Thursday, 18 January 2007

WPF/E ... Adobe vs Microsoft?

Microsoft Channel 9 have posted a video interview with Scott Gu where they run through using WPF/E and AJAX, IIS 7.0 and a couple of the other emerging technologies from Microsoft.

Looking through the WPF/E documentation and reading the general buzz about it, first question that entered my head (and it was always going to be). What does WPF/E stand for? WPF is a product that's been bounded around during the development of Vista (previously codenamed "Avalon" I think) and stands for Windows Presentation Foundation ... but where has this new E come from? Apparently it stands for "Everywhere", Microsoft developing something truly cross platform? Surely Not!

I downloaded the CTP release of the WPF/E; Looking through some of the online demos on Mike Harsh's Blog, I couldn't really see anything new to the user experience that wasn't possible using Adobe (formally Macromedia) products like Flash. I think however most of the benefits from using WPF/E will come from the portability of code because it uses XAML, and its integration with AJAX for doing data post backs to webserivces.

WPF is the new UI layer that ships in Vista and is driven by XAML (an XML format for describing user interface designs). XAML itself is a good move away from having to, in code, declare controls and their layout, look and design. It effectively provides that layer of abstraction of UI from UI functionality, like we've been used to with ASP.NET over the last few years.

Recently its becoming clear that Microsoft are Adobe are going head to head in some of their developing product lines for delivering cross platform rich user interfaces over the web.

The WPF/E technology is certainly comparable to Flash Player, or Adobe Flex. That's made a little more evident by there being a tool swfToXAML for converting Flash movies to XAML markup.

Not available in this version of the WPF/E CTP, Scott Gu says that the final release will have better video support, with things like live streaming for things like conferencing. I'm yet to develop anything meaningful in either WPF/E or Flex, but I'm keen to see what benefits / advantages of using them practically.

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