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Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Getting Started with Vista Media Center Development (Part 1)

with 4 comments

Want to begin developing some cool Vista Media Center addins – but don’t know where to start and what to install?  Read On …
In part 1 of this post – I will detail what software and SDK’s you’ll need to get your development environment ready –
1. Vista "RTM" release  (Ultimate or Home Premium edition)
 – x86 or x64 will work – although x86 might give you more compatibility with your tuners etc (if its required for your addin).
 – if you don’t yet have access to the RTM Build – you can also optionally use RC2 (however earlier matching versions of the SDK’s will need to be sourced).
2. Visual Studio 2005
 – All versions are supported – so this means that if you havent paid for a copy – you can even use the free Express Version (about 35-70 mb download depending what options you have chosen).
 – Its also important to install VS2005 prior to installing SDK’s etc – as the SDK’s need to make modifications to your VS2005 installation.
3. Windows Media Center SDK v5 for Vista
 –  available for download now on MSDN – click here to get it 
 –  once this is installed – Visual Studio 2005 will be configured for MediaCenter development – and contains some Media Center project templates for both and c#. Intellisense support is also configured for editing MCML (Media Center Markup Language) files.
With Windows Media Center for Vista – you have the option of developing either MCPL (Media Center Presentation Layer) based applications (which is generally the best choice as it provides direct access to the same native rendering technology used by Media Center itself) – or XBAP (Xaml Browser Applications using .NETv3 + Windows Presentation Foundation)..
If you are developing MCPL addins – then once the above required software/components are installed – you are ready to start writing code! The Media Center SDK contains a wealth of samples/documents and information – and I’d recommend spending some quality time with the included MCMLSampler. When you are feeling braver, try out the included end-to-end Z Application.
If you are developing XBAP applications (or MCPL applications that use .NETv3 components such as WCF) – you’ll also want the following (although it is possible to compile .NETv3 applications from the command line without this – its not recommended for newbies) :
4. Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows Vista and .NET Framework v3.0 Runtime Components
  –  get it from MSDN at this location (approx 1gb).
5. Visual Studio 2005 extensions for .NET Framework 3.0 (WCF & WPF) – November CTP
  – get it from MSDN at this location (approx 3.4mb) 
  – this is required if you are developing XBAP/WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) or WCF (Windows Communication Foundation Apps)
6. Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for .NET Framework 3.0 (WWF)
  – get it from MSDN at this location  (approx 6.5 mb)
  – this is required only if you are developing WWF (Windows Workflow Foundation) apps
Once these components are installed you will have access to Documentation and Samples for XBAP development (and related .NETv3 components) plus full Intellisense Support for editing of XAML files. An included tool with the SDK is XAMLPad – which is the ‘notepad’ for XAML Development (and probably the most useful prototyping available). Special VS2005 ready developer addins/designers are also provided for working with WCF and WWF.
If you are developing XBAP addins for Vista Media Center (and your addin doesn’t need to directly access any specific MediaCenter API’s) – you can use Windows XP or Windows 2003 for development. This might come in handy if you aren’t yet ready to upgrade your development machine to Vista (and your Vista Media Center machine is not optimized for programing – ie its hooked up to a TV Screen in the loungeroom)…
As the .NETv3 Runtime Components doesn’t come included with XP/2003 (wheras its installed by default on Vista) – you will need to download these from here.  (install these prior to the Windows SDK in step 4).
When testing – you can safely run your XBAP applications inside the browser (and if you resize/maximize your IE browser window to either 16:9/Widescreen ratio or 4:3 aspect ratio you can accurately ‘simulate’ the MCE environment). However be aware and prepared for various security limitations when running under Vista Media Center + MCE Extenders – so always make sure you find a Vista Media Center machine to pre-test your applications – "earlier rather than later" during development (so there aren’t any nasty surprises). Also note that for XBAP you will need to write code to handle different screen resolutions and aspect ratios – and accordingly scale your UI up/down to suit (as this is determined purely by the end users screen resolution).
I hope this helps you get started – and in Part 2 – I will also look at some of the additional tools (and internet resources/blogs/samples) that can help you hit the ground running..
A big thanks to Keith for suggesting this topic!

Written by mobilewares

November 21, 2006 at 5:21 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

4 Responses

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  1. Great part one!
    Looking forward to part 2 and hopefully part 3, 4 and so on. 🙂


    November 21, 2006 at 8:13 am

  2. Hey thanks for the comments guys – glad to see you are finding these useful.
    I’ve just posted part 2 (and part 3 is in draft still) – and there’s more to come too!…


    November 23, 2006 at 5:04 am

  3. Just doing a fresh installl of everything – and when I got up to installing Visual Studio 2005 Professional and the SDK stuff I noticed a couple of things that may be of concern or needed to be added to the install process…….
    Installing Visual Studio 2005 Professional will result in several errors (or information) that some items are known to have compatibility issues with Vista – like sql server etc… You can still install them – just plough through the prompts….
    Dont forget to install MSDN Library if doing the professional stuff – as you may get a warning later…..
    When you get to install the SDK – you may find that you are prompted for other installs…. Like the Visual Studio extensions for .net 3.0
    Dont you just hate easy installs…. everything is so damn complicated with prerequisites right left and center

    Impact (Keith Chambers)

    November 28, 2006 at 10:03 pm

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