Another Tools Set-Back With Silverlight 3

I previously mentioned how limited the tools are in Visual Studio for Silverlight 2 – particularly the read-only design preview, compared to the full WPF editor, forcing coziness with XAML or learning of another tool (i.e. Blend).

Silverlight 3 was released today, and I wasn’t expecting a non-read-only editor (not until VS 2010), but I certainly didn’t expect what I found in the Silverlight 3 release notes (which of course I read after installing):

Design Preview Disabled in Silverlight 3 Tools

Due to performance and rendering issues, the preview window has been disabled in the Silverlight 3 Tools for Visual Studio 2008. The functionality of the XAML editor remains intact, including IntelliSense, error messages, and the ability to drag controls from the Toolbox into the editor. WYSIWYG XAML design can be done by using Expression Blend or Visual Studio 2010.

One step forward and another one back.

So it seems that to get visual editing I need to install the RC of Expression 3 or a Beta of Visual Studio 2010.

Working with pre-release or sub-par tools appears to be the norm these days.

There is also a noticeable lack of readily discoverable web-hosted live demos for Silverlight 3’s new features.  It would be helpful if the showcase allowed filtering by version feature use.

I’m wondering why SL 3 was released now instead of waiting for the tools to be ‘fixed’ (or at least for the 30 days to pass within which that they say Expression Studio 3 will be final)?  Are we going to find that SL 3 is pre-installed in Windows 7 next week?

There’s also this in the release notes which was also the case for beta versions of the tools, though not an unheard of arrangement with technology versions in VS (or worse – think BI tools):

Silverlight 3 Tools and Silverlight 2 Compatibility
Silverlight 2 projects cannot be created with the Silverlight 3 Tools for Visual Studio 2008. To create Silveright 2 projects, uninstall the Silverlight 3 runtime and the Silverlight 3 Tools from Add or Remove Programs and re-install the Silverlight 2 Tools for Visual Studio 2008.

It’s a good thing VPC/Hyper-V exists.