The Silverlight Toolkit includes a bunch of functionality that’s not present in Silverlight itself and allows for the teams to do some innovation around what [may/may not] go into the next version of the product.
It’s available in both binary and source-code form ( under the Microsoft Public License ) and you can also get the unit tests for the framework just to add to the general level of goodness 🙂
What do you get in the toolkit? A bunch of controls and other bits that generally make your life building a Silverlight application a lot more pleasant. These controls are banded into 4 buckets according to how far along in their lifecycle they are;
I’m not sure whether there are any controls currently in the “Mature” band – perhaps that’s not unrealistic given the age of the Toolkit and the speed of innovation on both the Toolkit and Silverlight generally.
Examples of controls/classes in the other bands would include these below ( some of which were originally slated to be part of Silverlight 3 itself but have remained in the toolkit for V3 );
- Charts, Charts, Charts
- DataForm – very useful control for line-of-business applications
- Themes – there are 10 or so professionally designed themes in the toolkit ready to apply to your controls without any additional effort. There’s also classes to help with the application of those themes.
That’s not a definitive list – there’s many more but you can see a lot of them in action by installing the Toolkit and then browsing to the equivalent of;
c:\program files\microsoft sdks\silverlight\v3.0\toolkit\jul09\samples\
and taking a look at default.htm which brings up a Silverlight UI where you can explore the various bits and pieces – the images below show some charts, the DataForm, the themes and the TreeMap;
Ultimately – if you’re building a Silverlight application then you need to have the Toolkit installed as an extra set of (free :-)) resources to build into your application and, also, as a great learning tool for picking through source-code to see how things have been built.