So, I was wondering, I am a ASP.NET developer, so I'm used to web development. Past week I've been snuffing around WP8 development and there is one thing I'm wondering about.
When developing a website with asp.net/html/css, you tend to work only in the mark up. So you're not using a designer at all.
What is the best practice with working with xaml? Is it perfectly normal to just drag something out of you toolbox and putting it in the designer, or is it best to just work in the xaml file only? I've been told so many times how evil a designer is in asp..net, that this kinda worries me.
I write a lot of ASP.Net / HTML5 / etc. and (like you) find myself largely ignoring the designer. In terms of XAML, however, I find myself using the designer a lot more - not the visual studio one (which I sometimes find painful for XAML); but Expression Blend. Blend will make your life a lot easier if you get used to how its visual side can accelerate your UI development. If you're like me; you'll still use the markup a great deal - but expression blend for animation storyboards, gradients, different states an interface can be in, data template design, and dragging and dropping of user interface elements, etc., can make your life a great deal easier. And you can still have the mark-up on show split-screened whilst you do it (and edit in both). It is also fantastic for creating sample data sets for demonstrating data binding in your user interface before you've got a realistic data source.
It's quite easy to have both (visual studio & blend) open on a project at the same time. It's a gorgeous program which I find enhances my design & creativity - whereas studio supports my coding & debugging.
It really is a matter of preference. I've worked at Nokia on the music client and blend is pretty much shunned there and the guys are coding the xaml in VS directly. In that case I think a lot was to do with having no design time data hooked in but also because when you know your xaml well you have a good idea of what its going to look like so its quicker just to knock out the code directly. Personally I like a bit of both worlds, but for a beginner I would certainly recommend using it, and if you are going to use it get the design time data displaying as its not that useful without it.
I have been working with Xaml for about 4 years now. and even used it in my game Wordemic!....
I do not use a click/drag designer anymore, I cannot stand how Blend or VS when drag/dropping stick margins and left/right justify everything. It causes issues when you want things to stretch or when wanting things to behave the way you would expect.
But Blend makes styling a billion times easier. So I use Blend to animate and style but not to design layout.
So yeah, pretty much what everyone else is saying. heh