September 21, 2005
Programming Windows Presentation Foundation: Building Windows XP/Vista User Interfaces
Sebastopol, CA--As part of the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system, Microsoft has included a brand-new graphics subsystem called the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for building user interfaces. With this vector-based framework, application interfaces will be well suited for the new generation of high-resolution monitors and able to take advantage of the graphics capability in the latest video cards, which aren't used much now outside of computer games. In other words, WPF--formerly known as "Avalon"--will put the vista into Windows Vista, and even put a little extra into Windows XP.
"Initially, WPF felt like another way to create windows, menus, dialogs, and child controls," comments Chris Sells, coauthor of Programming Windows Presentation Foundation (O'Reilly, US $39.95). "However, WPF represents the best of the control-based Windows and content-based web worlds, and it's a vehicle just itching to be taken for a spin."
With Programming Windows Presentation Foundation, Sells and coauthor Ian Griffiths offer experienced developers a comprehensive look at WPF that will get them up to speed on a cornucopia of new technologies. These include an engine that supports 3-D graphics and animation, a new XML-based markup language called XAML, and a radical new model for customizing controls--the text boxes, buttons, listboxes, etc. that constitute the building blocks of a user interface. By page two of the book, readers will have written their first WPF application, and by the end of Chapter One, they will have taken a quick tour of the framework and its major elements.
"WPF integrates the capabilities of those frameworks that preceded it, including User, Graphic Device Interface (GDI), GDI+, and HTML," Griffiths explains. "And it's heavily influenced by toolkits targeted at the Web, such as Macromedia Flash, and popular Windows applications such as Microsoft Word."
The result is a platform that unifies several services--including 2-D and 3-D drawing and imaging, document-based rendering, and audio and video services--that developers can use to build rich user interfaces for both standalone applications and applications blended with a web site within the browser. "Like the introduction of fonts to the PC, which produced 'ransom note' office memos, and the invention of HTML, which produced blinking online brochures, WPF is going to produce its own accidents along the road," Sells remarks. "Before we learn just what we've got in WPF, we're going to see a lot of strange and wonderful sights."
Programming Windows Presentation Foundation introduces readers to the powerful set of tools for managing the visual layout of their applications, describes WPF features for connecting the user interface to the underlying data, and shows them how to use styles and control templates to customize the appearance of their user interfaces. There are also chapters on using WPF's drawing tools, writing custom controls, and using the framework's animation facilities.
Along the way, Sells and Griffiths provide plenty of C# code and examples of the new eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML) for declaring the structure of a WPF user interface. A color insert illustrates WPF support for 3-D, color, and other graphics effects. The book also includes insightful discussions on the powerful new programming styles, along with a comparison of the features that support interoperability with Windows Forms and other Windows legacy applications.
"The next generation of applications is going to blaze a trail into the unknown," Griffiths cautions developers. "I can't tell you where we're all going to end up, but with this book, we hope to fill your luggage rack so that you can make the journey."
Praise for Programming Windows Presentation Foundation:
"This book captures the essence of Avalon in a way that no other book on the market will."
--Don Box, Architect, Microsoft
Programming Windows Presentation Foundation
Chris Sells and Ian Griffiths
ISBN: 0-596-10113-9, 430 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
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