Microsoft Presses Cider Test Build on Developers

The software maker earlier this month quietly delivered one piece of its "Orcas" Visual Studio release: a design tool for its Windows Presentation Foundation technology. The December CTP is the first public release.

Earlier this month Microsoft released a preview of its design tool for its upcoming Windows Presentation Foundation subsystem, also known as Avalon.

Known as "Cider", Microsofts Visual Designer for the Windows Presentation Foundation is set to be part of Visual Studio "Orcas," the next major release of Microsofts Visual Studio tool suite, which is expected to support Windows Vista development. Orcas is slated for release in 2007.

The December CTP (Community Technology Preview) build is the first public release of Cider, company officials acknowledged.

Microsoft posted the Cider CTP code on its Web site for download as part of the Orcas WinFX Development Tools (CTP) release.

The Orcas WinFX development tool CTP build enables developers building WinFX applications to use the final released version of Visual Studio 2005.

In Microsoft parlance, a CTP is an early release drop of a future product that is not of beta quality. WinFX is shorthand for the Windows Framework, which is a set of managed-code, Windows-based programming interfaces that builds on top of the .NET Framework 2.0. It includes WPF, the Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and other related components.

"At this early stage, the designer is not sufficient to create WPF applications without the developer also manipulating XAML [Extensible Application Markup Language]," the release notes said.

"If you are building WPF applications, you are accustomed to XAML, and the designer can really help you out. Not only will it augment your experience by allowing a preview scenario for your markup and by providing basic visual manipulation, it will also accurately preserve XAML format through switches between the XAML editor and the visual designer."

In addition, the Cider CTP provides project system and build system support for WPF applications to enable developers both build and debug applications.

The CTP also features project templates for creating new WPF applications, and an XSD (XML Schema Definition) to provide guidance and validation for editing XAML, Microsoft said.

"The primary goal of Cider is to allow designers and developers to work closer together than they have in the past," according to a synopsis on TheServerSide.Net Web site.

"Developers will be able to work with the controls much like they have with the current Windows Form Designer, yet generate XAML code. Designers will be able to use Sparkle [Microsofts forthcoming Expression Interactive Designer product] to enhance the presentation for users. Event generation and handling is available through VB and C# code."

Microsoft has made available a wiki dedicated to Cider on its Channel 9 Web site.

The Orcas CTP of the WinFX development tools runs on unspecified beta releases of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows XP SP2. It also requires the final gold release of Visual Studio 2005.


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