Open Source Avalonia .NET UI Framework Finally Hits Milestone v11 GA Release
After a nearly one-year preview and "countless thousands of hours of dedication" driving a years-long development effort, Avalonia v11 has shipped.
Avalonia (shorthand for "Avalonia UI") is a major player in the .NET-centric developerscape, boasting a large and engaged community that has worked hard to provide open source alternative tooling that enables the creation of desktop, mobile, web and embedded applications using a .NET single codebase.
So just how engaged is that community? The .NET Foundation Project Trends site shows Avalonia was the most active foundation project this year, receiving the highest number of pull requests since Jan. 1 as the community ramped up final development efforts.
"@AvaloniaUI is one of the .NET Foundations most popular community projects, for good reason!" said the .NET Foundation yesterday on a social media site.
The open source project is described like this: "Avalonia is a cross-platform UI framework for dotnet, providing a flexible styling system and supporting a wide range of platforms such as Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and WebAssembly. Avalonia is mature and production ready and is used by companies, including Schneider Electric, Unity, JetBrains and GitHub."
It became officially production-ready on July 5, when backing organization AvaloniaUI announced the release of Avalonia 11.0: "After nearly a year in preview and countless thousands of hours of dedication, it is time to unleash a game-changer in cross-platform application development. Avalonia v11 embodies a huge leap forward in our goal to provide developers with an efficient, feature-rich, and seamless experience to create exceptional UIs across all major platforms."
New platform support is one of the most significant updates to v11, which can now be used for new targets including iOS, Android and WebAssembly.
"Looking to the future, we've also previewed support for Apple's visionOS and seen our incredible community work to enable Avalonia UI on Samsung's TizenOS! Our unique architecture enables us to add new platforms with ease, which we wrote about last year."
Here's what that unique architecture looks like:
During its many years of development (it debuted on GitHub in 2013 under the name Perspect), the project has expanded, with Avalonia XPF offering to "Unleash the full potential of your existing WPF apps with our cross-platform UI framework, enabling WPF apps to run on macOS and Linux without requiring expensive and risky rewrites." Avalonia has been described as "the spiritual successor to WPF." It has also been compared with Microsoft's .NET MAUI project in a FAQ.
Along with Avalonia XPF, the Avalonia site also GitHub repos for Avalonia UI for Visual Studio, Avalonia UI for Rider and .NET Templates.
Besides new platform support, other new features detailed in the announcement post are summarized below:
- New Composition Renderer: "At its core, the composition renderer brings new animation possibilities to the table," AvaloniaUI OÜ said, noting that developers can take visual dynamism in their apps to new heights with support for implicit animations, connected animations and render thread animations. These features reportedly allow for smooth, high-performance animations that can enrich UIs and provide engaging user experiences.
- AOT & Trimming: "We're excited to announce that v11 fully supports Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation and trimming, resolving issues from previous versions. The updated trimming functionality eliminates unused code during the publishing process, dramatically reducing application sizes. With v11, developers can now experience ~60 percent smaller application sizes, providing faster downloads, quicker startup times, and less end-user storage used."
- Template Studio: We've released our first version of Template Studio for Avalonia -- a streamlined solution designed to accelerate the creation of new Avalonia apps using an intuitive, wizard-based UI."
- Advanced Text Rendering and Layout: "Avalonia v11 ushers in a new era of text rendering capabilities, significantly enhancing control and flexibility over the visual elements in your UI." For one example, rich text rendering now supports inline elements. "This feature allows for dramatic variations in a single TextBlock, from changing font styles to adding hyperlinks, or even embedding controls - something that wasn't previously achievable."
- IME Support: "Our commitment to global reach and inclusivity has led to the introduction of Input Method Editor (IME) support in v11. This vital feature assists users in entering characters and symbols not found on their input devices."
- Accessibility Support: "We believe that technology should be inclusive and accessible to all. Therefore, we're excited to introduce our new accessibility support, which ensures that Avalonia applications can be used and enjoyed by everyone, including those with disabilities."
- Automated Testing: "This release introduces support for automated testing that extends beyond the Avalonia test environment to include traditional testing frameworks like Appium."
- Control Themes: "While we've always prided ourselves on the customizability offered by Avalonia, in this version, we've taken it a step further to provide developers with even more flexibility and control over the look and feel of their applications."
- Revamped Developer Documentation: Responding to feedback about the need for improved documentation, AvaloniaUI OÜ said: "We're thrilled to reveal that we've transitioned our documentation from GitBook to a new custom platform that aligns more precisely with our evolving needs."
Speaking of documentation, the team has published a Get Started guide for newbies and Upgrading from 0.10 guidance for current users. What's more, the Avalonia Visual Studio extensions provide project and control templates that will help new users get started, or they can use the .NET Core CLI.
The Avalonia for Visual Studio 2022 extension has been installed more than 51,000 times, while a tool for older Visual Studio versions has more than 78,000 installs.
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.