WPF: Simulating data in design mode in Microsoft Expression Blend

.NET, Blend, Technical stuff, WPF
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[UPDATE: The link to the VS2008 project was broken. Sorry for that]

I just published an article I have been working on for a few days, based on a technique developed over the last few months. I got to say, I am really proud of the result.

In one past post and another, I talked about my quest to display test data in Expression Blend. The goal behind this is to enable the graphics designers to work on the controls’ look and feel directly in Blend, and if possible directly in the element’s context. Instead of working on “bits” (typically on DataTemplates stored in resources), the designer is able to see the result of his work without starting the application! I eventually found a way with the help of IdentityMine’s Jonathan Russ, and I am now able to give test data to our graphics designers, allowing them to work in a very comfortable way.

Making a UI element “blendable” (i.e. being able to edit that element in Microsoft Expression Blend) is very important if you want to enable a better workflow for the graphics designers. In complex user interfaces, editing UI elements “in place”, for example items in a ListView or a ComboBox can speed up the design by factors. I was sitting with IdentityMine’s Nathan Dunlap this week, and showing him the technique I talk about in the article. It was great to have him confirm what I thought: This should really make our designers’ life much easier.

The article is published on my website. It contains plenty of code samples and illustrations, as well as a Visual Studio 2008 project with the complete source code. If you would like to get the samples in Visual Studio 2005 project format, send me an email.

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