Today Vikas Bhatia and I presented the new XAML designer in Visual Studio for Metro style apps built using C++. In this post, I’ll recap a few of the key points presented in this session. Later, I’ll post more details on the designer as well as a step by step tutorial to help you get the most out of the new tools.
One of the really exciting things that we have announced at //build/ is that C++ developers now have access to the same rich feature set for creating the UI of their application in XAML that was previously only available to C# and VB developers. In fact, the designer for XAML authoring in a C++ app is the same one provided for C# and VB applications:
If you’ve written WPF, Silverlight or Windows Phone apps, using XAML to create Metro style apps is a great choice. You can utilize all of the XAML knowledge and techniques you have developed, as well as reuse some of your existing assets.
If you are new to XAML, it provides all the power and expressivity you’d expect from a modern presentation platform; separation of UI and application logic, a rich set of controls, reusable styles and resources and easy to use data binding. Finally, a great presentation framework must be extensible. There are times when you want to create a novel experience that cannot be achieved with the built in controls. With XAML you can create your own custom user controls with a look and feel unique to your business goals and desired user experience.
In Visual Studio you can use the designer to create and edit their XAML objects using the interactive design surface, Document outline and Property window. Of course, you also have a XAML text editor with IntelliSense when you want precise control over your markup.
Today we’re also excited to share with you some additional changes to the XAML designer UI in this release of Visual Studio. It has been updated to share UI components for core authoring scenarios like object creation, layout and property editing with Expression Blend. If you have used the XAML designer in Visual Studio 2010, you’ll be happy to know that all of the same tasks and authoring scenarios are still supported, but you will now have access to some of the features that were previously only available in Expression Blend in Visual Studio. For example, the design surface offers greater precision, control and enhanced feedback when creating and editing objects. Several of the Expression Blend property value editors are also now available in Visual Studio including support for editing transforms and text editing controls.
Using XAML and the new designer you can take advantage of the rich features of XAML. The designer allows you to work visually when it makes sense to fine-tune layout, experiment with property settings and edit your document hierarchy. Design-time settings like locking and visibility allow you to work with your project without worrying about modifying any of your run-time settings.
There are times when you want precise control of your markup or it is simply more efficient to type the XAML directly. In this case all the features of the XAML text editor in you had in Visual Studio 2010 are still available.
The tools are still a work in progress so you may bump into a few issues here and there but the team is hard at work, improving the tools on a daily basis. We’re looking forward to seeing the Metro style apps that you’ll create, whether they are written in C++, C# or VB.