The future of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and what’s coming next

In 2006 I started working with the first preview versions of the Windows Presentation Foundation with my Trivadis fellow Christoph Pletz. We wrote 2007 the very first German article about MVVM and 2008 I published my first book with the title “Windows Presentation Foundation – the ultimate handbook”.

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From Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate back to Beta 2

If you’ve played around with Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate (RC), you sure have noticed that it’s pretty fast. E.g. the WPF- and Silverlight-Designers come up quickly and much faster that in Visual Studio 2008.

But for now there are some reasons to wait before installing Visual Studio 2010 RC:

  • Silverlight 4 Beta is not supported. Silverlight 4 will be supported with the next public drop of Silverlight 4, what means when the Silverlight 4 RC is available. A date for that hasn’t been specified yet by Microsoft.
  • The available Preview Version for .NET 4.0 of Expression Blend doesn’t work with Visual Studio 2010 RC. It only works with Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2010. A new version will be available soon as the Expression Website says, but no one knows what "soon" means.

The second point I just noticed now. And so I decided to go back to Beta 2 cause I’ve a session about Model-View-ViewModel this week at BASTA! Spring in Darmstadt.

To go back to Beta 2, make sure you uninstall everything of the Release Candidate. After I’ve uninstalled Visual Studio 2010 RC, I had additionally to remove .NET Framework 4.0 from Programs in Control Panel. Tip: Order the installed programs by date, then you see what you’ve to uninstall pretty good.

After I’ve installed the Beta 2 again, everything worked fine. But I got an error when compiling my WPF-project telling me the following:

"GenerateResource" task failed unexpectedly. System.DllNotFoundException: Unable to load DLL ‘FileTracker.dll’ …”

After some search I found a connect-entry on microsoft.com with the solution. My folder "C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework” contained a “v4.0” directory additionally to the "v4.0.21006" directory installed with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2. After deleting the additional folder that has a higher number than v4.0.21006 (it’s the RC ;-)), the Beta 2 works fine again and I can compile everything as expected. Find the connect-entry that pointed me to the solution here:  https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/ViewFeedback.aspx?FeedbackID=501894&wa=wsignin1.0

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Visual Studio 2010 RC and Silverlight 4 Beta

Yesterday Visual Studio 2010 RC was released to MSDN Subscribers (find the link here), tomorrow it’s available for download for everyone. The performance is great as far as I can say by using it for at least one day. But it lacks on support for Silverlight 4 Beta.

If you’re developing Silverlight 4 applications, it is recommended that you stay on Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 until new bits of Silverlight come out. “New bits of Silverlight” means a Silverlight Release Candidate. It is expected also for this month. Wow, how the time is ticking away. I just thought it has been some days ago since I read Dr. Tim Sneaths post about the Silverlight 1.0 RC, and now we’ll have the 4.0 Release Candidate soon.

The more I work with Silverlight 4.0, the more I love this Plugin. While I missed some things like e.g. implicit Styles and basedOn Styles in version 2.0, version 4.0 now contains both of them. Also printing is supported, WebCam- and Microphone-Access, Com-Interop for Out-Of-Browser apps etc. And the most important aspects for Business-Apps, Data-Access, Validation etc. are easy to do. With WCF RIA Services (formerly .NET RIA Services) you’ve a great framework for building Business apps. Also I’ve to say that I’m a total fan of the REST-based WCF Data Services (formerly ADO.NET Data Services), which are now also included in Sharepoint 2010. Silverlight contains a small Client API for accessing those services and make the classical CRUD-operations.

Silverlight 4.0 contains many great features to build really powerful apps. But not yet with Visual Studio 2010 RC. As soon as the new Silverlight-bits will be available, you’ll read it here.

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Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate (RC) available next week

The launch date for Visual Studio 2010 RTM is the 12th of April. This month there’ll be a Release Candidate (RC) and Scott Guthrie mentioned on his blog in a post about ASP.NET MVC 2 RC that it will be available soon. Now everybody speculates about the date and what “soon” means. Days or weeks?

The Blog about the Visual Studio quality tools contains the answer. Visual Studio 2010 RC will be released in the week of 8th February. Find the post with that information here:

http://blogs.msdn.com/vstsqualitytools/archive/2010/02/05/what-s-new-for-testing-tools-in-the-rc.aspx

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Give your blog-code the "Visual Studio"-look

How do you write a blog-entry with code that has the same syntax-highlightning like Visual Studio has? I mean this look:

<Code>
<Code.Style>
<Style TargetType="{x:Type Code}">
<Setter Property="IsReallyGoodReadable" Value="Yes"/>
</Style>
</Code.Style>
</
Code>

There are many different blug-ins. But only a few get the code exactly look like in Visual Studio. To get your code looking like the code above, you have to do 2 steps (with a small 3rd css-step):

1. Install Live Writer: http://get.live.com/WL/config_all – LiveWriter is a tool for writing blog entries offline

2. Go to the Live Gallery and download the "Paste from Visual Studio add in": Link to the Paste-Plugin

In LiveWriter you can paste the code direct from visual studio by clicking on the link of the plugin. After you’ve written your entry, you upload it, edit it online and finally publish it.

Special things for Firefox:

In Firefox the fontsize of the code is much smaller than in Internet Explorer 7. Fortunately the pasted code is inside a pre-Tag. The pre-Tags’ class-Attribut is set to "code". So you can easily point to the "code" in your css and give the font a fixed size, and it’ll look equal in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

3. The css-Step

I’ve set the fontsize in the css-File of my WordPress theme to 10. The gray background of the code and the dotted border is also specified in my css.

Just past the following in your css to make the code exactly looking like the snippet above and the css-snippet itself:

.code
{
font-family: Courier New;
font-size: 10pt;
background-color: #EEEEEE;
margin: 0px;
padding: 5px;
border: dotted 1px #CCCCCC;
}

Tips: It’s a good practice to enter all linebreaks in Visual Studio before you paste the code into LiveWriter. I normally paste and delete and paste and delete and so on… until it fits. Find more tips on Karl Shifflets blog

Thanks to: Luca Bolognese and Charlie Calvert from Microsoft. They linked me to the plugin. Thanks also to Karl Shifflet who initiated this entry.

I hope this entry helps you to write your post with this format. How do you paste your code today? Do you know other plugins that give your blog-code the Visual Studio-look?

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TechEd Developers 2007 in retrospect – Monday

Last week I went to Barcelona for five days, participating at TechEd Developers 2007 (05. – 09. november). In the following posts I’ll just show you a short summary of my experience at TechEd Developers 2007. Let’s start on Monday.

On Monday the Keynote-Session started after a life grafiti-show with some really breaking news presented by S. Somasegar (Microsofts Corporate Vice President of the developer division):

  • Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 will be available to MSDN subscribers by the end of November
  • The first CTP of Microsofts Sync Framework is available now
  • For those of you using Microsoft Popfly, a new Popfly Explorer will be available
  • This year there will already be a CTP of the next Version of Visual Studio, called “Rosario”. In 2008 there will be a Beta of it

That are great news, especially the release of Visual Studio 2008 before the end of November. In fact Visual Studio 2008 really differs from the Visual Studio versions we had before. It’s the first time you can build applications that target different Framework Versions. With Visual Studio 2008 you can build applications that target .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0 or even .NET 3.5. This feature is called Multi-Targeting, and its possible, because .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5 are all using the same Common Language Runtime, the CLR 2.0 that was introduced with .NET 2.0. Of course another great feature is the possibility to debug into the .NET Framework source code. A great possibility to learn some new best practices and to look how Microsoft has done it

The Microsoft Sync Framework is a new platform for enabling roaming, offline and collaboration across your applications, services and devices. The Framework also contains built-in support for synchronizing relational databases, NTFS and FAT file systems, etc. Get some more infos and the first CTP of it here.

After the Keynote-Session I joined the Session A Tour of Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5, speaker Daniel Moth. Daniel explained that the .NET Framework 3.5 is a superset of .NET 3.0 (and so still uses the CLR 2.0). He showed some great features of the new IDE, like the new refactoring features added to the contextmenu in the codeeditor, or the transparency-feature for the intellisense-Window. You can make the intellisense-Window transparent by pressing the Ctrl-Key. So you can look at your code while leaving the intellisense-window open. Daniel also explained the terms of the green and red bits in a really good manner. Green bits are those assemblies that are new in .NET 3.5, and haven’t existed in .NET 3.0. Red bits are those assemblies that already existed in .NET 3.0, but are lightly extended and fixed with an installation of .NET 3.5. The Red bits are called “red”, because they describe a difficulty. If your .NET 3.0 application takes advantage of a not well implemented feature (maybe call it a bug :-)) in .NET 3.0 and that bug will be fixed with .NET 3.5, your application won’t work correctly anymore when you change this bug/feature by installing .NET 3.5. So microsoft has to be very careful with the red bits that are shipped as part of .NET 3.5. From the green and red bits you could also conclude something about the installation of .NET 3.5:

  • If you have .NET 3.0 already installed, an installation of .NET 3.5 will use this existing installation and change the red bit assemblies (some existing .NET 3.0 assemblies) and add some brand new Assemblies (the green bits). That means, after the installation of .NET 3.5 you wont come back to .NET 3.0, but every .NET 3.0 application should run well on .NET 3.5 (if Microsoft has done a good job with the red bits)
  • If you haven’t .NET 3.0 installed, an installation of .NET 3.5 will install whole .NET 3.0, plus the red and green bits of .NET 3.5

As the last session on Monday, I joined the session A Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Walkthrough using Visual Studio 2008, but it wasn’t really as amazing as I thought before. The only new stuff for me about WCF I got out of this session were the things that ship with Visual Studio 2008, but nothing about WCF itself. In Visual Studio 2008 there will be new Project-Templates to generate a WCF-Library and a new UI that allows you to test your services easily.

In the evening, the “Ask The Experts” was open. The first thing I was looking for was an “Ask The Experts to WPF”-stand. But I didn’t find one. There were stands with experts in Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server, BI, Office, Silverlight and Expression and many more, but no stand with experts in WPF. So I just went to the Silverlight stand and asked for the WPF stand. The guy pointed to another person and said: “He asked me exactly the same questions 10 seconds ago, unfortunately there is no stand with WPF-experts”. And the other person said, “Some questions about WPF?”. Yeah, I thought, here I was right. Looking at his name, I recognized the name of the person and I knew, here I’m really right. It was Ian Griffiths, author of the very first WPF-book, “Programming WPF”, currently in its second edition. We spoke about nearly 1 hour about developing real enterprise applications with WPF, about the WPF-Designer in Visual Studio and about using Blend for designing your app. In most cases, Ian and I had the same opinion, and we both are waiting for the datagrid as part of .NET/WPF. :-) Today there are only third-party-grids available from famous control authors like those from Infragistics. Even in .NET 3.5 and WPF 3.5 (it’s really called WPF 3.5 and not WPF 1.5), Microsoft introduced no more 2D-Controls. But WPF 3.5 contains some new 3D-Elements like UIElement3D or Viewport2DVisual3D, that receive Input Events and make interactive 3D much easier than in WPF 3.0.

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