'Is WPF Dead?' Some Devs Claim 'Yes' as Microsoft Relegates Issues/PRs to the Community
Update from Microsoft: "At this time, Microsoft does not have anything further to share and declines to comment."
In a recent livestreamed .NET Community Standup on YouTube, Microsoft put up a slide indicating Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a "community run project," prompting an audience question about whether the tech was dead (Microsoft said no) and a subsequent Twitter uproar among some developers who insist the opposite.
WPF is a .NET UI framework for creating Windows desktop applications, open sourced back in 2018. Since then, many developers have complained that Microsoft seemed to be neglecting the project, with claims Microsoft was slow to respond to GitHub pull requests, if they were addressed at all.
A Dec. 15 tweet by Morten Nielsen (@dotMorten) said: "In the .NET community standup YouTube stream it was just confirmed that WPF maintenance has been outsourced to IDC [India Development Center] where projects historically has [sic] gone to die. So no one left in Redmond really working on it."
That tweet, hash-tagged with the longrunning #WPFIsDead, generated a lot of discussion back and forth on the claim.
In the online event itself, an audience member specifically asked if WPF was dead, and that question was answered by Olia Gavrysh, senior project manager on the Microsoft .NET team.
According to the automatically generated transcript, she replied: "Is WPF dead? Great question. No it's not dead. We have a team working on WPF and supporting it. We now switch to the model where we accept a lot of PRs from the community because we think of WPF as very mature project so not that much rapid development is happening in WPF area, but we totally support it. We bring it to every new .NET -- .NET 7, .NET 8. We have lots of existing users and we're going to support this product as long as we have users for that product, so it is not dead." Subsequent conversation seemed to indicate that WPF development has been switched to the IDC.
And here is what Fiza Azmi, a WPF product manager, said after putting up the slide pictured above (this reporter tried to correct obvious errors in the transcript throughout this article but couldn't understand some of the language):
First of all we'd like to begin with thanking all of you all who are present here and all the incredible contributors within the community who tirelessly contribute towards WPF. We want to start with this conversation with what we have been doing in WPF so what is new and here are the updates for on what you've done so far starting with the community run project. We started this initiative with the intent to enable developers in making a difference in how we are shaping WPF going forward and it makes us so happy to see how enthusiastically you have participated in all of these community run projects. We've received an inflow of PR's and issue requests out of which 24 were shortlisted ... and it's a great delight that ... 20 of them have been successfully completed. You can check them out on our GitHub page, the topic says WPF Community projects. We'll be sharing the link with you. Other than that there's been a blog post ["What's new for WPF in .NET 7"] so for those of you who have missed it we have published the first ever blog post for WPF which talks about all the improvements that have gone so far in the .NET release. The main purpose of the post was yes to publish improvements but other than that also to recognize all the efforts that our contributors who have consistently thrived to make WPF a better platform for everyone have made in that in this journey with us so again thank you for that.
Soon after, another slide was put up with the item: "Community Run Project - Round 2." Talking over that side, Azmi said:
Now coming to what is next for us. We know with the success of the community run projects, the first round was quite a success and we are thrilled to announce that we will be holding and starting a second round of the same wherein issues and bugs will be chosen and run by the community. This is a really inspiring time for everyone and we couldn't be more thrilled with all of your environments so thank you so much for that.
A GitHub Community discussion titled "WPF Community goals for 23H1 (July 22 - Dec 22)" discusses WPF community projects as illustrated in the above screenshot. The link in the screenshot goes here.
Microsoft's handling of WPF during the switch from the old .NET Framework to the open source, cross-platform .NET Core (subsequently just .NET 6, 7 and so on) has been controversial, as discussed in the September 2020 Visual Studio Magazine article, "Microsoft Retools WPF Open Source Effort After Negative Feedback."
That article reported that after a GitHub survey about its .NET open source efforts yielded negative feedback, Microsoft was retooling its efforts for the most problematic repo, WPF.
Microsoft published a new roadmap for WPF and is "working on staffing and tooling to be able to take PRs," said Sam Spencer, program manager for the .NET Core team, in a September 2020 blog post detailing the survey results.
"WPF was the main outlier for satisfaction," Spencer said. "Drilling into the comments, the main concern was that PRs and issues were not being addressed by the maintainers and there was a lack of clarity on if and when they would be. Internally the WPF team was not sufficiently staffed and did not have the test infrastructure in place to be able to respond to the community contributions."
More recently, on Nielsen's tweet thread, some developers claimed reports of the death of WPF were greatly exaggerated. Some comments -- all answered/rebutted by Nielsen -- include:
- I've worked in IDC. This stmnt is disparaging as much as it is inaccurate. U mention "outsourced" as if it has been handed out to a vendor. Some facts:IDC has MS's biggest R&D team outside of Redmond.Has full-fledged engnrng teams working on core stuff. Projects come here to die?
- In theory, the IDC (India Development Center) should have a product team that take care of it (Engineers and PM) and they should invest in maintenance and small new features. However, WPF is part of .NET so it will be support by Microsoft for a long time.
- 'Where projects historically has gone die' This is extremely inaccurate, I was there a few weeks ago and I can affirm that it's not true, many core and critical components of Windows, Office or Azure are fully managed by IDC and their teams, including many features you use daily.
Discussion about Nielsen's tweet was also lively on Reddit.
The whole brouhaha might be summed up with this comment on the Twitter thread: "Since 2008 I have bene hearing WPF is dead, Is this time for real?"
This reporter wonders the same thing. Nearly three hours prior to this writing, I submitted a media inquiry to Microsoft PR for a clarification on the issue. Any response from the company will be included here in an update.
Update: Four days after contacting Microsoft's "rapid response" PR firm, we received this message: "At this time, Microsoft does not have anything further to share and declines to comment."
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.