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VSLive! Workshop Spotlights WPF and Silverlight Dev

VSLive! Conference attendees today took in a series of day-long, pre-conference workshops offering explorations of development in SQL Server 2008 R2, Windows Communication Foundatoin (WCF), and Silverlight/Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Magenic Principal Technology Evangelist Rocky Lohtka and DotNetMasters founder Billy Hollis headlined the presentation on Silverlight and WPF, detailing a powerful development environment that can be at times inspiring and frustrating.

A good example was Hollis' nifty Master Chief app, which drew applause from the audience. The app lets the user move and size a graphic of the famous Master Chief character from the Halo video game on top of the Windows 7 desktop background. Hollis said he spent days trying to figure out how to create a movable, sizable graphic for the desktop, only to discover that it could be done in exactly one line of WPF code.

Lohtka said Hollis' experience is not atypical. "You could spend hours or days trying to replicate the code, only to realize it is two lines of code in XAML," he said.

Lohtka offered a similar, bittersweet take on databinding in WPF, which he described as superior to any other databinding implementation he has seen. The problem is that the default mode for text control databinding in WPF is two-way, whereas in Silverlight the default is one-way. "You would think almost that WPF and Silverlight were written by different teams," he said. "And in fact, that's true."

Lohtka's solution to this trip wire? Always explicitly set the databinding mode, even if the setting matches the default.

At the end of the day, said Lohtka, there is no substitute for developer experience. He urged developers to get familiar with the quirks, twitches and traps of the development environment. "This is the body of knowledge we have to build up," he said.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/02/2010

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