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WPF is an exciting new technology and I will be writing a lot about it in the upcoming days/weeks/months (you get the picture). Before we get into code samples and such. I want to go over why WPF is so exciting.
I’m sure you’ve been inundated about how Windows Vista is the most dramatic change in Windows PC computing since the release of Windows 95. Although, the PR people will quickly emphasize that Vista is much more than just a new pretty UI (they are right), it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that the graphics subsystems in Vista are major improvements over previous iterations. I won’t go into details here, but if you’d like to know more, a good place to start is Greg Schechter’s Blog. Suffice it to say that the possibilities it creates are exciting.
So let’s answer the question on everyone’s mind. What’s so big about WPF?
  1. XAML (rhymes with Camel)
  2. Ummm…there is no 2. XAML is the big thing about WPF.
  3. Actually, I lied there is a number two and several points after but they all point back to 1.
  4. Okay that’s wrong too there are other highlights in WPF that aren’t directly tied to XAML but they are a bit more technical than I care to go into now. (Again, I’ll point you to Greg Schechter for more technical discussions.)

XAML or eXtensible Application Markup Language, is basically the representation of UI in XML. XAML brings the power of declarative UI programming to Windows desktop applications. I say desktop applications because ASP.Net apps already have a similar feature called html.

One major feature of ASP.Net development is that logic is CLEARLY separated from presentation. Well it is possible to have scriptlets of logic within an ASP.Net page and to imperatively create HTML elements in a code-behind file; but for the most part ASP.Net supports a model of separation, leaving UI Design to designers and business logic to coders.

WPF gives desktop applications a similar development model with XAML. Of course, a developer is free to create his (or her) WPF application using all imperative code. He would also be free to create his web app using only ISAPI.

This is the big deal regarding WPF. For the first time, designers can create their mockups using a tool that is targeted toward designers (namely Expression Interactive Designer) and have it immediately useful for developers. The reverse is also true. Developers can create a basic UI for their application in Visual Studio and a designer can use the same files to enhance the UI in Expression. Gone are the days of designers creating mockups in a graphics tool and developers having to translate that look into a windows form. XAML creates a bridge between developers and designers that simply did not exist before. If you’re not excited yet, you should check your pulse.


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