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Interact Software

Cider: Designer WPF

Monday 19 December, 2005, 11:33 PM

Huzzah!

The December 05 CTP of WinFX just shipped. As usual there's a corresponding SDK. But for the first time, Cider is in the extensions for Visual Studio.

Cider is the Visual Studio designer for WPF. Sort of like the WPF equivalent of the Windows Forms designer, if you like. It means you no longer have to write the XAML by hand - we get an interactive drag and drop designer. (And while I think that XAML's a great technology, I don't actually want to write it by hand, so this is a very welcome development.)

This is how most developers are likely to build WPF user interfaces.

Isn't That What Sparkle is For?

If you've been following WPF you're probably aware of Sparkle, an interactive designer for WPF user interfaces. So it may seem odd for another one to emerge.

Why two interactive UI design tools? Well Cider is aimed at developers, while Sparkle is for people doing visual design. Both of them let you work with XAML. (Indeed, a single XAML file is likely to be edited in both Cider and Sparkle at various stages throughout the development cycle.) But they offer significantly different feature sets - Sparkle has a bunch of visual design features not present in Cider. Cider on the other hand integrates tightly into Visual Studio like the designers for other UI technologies and offers features intended for software development.

Note that this release of the Visual Studio Extensions dowload is entitled "Microsoft Visual Studio Code Name 'Orcas' Community Technology Preview" - Cider's first full release is going to be part of Orcas (the next version of Visual Studio) rather than a plugin for Visual Studio 2005 like this preview.

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