Getting Started with WPF in Visual C# Express Edition

Currently, none of the Visual Studio suites have out-of-the-box support for the new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) in the .NET Framework 3.0. This article explains what you need to get started with the development of WPF based .NET applications in Visual C# Express (and other Visual Studio Editions).

Tags: c# dotnet programming windows wpf


In the following paragraphs it is assumed that you have a working installation of Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and the .NET Framework 3.0 (RTM Release that ships with Vista or the Windows SDK) or newer. In order to add WPF support to Visual C# Express, you also have to have the following:

The .NET Framework 3.0 samples are not required for building WCF/WPF applications, however, they are strongly recommended as they contain a large variety of instructive sample projects. Make sure to select the Samples_All.exe download for the framework samples, which includes all of the other listed downloads. The installer will simply unpack five ZIP files into the Samples folder of your Windows SDK installation. You can unzip these into a folder of your choice.

Features and Limitations

Despite its name, the Visual Studio 2005 extensions for .NET Framework 3.0 also support Visual Basic Express Edition, Visual C# Express Edition, Visual Web Developer Express Edition, Visual Studio Standard Edition, Visual Studio Professional Edition and Visual Studio Team System Editions.

The current release of the extensions (November 2006 CTP), which is, according to Microsoft, also the last release of this form, will add the following features to Visual C# Express Edition:

  • XAML Intellisense support
  • Project templates for WCF and WPF
  • .NET Framework 3.0 SDK documentation integration

Unfortunately, the the visual designer Cider, which is WPF's equivalent of the Windows Forms designer, is currently only available in Visual Studio 2005 (Final Release) and cannot be used in any of the Express Editions. This means that you will not be able to edit forms and controls within the development environment by any means other than editing the XAML markup langauge files directly.

Related Resources

Good places to start with WPF programming are Microsoft's Guided Tour of Windows Presentation Foundation, the Windows Vista Developer Center and the specific sections on the [].NET Framework 3.0 Community]( MSDN TV hosts a hand full of insightful video tutorials. There also is an extensive amount of information in Visual Studio's MSDN help.

Despite the lack of support for a visual designer in Visual Studio Express Editions, you might want to visit the Cider Wiki on Channel9 and the WPF Designer 'Cider' Forum.

If you're new to WPF, you should probably check out Tim Sneath's Weblog for a selection of great WPF based application examples. And if you're still not ready for the next hype in software engineering, watch the official WPF Marketing Video.