Microsoft Brews Some Cider
MS releases Cider, a Visual Designer for the Windows Presentation Foundation.
In mid-December, Microsoft posted a new Community Technology Preview for Windows Vista that included Cider, a Visual Designer for the Windows Presentation Foundation.
The release notes mention three key features provided by Cider. First, it lets you edit XAML content for your window or page, then view it immediately in the Cider Design View, without ever leaving Visual Studio. Second, the designer lets you roundtrip your XAML between design and source views. Third, the Cider Design View includes basic toolbox, layout, selection and property editing functionality. Such tools are essential for enabling you to begin creating Avalon applications directly from VS.
You can download the CTP from Microsoft's online developer site at msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista. You can also find a short video introduction on what Cider is and some of its features at the same URL. Tom Archer, who oversees the Windows Vista area of Microsoft's developer Web site, noted in his blog that this release is the first since July 2005's PDC where you can get a compatible build between Windows Vista and the Windows SDK, simplifying the process of writing Vista/WinFX apps.
You can get the bits and a short introduction on Cider at the official site, but the best way to get a sense of what Cider is and how it can benefit you is to visit the blog of one of the its developers, Brian Pepin. Brian is a developer attached to the Visual Studio and .NET Framework SDK teams. His blog at www.urbanpotato.net includes several posts that outline the general goals and design considerations for creating Cider. For example, he walks through Cider's extensibility model in a couple posts, laying out both what came before Cider and the problems that Cider specifically addresses in its proposed implementation.
This technology remains too nascent to cover in the regular pages of this magazine, but Windows Vista and this new visual designer promise to change how you design and build your applications. As ever, we will cover this technology in more depth as its release point nears, providing key updates when Microsoft makes new announcements about this significant new technology.
What do you think of the design features from the next version of Visual Studio?
Patrick Meader is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.