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WPF: The Challenge Ahead

It's a well-worn cycle. Microsoft talks about an exciting new development technology that promises to be the Best Thing Ever (BTE). Microsoft ships the technology, but takes months to get the tooling out, so coders forget about it and move on to another BTE. Then the tooling finally emerges, and coders quickly learn that the BTE is really hard to use.

That cycle is about to replay itself with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the exciting new graphics subsystem that relies on Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) to express application interfaces and graphics. While WPF and XAML let you do all sorts of exciting things -- like mixed 3-D and 2-D graphics and animation without crushing complexity -- there's a catch.

Developers are going to have to learn, from scratch, how to work with this stuff. Steve Dadoly, vice president of engineering for component maker Infragistics, led a team of programmers who faced the WPF learning curve. "A lot of my engineers had to relearn how to make controls because the approach is different," he said.

Jason Beres, Infragistics' director of product management, agreed. "We're good at it now even though we did really struggle in the beginning, because it was really different creating for Windows forms than WPF."

"It is a shift," Beres added. "The platform offers new capabilities and new features. If they want to offer basic forms over data, they can do that. But really it's about the user experience. I would compare this in terms of what the platform offers as easily a big jump, from Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 to Vista. It's a major leap forward."

As a result, Beres said, companies may need to be patient as they work to roll out compelling WPF applications. "It will take a couple years for those great [WPF] applications to come out. So training is critical."

So are you ready to take the leap? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/05/2007

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