The UI of the Future

At yesterdays IPSA meeting ( our local MVP Todd Miranda ( gave a great presentation on XAML. My coworker Bin and I both felt it was an hour of our time well invested. I don’t know of many other ways we could have learned as much with the same investment of our time.

Coincidentally just yesterday I was in the book store and picked up a book on AJAX (Introduction AJAX for ASP.Net by Dino Esposito). Not too long ago we rolled out the AJAX for ASP.Net libraries on all of our ASP.Net servers, and I’ve wanted to dig into it.

It got me to thinking about user interfaces and the technology we used to create them. Not too long ago it was all text based. Just recently we showed a young collegue and old DOS based application still in use. Her reaction was “Did people actually used to use that?”

Windows made it better, with a standard set of controls that we could easily drop onto our forms. As Todd pointed out in his presentation today though, any attempt to change the basic appearance of these items could take thousands of lines of code.

With the introduction of XAML, I firmly believe we are on the verge of a new revolution in user interface design. It seems to have been a bit slow to start, but all it will take is that one “killer app” done in XAML to rock the boat. The recent introduction of Silverlight (formerly WPF/E) and it’s use of XAML will only serve to increase it’s popularity.

So where will we be in 10 years? I think under the covers compilers will be generating a lot of AJAX code, but I’m not so sure that we’ll be coding a lot of Javascript to deal with it. I feel a lot will be handled for you.

Of the two, right now I’d say XAML will be the more predominant player. I think the code generation tools will improve, but I feel a good, basic understanding of what’s going on with XAML will be crucial to every developer.


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