable questions (or rather, this question with so many answers!)
One question is how you like to learn. Some folks do best with classes; they like to have an instructor walk them through material and they enjoy (need?) the interaction. Other folks would much rather read a book and still others find a video to be a good compromise. Some folks like to tinker and go to documentation only after burning a hole in the counter, others won’t touch the keyboard until the entire program is designed on paper.
With all of that in mind, here would be my plan of action. I’d start by installing Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (or, if I couldn’t afford to do that, Visual Web Developer). I’d then go to the Get Started page on Silverlight.net and download and install the Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1. I’d also download and install Expression Blend 2 and the Blend 2 Service Pack 1 and the Silverlight Toolkit (that is, numbers 1, 2 and 4 in the Get Started Box)
Once this is installed, I’d watch the Getting Started video and then I’d read the following tutorials
With these two introductory tutorials under your belt, you’ll be ready to really dive into Silverlight in a big way. If you like learning by videos, here is the order I’d watch our videos:
After reading the tutorial on controls, I’d jump over and watch the video on Grids and Stack Panels and then the video on graphics and brushes and perhaps some of the other videos listed under Silverlight 2 Basics and/or Controls though these can get a bit advanced.
You might try out the Tab Control Introduction.
Beyond the Basics
After watching a few of these videos go on to the tutorial on Data-binding and then come back for some of the related videos such as these
(Each of these images is a link to the corresponding video.)
These should almost certainly be watched in numeric order.
Once you’ve explored data binding, you might want to go back and spend some time on other topics, a couple favorites include multi-page applications (we have a two-part series)
or you might decide to follow up on the Open File dialog or on using Custom Fonts
There are two external resources to consider: Books, Conferences and Podcasts.
Sorry, there are three external resources: Books, Conferences, Podcasts and Magazines.
There are four – no – AMONGST the resources are : Books, Conferences, Podcasts, Magazines and other web sites
I’ll come in again.
No One Expects the VAST array of Additional Resources including Books, Conferences, Podcasts, Magazines, other web sites, RSS and pretty red uniforms.
There are a number of excellent books in the beginner to intermediate range for Silverlight 2. I even know of one that the authors worked so long and hard to make right that it has turned into a Silverlight 3 book! I highly recommend spending some time wandering the aisle of your favorite (virtual?) bookstore as a good book on Silverlight and make the process of learning much easier and can organize the material into a coherent storyline for you.
There are a number of excellent conferences, world wide, at which Silverlight is a major topic, with presentations both by Microsoft geeks and others. This can be a great way to learn about the technology and to meet others who are working with Silverlight and gain those critical insights simply not available otherwise.
There is a burgeoning, might I say plethora of podcasts that are dedicated to or at least occasionally touch upon Silverlight. In addition to searching through your favorite podcast finder, you might want to take a look at my guest podcasts as a starting point.
There certainly are articles in various magazines and on other web sites, but if we’re doing our job right, Silverlight.net should be your first stop. That said, I heartily recommend subscribing to SilverlightCream – a clipping service of the best of each day’s blog entries relating to Silverlight.
I hope this helps you get started; I realize that I’ve just scratched the surface.