Microsoft has released a free pre-alpha copy of Avalon and Visual Studio Express for public download.
DEFINITIONS FOR NEWBIES LIKE ME:
Pre-Alpha – A version of software still under development, which means this version’s API isn’t 100% permanent.
Visual Studio Express – A lightweight version of Visual Studio for C# or Visual Basic.
Avalon – Microsoft’s next-generation UI platform that runs on WinXP, Win2003, and Longhorn.
WinFX – I couldn’t find a one-sentence definition on the web, so here’s mine… WinFX is Microsoft’s next-generation API for building Windows applications, all based on the .Net 2.0 managed code framework. WinFX consists of several parts, and Avalon is a part of WinFX. Visual Studio is the best tool for writing WinFX applications in C# or Visual Basic.
SDK – Acronym for software development kit, which usually contains code samples, tools, and documentation for writing software. The WinFX SDK contains all those things for writing software based on WinFX technology.
Avalon CTP – Acronym for "Avalon Community Technology Preview". It includes WinFX SDK, .Net 2.0 Framework, and Avalon. It doesn’t include Visual Studio, which you have to install separately.
Avalon with WinFX – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=C8F904E1-B4CA-402B-ACCF-AAA2BD60DA74&displaylang=en
Visual Studio C# Express – http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/express/vcsharp/
Visual Studio C# Express – http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/express/vbasic/
I messed up on the sequence of installation steps, so I wrote down a clearer set of steps for myself:
0. Make sure you’ve uninstalled the ".Net 2.0 Beta 1 Framework" if you had previously installed an earlier version of WinFX. Skip this step if this is your first time installing the WinFX SDK on this machine.
1. Download and install Visual Studio C# Express. Make sure you install it in the default directory.
2. Download the "Avalon CTP" installer and run it.
3. Burn a CD with the "en_winfx_sdk_ctp.iso" file after you’ve run the avalon ctp installer. (To avoid burning a CD-ROM, you can use the "Daemon Tools CD emulator" to access the iso file as a virtual CD drive if you know how from http://www.daemon-tools.cc, but run third-party software at your own risk).
4. After accessing the CD-ROM, a startup HTML page will appear. Click on the "Installation" link.
5. Skip the step for installing .Net 2.0 because it was automatically installed with Visual Studio C# Express from step 1.
6. Install Avalon.
7. Install the WinFX SDK.
8. Run the batch file named "ConfigureAvalonForExpressSKUs.cmd" from your Avalon CTP folder to get Avalon project templates in Visual Studio.
9. From Start menu, access Programs/Microsoft WinFX SDK/WinFX SDK Documentation.
10. Start reading from the top, and follow the samples 🙂
Whew, that’s a lot of steps. Last year, it was more complicated, so this is an improvement, but I hope they simplify it even more in the future!