XAML, WPF, Expression Design – What are they?

When I first came to know about XAML… I really had no clue what it was about other than it rhymed with XML…! Had a tough time looking for any information related to that… so I thought I would gather up some useful information on what it actually is from various sources. Hope that people can find this beneficial.

XAML is a powerful XML based file format, which can create Vector Graphical Elements, UI elements and lots of other cool stuff…! We can create XAML icons using Expression Design 2, or also by Exporting it from Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop etc etc…

Refer to my article on how we can offer Custom XAML icons for your Software and Applications.

Now for the long article with lots of history and technical stuff 🙂 Enjoy!

What is XAML?

(Quoted: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XAML)
Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML, pronounced zammel ([zæ:mɛl]) is a declarative XML-based language created by Microsoft which is used to initialize structured values and objects. It is available under Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise.The acronym originally stood for Extensible Avalon Markup Language – Avalon being the code-name for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

XAML is used extensively in .NET Framework 3.0 technologies, particularly Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). In WPF, XAML is used as a user interface markup language to define UI elements, data binding, eventing, and other features. In WF, workflows can be defined using XAML.

XAML elements map directly to Common Language Runtime object instances, while XAML attributes map to Common Language Runtime properties and events on those objects. XAML files can be created and edited with visual design tools such as Microsoft Expression Blend, Microsoft Visual Studio, and the hostable Windows Workflow Foundation visual designer. They can also be created and edited with a standard text editor, a code editor such as XAMLPad, or a graphical editor such as Vectropy.

Anything that is created or implemented in XAML can be expressed using a more traditional .NET language, such as C# or Visual Basic.NET. However, a key aspect of the technology is the reduced complexity needed for tools to process XAML, because it is based on XML. As a result, a variety of products are emerging, particularly in the WPF space, which create XAML-based applications. As XAML is simply based on XML, developers and designers are able to share and edit content freely amongst themselves without requiring compilation.

Ok, What is WPF or Windows Presentation Foundation?

(Quoted: Wikipedia WPF Page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Presentation_Foundation)
The Windows Presentation Foundation (or WPF), formerly code-named Avalon, is the graphical subsystem feature of the .NET Framework 3.0 (formerly called WinFX) and is directly related to XAML.It is pre-installed in Windows Vista,the latest version of the Microsoft Windows operating system. WPF is also available for installation on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003. It provides a consistent programming model for building applications and provides a clear separation between the UI and the business logic. A WPF application can be deployed on the desktop or hosted in a web browser. It also enables rich control, design, and development of the visual aspects of Windows programs. It aims to unify a host of application services: user interface, 2D and 3D drawing, fixed and adaptive documents, advanced typography, vector graphics, raster graphics, animation, data binding, audio and video. Although WinForms will continue to be widely used, WPF is now the preferred choice for developing line of business applications, especially since the release of the .NET Framework 3.5, Visual Studio 2008, and Expression Blend.

Microsoft Silverlight is a web-based subset of WPF. During development it was named WPF/E, which stood for “Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere”. The Silverlight subset enables Flash-like web and mobile applications with the same code as Windows.NET applications. 3D features are not supported, but XPS and vector-based drawing are included.

Whats this got to do with Expression Design 2 ?

(Original Content : http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Overview.aspx?key=design )
Microsoft Expression Design 2 is a professional illustration and graphic design tool that lets you build compelling elements for both Web and desktop application user interfaces.

Microsoft Expression Design 2 is the perfect companion to Expression Blend 2 allowing for an end-to-end XAML based design workflow. You can leverage existing artwork by incorporating graphics from other applications using standard file formats such as JPEG, PNG, and GIF, open vector-based artwork from other popular graphic tools, or quickly build sophisticated vector assets using the intuitive and flexible drawing tools.

Expression Design 2 features a powerful new export engine and slicing tools that seamlessly bring your artwork to Expression Blend and Expression Web, allowing you to target individual slices as separate formats, including Silverlight canvas, WPF canvas, WPF resource dictionary, HTML comp, XAML, PSD, and PDF. XAML allows your finished graphics, user interface elements and design assets to move seamlessly from your initial concept to the finished product while retaining their full fidelity throughout the process.

Expression Design can import the following formats:.psd, ai, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .tif, .ico and .wdp (Windows Media Photo) files. Expression Design can export the following formats:.psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .tif, wdp, .pdf, and .xaml. Additionally there is support for copy/paste to Microsoft Office, and copy/paste of XAML to Expression Blend and other XAML editors.

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