Spying on Silverlight

| by Robert Bazinet Follow 0 Followers on Sep 04, 2008. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

The success of Microsoft Silverlight, as seen in the recent Beijing Olympics, shows the capabilities of the technology and is attracting more developers.  The addition of end-users and developers using Silverlight will also drive more tool development and one such useful tool is Silverlight Spy by First Floor.

Silverlight Spy is a free .NET 3.5 tool which allows for detailed inspection of web pages hosting Silverlight 2 content.  This tool uses its own built-in browser which allows users to navigate to any web site and inspect the Silverlight.

The features of Silverlight Spy include:


  • Convenient explorer providing access to all application details
  • Extensive search (still in development)

XAP Package

  • View and export XAP package contents
  • View and export assemblies and assembly resources
  • View .NET types and members including statistics
  • Decompile .NET types and members (requires Reflector)

Isolated Storage

  • Explore Isolated Storage structure
  • View and export files in Isolated Storage

Application Style

  • View and export Default Control Styles
  • View and export Application Control Styles

User Interface

  • Explore UI object model with visual feedback in application
  • Find UI elements by selecting them in application
  • Read and write UI element properties
  • View regenerated XAML of (parts of) the UI object model)
  • View UI statistics
  • Preview isolated parts of the User Interface (still in development)
  • Monitor events raised by UI elements


  • Microsoft Silverlight Configuration
  • Inspect and validate cross-domain access policy files
  • HTTP monitor provides insight in HTTP/HTTPS traffic

Requirements for installing and using Silverlight Spy are minimal:

  • Internet Explorer 6 or higher
  • Silverlight 2 (Beta 2)
  • Windows Installer 3.1
  • .NET Framework 3.5 runtime

Chris Koenig posted a review of Silverlight Spy on his web site.  Chris had good thoughts about the tool:

So far, after just a little bit of use, I really, really dig this tool.  I know a lot of people jumping on the Silverlight development bandwagon and I know this will be a big help to them, both from a debugging as well as a learning experience.  The integration with Reflector puts this tool totally over the top!  I highly recommend you get out to First Floor’s web site Download Silverlight Spy today!

Silverlight Spy can be downloaded from the company's web site which also includes additional information.

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The "success" of Microsoft Silverlight ? by Cyril Gambis

I don't want to begin a flame war, but the "success" of Microsoft Silverlight is quite relative.

I can remember that event the ad web site for vista released recently ( was based on Adobe Flex. Since it was some kind of proof of the youthfulness of Silverlight, they released a new version based on Silverlight beta 2, and a HTML version with javascript effect library (and removed Flex version). But Silverlight is still in beta...

I think Silverlight has the potential to become a great technology, but it's very young, and they change a lot of things at each new beta release (like Adobe did, when they began with Flex - versions 1.0, 1.5 and 2 very different).

And Silverlight tools like this spy are very important in the adoption of the technology, particularly in the Open Source community.

Re: The by Dan Tines

I think it's pretty much inevitable that Silverlight will have reasonable market penetration given Microsoft's industry clout and the development model itself - IronRuby, IronPython, C#, VB....and a subset of XAML, which .NET developers will eventually be using.

Re: The by Robert Bazinet

@Cyril - I agree Silverlight is still very young and I am not implying Microsoft is declaring victory with Silverlight. My statements were to the level that MS has made strides with Silverlight with the NBC Olympics site and others. These large sites make developers notice a technology such as Silverlight and explore using it as a tool.

Flash has a huge user base and it will be a long time, if ever, before MS sees those numbers with Silverlight.

Re: The by Lars Nielsen

Strides usually imply some kind of success, reading NBC dumps Silverlight indicates anything but success. Lars

Re: The by ZedroS Schwartz

And even without having NBC dumping it, as said there :
"The Olympics online were a joint production between NBC and Microsoft, and an opportunity for Microsoft to build a user base for Sillverlight, its new media player."

A joint production... from what I've seen in past projects with MS tech, NBC could even have been paid by MS for this.

Re: The by Dan Tines

...and NBC's move to Flash didn't pay off

But people are fooling themselves if they think that Flash is going to remain the only game in town in the RIA space.

Re: The by Robert Bazinet

@Lars - Thank you for the heads up, I had not seen that news. I think the fact that Silverlight was used for the NBC Olympics site does show the capability. Yes, Silverlight is young and it will move ahead with MS pushing it. There will be other sites using it and adoption will increase.

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