Triangle User Experience Professionals Association (TriUXPA)

Presentation recap: Art Swanson on Windows Presentation Foundation

31 Mar 2007 5:00 PM | Richard Phelps
The first event in TriUPA's 2007 program series was held Tuesday, 3/20/07 at GSK. Art Swanson from Insight provided an introduction to Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and Microsoft's Blend application.WPF is the user interface and graphics framework for applications developed with Microsoft's .NET 3.0. As Art demonstrated, Microsoft's rethinking of this fundamental technology has led to some major advances for designers, and (potentially) for users.WPF is based on XAML, a markup language for specifying user interfaces. By moving user interface layout description into a markup language, Microsoft has achieved a high level of abstraction--something more often associated with HTML/CSS than desktop applications. In essence, the "style" of desktop applications can now be specified by the designer separately from the underlying application code and logic. (Just as Web designers have been able to achieve dramatically different presentation styles by applying CSS to well-structured HTML--see CSS Zen Garden for examples).This ability alone would be interesting, but hand-coding complex XAML for complex desktop applications might cause designers to quickly lose interest. Microsoft's Blend tool provides extensive visual design tools for building WPF interfaces. Using Blend, designers can specify complex interactions, such as using a slider to control the size of another element of the interface, without any hand coding. Even a brief demo of these tools was extremely compelling, so I'd suggest that anyone interested download the Blend trial from Microsoft's site. In particular, Blend could be extremely useful for rapid prototyping of interfaces to support usability testing or other UCD activities.Thanks to Art for sharing his expertise on these important new technologies! --Abe Crystal

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