I was asked by one of Chinese leading ComSci book publishers to write a book review on Charles Petzold's classical WPF book Applications = Markup + Code, because they've just finished with translating this awesome book into Chinese. Charles is always one of my most respectable .NET gurus, and here is my humble attempt at commentting on his book:
Windows Presentation Foundation hits the Windows programming community quite tremendously from the very beginning of its CTP release not only because it's a much better and superior technology than the stale GDI/USER based UI Framework, but also because it brings in a new programming paradigm that most Windows programmers might have never thought of, that is Applications = Markup + Code.
Windows Presentation Foundation is Microsoft's first attempt at unifying the programming model both for Windows desktop and the Web going forward (with the introduction of Silverlight, you can employ the same programming concept and techniques to author Rich Internet Applications). Windows Presentation Foundation also enables a new workflow between developers and designers, with Windows Presentation Foundation, designers has become an integral part of the whole software development process, and they will have a vital say over the final appearance of the whole UI, because they are trained for this, and specialized at doing this. This can free the developers from concerning about something they are not good at, such as how to adjust the colour contrast to make the Button looks more esthetically pleasing.
Windows Presentation Foundation also integrates text, imaging, graphics (both 2D and 3D), animations, audio/video, documents, printing, and resources management APIs into a single framework, those powerful APIs and toolsets really enable developers to build rich visualization applications. The ability to seamlessly incorporate 2D content over 3D scenes and vice versa is simply stunning which gives possibility to write Northface Demo type of applications.
Charles Petzold brings in his years of Windows programming experiences to provide us with a hitchhikers' guide around Windows Presentation Foundation first from the perspective of code, then XAML (Extension Application Markup Language), which might be the ultimate UI definition language for Windows moving forward. From Chapter 1 to Chapter 17, Charles first introduces us the basic WPF controls and how they differ from traditional win32/Windows Forms counterparts, he also teaches us probably the most important core concepts of WPF such as Dependency Properties and Routed Events which is a little bit different from what we've known about properties and events in C#. He also gives us a de tour on how to write a custom layout panel to layout elements/controls in a predefined manner which is pretty useful when you want to roll up your own data presentation controls. In the unique Chapter 18, Charles aggregates what we've learnt from the previous chapters to tell us how to write a full-blown WPF application such as Notepad. From Chapter 19 to Chapter 31, the amazing XAML tour starts. Again in those Chapters, Charles still focus on the basic building block of WPF such as navigation, geometrical transformation, data binding, control templates and data templates etc, but this time, from the XAML perspective, he tells us how to declaratively specify WPF constructs, and how they relate to their code representations, which is very important, this can help developers to better understand XAML, what it can and cannot do.
Charles' book just covers hoards of WPF contents and concept which I cannot name it all, but suffice it to say that I find the book Applications = Markup + Code quite complete, informative and interesting to read. I think this book should be put onto every serious WPF developer's bookshelves, what you think?