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The Buzz on Acropolis

by James Vastbinder on Jun 18, 2007 |
For over a year Microsoft has been silent about the next evolution of the Composite UI Application Block, CAB.  On June 5, David Hill of Microsoft announced the coming of a new client application development framework code-named Acropolis.  Through recent years developers have relied on SCSF and CAB to build complex Windows client applications in the .NET Framework.  Especially favorable to the community was the fact the application framework was open source and hosted on CodePlex.com. 

However, with Acropolis, Microsoft will ship it as an add-in to Visual Studio with its own design surfaces.  Still up for discussion is support for the Visual Studio Express editions. 

 The intent is to ship in one year's time a set of components and tools to ease the development of complex many-screened modular client applications using XAML and WPF on the .NET Framework.  While XAML and WPF both shipped with the 3.0 release of the .NET Framework, UI development support for XAML and WPF in Visual Studio 2005 has been lackluster at best.

Expectations for coming Community Technology Previews have been set.  The first several releases are entirely subject to change with coming releases as expressed during Tech Ed 2007.  The community site for Acropolis is being hosted at at windowsclient.net and contains videos, documentation and forums.

The community reaction to Acropolis has trended in the positive direction.  Understandably, Ward Bell of IdeaBlade weighed in with his thoughts and concerns with this summary voicing both anticipation and consternation:
"Acropolis intends to be far more approachable without sacrificing architectural integrity. We should be able to build simple Acropolis applications quickly and then grow them as the waves of requirements roll in – without having to scrap our initial implementation and re-build the foundation.

This will be a neat trick. Can they do it? I think so. But they are off to a rocky start."
Glenn Block posts the beginnings of an early FAQ on Acropolis and the most poignant point related to SCSF/CAB:
"With the announcement of Acropolis, we currently have no further plans for SCSF releases. That being said, our customers should rest assured that we are not dropping support for SCSF."
Only time will tell if Microsoft can deliver on its intended vision for Acropolis improving support for WPF and XAML client application development in Visual Studio.

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SCSF future and Prism by Glenn Block

Hi James

Based on Acropolis being pulled and folded into the framework we shifted our direction a bit. We revved Smart Client Software Factory for Visual Studio 2008 (msdn.microsoft.com/smartclientfactory). We additonally started on a new deliverable codenamed "Prism" for developing composite applications in WPF (www.codeplex.com/prism). This will be shipping very soon.

Glenn

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