Tomorrow's Windows apps today

Xamlon 1.0 XAML toolkit builds Longhorn-style interfaces

Developers eager to begin whacking on Microsoft Longhorn-style XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) applications can stay ahead of the (sometimes receding) curve with the help of Xamlon. Sounding like an alien race, Xamlon is in reality a trinity of components consisting of an XAML-savvy notepad application, a Visual Studio .Net 2003 plug-in, and a .Net-compatible runtime engine.

The notepad, called XamlPad, lets you quickly construct XAML-based apps and run them in a kind of XAML viewer. In addition, you can import Adobe Illustrator SVG files and Windows Forms C# files for conversion into XAML. With the Visual Studio plug-in, you can construct Forms applications and automatically generate the XAML. At the time of this writing, Xamlon was still in beta. Documentation was virtually nonexistent, and I had to proceed by spelunking through the sample applications, reading what information the company could supply, and doing more than a bit of guesswork.

On first glance, Xamlon appears to have a built-in limited lifespan. That’s true in one sense — once Longhorn is available, you won’t need Xamlon to build and execute XAML-based applications. However, plenty of non-Longhorn systems will be running for years after Longhorn has arrived. Xamlon’s runtime engine promises to execute XAML-based applications on any Windows system that supports .Net 1.1 — all the way back to Windows 98.

Xamlon, then, becomes one of those peculiar development systems that exist not in the present so much as in the future and the past. It anticipates Longhorn and offers a mechanism for manipulating that future now, at the same time pushing its yet-unripened capabilities into OSes that have long since seen their day. Time will tell if Xamlon’s forward- and backward-looking plan works.

XamlonProfessional 1.0

Xamlon, http://www.xamlon.com

Cost: $399 per developer, including a one-year subscription

Available: October 2004

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