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Silverlight - Creating Image Map with Hotspots

Create Hot spots with Silverlight | Silvelright image Hotspots| Silverlight image hotspots| Silverlight image hot region| Silverlight image map, Silverlight pen tools


Recently I was working on a Silverlight application and one of the pages contains a graphic. One of the requirements is that the graphic should contain clickable regions (Hotspots) and display a dynamic navigation menu when the end users click on it. An image that contains one or more Hotspots or clickable area is called an image map. I have put together a simple tutorial on how to get this done.

Getting Started

Image map can be created by using Microsoft Expression Design or Expression Blend.

  1. If you do not have Microsoft Expression Design, you can download a trial version from here.
  2. If you do not have Microsoft Expression Blend, you can download a trial version from here.

Microsoft Expression Designer

Prepare your favorite image. In this tutorial, I used a map graphic to demonstrate that we can create Hotspots in different shapes with Microsoft Expression Designer/ Blend. I downloaded a random map from here. Follow the step from below.

  1. Open Microsoft Expression Design 3
  2. Go to File, New, Fill up all the information and click the OK button.
  3. Go to View, check Snap to Points and Snap to Pixels.
  4. File, Import Image, and browse for your image and click the Open button.
  5. Double click on the Layer1 and rename it to MainImage.

At this point, you should see something like below.

Figure 1
Main Image

Add a new layer at the top of MainImage layer, highlight it and select the Pen tool and draw a hotspot around Russia.

Figure 2

New layer
Pen Tool Russia

Double click the Layer 2 and name it Russia or something meaningful so we can utilize it in the Silverlight application. Highlight the points and click on the properties tab. See below.

Figure 3

Add property

Pick a color you like and set it Opacity to 40%.

Figure 4

Set opacity

After you have finished drawing the Hotspots, click on File, Export and copy the setting from below.

Figure 5


Putting everything together

Open Visual Studio 2008, go to File, New, Project, and choose the Silverlight Application template. If you don't have the Silverlight Controls Toolkit, you can download it from here. Make sure you have added the reference for System.Windows.Controls.Toolkit. Open the MainPage.xaml and drag a Viewbox control on to the page. This control will stretch the map image inside it proportionally when we resize the browser. Then copy the content in the MapsHotSpot.xaml into the Viewbox content in the MainPage.xaml. See below.

Listing 1

<UserControl x:Class="MapsHotspotDemo.MainPage"
    mc:Ignorable="d" d:DesignWidth="640" d:DesignHeight="480"> 
  <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot">
        <controlsToolkit:Viewbox  x:Name="MapsViewbox"  >
<!-- Maps content here -->
               <Canvas xmlns="" 
                    x:Name="MapsHotSpot" Width="800" 
                    Height="600" Clip="F1 M 0,0L 800,0L 800,600L 0,600L 0,0" 
<!-- End Maps content here -->

Expression Blend

If you choose to do it by using Expression Blend, here are the steps to follow.

  1. Open Microsoft Expression Blend.
  2. Click on File, select New Project and follow the setup from below.

Figure 6

Blend New Project

Add a Viewbox into the LayoutRoot and name it MapsViewbox, then add a Canvas inside the Viewbox and name it MapsHotspot. After that, add a Canvas into MapsHotspot and an Image control into the Canvas. From the Image control properties, specify the image source and setup the appropriate width and height of the image. Then, create another Canvas and name it Russia or something meaningful or unique. Make sure that the width and height of the newly created Canvas match the image in order to draw points on it. Click on the Pen tool and draw points or vertices around Russia. Pick a brush color and set it Opacity to certain percentages. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the countries.

Figure 7

Blend Hot Spot


Remember that we named each layer at the beginning. The layers and points are translated into Canvas and Path objects respectively when we export them into XAML. We can provide each layer with a unique name or include a tag attribute to it and use it to pull the country information from a database or resource dictionaries. For simplification sake, we will have a method to loop through each child elements in the MapsHotSpot Canvas, grab their name and set it to the tooltip content. Attach a MouseMove event to each layer to highlight the country on mouse hover. Also, attach a MouseLeftButtonUp event to pop up a menu when the left mouse button is released. See Listing 2.

Listing 2

foreach (Canvas c in (this.FindName("MapsHotSpot") as Canvas).Children)
                if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(c.Name))
                    c.Cursor = Cursors.Hand;
                    ToolTip toolTip = new ToolTip { Content = c.Name };
                    c.SetValue(ToolTipService.ToolTipProperty, toolTip);
	c.MouseMove += new MouseEventHandler(c_MouseMove);
                    c.MouseLeftButtonUp += new 			 	MouseButtonEventHandler(c_MouseLeftButtonUp);

Displayed below is the implementation of the c_MouseMove method. This method will highlight the Canvas/ country and clear the previous selection, if there is any, during mouse hover event.

Listing 3

void c_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
            Canvas c = sender as Canvas;
            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(c.Name))
                lastSelected = c.Name;
                SetCanvasColor(c, Color.FromArgb(255, 92, 112, 171), 2, Colors.Green);

View in browser, you should see something like below. If you resize the browser, you will still see the full map. Place the mouse over the map image to see the tooltip and the highlighted region.

Figure 8


We will build a simple menu with several links in it. First, add a simple class to hold the link properties. See below for an example.

Listing 4

public class Links
        public string Title { get; set; }
        public string URL { get; set; }
        public Links(string t, string u)
            Title = t;
            URL = u;

After that, create a global List (T) class to hold the link objects and populates the link class with the below data on page load.

Listing 5

private List<Links> _links = new List<Links>();
void SetupLinks()
            _links.Add(new Links("About the people", "{0}.aspx"));
            _links.Add(new Links("Economy", "{0}.htm"));
            _links.Add(new Links("Global Statistics", "{0}.aspx"));
            _links.Add(new Links("Population", ""));
            _links.Add(new Links("Wiki", "{0}"));

Below is the implementation of the c_MouseLeftButtonUp method. This method will bring up the popup menu by calling the PopulateContextMenu method in response to the mouse left button click event. The PopulateContextMenu take a country name as an argument, loop through the list of link objects and concatenate the country name to it. The purpose of the PositionContextMenu method is to set the popup menu position. I also added animation to fade in and fade out the popup menu, please refer to the MainPage.xaml.

Listing 6

void c_MouseLeftButtonUp(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
            Canvas c = sender as Canvas;
            if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(c.Name))
                PositionContextMenu(e.GetPosition(contextMenu.Parent as UIElement), true);
                e.Handled = true;
        void PositionContextMenu(Point p, bool useTransition)
            if (useTransition)
                contextMenu.IsOpen = false;
            contextMenu.HorizontalOffset = p.X;
            contextMenu.VerticalOffset = p.Y;
            contextMenu.IsOpen = true;
void PopulateContextMenu(string country)
            foreach (Links l in _links)
                HyperlinkButton hlb = new HyperlinkButton();
                hlb.Content = l.Title;
                hlb.NavigateUri = new Uri(string.Format(l.URL, country));
                hlb.TargetName = "_blank";

At this point, you should see something like below.

Figure 9

Mouse click map

The final piece is to hide the popup menu and clear the highlighted country once we click on the non- clickable area of the map image. In order to achieve that, we can attach a MouseLeftButtonUp event to the Layout grid on page load. See below.

Listing 7

LayoutRoot.MouseLeftButtonUp += new MouseButtonEventHandler(LayoutRoot_MouseLeftButtonUp);
void LayoutRoot_MouseLeftButtonUp(object sender, MouseButtonEventArgs e)
        void HideMenu()
            contextMenu.HorizontalOffset = -50.0;

Points of Interest

Initially I was planning to use the right mouse button click event class that I found from here to trigger the popup menu, but I decided to leave it out after reading an article from here about its disadvantages.

I found this article useful although it was written in VB.NET and I can't get it to compile, but I'm able to utilize the logic embedded in it.


If you find any bugs or disagree with the contents, please drop me a line and I'll work with you to correct it. I would suggest downloading the demo and explore it in order to grasp the full concept of it because I might left out some useful information. I hope someone will find this article useful on how to create image Hotspots or map on any images.


Adding right click to Silverlight
Limitations of Windowless mode for Silverlight
Silverlight - World Map

Watch this script in action




Comments (57) -

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    I am looking for a map that will let me know what cities are within a 6 and a half hour driving time from my home town. Is there any online maps that allow me to do this?

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    11/20/2009 1:17:36 AM |

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    11/22/2009 7:10:31 PM |

    I have Microsoft Expression Web and I also have professionally designed templates from Design Template. I have downloaded some templates to my computer and unzipped the files and I have no idea on how to successfully load them to Microsoft Expression web. I understand that FTP maybe involved - but I'm not experienced and I would really appreciate some very easy to follow instructions.

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    Be careful not to make the image too small that you lose any specific detail you are trying to display. In other words, you are basically going to have to play around with what works.

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    2/4/2010 1:57:22 AM |

    Although they do put out a lot of updates I do find Microsoft Expression difficult to get to grips with. Great tutorial though.

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    2/4/2010 8:12:46 PM |

    Let me say it in smple words - wow!! I wasn't aware that something like this is possible with silverlight - or any other application. With this freedom in shapes, I directly feel some ideas entering my mind. I will have to investigate in Silverlight....

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    I like that you outlined Russia Smile my backround is Russian Smile

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