Working with the WPF toolkit: 4 things to consider

The WPF Toolkit has made life a lot easier for developers working with .NET frameworks. In today's enterprise, speed is of the essence, whether it's in creating applications, putting new functions in end users' hands or receiving feedback for further improvement. As a constantly evolving entity, it's a good idea for senior and budding developers alike to take stock of the recent advancements in the WPF Toolkit.

1. Developing applications for Windows
If you're preparing for a Windows Phone or Windows 8 store application, wrote InfoQ contributor Jonathan Allen, you'll need to know XAML. While the XAML can present some difficulty in subject matter expertise, especially for newer developers, once you've worked with it for awhile it's going to be a lot easier to design Windows mobile apps with full functionality. Utilizing WPF from the beginning of the project will simplify code-sharing across platforms. In this case, the WPF Toolkit can be utilized to program more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing applications than can WinForms, for example. The toolkit can leverage increased flexibility for rendering.

2. Building dynamic data visualizations
Every organization should be able to generate highly integrated, interoperable and user-friendly data visualizations to work with their information. The WPF Toolkit can be leveraged to create charts and maps that can build on large data sets and flexible data binding within WPF. With a dual focus on data usability and relatively simple development processes, WPF can be utilized in both business applications and graphical programs, wrote Mindscape contributor Ivan Towlson.

"The combination of data binding, lookless controls and the unified programming model for text, controls and graphics makes WPF an enormously productive platform for anything that goes even a little way beyond the 'GUI green screen,'" Towlson wrote.

3. Optimizing viewing options
It's important to ensure that applications can create reports optimized for use in the file type to which it is best suited. The WPF Toolkit can support report generation for both PDF and HTML formats and compatibility between the two. It offers increased support for the WPF controls utilized in the export of charts and graphs to different file formats and provides seamless run-time transitions.

4. Retaining the capacity of Silverlight
The WPF Toolkit can also enable seamless integration of Silverlight features without having to consistently upgrade this useful but sometimes pesky add-on. WPF offers a greater array of .NET framework features.aspx), according to the Microsoft Developer Network, as some are not available in Silverlight in order to keep it lightweight. WPF supports visual behavior triggers and allows for greater flexibility of framework elements than Silverlight does.


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