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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Introduces .NET Smart Components: AI-Powered UI Controls

Microsoft Introduces .NET Smart Components: AI-Powered UI Controls

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Microsoft recently introduced .NET Smart Components, UI controls which offer AI-powered features to boost development productivity within .NET applications. According to Microsoft, these components are designed to simplify the integration of AI capabilities into existing .NET applications, requiring as stated, minimal effort from developers.

The .NET Smart Components provide prebuilt AI features to augment user experiences, eliminating the need for prolonged UX redesign or specialized knowledge in machine learning and software engineering. As reported, these features can be incorporated into the user interface of applications, enabling users to operate more efficiently.

.NET Smart Components are currently in the experimental phase, and initially available for Blazor, MVC, and Razor Pages within .NET 6 and subsequent versions. 

Daniel Rooth, principal product manager, says the following:

We expect to provide components for other .NET UI frameworks as well, like .NET MAUI, WPF, and Windows Forms, but first we’re interested in your feedback on how useful these components are and what additional capabilities you’d like to see added.

The current release of .NET Smart Components contains several components, Smart Paste, Smart TextArea and Smart ComboBox.

Smart Paste enables automatic form completion by utilizing data stored in the user's clipboard, so developers can expect to have simplified data input processes without necessitating manual retyping.

Furthermore, Smart TextArea offers, as stated, an intelligent enhancement to conventional text areas; this feature allows users to configure autocomplete functionalities tailored to their preferences, including tone, policies, and URLs. This enhancement enables faster typing and reduces the need to recall specific information such as URLs.

The third component is Smart ComboBox, which is a feature to elevate the traditional combo box by providing suggestions based on semantic matching, aiding users in locating desired items more efficiently within applications.

The community response to the recent introduction of .NET Smart Components varies, reflecting a range of viewpoints. While certain members express optimism regarding the potential benefits these components may offer in improving user experiences and simplifying UI development, others also raise valid concerns regarding accessibility and privacy implications.

Notably, there is a request for transparency regarding the absence of source code, with users highlighting its impact on integration with third-party UI libraries. Additionally, privacy concerns arise regarding the Smart Paste feature, where users express reservations about potential uploads and analysis of data.

To get started, the developers should prepare Azure OpenAI Service-related info, like API key, deployment name, and endpoint URL. In addition to an original blog post, Microsoft provided a sample project on GitHub and a YouTube video where Steve Sanderson shows how to use these components in the project.

Lastly, Microsoft states that .NET Smart Components are still experimental and not officially supported. The development team at Microsoft is seeking feedback from users to measure the usefulness of the .NET Smart Components and identify areas for improvement to enhance the app-building experience. 

Developers are encouraged to share thoughts using the official GitHub.

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