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CHAPTER 8 s .NET 3.0: WINDOWS PRESENTATION FOUNDATION
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<Button>Hello, Web.Next Readers!</Button> </Grid> </Window>
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WPF parses this document and uses the elements that are defined within it to implement and render the UI. You can see the results of this in Figure 8-1.
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Figure 8-1. Rendering the XAML button
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As WPF provides a vector-based rendering system, the application can be resized, and the button will be resized along with it without losing fidelity. Figure 8-2 shows the same application window where the user has resized it to make it much larger.
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Figure 8-2. Resizing the button window
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As you can see, the button resized and fit itself according to the dimensions of the window. This approach provides a number of distinct advantages over the previous form/control methodologies for defining and running UIs: It allows for the separation of UI definition and application logic. Designers can use tools such as Expression Blend (which you will see later in this chapter) to define the UI look and feel, as well as how interactions take place within the UI. Design output is expressed in XAML, which is then taken up by developers to implement the application logic. Prior to XAML, there was a huge impedance mismatch between
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CHAPTER 8 s .NET 3.0: WINDOWS PRESENTATION FOUNDATION
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professional designers, who would implement their designs and express them as storyboards, Flash movies, or other such outputs; and developers, who would then reimplement them using Visual Basic, C#, COM, .NET, or others. This led to a huge gap between the intended design and the experience of the end product. XAML is often more expressive than code for defining UIs. As such, it typically makes UI design simpler. It also opens the door for multiple tools to be used in designing a UI, and doesn t restrict usage to developer tools such as Visual Studio. XAML works by a set of rules that map its elements, attributes, and namespaces onto classes or structures in the .NET 3.0 Framework. It typically follows the format where an element in XAML maps to a .NET type, and the attributes of that element map to members of that type. So, for example, take a look at the XAML used earlier:
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<Button>Hello, Web.Next Readers!</Button>
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The <Button> tag maps to the WPF Button control. As the contents of the tag were Hello, Web.Next Readers!, the default property of the Button was set to this value. In the case of a button, the default property is its Content property, so you could have achieved the same result by setting the Content attribute in XAML, which in turn sets the Content property on the Button. In that case, your XAML would look like this:
<Window x:Class="WPFIntro.Window1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" Title="WPFIntro" Height="300" Width="300"> <Grid> <Button Content="Hello, Web.Next Readers!" /> </Grid> </Window>
You can of course use multiple attributes to set multiple properties on the control. If you want to, for example, override the default background color, foreground color, and font type, you merely have to set the appropriate attributes on the <Button> element. Here s an example:
<Window x:Class="WPFIntro.Window1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" Title="WPFIntro" Height="300" Width="300"> <Grid> <Button Background="Black" Foreground="White" FontFamily="Verdana" FontSize="20"
CHAPTER 8 s .NET 3.0: WINDOWS PRESENTATION FOUNDATION
Content="Hello, Readers!" /> </Grid> </Window>
Figure 8-3 shows how this will render.
Figure 8-3. Overriding the default background, foreground, and font properties
When programming in WPF and defining elements in XAML, you ll encounter many complex properties that cannot be expressed in a simple string. For these, XAML provides a sub-element syntax, called property element syntax, that allows you to define them. This works by using dot syntax to define a property element. This example shows how the dot syntax may be used for complex properties and the attribute syntax may be used for simple ones:
<Window x:Class="WPFIntro.Window1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" Title="WPFIntro" Height="300" Width="300"> <Grid> <Button FontFamily="Verdana"> <Button.Background> <SolidColorBrush Opacity="0.5"> <SolidColorBrush.Color>Blue</SolidColorBrush.Color> </SolidColorBrush> </Button.Background> Hello, Web.Next Readers! </Button> </Grid> </Window>
CHAPTER 8 s .NET 3.0: WINDOWS PRESENTATION FOUNDATION
Here, a SolidColorBrush type is used to define the button s background. This has properties of its own, such as its color and opacity. These are not properties of the button, but of the SolidColorBrush that is created to implement the background color of the button. So, you cannot use attributes of the button to define the properties of this brush. Instead, you define the <Button.Background> and define a <SolidColorBrush> underneath it. This also shows that you can mix your property declarations between using attributes (see the Opacity declaration) or dot syntax (see the Color declaration). When you use tools such as Expression Blend to define your UI, you ll have a Property Editor dialog, and this will generate this code for you. You can also define the properties of an element using markup extension syntax, where you refer to the properties of another element on the page. This can be used, for example, to set a common style on the page for a number of controls, and then have each control set itself according to the properties of that style. Markup extension uses curly braces ({}) to define the reference point. Here s an example:
<Window x:Class="WPFIntro.Window1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml" Title="WPFIntro" Height="300" Width="300"> <Window.Resources> <Style TargetType="Button" x:Key="ButtonStyle"> <Setter Property="Background" Value="Black"></Setter> </Style> </Window.Resources> <Grid> <Button FontFamily="Verdana" Style="{StaticResource ButtonStyle}"> Hello, Readers! </Button> </Grid> </Window>
In this case, a style has been defined and given the name ButtonStyle. Now all buttons can have their style property set to this style using markup extension syntax. Style is a static resource on the page, and as such you load the style for a button by pointing it at the named static resource using this syntax: {StaticResource ButtonStyle}. This wraps up a very brief introduction to XAML and how you use it to define a UI. In most cases, you ll be using tools to create your XAML visually, going back into the XML to do some fine-tweaking. As such, the next sections introduce you to the new Expression Blend product, which allows you to define UIs in XAML; Expression Design, which complements Blend and allows you to define graphical assets, expressed as XAML; and Visual Studio 2005 s Cider designer, which is part of the Orcas extensions for the IDE.
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