Microsoft delivers missing RIA tools, components for Silverlight 4

When Microsoft delivered the final Silverlight 4 bits in mid-April, a few complementary components weren’t done yet. But this week, the company is making available for download some of those missing pieces. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) RIA Services for Silverlight is one of those, but it is downloadable as of May 17.

Silverlight is Microsoft’s entrant into the rich Internet application space, alongside rivals such as Adobe Systems Flash. But the HTML5 specification has been emerging as a potential rival and eventual replacement for single-vendor technologies such as Flash and Silverlight. Silverlight 4 was released last month. Siverlight 4 Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 can be downloaded at Microsoft’s Web site.

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) RIA Services for Silverlight is one of those. On May 17, Microsoft delivered the final 1.0 release of that code, which adds support for Silverlight 4 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. WCF RIA Services is a framework that brings together the ASP.Net and Silverlight platforms. It provides a pattern for writing application logic that runs on the middle tier. It also streamlines tasks like authentication and data validation by integrating with Silverlight components on the client and ASP.Net on the mid-tier, according to a description on the download site. The goal of WCF RIA Services (originally codenamed “Alexandria) is to bring RAD programming to RIA development and is considered by many as a competitor to Adobe’s Flex framework.

Microsoft also made available for download Monday an add-on package – Silverlight 4 tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 — which supports the WCF RIA Services. The tool add-on can be installed on top of either Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. A description of its capabilities (from the download site): The Silverlight 4 add-on tools “extend existing Silverlight 3 features and multitargeting capabilities in Visual Studio 2010 to also create applications for Silverlight 4 using C# or Visual Basic.”

“Please note: many of the new designer features work well with WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) as well as Silverlight projects, so this download is definitely recommended for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 WPF designer users too,” the Microsoft Visual Studio WPF and Silverlight Designer Team said in a blog post on Monday.

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