I've been looking at RIA Services for a long time now. I had the lucky pleasure of being given early access to the bits for what was then called "Alexandria". As most readers of this blog have read, I have had some issues with how RIA Services works. In the mean time Brad Abrams and the team have certainly responded and have made changes to the way that RIA Services works and much of it is for the better. I can see pretty simply how you can use RIA Services to build applications that are really architected well, with true separation of concerns. But there is blood in the water.
Now that the big news of the Silverlight 4 Beta release is out, we can announce that we've been working hard to update our course to include Silverlight 4 material. Since Silverlight 4 is only in Beta (and no go-live license to boot), the Silverlight Tour will continue to teach Silverlight 3 and show the Silverlight 4 material in addition. This way whether you're building a short-term application you can get your Silverlight 3 needs met, but if you want to learn Silverlight for a long-term project, you can be sure that the Silverlight Tour will prepare you for the Silverlight of tomorrow.
As many of you don't know, I was previously known as "The ADO Guy" so of course my first jump into the new Silverlight 4 bits was to play with the new Data Binding changes. The improvements aren't dramatic but they do fill several key holes that existed in the earlier versions. Let's take these changes one at a time.
Prior to Silverlight 4, in order to support data binding, the object had to derive from the FrameworkElement class which left out some key objects including Transformations. Now data binding works on any object that derives from DependencyObject (which is most of the Silverlight 4 framework). You can see this in the example below. (Note, you can also see the CompositeTransform which lets you set transformations of all four types in a single transform):
As noted in Scott Guthrie's keynote early, Silverlight 4 is now in beta. But what does that mean to you? Silverlight 4 Beta does not have a go-live license, so if you're building something to be released soon, I would stick with Silverlight 3. In contrast if you're working on a longer term project, especially a line-of business application, you'd be crazy to not look at Silverlight 4. Here are some of the major changes in this release:
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