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Creating an alternate control UI with ControlTemplates

From: Silverlight 5 Essential Training

Video: Creating an alternate control UI with ControlTemplates

There's one thing you can say about UX designers is that they love to play around with the boundaries of UI. Just look at all the changes in the simple button control over the last ten years. There have been flat buttons, pressable buttons, gel buttons and round buttons, and even pastel buttons. They are all clickable and they all initiate an action, but they look different. Silverlight adds something called the control template, which formalizes this process. In Silverlight, every control has a default template, which is supplied by the control author, but you are not limited to this template.

Creating an alternate control UI with ControlTemplates

There's one thing you can say about UX designers is that they love to play around with the boundaries of UI. Just look at all the changes in the simple button control over the last ten years. There have been flat buttons, pressable buttons, gel buttons and round buttons, and even pastel buttons. They are all clickable and they all initiate an action, but they look different. Silverlight adds something called the control template, which formalizes this process. In Silverlight, every control has a default template, which is supplied by the control author, but you are not limited to this template.

You can design your own, then instruct Silverlight to use your new template whenever it renders the control. This is more powerful than styles, as a style can only supply new property values, not new UI. For this demonstration I'm going to use Expression Blend and I'm going to be editing a button control template. I thought I would show you a few samples first. I'm inside a project called UsingControlTemplates, and I've opened up a page called Samplebutton2.xaml. Here you can see that I have a button which has a style called buttonStyle1, and it has some normal button properties, normal click procedures, and so on.

When I run the application by pressing F5, and looking at the button, however, it looks vastly different than a standard button. It's a nice circular button with reflections. It has a storyboard that's changing the colors and rotating around the screen as I move my mouse into the button. Here's an example of a progress bar or two. Here's a progress bar with a new look to it. The second progress bar has an angled edge. I'm going to open this CreatebuttonTemplate.xaml file and start editing these.

Now, here's the key thing I want you to know about buttons before I start: they are content controls. Again, if you look at the XAML, here is a button that has content. There is an image inside this button. This button has content of a text which gets turned into a text block at runtime. That's going to be important as we build up our template. Switch back to my designer. I'm going to start by clicking on this button and replacing the default template with my own template. There's a number of ways to do that in Blend.

I can right-click on the control and choose Edit Template, I can go to the Object menu and choose Edit Template, and there's also a mini toolbar at the top of the screen right here to choose Edit Template. All three of these work. I'll choose to Edit and then create an empty template. I'll call mine Orbbutton and then click OK. And I've lost all visual design, because there is no UI at the moment for this button. I'm editing the template. You can see that by looking up here in Blend. If I hover over this area, you see that I'm editing the button template.

If I want to go back to see what it looks like with the template applied, I can click on the Scope Up button. It's an invisible button at the moment, but now of course I can move it to a new location. I'm doing designer things. When it's time to go back and edit the template, I click on this item. Now I'm editing the template. I'm going to create a circular button, so I'll start by grabbing an Ellipse and drawing it in the boundaries of my template. And I'll scroll down here and change the Margins to 0 on my ellipse so it fills up the entire button surface.

And then I'm going to fill it with a gradient fill. I'm going to go up to the Fill property, choose Gradient Brush, then select the Radial gradient brush. I'm feeling purple today, so I'll choose the purple color. And then for the center color I'll choose purple, but a lighter color purple. That looks good. Next, I'll go to the Stroke property, set my StrokeThickness to 4 pixels, and then I'm going to apply a Linear gradient brush to the border.

Again, I go to Gradient Brush, and what I'm going to do here is apply four gradient stops. In the center of my gradients, I'm going to have two stops close together and these are going to be a dark black color, or dark gray, like so. And then I'll make the two outside gradients a lighter color gray, like that. What I'm trying to do is get some sort of edge along this border that makes it look like it's got some physics to it.

I've got a radial gradient the center and a linear gradient around the edge. Let's scope out and see what my button looks like. It looks good, except it's not showing the content. You might remember a few minutes ago there was some text on this button. Silverlight provides something called the ContentPresenter that you use inside templates. You place the ContentPresenter inside your template and then that is the location inside your template where whatever child content is rendered. I'll show you how to add one. I'll go down here to my Assets pane, I'll search for Content, select ContentPresenter, and then I'm going to double- click on the ContentPresenter. Hm, I made a mistake.

I was not in the template when I was editing this, so I'll Ctrl+Z to undo, select my button, and drill down into my template. If you look over here in this side, you can see I'm editing my template. Here it says button Template, and here it says Template. Try this again. Select my grid, double-click on the ContentPresenter. That's better. Next, I'll remove any margins, and then I'll center the ContentPresenter by clicking on these two buttons here. So you see how it's picking up the child content? Now, if I did everything correct, I can apply this template to these other buttons, and they'll look like this, and they'll have the correct children content.

Let's see if this works. We'll scope out, click on the Cancel button, choose the correct selector, and now click on this button. And then I'll come over to my Property panel and type in "template," and I'll select the Template here, click on the property peg, and choose Local Resource > Orbbutton. Nice, that worked! Let's see if it works with this picture as child content. Select this button, pick Template, and then choose the same resource.

And that looks great! If I had to name my favorite Silverlight feature, I would be hard-pressed, but I can say this without reservation: control templates make my top five list.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Silverlight 5 Essential Training

106 video lessons · 5392 viewers

Walt Ritscher
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      53s
    2. Using the exercise files
      48s
  2. 35m 0s
    1. Overview of Silverlight
      3m 29s
    2. Setting up a developer computer
      2m 46s
    3. Installing the Silverlight Toolkit
      2m 21s
    4. Exploring the toolkit samples
      2m 35s
    5. Using Visual Studio 2010 to create a Silverlight project
      5m 10s
    6. Using Expression Blend to create a Silverlight project
      3m 13s
    7. Getting to know the Visual Studio interface
      8m 15s
    8. Working in the Expression Blend interface
      7m 11s
  3. 29m 46s
    1. Understanding the Visual Studio project structure
      3m 38s
    2. Creating a Silverlight page
      3m 17s
    3. Compiling your first application
      5m 0s
    4. Using other assemblies in an application
      5m 45s
    5. Deploying a Silverlight application
      3m 43s
    6. Understanding the startup process for an application
      3m 13s
    7. Understanding how users get Silverlight on their computers
      5m 10s
  4. 16m 59s
    1. Exploring the relationship between XAML and .NET
      3m 57s
    2. Using C#
      7m 16s
    3. Exploring the code-behind file
      5m 46s
  5. 43m 22s
    1. Working with XAML elements and Property attributes
      4m 56s
    2. Investigating XAML namespaces
      7m 31s
    3. Converting XAML properties with TypeConverters
      5m 1s
    4. Working with Property elements
      4m 24s
    5. Assigning runtime data with XAML markup extensions
      4m 21s
    6. Digging into the dependency property system
      6m 12s
    7. Creating a custom dependency property
      4m 42s
    8. Understanding attached properties
      6m 15s
  6. 9m 35s
    1. Debugging your code
      5m 17s
    2. Special Silverlight debugging techniques
      4m 18s
  7. 36m 0s
    1. Understanding layout
      4m 55s
    2. Using DockPanel and WrapPanel
      4m 2s
    3. Exploring sophisticated layouts with the Grid
      6m 40s
    4. Absolute positioning with the Canvas panel
      5m 20s
    5. Scrolling content with the ScrollViewer
      3m 28s
    6. Adjusting content alignment, margins, and sizing
      5m 6s
    7. Using the TabControl
      2m 17s
    8. Manipulating elements with transforms
      4m 12s
  8. 20m 32s
    1. Painting the user interface (UI) with SolidColorBrush
      6m 7s
    2. Getting colorful with gradient brushes
      3m 15s
    3. Decorating elements with ImageBrush
      4m 56s
    4. Creating effects with VideoBrush
      6m 14s
  9. 25m 42s
    1. Understanding routed events
      3m 12s
    2. Wiring up event handlers in Silverlight
      6m 4s
    3. Understanding event bubbling
      4m 39s
    4. Exploring mouse events
      7m 43s
    5. Exploring keyboard events
      4m 4s
  10. 32m 31s
    1. Displaying text on the screen
      3m 24s
    2. Gathering text input from the user
      5m 30s
    3. Showing complex text with RichTextBox
      6m 7s
    4. Understanding text overflow and text linking
      3m 14s
    5. Searching content with the AutoComplete type-ahead control
      6m 45s
    6. Using and embedding Silverlight fonts
      7m 31s
  11. 26m 47s
    1. Understanding content controls
      5m 7s
    2. Understanding button controls
      6m 16s
    3. Using the BusyIndicator
      4m 40s
    4. Showing tooltips
      4m 34s
    5. Changing content size with ViewBox
      1m 39s
    6. Exploring more controls
      4m 31s
  12. 55m 36s
    1. Connecting elements with binding
      9m 54s
    2. Using business data in a binding
      9m 21s
    3. Listing data with ItemsControls
      6m 39s
    4. Digging into the DataGrid
      8m 28s
    5. Using the DataForm
      3m 49s
    6. Storing data on the client
      7m 10s
    7. Debugging XAML bindings
      5m 41s
    8. Charting data
      4m 34s
  13. 24m 36s
    1. Creating an Out-of-Browser (OOB) application
      6m 16s
    2. Controlling aspects of an OOB application
      2m 49s
    3. Alerting the user with notification windows
      7m 13s
    4. Hosting HTML content in Silverlight applications
      8m 18s
  14. 30m 2s
    1. Exploring Silverlight trust levels
      3m 51s
    2. Creating an elevated trust application
      5m 57s
    3. Reaping the benefits of XAP signing
      6m 5s
    4. Making cross-domain calls
      5m 1s
    5. Getting started with COM Interop using the Speech API
      4m 21s
    6. Using COM Interop to interact with Microsoft Office
      4m 47s
  15. 16m 33s
    1. Showing child windows
      3m 48s
    2. Using a child window as a dialog window
      5m 7s
    3. Creating native windows
      2m 53s
    4. Maximizing a window with full screen mode
      4m 45s
  16. 13m 20s
    1. Dynamically loading UI content with user controls
      4m 46s
    2. Using the Navigation Framework
      8m 34s
  17. 9m 28s
    1. Using resource files
      3m 53s
    2. Using images in an application
      5m 35s
  18. 16m 32s
    1. Playing audio
      4m 27s
    2. Playing sound effects
      5m 4s
    3. Viewing video content with MediaElement
      4m 58s
    4. Changing video playback speed with TrickPlay
      2m 3s
  19. 14m 40s
    1. Capturing video with a web camera
      4m 16s
    2. Working with a microphone
      3m 47s
    3. Creating print output
      6m 37s
  20. 22m 35s
    1. Understanding Silverlight animations
      4m 35s
    2. Creating animations
      7m 52s
    3. Controlling animations
      4m 18s
    4. Simulating physics with animation easings
      5m 50s
  21. 27m 47s
    1. Placing XAML resources within a FrameworkElement
      6m 47s
    2. Centralizing settings in styles
      4m 8s
    3. Creating an alternate control UI with ControlTemplates
      6m 29s
    4. Dressing up your data with DataTemplates
      4m 33s
    5. Explaining the VisualStateManager: a simple way to manage control states
      5m 50s
  22. 10m 55s
    1. Handling global errors in a Silverlight application
      5m 46s
    2. Showing an application loading screen
      5m 9s
  23. 10m 48s
    1. Integrating with XNA
      7m 40s
    2. Exploring data analysis with PivotViewer
      3m 8s
  24. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

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