.NET Architect Brian Noyes on Benefits of XAML, WPF

Brian Noyes didn't set out to become a software architect. He started writing code "to stimulate his brain," while he was flying F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft for the U.S. Navy. As his software expertise developed, he found himself "going down a technical track" managing onboard mission computer software in the aircraft, and later, systems and ground support software for mission planning and controlling satellites.

"It was just a hobby," Noyes says, "but it led me to work that I still love to do."

Noyes left the Navy in 2000 and today is chief architect at IDesign, a .NET-focused architecture, design, consulting, and training company. He's also a Microsoft Regional Director and an MVP, and the author of several books, including: Data Binding with Windows Forms 2.0: Programming Smart Client Data Applications with .NET (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006) and Developer's Guide to Microsoft Prism 4: Building Modular MVVM Applications with Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Silverlight (Microsoft Press, 2011).

Noyes specializes in smart client architecture and development, presentation-tier technologies, ASP.NET, workflow and data access. He writes about all these topics and more on his blog, ".NET Ramblings."

Not surprisingly, Noyes is a fan of Microsoft's Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML). He says Microsoft got a lot of things right when it created this declarative, XML-based language for the .NET Framework back in 2005/2006.

"XAML provides a clean separation between the declarative structure and the code that supports it," Noyes says. "That can either come in the form of the code-behind that's inherently called to it in the way Visual Studio does it, or using the Model View ViewModel (MVVM) pattern to have even better separation. They put mechanisms into the bindings and control templates and data templates that just give you this nice separation of things -- if you want them." "

They really facilitated both ends of the spectrum," he continues. "They made it so you have a drag-and-droppy, RAD-development kind of approach, where you're not so concerned about the cleanliness of the code and how maintainable it is and you just want to get it done. Or, if you're more of maintainability Nazi, as I am, and want absolutely clean code and separation of concerns and things like that, it facilitates that as well."

XAML shipped with the .NET 3.0, along with the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), of which Noyes is also a fan. "One thing I always say about WPF is that they did a darned good job of getting it right the first time," he says, "because, since the first release, there has been very little change to the core framework. Whereas with Silverlight they've had to do substantial improvements with each release to inch it up closer to what WPF was capable of."

Noyes explores uses for all of these tools and technologies in his sessions scheduled for upcoming Visual Studio Live! conferences. "For events like this, it's about giving them knowledge they can take home and use in the trenches the very next day," he says. "I try to keep things close to the code."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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