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For interesting interface access, check out Xamlon

A new product called Xamlon can make use of XAML for development of user interfaces for applications and services.

As evidence of the ever-increasing exploitation of the overlap between XML markup languages and Windows development tools and environments, I urge those with a foot in the .NET camp and another on the Web to check out Xamlon Pro, for which the first commercial release just shipped days ago. In a concise but cryptic statement this product permits developers to make use of the new XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language) originally designed by Microsoft to enable rapid prototyping and development of user interfaces for applications and services.

Though it has been developed as a part of the Windows Longhorn environment, with that release now looming only in 2006 (desktop version) and 2007 (server version) it's not unreasonable to suppose that Microsoft (and others, obviously--Xamlon is a third-party product) wanted to take advantage of this markup language's capabilities sooner rather than later.

XAML works within the .NET framework to permit developers to build user interfaces using a declarative syntax to create hierarchies of runtime objects, with an obvious bent toward the sort of buttons, windows, text boxes, and so forth that go into constructing any UI. In fact, Microsoft claims that XAML allows interfaces to be constructed without writing actual code, using tool-based controls, text entry mechanisms, images, and other objects available through XAML aware tools and environments.

Thus, let's take Xamlon Pro as a case in point. For $399 per developer, companies can exploit this new technology using a graphical developer interface (presumably developed using this very technology). Furthermore, the product includes a runtime engine that works on any .NET 1.1 platform (which effectively means on versions of Windows from 98 to the current Longhorn alpha). There's also a plug-in for VS.NET 2003 to permit use of XAML-based interface design and development within that environment (but according to other published reports, this plug-in works neither with VS.NET 2001 nor with the current VS.NET 2005 beta). There's even a slick little application called XamlPad that permits easy prototyping of XAML-based interfaces, that can also import from or export to Adobe Illustrator SVG files or Windows Forms C# code.

This one's definitely worth a look. You can even check out a free trial download of Xamlon Pro. For more information on XAML, consult the Microsoft XAML Overview.

Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools for review.

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