This is my menagerie of WPF tools, components, books and other resources. I was thinking this might be handy for those who are working with WPF. This is not an in depth review of any one of the items below but I have commented on each item with my take on the value of the resource. I also tried to ensure that the resources are still being worked on and if they are not then at least they still offer some value.
If you have any other resources to add please throw a comment my way and I will update the main list below.
(if you rate this I would like to read your comments about your rating)
Update – 08.17.2009: Added Vodnex WPF Controls Micro Pack to my list of WPF Controls.
me·nag·er·ie (mə-nāj’ə-rē, -nāzh’-)
- A collection of live wild animals on exhibition.
- An enclosure in which wild animals are kept.
- A diverse or miscellaneous group.
So, here is the table of contents for my list:
Xaml Editors (non-ide)
Most of the WPF I do is in the default XAML editor in Visual Studio and while it does the job I sometimes want to just play with XAML without loading the whole IDE (or while I am coding in the IDE). The following are just XAML editors with a few special features.
Kaxaml is a cool XAML editor that has some nice features. I really like the Snippets feature which can sometimes get me going with a feature I may not know how to code and the XAML scrubber is pretty nice as well. With syntax coloring and intellisense this editor is my top pick for just pure XAML coding.
XamlPadX (Last updated August 25, 2008)
XamlPadX is an ok XAML editor with it’s own bag of tricks. Nice visual tree explorer, nice default style display for various components and a fairly fast XAML parser so what you type is displayed in the UI window right away. It does not have intellisense which is kind of a bummer but not too bad. I also noticed some strange artifacts in the UI as I switched and panels. Personally I found Kaxaml to have a more compelling feature set but XamlPad is still a nice editor.
XAML Editor is just a simple notepad for XAML. It can only be used for editing XAML and has not real value to a developer but it does validate your XAML though you can not run it from this utility. Going to the help page from the Help menu gives you one of those web pages that indicate the domain is for sell. I wouldl not use – it would be better to use something like notepad2 instead of this tool.
Charles Petzold’s Xaml Cruncher – click once installation (Last updated 2007)
This tool has more of the feel of a project one would build to learn XAML. It does parse the xaml and render the WPF output but it does not have intellisense or really any other features that would make it compelling. If you like responding to parse errors to code and DO NOT like intellisense when working with XAML then this is for you.
Wpf/Xaml Addins (Vs.Net)
Xaml Power Toys (recommended)
This is very powerful addin for WPF that assists you in creating business forms. This is what I would describe as a WPF form generator. There are also helpers for working with Grids, and tools to generate DataGrids and Listviews. I would highly recommend watching the videos on Karl Shifflett’s web page to get a feel for how this works. I have not had an occasion to use this (YET!) except for just playing around with it to get an idea of it’s value. At the time it felt to me that you are bringing a certain style of development when you utilize this addin to help you with you line of business forms.
Menees VS Tools
Kind of a nifty ‘charityware’ VS.Net addin that offers several convenient features such as (this is right from the web site ):
- Run Text
- Execute File
- Stream Text
- Generate Prime
- Generate GUID
- Check Spelling
- Toggle Files
- Close All Except
- Toggle Read-Only
- Add Region (VS 2005+ Only)
- Base Converter (VS 2005+ Only)
Multi-Function Visualizer for WPF, WCF, WF, Asp.Net, XBAP’s and winforms.
Cool little utility to assist in debugging / visualizing WPF applications.
Nice utility that converts SWF (Flash) to XAML
Visual WebGUI Web Design Tools
Visual GUI Web Design tool for creating custom controls and themes in html, css and XAML
Runtime debugging and scripting tool for WPF and Winforms – check out the web site for all the features.
Azure Storage Explorer
This is not a WPF utility but it is very cool. This is used to explore your data in Azure Cloud projects. Neat stuff!
.Net Reflector (recommended)
Addins Page for .Net Reflector
If you have not heard of Reflector then I recommend you click on the above link, download it and check out this amazing utility. This is about one of the coolest and longest lived utilities for .Net out there. While this is not strictly a WPF utility there are a couple of addins (BamlViewer and SilverLight Loader) that work with WPF and SilverLight.
Shazzam Pixel Shader (requires silverlight 2.x)
From the website: “The goal of Shazzam is to make it simple to edit and test WPF Pixel Shader Effects.”
Pistachio WPF Resource Visualizer
While this is not new it is still cool: This tool allow you to load project files and it will list all the resources and where they are used. I am uncertain how well this will work with .Net 3.5 sp1 – I would assume that it will but it may not pick up an new features since 2007.
Books on Wpf/Xaml
NOTE: I did it simple and just pointed to Amazon for every book since BookPool is no more.
Pro WPF In C# 2008 (recommended)
This is an excellent book on WPF!
Applications = Code + Markup (recommended)
This is Charles Petzold’s book on WPF and it’s extremely thorough.
WPF Recipes 2008
I don’t own this one but seems worth a look.
WPF In Action (recommended)
I own this one and it is excellent. This was the first WPF book I purchased – very nice feature is that you actually don’t do 10,000 code snippets but build on just a few apps as you go.
Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed (recommended)
While this is one of the older books (along with Petzold’s book) it is actually very good. I really like to see color in UI books even if they are more expensive. FYI: This is the core teaching book on Safari used by InnerWorkings in their WPF Training (highly recommended too!)
The following is a list of open source/free components that I found to offer some value. Kind of hard to recommend any other than to say that if they are listed then I think they offer something, even if it’s just to learn some interesting coding techniques.
Xceed Data Grid (this may still be free if you download v3.1 or lower as v3.2 now is the paying, standard edition)
WPF Notify Icon (very nice with tutorials and everything)
WPF Toolkit (includes wpf grid)
Thripole – 3d UI
FluidKit WPF Library (source only)
Vodnex WPF Controls Micro Pack (includes WPF Date Picker)
While not strictly WPF it is often needed to generate pdf’s or other formats from WPF controls.
iTextSharp – .Net implementation of iText
PDF Sharp open source PDF
PDF Clown open source PDF
Hope this list is somewhat helpful to you as it is to me.