WPF Designer/Developer Paradigm – Does It Really Work?

August 5, 2008


All the WPF presentations I’ve seen made a big deal about how this technology allows you to separate the work of the designer and the developer. The designer can go about, designing away with the Expression tools, crafting a XAML file. Then the developer can add C# logic to the relevant CS file.

When I actually tried to do something with WPF, it immediately seemed suspicious to me. XAML, apparently, is also code. Not only that, it is also tightly coupled to the accompanying “code-behind”. There seem to be some things that you just can’t do with XAML – and I’m talking about visuals – like making a video resize correctly. Anyway, while coding I kept going back and forth between the XAML and the code until I got the result I wished for.

Now, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not WPF pro, but I do have experience with ASP.NET, and it is the same way there – It is good to have a separation between display code and behavioral code, but I just don’t think that it would ever work if someone handed me an “.aspx” file and told me to “just add my code to that”.

I think that it might work if the developer and the designer worked together (i.e. same desktop) on creating a window. Or if the designer works only on very limited things, such as control templates and styles. But coding a complete XAML for a window with Expression and passing it on to the developer? I doubt that the latter will be able to read the damn thing, let alone work with it.

Then again, I might be wrong. I really have no idea, as I don’t know anyone who works with WPF on a daily basis and has a designer in his team. Just had an itch to talk about this.

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  1. Ken EgoziAugust 5, 2008 ב 15:51

    Used to think just the same, however watching the progress of Scott Hanselman’s Baby Smash thing, he’s being getting XAML rewritten by an off-site designer, and it looks like it can work.

  2. gillybAugust 5, 2008 ב 16:45

    Just having the code seperated from the design is a great advantage altogether, even without a designer on the team!
    I never used WPF, but I come from a background in php where all the HTML, javascript and PHP is mixed. You can split it into files, but it doesn’t make it clearer, just into smaller parts.

    What I like in ASP.NET is that I rarely ever even have to think about rendering html through my code!

  3. Phil SteelJanuary 10, 2009 ב 20:03

    Hi Doron

    I think it can work but it remains to be seen whether companies out there will really invest and buy into in the designer/developer collaboration.

    Also, how many designers from the photoshop/illustrator/flash school are going to spend time learning Expression Blend?