Expression Encoder puts video in a streaming format, and lets you edit and encode digital video and audio, add leaders, trailers, and watermarks and control the quality and encoding of the output.
|Figure 6. Automatic Silverlight Media Players: Microsoft Expression Encoder can automatically generate Silverlight media players from predefined templates.|
You can download a Trial edition of Expression Encoder
to try it out. The program is simple and intuitive to use, and there is a short video tutorial available to get you up and running quickly.
You'll find a number of predefined Silverlight media player templates in the "Job Output" section of the Output tab that create a full Silverlight wrapper for you without any coding. And if you download and install the Silverlight Streaming Publishing Plug-In for Expression Encoder, you can publish a job output from Microsoft Expression Encoder directly to Silverlight Streaming using the public API. Just provide your accountID and Account Key and press Publish (see Figure 6).
Expression Blend 2
Showing basic media types and text is straightforward, but if you are serious about designing professional, rich user experiences with Silverlight, you probably want to use Expression Blend 2, which is a full-featured Silverlight XAML authoring tool for designers. Using the Expression Blend 2 December Preview, you can create a new Silverlight 1.0 Site project, and then interact with the design surface to lay out your graphic design. The tool has a Split view that shows both your design work and the corresponding XAML (see Figure 7).
|Figure 7. Microsoft Expression Blend 2 December Preview: The Split view in Expression Blend shows you both the run-time and XAML views of your project.|
One advantage of Expression Blend is that it uses the same project file format as Visual Studio, which means that you can open the same site in Visual Studio. That allows developers to build advanced functionality and enables efficient designer/developer interaction.
|If you are serious about designing rich user experiences with Silverlight, you probably want to use Expression Blend 2.|
Here's a list of other features that Microsoft Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live offers:
- You can upload and manage your Silverlight applications programmatically using a simple REST API.
- You can use Expression Encoder with a command line interface allowing batch mode operation and on-the-fly trans-coding.
- You can split your application so that the XAML is delivered from your own site, but pulls multimedia content from the Streaming Service. This can be a useful technique to allow more flexible scripting and avoid cross-domain issues.
Video-enabled web applications have traditionally been expensive and difficult to host because of their high bandwidth demands and requirements for streaming and edge-cached networks. Silverlight is more than a Flash replacement—it's changing the way developers build rich interactive applications on the web. Just take a look around, and you'll see a wide range of applications, including video, games, and advanced data visualization tools.