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Microsoft Revives WPF Development


With the successful introduction of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) in 2006, the technology has remained popular with Windows developers but has not received any significant improvements from Microsoft since August 2012.  During Build 2014, Microsoft reinforced the notion that it was “… not planning on any investing in major changes to WPF.”  This development freeze has now thawed with Microsoft’s new announcement that active development has resumed according to Program Manager Harikrishna Menon.

Prefacing this announcement is Microsoft’s acknowledgement that the despite the popularity of Web and mobile apps, “10% of all newly created projects in VS2013 over the past 60 days are WPF [based]”.  This popularity emphasizes the need developers have for continued improvements to WPF and now Microsoft is publishing plans on where they expect to improve WPF:  performance, DirectX interoperability, modern hardware support, and tooling.

Looking ahead to .NET Framework 4.6, Menon mentions the following imminent bug fixes will be distributed in that release:

  • Multi-image cursor file support in System.Windows.Input.Cursor
  • Support for transparent child windows.
  • Improved double tap gesture recognition by using common threshold distance from registry.
  • Improved text selection through double tapping the WPF TextBox control.
  • Improved reliability of stylus input for the WPF ComboBox control.

These may be joined by fixing the following issues listed on Connect (although nothing is confirmed at this time):

When it comes to tooling changes, Menon states that his team is working on a UI debugger, called Visual Diagnostics, that will allow developers “ inspect the live visual tree and modify the properties of the elements while debugging. We will even enable you to persist these changes back to your source.”  This debugger will be joined by a new Timeline tool that can be used to “…troubleshoot problems like slow application startup, poor frame rate and other common performance issues” that concern WPF developers.

Menon states that “work on WPF has never really stopped”, which places him in a difficult position of explaining the lack of recent product updates with the large base of concerned WPF developers.  Former Project Manager Scott Barnes felt that the post was lacking true details regarding where the future of WPF is headed, as without one a true roadmap “it does not bode well for existing WPF solutions today as every day you sit in WPF there's an ongoing "question mark" over its head around "Is this still new or am i no different to a WinForms developer today, re-using legacy technology that has no future"”.  Commenter “Quanta” also voiced concern over the lack of a roadmap, asking “Give us some direction, Microsoft - is WPF dead and you're just paying lip-service to keep the Uservoice complainers happy, or is this something actually worth our time and efforts?

When asked about future support of WPF, Menon stated in a follow up post “…support extends to future releases of .NET like .NET 15 and new [operating systems] like Windows 10.”  This support includes .NET Framework 4.6 support on Windows 10.  Menon says his the team wants to make the use of DirectX 11 and 12 content easier in WPF, but nothing is ready to be announced at this time.

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