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If you want to get up to speed quickly then this book will give you the boost you need.

Book Review: Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed by Adam Nathan

Windows Presentation Foundation, also known as WPF, is a graphical subsystem of the Dot Net Framework 3.0 that will allow you to create richer, more dynamic applications than you ever could before.

Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed was written as a definitive guide to getting real world results from WPF and Visual Studio. It is for those who want to learn how to develop user interfaces. The author's goal is to try to show you how to dramatically improve your productivity, build more reliable and easier maintained applications. It is 656 pages in length and divided into 17 chapters and further divided into 5 sections. I will break this down by the five sections

Part I, "Background," begins with a history of how we got here by taking a walk down memory lane. We look at where we came from and really how graphical interface development has not changed all that much in the last 20+ years. You will also learn about comparable technologies. We also see how WPF is integrated within the scope of the .NET Framework.

Next we look at what XAML (pronounced "Zammal") is and how it is used. You will learn about its elements and attributes, as well how you can work with XAML with procedural code. Finally you will see what some of the important new concepts there are in WPF

Part II, "Building a WPF Application" now moves on from theory to application. The goal here is to show you how to assemble and deploy a traditional looking application; albeit with fancier abilities. Here you will start with various controls and see how they work. Next you will learn how to size, position, and transform elements within your application.

Moving on from there, you will work with panels and layouts. These panels include StackPanel, WrapPanel, and DockPanel. You will see how to handle content overflow and then finally see how to put all of these elements together by creating a Visual Studio-like Collapsible, Dockable, Resizable Pane.

Once you have done all this, it is time to see how to structure and deploy an application. You will get a look at the different types of applications you can build; these include Standard Windows Based, Navigation Based, an application with a Vista Look and Feel, as well as XAML browser applications.

Part III, "Features for Professional Developers," delves deeper into more complex topics. Many of the things covered here are not always necessary to use in a WPF application, but can greatly enhance the development.

These include binary and logical resources. Binary resources are just that – resources of a binary nature. They include items like bitmaps, image files, video, etc. Logical resources are anything not a binary resource. You will be introduced to data binding via the binding object. You will see how to control rendering, customizing the view of a collection, and working with data providers.

You will also learn about working with the user interface via styles, templates, skins, and themes. Through the use of the techniques acquired in this chapter you can really change the user interface; literally any interface can be implemented, without much effort with coding changes.

Part IV, "Going Beyond Today's Applications with Rich Media," examines some of the real power that is capable by using WPF, the graphics capabilities. This is the feature that gets the most attention. Now with built-in support for 2D and 3D graphics, animation, video, and much more, you can now create truly rich media-based applications. The way that these are accessed, sets WPF apart from previous systems. This makes it easier for someone, who, in the past, would have shied away from incorporating some of these features into an application.

In this section, you will explore the topics of 2D and 3D graphics, the use of audio and visual speech capabilities, and animation. While you will see how rich WPF is when looking at 2D, 3D takes it to the next level. Animation takes it beyond. While not every application needs these things, when appropriate, a Flash-like effect, it can leave a favorable impression on the viewer.

Part V, "Advanced Topics," covers topics that are relevant to advanced application developers or of WPF control developers. Even though the need for custom controls are really reduced because of the restyling ability of controls under WPF, it is still good to get a fundamental appreciation of what it takes to make these changes

Some of the functionality that can be learned here is how to embed Win32 controls in a WPF application, and vice versa – and doing the same with Windows Form controls and ActiveX controls ,as well as how to creating a custom control.

Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed is really well defined, organized and without a lot of dry history, making for very compelling reading. The code samples are in full color, made to match what you would see in Visual Studio.

With the fact that WPF is such a large topic, Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed tackles it head on and almost anticipates your next question. While no one could ever cover all of WPF in one book, this one covers a fair share.

Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed is really meant for the intermediate to advance developer, but even a newbie will find it a compelling read. Adam Nathan has created the ultimate guide to working with WPF. The full color highlights make this book the standard that all future books should be judged by and because of this, I very highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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