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I'm about to create an open source desktop application. I'm primarily a .NET developer , with experience in ASP.NET and SharePoint. I've created basic Windows Forms applications before, but I have never developed using WPF or Silverlight before. I want a compelling, highly interactive UI for my desktop application. What are my technology choices for doing this, using .NET? In particular, is HTML5 something I should be considering?

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never use web based tools like HTML 5 for desktop apps. Languages designed for desktop apps are far better at making desktop apps. –  Ryathal Feb 17 '12 at 21:30
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3 Answers 3

Consider WPF.

If you are unfamiliar with WPF, I recommend Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed.

WPF allows for content in web browsers or standard windows applications.

WPF also is resolution independent - the content on a mobile device has the same crisp look as the content on a 50 inch tv.

Windows Forms is limited when it comes to a highly interactive UI development compared to WPF.

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Jeff, thanks for your answer. I wasn't aware that WPF ws resolution independent. +1 Before the Build conference, I would have selected WPF. But given the possible long term future of WPF appears to be in doubt, I am slightly wary of learning and developing with WPF. –  MagicAndi Feb 17 '12 at 16:38
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Yeah I have heard that the future of WPF isn't solid. However I have heard that the future of .NET in general isn't solid (i can't remember the blog I read this on ..) So it is hard to say. –  Jeff Feb 17 '12 at 16:40
    
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Don't think of it as a WPF app, think of it as a XAML app using WPF. While the future of WPF itself isn't clear, XAML isn't going away any time soon. And once you learn the ins-and-outs of a XAML-based app, the particular framework you use becomes less important. –  Eric King Feb 17 '12 at 17:03
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The OP may be interested in knowing the difference between WPF and Silverlight: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/135376/… –  Emmad Kareem Feb 17 '12 at 17:24
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I always give this advice to any developer that wants to build something on his own: focus on building the product, don't spend a large amount of time on thinking what technology to choose. There is no 100% right answer for your question because you didn't specified what the application will do, what kind of problem will solve.

My personal point of view: HTML 5 is not yet suitable for desktop applications. Just go with WPF, build an awesome desktop product, please some users, find some people to work with. Later you can consider building a HTML5 version of your application. Good luck!

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Frankly, if you look around, the desktop application landscape is in complete and total flux. There are unverified rumors that future Silverlight support is wavering and according to an ex (and potentially disgruntled) MS project manager it is effectively dead, WPF is getting a younger, cooler brother with a much larger friends list in Windows 8 (WinRT), and Windows Forms can't deliver modern application experiences.

So, while I agree that today Silverlight/WPF are the best choices for a Rich Desktop UI in .NET, if you're interested in future-proofing your project and, perhaps, your career, I would urge you to consider implementing it as an HTML 5 application following an approach similar to the Microsoft Patterns & Practices Group's Project Silk.

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Silverlight is not effectively dead and to spread that rumor is jackassitude. –  Rig Feb 17 '12 at 21:11
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Do you have any evidence to back up that claim? I have no interest in Silverlight being dead - considering the alternative is the gulag of JavaScript. –  darlingtont Feb 17 '12 at 21:21
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Do you have evidence to back up your claim besides a disgruntled ex employee? It's the primary development platform of their mobile phones for instance. They aren't kicking that out any time soon. Even if I'm wrong (i'm not) XAML isn't going anywhere anytime soon. PS: if you didn't notice that one link shows SL will be supported for another decade. microsoft.com/presspass/exec/guthrie/2010/… support.microsoft.com/gp/lifean45 –  Rig Feb 17 '12 at 21:49
    
darlingtont, thanks for your answer. Project Silk looks very interesting - I'll check it out. +1 –  MagicAndi Feb 20 '12 at 10:29
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