October 2nd, 2009

Setting up your work space in Blend

Silverlight Blend Tutorials, Working with Silverlight, by Gavin Wignall.

The Blend interface is setup in a default configuration that will suit most users from the beginning, but can be changed as you become more confident or your requirements become more refined. Here are 5 key features that you should be aware of that can enhance your working environment:

Change the interface color

The default interface color is very dark, this is to allow maximum focus on the Design area when working with graphics. Of course this is not always preferable, so Microsoft have added a second interface color scheme which boasts a set of light greys. To switch color schemes go to Tools>Options>Workspace.

Drag tool bars, dock and pin

With exception of the main design/XAML area, you can drag any tool bar by clicking down on its title tab and dock it or position it on any edge of the screen. You can also adjust their width and height by dragging each tool bars edges. Finally you can select the Pin icon for each toolbar (found in the top right) to make it automatically minimize when not being interacted with – this can vastly increase your work area on smaller screens!

Change the background color of the Artboard

Sometimes you need your workspace’s background color to be changed, especially if you are working with a lot of transparency. We can change the Artboard background to any color we want, or we use a checker pattern provided. To make these changes go to Tools>Options>Artboard and half way down the list of options you will find the heading ‘Background’. If you want to choose a custom color then click the small colored square on the 2nd radio button titled ‘Color’, this will pop open a color picker palette for you to make your choice.

Use split view mode to view Design and XAML

On the top right side of the design/XAML area there are 3 button one above the other. They allow you to switch between Design view, XAML view and a split mode to view both at once. The split mode is very useful for seeing how changing one mode effects the other, both sides should update in unison. The default view for split mode is a vertical orientation, personally I prefer to switch this to the horizontal orientation as it can fit more XAML on screen, but of course this depends on the type of work you are doing. To switch between vertical and horizontal orientation go to View>Split View Orientation>Arrange Panes Horizontally. You will see that there is also an option to switch the Design/XAML panes around as well.

Save your Workspace

Once you are happy that you workspace is fully set up to your requirements, you can save it so that you never have to go through that fine tuning again. In the scenario where multiple people use the same machine or if you require different set-ups for different project types, you can save multiple workspaces and give each one a name to remember it by. To save a workspace go to Window>Save As New Workspace… Then add a name that you want to associate with that workspace in the pop-up and click ok. Use the Window tab to manage and switch between your workspace views.

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Responses to “Setting up your work space in Blend”

  1. Exactly the set of items I was looking to do in Blend.

    Ken Jackson at March 4, 2010 11:45 pm
  1. DotNetShoutout (,October 3, 2009)

    Setting up your work space in Blend » Silverlight Buzz…

    Thank you for submitting this cool story – Trackback from DotNetShoutout…

  2. Learn Expression Blend in a Month! » Silverlight Buzz (,October 5, 2009)

    [...] Setting up your work space in Blend [...]

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