.NET Framework 3.5 updates to have WPF enhancements

While a lot focus has been on ASP.NET 3.5 enhancement lately (and Silverlight too), I was wondering what happened to Windows Presentation Foundation, which when Vista was launched Microsoft did a lot of cool prezzo on it (it runs on XP as well).

After some digging around, realize that Scott Guthrie and Mary Jo Foley did blogged about this enhancement. Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet event mentioned that the codename for this enhancement is known as ‘Arrowhead’. Scott’s blog post here exposed more details in the form of a roadmap, which among them are

  1. Improve setup experience for end users
  2. Performance Improvements
  3. New WPF Controls i.e. Datagrid, Datepicker and Ribbon

How is it going to be released is still a mistery as there are even some news out there about a SP1 released but still not official words yet. So got to cross our fingers and see how.

Microsoft Expression Studio v2.0 is out

image

image Every time when I apply leave just to relax, I would either go out of town or go learn something new. Most of the time I will end up learning a technology I wanted to check out for sometime. It could be a competing technology like Ruby on Rails, or something developed by Microsoft but not on my scorecard. That is exactly what I strike out to learn today, Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Expression Blend 2.

Just in case your don’t know Blend is part of Expression Studio and it is a tool for designers to create rich interactive user interface applications based on WPF or Silverlight technology.

blend2So what I am keen to find out (because I did some talks on Smart Client recently)in Blend is how to create Smart Client application using WPF which has a lot of funky user experience. To get myself a jumpstart I refer to a new book, Foundation Expression Blend 2. The book is using September preview of Blend and some content might be outdated. Let me warn you first, the author of this book is a designer and not really a developer, and sometimes the comparison he made in the book is confusing for developers but they are OK for designers. For example, his non stop referencing of C# as the code behind language of XAML but never mention about Visual Basic. Commenting that CLR is just like Adobe’s Flash Player (CLR can do so much more!)

Just finished Chapter 5 (total 15 chapters) of the book and I found some of the stuff I like a lot about WPF or Blend:

  1. Brush Transform Control to manipulate the gradient setting of any UIElement
  2. Ability to store any design part or properties such as color setting as a resources so you can reuse it throughout the project.
  3. Layout Controls acts like container to different UI Elements and they come in different forms like Grid layout, Canvas, panels, Scroll View and Borders. Each has different way on how you want to layout your control. Something hard to do with WinForm programming.
  4. Additional development view (on top of XAML and Design) called Split view which also available in Visual Studio 2008

Screenshots

 imageBrush Transform

image Local Brush Resources

image Layout controls

image Split view (Design view on top with XAML on the bottom)

Your ERP, CRM and LOB should look like this!

Just came back from Krabi today and the first thing that caught my eye when I open up Live.com homepage for the 1st time since 5 days is a sample ERP applications that make practical use of Windows Presentation Foundation framework without just snapping just another colossal.

lawson_1
The Lawson M3 Smart Client

Look at it, it is a familar interface like our normal Windows Form app but it gives end users a fresh feel which I think they will be happy to open and use everyday. And if you want to integrate this into Office task panes as a WPF add in, you can do so easily with VSTO 2008 as I mentioned here.

By the way, should you try to get away by saying there is no ‘design’ guy in your team/ company, a company called reuxables is making one of their WPF theme available free in the form of a .dll file. Download it here.

VSTO Reloaded

Today the MSE team did a Tech Preview to fellow developers on Visual Studio 2008 which actually available for MSDN subscribers late last year and is available for sales now.

My session is about Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) 2008 and a lot of productivity enhancements have been put inside the package in this current version. They include but not limited to:

  1. Better UI Development on Office UI
    • Form Regions in Outlook
    • Custom Task Pane
    • Custom Ribbon for Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
    • No relearn, leverage on Windows Form Development skill
    • Windows Form able to host WPF app and extends this capability via Custom Task Pane
  2. SharePoint Workflow development
    • No more manual writing of workflow.xml, feature.xml (both are SharePoint feature config files) and deployment script
    • Streamline development process from 15 steps to 3 steps in VSTO 2008
  3. Word Content Control data binding with VSTO addin
    • Bringing unstructured data from Word documents to a structured world
    • Able to attach custom XML such as RosettaNet or UNeDoc which as industry based XML schema to Word data.
  4. Easy deployment of VSTO – Office Addin via Click Once
    • No more reliant on CASPOL
    • Transparent to end users

vstodemo

I demo a cool VSTO addin for Word 2007 hosting a WPF user control with colossal effect and acting as a client to a WCF services at the back end. The data access is done using LINQ for XML. After that I will publish

It is based on an article in MSDN Dec 2007 issue but the source codes there is not working for RTM version of VS 2008. Many thanks for fellow MS staff Andrew Whitechapel for making it work for VS2008 RTM.

You can download the slides and working version of the source code here. They are hosted on Windows Live Skiydrive/ Folders.

Slides in PDF

Slides in XPS

Source Code in C#

I will come out with a tutorial for the SharePoint Workflow later and also a VB9 version of the source code. So stay tuned. :)