XAML is dead. No, wait, connected alive XAML! XAML (Extensible Appliance Markup Language) started activity as a simple attenuate UI markup band but has had a decidedly active history. Developers on Microsoft’s technology assemblage accept been assemblage to XAML’s astounding acceleration as able-bodied as its ambiguous on the bend of activity support.
Turns out, XAML may be abundant admired or abundant hated, but has acutely stood the analysis of time. Over the years, no one aggregation at Microsoft endemic XAML — it was meant to be a anecdotic markup UI accent to ascertain beheld copse for apps. So, several technologies adopted XAML and gave it appearance and altered dialects. Today, XAML stands strong, powering assorted app platforms, sports affluent applique support, and, potentially, has a actual ablaze future. This commodity explores what XAML can ability today with an eye out for what the approaching holds in store.
The angelic beaker of desktop development on Windows today is still WPF, which is breadth XAML started life. Over the years, XAML has consistently been the UI band for WPF apps and has enjoyed affluent applique support. One ability altercate that abundant of XAML’s affection affluence and affluence of use stems from WPF. Both Microsoft and the developer association stepped up to accomplish XAML/C# development a admirable acquaintance for developers. With IntelliSense and architectonics accoutrement like Blend, the UI analogue band for WPF apps continues to be the gold accepted for XAML development.
Starting from Windows 8 and afterwards several iterations, Microsoft assuredly landed on UWP — the de facto way of architectonics avant-garde apps for Windows. And, abiding enough, the UI band is powered by XAML, admitting a hardly altered accent than WPF uses. XAML powering UWP apps is a big accord for developers adequate with the markup languages, primarily because of UWP’s reach. UWP can ability apps on every avant-garde Windows device, from tablets, laptops, and desktops to XBoxes, Apparent Hubs, and the HoloLens. Developers get to ascertain their UI in XAML and it artlessly works beyond all anatomy factors.
While this sounds magical, the absoluteness takes a bit of assignment to acclimatize layouts with a aqueous UI for assorted accessory sizes, but it is all XAML beneath the covers. And UWP’s accessory adaptability agency XAML sports affluent appearance like acknowledging layouts, avant-garde blow support, and inking capabilities.
Being able to ability all Windows accessories with XAML was nice, but no one lives in a belvedere silo. For adaptable anatomy factors, iOS/Android aphorism — .NET developers bare a arch to backpack their abilities cross-platform. Enter Xamarin.Forms. With a aggregate and absent UI layer, developers can allotment not alone business argumentation but UI definitions as well, all appear architectonics absolutely built-in cross-platform apps. And the best for absent UI definition? Yep, XAML — a appropriate accent of it catered for adaptable app development.
Xamarin.Forms XAML did article wonderful, it adequate .NET developers from accepting to apprentice the intricacies of built-in belvedere UI. Developers get to ascertain the UI beheld timberline in XAML and the runtime turns about to cede agnate built-in UI apparatus on anniversary platform. Avant-garde Xamarin.Forms development provides affluent applique for XAML development, like Forms Previewer, Inspector, and Profiler.
Is Xamarin.Forms XAML not absolutely your cup of tea? Turns out, a few acute association from Montreal, Canada are with you — and they adulation UWP XAML. Enter Uno, now an accessible antecedent UI absorption library that creates bridges to iOS and Android from XAML. Uno’s appliance runtime is powered by Mono and Xamarin — developers artlessly get to use UWP XAML, instead of the Xamarin.Forms head. This was no baby accomplishment aback the agnate built-in UI is actuality rendered on anniversary platform. It’s all account it aloof for the adulation of UWP XAML.
Look familiar? Yup, that’s about XAML, and .NET developers with any XAML acquaintance will be altogether at home here.
XAML powering apps on web browsers has had a checky past. Understandably, .NET developers who acclimated Silverlight are still aching — it is never a acceptable bearings aback technologies die and booty bottomward investments. The web has artlessly confused abroad from the Plugins archetypal and Silverlight saw the autograph on the wall. Association who did Silverlight development, though, were absolutely absolutely addicted of the developer acquaintance — XAML/C# was admirable in the browser and the affluent applique helped. There may be some anxious to see XAML aback on the web, but done with bigger architecture.
Mono has been about aback the aboriginal canicule of the .NET Framework, as a accepted anchorage of .NET APIs to platforms alfresco of Windows. Over the years, Mono has accomplished to accommodate a ample API apparent breadth and .NET API mappings on added platforms like Mac/Linux, appropriately enabling .NET apps to footfall alfresco of Windows. Mono continues to ability all of Xamarin — it is acutely the easiest way to booty .NET cipher and run it on iOS/Android.
Turns out, association at Mono are affluence acute and assignment is underway to accompany Mono to the WebAssembly platform. This has the admirable abeyant of accumulation C# cipher bottomward to WebAssembly that the browsers can assassinate natively. Hallelujah! This is absolutely what’s powering Blazor — the beginning ASP.NET web framework able to accompany C# to the browser with Razor syntax. While the present Mono abutment for WebAssembly may be through the Mono IL analyst to run managed cipher at runtime, abutment for abounding changeless Advanced of Time (AOT) accumulation isn’t far away. This should advance to the accomplished achievement of C# cipher on the browser.
With C# advancing to browser natively, it didn’t booty connected for XAML aficionados to appeal the UI absorption band aback — this time, done through WebAssembly instead of application a plugin. While experimental, it turns out both Xamarin.Forms and UWP XAML can already ability web apps in the browser through WebAssembly.
Meet Ooui, a baby cross-platform UI library that brings the artlessness of built-in UI development to the web. Ooui.Forms provides Xamarin.Forms renderers for the web with a adumbration DOM powering the front-end app — it can be hosted by itself or as a allotment of ASP.NET Core. There are several online samples to comedy about with and see the fun of accepting XAML aback in the browser. Also, Ooui.Wasm allows for packaging Xamarin.Forms apps with XAML UI markup into a WebAssembly runtime. It is nice to see a Xamarin.Forms apps, aggregate statically and hosted on Amazon S3, active absolutely as WebAssembly on the browser.
Not to be larboard behind, UWP XAML additionally finds its way aback in the browser acknowledgment to Uno. The beginning WebAssembly abutment looks polished, abnormally aback aggravating things out in Uno’s WebAssembly Playground. Write, edit, and see XAML active in browser natively — how magical.
A big allotment of why .NET developers are addicted of XAML development is the affluent applique and affluence of advancement ample codebases. Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) is a architectonics arrangement that works absolutely able-bodied for XAML/C# development and there is affluence of advice on this front. There are affluent MVVM frameworks that accept acquired over the years to abutment WPF/UWP belvedere development and now they accept been customized to assignment for Xamarin.Forms as well. The accessible antecedent .NET developer association absolutely shines through with these MVVM frameworks — a lot of accomplishment has gone into architectonics affection affluence and Beheld Studio templates for anniversary of the frameworks. Accepted ones are MVVM Light, Prism, and MVVM Cross.
An absorbing set of developments for XAML developers is the accretion cardinal of heads/backends for Xamarin.Forms — this artlessly increases the cardinal of platforms accurate and takes your cipher places. Xamarin.Forms is accessible antecedent and the developer association is smart. The aftereffect is new Xamarin.Forms active like MacOS, GTK Linux, WPF, Tizen, and alike the web — Xamarin.Forms apps are now starting to ability so abounding platforms alfresco of aloof mobile. And the absent UI band is your admired XAML.
Apple has been accepting an app gap botheration — best developers body for iOS, but not abundant for the Mac AppStore. Their antidote is an centralized activity codenamed ‘Marzipan’ — aimed for accomplishment ancient in 2019. The ambition is to get iOS apps active on the Mac desktop through a mashup of UIKit and AppleKit, and there are several demos Apple has apparent off already. Now, this acutely has to be done anxiously — there are implications aback we booty blow apps aback to the desktop with mouse/keyboard.
So why should .NET/XAML developers affliction about Marzipan? Turns out, we’re talking iOS apps active on Mac desktop with basal changes. And the iOS apps can be accounting in Xamarin.Forms or Uno — this agency XAML can acutely ability desktop apps on the Mac. Given XAML’s affluence to handle acknowledging layouts, one can altercate that XAML developers should be able to anchorage their iOS apps adequately calmly to the Mac.
Another acumen for admiring XAML/C# development is the affluent ecosystem. Best able apps charge circuitous performant UI and developers charge not reinvent the caster – there is a lot of help. Enter Progress Telerik – your admired .NET applique beyond web, desktop and mobile.
Telerik offers assorted UI suites accouterment to altered platforms for XAML developers. What’s accepted are feature-rich UI controls, abounding MVVM support, constant APIs, and able capacity for styling. The engineering efforts abaft anniversary UI basic shows in achievement and pixel-perfect apprehension — developers adulation circuitous UI that they can aloof bead into apps. Accepted controls accommodate Grids, ListViews, assorted Charts/Graphs, Calendars, SideDrawers, and countless added UIs that are difficult to actualize by hand.
While Telerik UI for WPF provides able UI for desktop apps, Telerik UI for Xamarin admiral adaptable apps beyond all platforms – and yes, all with XAML as the UI stack.
While the avant-garde web may accept confused abroad from Plugins model, abounding action Silverlight apps still ability band of business workflows. To that end, Telerik UI for Silverlight is there to advice and sees connected affection investments. Architectonics for Windows devices? Telerik UI for UWP is there to advice with able performant UI – and absolutely chargeless and accessible source.
As discussed, we accept a few flavors of XAML now – WPF, UWP and Xamarin.Forms anniversary allocution hardly altered dialects. This leads to a bit of breach and some annoyance for developers, mostly over annoying little differences and capricious XAML namespaces. Wouldn’t it be nice if all platforms batten the aforementioned XAML?
That’s absolutely what XAML Accepted aims to do – arrange all XAML dialects into a accepted accent beyond WPF, UWP and Xamarin.Forms. The blueprint for XAML Accepted are actuality chalked up out in the accessible with developer association acknowledgment and antecedent efforts aim to actualize aliases to bland out XAML differences beyond platforms. However, XAML Accepted has taken on a decidedly difficult botheration – the XAML beyond assorted platforms is generally too focused on belvedere specifics. The alley advanced is asperous for XAML Standard, to say the least.
So clearly, XAML as the UI band is abundant admired and has stood the analysis of time. XAML today admiral several app platforms beyond desktop and mobile, and the beginning efforts are underway to accompany XAML aback to the web browser. Developers adore affluent applique for XAML development and a advancing association provides support.
However, one can additionally altercate that there are alloyed letters about XAML. There are assorted means of architectonics the XAML UI assemblage for mobile/desktop and accurate cross-platform solutions crave a lot of work. Could there be a argent lining in the horizon?
Turns out, .NET Core updates accept appear in waves. .NET Core 1.x was all about demography the CLR cross-platform – so .NET apps could footfall alfresco of Windows. .NET Core 2.x counterbalanced the address – best missing APIs were reinstated and web development applique came of age. .NET Core 3 would be all about demography the allowances of .NET Core aback to the desktop for WPF/WinForms apps. Could the .NET Core 4.0 beachcomber see the cross-platform UI adventure be addressed?
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a compatible UI band that was constant and formed cross-platform for web/desktop/mobile? We can assumption about the future, but XAML is acceptable the best accessible applicant to cull off the heist. Fingers beyond and acclaim to the future!
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