What is Microsoft Blend?

Teodor Nechita
by Teodor Nechita
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Microsoft Blend

Microsoft Blend for Visual Studio, also known as Microsoft Blend is an application program that developers use to design user interfaces for programs of pretty much any type.

This product is developed and sold by Microsoft, and back when the Microsoft Expression Studio suite was still available, it was an integral part of it.

From an overall view, Microsoft Blend for Visual Studio is yet another way for Microsoft to encourage developers to create more and more programs, expanding the resources that they have in a more versatile manner.

What is Microsoft Blend used for?

Down to its very core, Microsoft Blend for Visual Studio is an interactive, WYSIWYG front-end for designing XAML-based interfaces for Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight and UWP applications.

It helps you design XAML-based Windows and Web applications. It comes with the same basic XAML design experience as Visual Studio while adding visual designers for advanced tasks such as animations and behaviors.

Ever since Microsoft Expression Studio suite was discontinued, Microsoft Blend for Visual Studio has become a part of the Visual Studio suite. Because of this, it is released on an almost yearly basis alongside Visual Studio, and it is constantly upgraded.

How do I use Microsoft Blend?

The UI for Microsoft Blend is pretty simple, featuring the standard toolbar-based design you would expect in your typical designing programs.

These include:

  • Selection tools
  • View tools
  • Brush tools
  • Object tools
  • Asset tools

In order to create a new UI and program its behavior, you will need two main windows in Microsoft Blend. These are the Assets and the Objects and Timeline windows.

The Assets window

If you know how to use Visual Studio, then you will find Microsoft Blend’s Assets window to be extremely familiar. Alongside the controls, you’ll find everything you need for your artboard in the Assets window.

These include pretty much everything from styles and media, to behaviors and effects.

The Objects and Timeline window

Once you add all UI elements and effects, you can organize and program their behavior through this window. The interface for this window is similar to that of a video editing tool, where you set behaviors and actions within a timeline.

Closing thoughts

No matter how useful an application is, it will never have the success you expect of it if it doesn’t look in a way that will attract your users. If you don’t have the skills to make the UI look attractive, you can at least make it look simple.

All things considered, a tool like Microsoft Blend is a must-have for independent and professional developers alike.

Do you use Microsoft Blend for designing your application‘s UI? Let us know in the comment section below.