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A WPF Q&A

by Jonathan Allen on Apr 03, 2014 |

A panel of 9 Microsoft desktop developers were available during a lunch time Q&A. Below are some of the questions and Microsoft’s answers. But first, take a moment to fill out their WPF survey.

The first question was about access to connected standby and other WinRT-only features. The panel acknowledged that this is a problem and stated that they want to get to the point where desktop applications once again have full access to everything the computer can do. Part of the challenge is that Modern Apps have a strong notion of identity that desktop applications don’t enjoy.

DirectX 11 for WPF was the next question. Roughly a third of the audience were interested in adding DX11 support to WPF. By the way, yes, there is a WPF team. Contrary to rumor, the framework hasn’t been left entirely fallow.

Win32/WPF vs Modern Apps and multiple monitors. Win32/WPF applications have better support for multiple monitors, but they don’t auto-scale for high DPI monitors like Modern Apps. So right now they recommend sticking to Win32/WPF for multiple monitors, especially if Windows 7 may also be necessary.

Desktop Applications in snap view. Microsoft is exploring the option to run desktop applications in Modern App-style snap views. And again, they want to bring Modern App APIs like Charms to the desktop.

Another complaint was fixed scaling factors. Some customers want the ability to choose scaling factors like 215%. Currently Windows only supports a handful of steps such as 100, 125, and 150%.

The idea of bringing Common XAML onto the desktop was considered, but not for the usual reasons of .NET code reuse. Rather, the audience member wanted to have access to XAML with C++.

WPF is roughly ten to twelve years depending on how you count. And WPF was not designed to be highly responsive. Nor was it designed for the low-power consumer devices such as tablets. It simply wasn’t meant for the kinds of applications people want today. So given these factors, Microsoft is not planning on any investing in major changes to WPF.

Windows Forms is continuing to be supported, but in maintenance mode. They will fix bugs as they are discovered, but new functionality is off the table. Oh, they stress that it isn’t called “WinForms”.

Microsoft is looking into offering the same kind of functionality for XAML that we currently see in web sites via Browser Link. Partial functionality is available via Snoop or XAML Spy.

Touch and desktop applications came up. And again, the panel mentioned the possibility to offer Common XAML for the desktop. The idea here is that you would be able replace your WPF views with XAML while keeping the rest of the application unchanged. This would allow developers to take advantage of the touch enhancements that XAML offers without being tied to the Windows Store and its limitations.

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