Windows Store-apps: WinRT XAML vs. Silverlight XAML

This post is part of a series about creating Windows Store-apps with XAML and C#. Find the Content of the series here:
Windows Store-apps with XAML and C# blog-series

Last weekend I’ve finished the XAML-chapter of my upcoming book about developing Windows Store-apps with XAML and C#. I want to share the things that you should know about the WinRT XAML – the way I call it here – if you’re familiar with Silverlight or WPF.

The WinRT XAML is much like the XAML we know from Silverlight. But there are some differences in WinRT XAML:

  • the way you use your custom namespaces is different
  • there are some missing things (TypeConverters, Custom MarkupExtensions)

Let’s look at the two parts

Use custom namespaces

There are two ways in XAML to use a namespace:

  • 1:1-Namespace-Mapping
  • 1:n-Namespace-Mapping

Read the difference for both in Silverlight- and WinRT-XAML below.

The 1:1-Namespace-Mapping

Let’s assume you’ve the following class:

To use this class in Silverlight-XAML, you’ve to add an Namespace-Mapping like this

or like this if the CLR-Namespace is in another assembly than the XAML-file containing the Namespace-Mapping below: 

With the Namespace-Mapping the classes from that Namespaces can be used with the chosen alias. The alias is “rocker” in the snippets above, so the WindowsEight-class can be used as below:

In WinRT-XAML you’re using the class in the same way as above, but the way of creating the Namespace-Mapping is different. Instead of using the syntax with “clr-namespace…” you use:

You don’t care if the Namespace UIRocker.Special is in another assembly as the XAML-file or not. This works exactly the same way as the using-directive in C#, where you also don’t care if the Namespace is in another assembly than the .cs-File or not. So, great improvement, but creates a little incompability with Silverlight-XAML.

The 1:n-Namespace-Mapping with XmlnsDefinition-Attribute

The Namespace-Mappings above have been 1:1-Mappings. One XML-Namespace was mapped to one Silverlight/WinRT-Namespace.

In Silverlight-XAML you can create a 1:n-Namespace-Mapping by placing the XmlnsDefinitionAttribute (Namespace: System.Windows.Markup) on your assemblies like this:

Classes out of the Namespaces UIRocker.Special and UIRocker.Mvvm can be used in XAML with one alias by making a 1:n-Namespace-Mapping like this:

Unfortunately in WinRT-XAML there is no possibility for a 1:n-Mapping. The Namespace Windows.UI.Xaml.Markup contains a XmlnsDefinition, but it’s not an attribute, it’s a struct and therefore not usable.

Especially when you create a library with many Namespaces in it, it’s great to use just one alias for the library in XAML. Maybe the next Version of WinRT will contain such a mapping. By the way, first versions of Silverlight also didn’t support 1:n-Namespace-Mappings.

Missing things in WinRT-XAML

There are a few other things that are not in WinRT-XAML or behave differently. Let’s take a look at them.


As XAML is XML, every Attribute contains a string-value. This string-value needs to be converted into the value of the property-type the attribute represents. For primitive types like double, float, int, bool, char etc., the conversion automatically is done by the XAML-Parser (Silverlight and WinRT). Also for Properties of type enum, the XAML-Parser tries to convert the specified string-value into the enum-type of the property. There is also a conversion for some central types hardcoded in the XAML-Parser of Silverlight and WinRT, e.g. the Brush-Type. This conversion allows you to assign a string in XAML where a Brush-Instance is required:

The XAML-Parser takes the “Red”-string, creates a SolidColorBrush with the Color Red and assigns it to the Background-property of the ListBox.

(Excourse to WPF-XAML: In WPF-XAML this conversion is not done by the XAML-Parser, it is done by the BrushConverter-class)

Now if you have properties that are of your own type, let’s look at this works in Silverlight and WinRT. Let’s assume we have the classes below:

In Silverlight-XAML, it is possible to create a Person-instance as below if a TypeConverter for the Address-type exists:

The corresponding typeconverter could look like this:

The only thing that is additionally required is to tell the XAML-Parser where to find the AddressConverter. You do this by specifying the TypeConverterAttribute either on the Address-Property in the Person-class or on the Address-class itself. Below an example that specifies it on the Address-class.

So far to Silverlight-XAML, now let’s look at WinRT-XAML. As mentioned above, WinRT-XAML also supports conversion for

  • primitive Types like bool, char, double, int, float,…
  • enumeration-values
  • central types like e.g. the Brush-type.

If you’ve custom types like the Address-class, currently there’s no support. There’s no TypeConverter in WinRT. Dot.


In Silverlight-XAML it’s possible to create custom subclasses from MarkupExtension and use them in XAML with curly braces. WinRT doesn’t support custom Markup-Extensions. Dot.

Did you find out other bigger differences about XAML?

See you next week with the next post about WinRT and Windows Store-apps.


BASTA! Spring – Silverlight und WCF RIA Services

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund. Vielen Dank für den Besuch meiner Session diesen Morgen um 8:30. Wie versprochen stehen die Slides und die Live-Demo eine Stunde nach dem Session-Ende hier auf dem Blog zur Verfügung. Folgend die Links


Falls es Fragen oder Anmerkungen gibt, immer wieder gerne. Einfach direkt per E-Mail an mich.


Windows Phone 7 – the Maps-app and its functionality

I switched from iPhone 3GS to a Samsung Omnia 7 with Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 7 has  a really great user experience, especially with a great display like my Samsung Omnia 7 has. I even like the user experience of Windows Phone 7 much more than the user experience of my iPhone 3GS. And the development of apps with Silverlight is totally awesome.

There are just a few things I miss from my iPhone:

  • A navigation-app like Navigon or TomTom. I think there’ll be one in the near future. (German Telekom already has Navigon, but it’s an exclusiv app that you only get there)
  • The “Maps”-Application.

The second one is very amazing. On my iPhone I was able to open the Maps-app, enter a street and streetnumber and the app displayed me the route to it from my current location.

The “Maps”-Application on Windows Phone 7 just displays my current location, it can’t display a route. Oh, I can hear you say “no, that’s not true, it can display a route”. You’re correct, but for some users the functionality is not there. And as I found out, it’s based on regional settings. Is this a bug or a wanted behavior? I don’t know. Maybe Microsoft can give a statement to that. For me it doesn’t make sense to show a different set of buttons for Switzerland than for Germany/US and other regions.

When you’ve set up your Phone with region German (Switzerland), in the maps-app you can just look at your location, but there’s no way to get a route to another location. When the region is switched to German (German), you can enter a route to another location. Let’s look at the screens.

Here is the screen with German (Switzerland) setting. Notice that there are just two Buttons in the ApplicationBar. One to jump to the current location (Ich) and one to search (Suchen). The latter one just opens Bing-Search with the current location.


When I now go to the settings of my Windows Phone 7 and set everything from Deutsch (Schweiz) to Deutsch (Deutschland), I get an additional icon as you see on the following screenshot.


The additional icon allows it to search an address to get a route. And that was what I wanted. You can check it out on your handy. Just go to the settings and set all region-based informations to Deutsch (Schweiz). There are three settings under region & language:

  • Region Format
  • System locale
  • Browser- and search language

If you’re a swiss guy, set all to Deutsch (Deutschland): Now enjoy your Maps-App. Winking smile

Interview of BASTA is online

September last year I gave a talk at the BASTA-conference in Mainz about Silverlight 4 and WPF in .NET 4.0. I also gave an interview about Silverlight. You can watch it here:

GUI & Desgin Konferenz – Slides

An der GUI & Design-Konferenz in Nürnberg durfte ich heute zwei Vorträge zu den Themen “Controls in WPF/Silverlight designen und entwickeln” und “Hardwarenahe Programmierung in WPF/Silverlight mit Pixelshadern” halten. Bei Ihnen als Teilnehmer möchte ich mich an dieser Stelle recht herzlich für das grosse Interesse und die Aufmerksamkeit bedanken. Ich hoffe, es hat Ihnen gefallen und Sie konnten das ein oder andere für die Praxis mitnehmen.

Zum Runterladen der versprochenen Slides klicken Sie bitte einfach auf einen der beiden Vorträge:

Viel Spass damit. Falls weitere Fragen auftauchen oder der Code zu den kurzen Live-Demos gewünscht ist, genügt eine kurze Mail an mich. Schreiben Sie mir auch, falls Sie individuelle Trainings oder Consulting im Bereich WPF/Silverlight benötigen: Mail an Thomas


Silverlight 5 announced. Tons of new features. Beta next year

The Silverlight Firestarter-Event The Keynote of the Silverlight Firestarter Event has just ended. It started with a great business-application built by SAP, before Scott Guthrie mentioned Silverlight 5 the first time. Scott said Microsoft has implemented about 70% of the uservoice features requested by the community here

After all the “Silverlight is dead” debacle, Scott mentioned that Silverlight is a key technology for Microsoft. Microsoft thinks that HTML5, Silverlight and WPF are the technologies for buildung apps of the future. After a fantastic doctor demo in 3D where a 3D-Scott was used, Scott said, there are two things to remember after the Firestarter-Event: “"I’m really ripped and Silverlight 5 is too ;)".

Silverlight 5 Beta will be released in the first half of 2011 (Source: Final Release will be shipped at the end of 2011 (PDC 2011? Maybe as compensation for PDC10 for the silverlight-community Smile).

Silverlight 5 contains tons of new features. Here are the features for media and applications mentioned in the keynote. Let’s start with media.


  • Hardware Decode – Videos can now be decoded by using the GPU. So your CPU can do other stuff in the meanwhile.
  • TrickPlay – You can speed up the videos you look with silverlight. Especially good for watching webcasts faster.
  • Powermanagement – Less battery is used when you’re watching a video. Also no more screensavers can jump into when the video runs
  • Remote Control – support for remote control devices to control videos from your couch.
  • IIS Media Services 4.0
    • Smooth Streaming for Silverlight, iPhone and iPad. There’s a new feature that allows streaming to any platform via the browser. So a video can streamed to Silverlight or to e.g. iPhone or iPad.
    • Low Latency Live Streaming


  • Data Binding Debugging – set breakpoints on Data Bindings directly in XAML. The debugger stops there and you can watch the locals
  • Custom Markup Extensions – create your own Markup Extension. Especially good for MVVM
  • RelativeSource now has FindAncestor-functionality from WPF – Load data e.g. from your UserControl out of a Binding in a DataTemplate.
  • Binding in Setters of Styles – allows you easy skinning of your application.
  • WCF & RIA Services
    • WS-Trust Support
    • Windows Azure Support – you can use Azure Tablestorage via WCF RIA Services
    • MVVM-friendly DataSource
    • End-to-End support for Complex Types – you can now create complex types in your Entity Data Model and use them via WCF RIA Services
    • Low latency Networking
  • Text and Printing
    • Text Clarity has been improved
    • Multicolumn Text Flow
    • Character tracking and Leading
    • Full OpenType support
    • Vector PostScript printing – yeah, that seems to be a fantastic feature for business-applications. Printing in Silverlight 4 is bitmap-based and so very slow. I’m sure the vector-based PostScript-printing will be faster and allows you to create larger documents on client-side.
  • Pivot-Element – special element that allows you a fantastic view of data in your business application. Drill down the results and have quickly and animated views. Awesome feature. Works fantastic with Sharepoint and can already be downloaded for Silverlight 4 from
  • Graphics
    • Fluid Layout Transitions
    • 3D Support – there’s a complete 3D-API in Silverlight 5 allows you to do 3D-stuff in the browser.
    • Immediate mode graphics api. Allows you to directly draw to the screen
  • Out of Browser
    • Multi Window Support
    • P/Invoke – call
    • Enterprise Group Policy Support – have in-browser-applications talking to office etc. Inside browser apps are trusted by an enterprise group policy.
  • Test and Perf-Tools
    • Automated UI Testing – simulate what the user does in the app. Coded UI to generate, record and execute a test. Already available with Feature Pack 2 (
    • Improved Profiling support
      • Memory
      • CPU
      • Thread contention

There will also be a 64bit runtime of Silverlight.

Find more to the new features on


Speaking at GUI & Design Conference in Nürnberg

It has been quiet here for some weeks. After I had finished my Silverlight book I just enjoyed the unfamiliar free time I had on Saturday and Sunday. I just used it for hanging around with my family and friends. Now I’m back in the optimum of work-life-balance. I’m going to start a series of blogposts about building apps with Silverlight for the Web and for Windows Phone 7 in the mid of december. So I hope you’re looking forward to that.

With this post I want to inform you about the GUI&Design-Conference. The conference about GUI and Design has a lot of experts and great sessions to offer. I think it’s a special and great conference that you shouldn’t miss as a UI-Developer or –Designer. It would be great to see you there.

I’ve two sessions. One about Pixelshader-Effects in WPF and Silverlight and one about developing and designing Custom Controls in WPF and Silverlight. Find the conference-website on or just click on the image below to join it.


Looking forward to see you there.


BASTA! Conference – Silverlight 4 – vier gewinnt

Nach anfänglichen Schwierigkeiten mit dem WLAN – wahrscheinlich ein defektes WLAN-Kabel ;-) – hat der Upload nun endlich geklappt. Anbei finden Sie die live programmierten Demos und die Slides zum Vortrag. Viel Spass damit und Happy Coding.

Slides und Demos.


Friday-Evening Fun with Silverlight’s Animation Easing Functions

This weekend I’ve to finish the second edition of my WPF-book. Luckily it’s going to rain tomorrow. But I’ve almost done it. This evening I’ve just ported a small sample for Animation Easing Functions from WPF to Silverlight. It was easy, all I had to do was using a PathGeometry instead of the not existing StreamGeometry to draw the lines of the functions. Use the fun-sample below to play around with these easing functions. You’ll get the code of this version with my upcoming german Silverlight-Book in August. So have fun, Cheers Thomas.

Visual Studio has been released, Silverlight 4 has been released and the books are on their way…

After Visual Studio has been released on Monday this week, Silverlight 4 is also available since Thursday. I’ll have to speed up my book-writing. As many of you know, I’m writing on a second edition of my WPF-book to .NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010. I’m also writing on a Silverlight-book (about Silverlight 4.0). Below some details of the two books.

The WPF-Book:

I’ll finish the update of my WPF-book till end of April, so it’ll be released in June. There are many new things in it, like a section to the Model-View-ViewModel-Pattern, Multitouch, the new Controls DatePicker, Calendar and DataGrid, Animation Easing-Functions, VisualStateManager, Windows 7 Taskbarintegration, Pixel-Shaders and much more. Of course there’s also a new version of the FriendStorage-Application that is using new features and controls, like e.g. the DataGrid:


FriendStorage now also has integration into the Windows 7 Taskbar. So you can iterate through the friends via the Buttons shown in the Windows 7 Taskbar Thumbnail. Also recognize that the image of the current friend is also displayed as overlay-image on the Taskbar-Button


You find the second edition of my WPF-book here on

The Silverlight-book

I’ll write on the Silverlight-book till end of June, so it’ll be released in August. I hope you’re looking forward to it. I gave and will give my best that it’s a great resource to all professional Silverlight-Developers and those who want to become one of those. In May I’ll show the contents of the Silverlight-book on my homepage. I’ll also blog here. For now I can say that there’s a FriendStorageOnline-Application in the Samples with Login/Registration and CRUD-Operations via WCF Ria Services. A logged-in User can create Friendlists and insert data as usual. The app looks like this:


The Silverlight-book is also already on amazon here. But keep in mind that there could be a change in pages (some more up to 1000) and so maybe also in price. I’ll post more information about the targeted pagecount in May, then you’ll also see some details of the contents.