MVVM Light V4 preview 2 (BL0015) #mvvmlight

.NET, MVVM, Phone, Silverlight, Technical stuff, Windows Phone, Work, WPF
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Over the past few weeks, I have worked hard on a few new features for MVVM Light V4. Here is a second early preview (consider this pre-alpha if you wish). The features are unit-tested, but I am now looking for feedback and there might be bugs!

Bug correction: Messenger.CleanupList is now thread safe

This was an annoying bug that is now corrected: In some circumstances, an exception could be thrown when the Messenger’s recipients list was cleaned up (i.e. the “dead” instances were removed). The method is called now and then and the exception was thrown apparently at random. In fact it was really a multi-threading issue, which is now corrected.

Bug correction: AllowPartiallyTrustedCallers prevents EventToCommand to work

This is a particularly annoying regression bug that was introduced in BL0014. In order to allow MVVM Light to work in XBAPs too, I added the AllowPartiallyTrustedCallers attribute to the assemblies. However, we just found out that this causes issues when using EventToCommand.

In order to allow EventToCommand to continue working, I reverted to the previous state by removing the AllowPartiallyTrustedCallers attribute for now. I will work with my friends at Microsoft to try and find a solution. Stay tuned.

Bug correction: XML documentation file is now generated in Release configuration

The XML documentation file was not generated for the Release configuration. This was a simple flag in the project file that I had forgotten to set. This is corrected now.

Applying EventToCommand to non-FrameworkElements

This feature has been requested in order to be able to execute a command when a Storyboard is completed. I implemented this, but unfortunately found out that EventToCommand can only be added to Storyboards in Silverlight 3 and Silverlight 4, but not in WPF or in Windows Phone 7. This obviously limits the usefulness of this change, but I decided to publish it anyway, because it is pretty damn useful in Silverlight…

Why not in WPF?

In WPF, Storyboards added to a resource dictionary are frozen. This is a feature of WPF which allows to optimize certain objects for performance: By freezing them, it is a contract where we say “this object will not be modified anymore, so do your perf optimization on them without worrying too much”. Unfortunately, adding a Trigger (such as EventTrigger) to an object in resources does not work if this object is frozen… and unfortunately, there is no way to tell WPF not to freeze the Storyboard in the resources… so there is no way around that (at least none I can see.

In Silverlight, objects are not frozen, so an EventTrigger can be added without problems.

Why not in WP7?

In Windows Phone 7, there is a totally different issue: Adding a Trigger can only be done to a FrameworkElement, which Storyboard is not. Here I think that we might see a change in a future version of the framework, so maybe this small trick will work in the future.


Since you cannot use the EventToCommand on a Storyboard in WPF and in WP7, the workaround is pretty obvious: Handle the Completed event in the code behind, and call the Command from there on the ViewModel. This object can be obtained by casting the DataContext to the ViewModel type. This means that the View needs to know about the ViewModel, but I never had issues with that anyway.

New class: NotifyPropertyChanged

Sometimes when you implement a model object (for example Customer), you would like to have it implement INotifyPropertyChanged, but without having all the frills of a ViewModelBase. A new class named NotifyPropertyChanged allows you to do that. This class is a simple implementation of INotifyPropertyChaned (with all the overloads of RaisePropertyChanged that were implemented in BL0014). In fact, ViewModelBase inherits NotifyPropertyChanged.

ViewModelBase does not implement IDisposable anymore

The IDisposable interface and the Dispose method had been marked obsolete in the ViewModelBase class already in V3. Now they have been removed.

Note: By this, I do not mean that IDisposable is a bad interface, or that it shouldn’t be used on viewmodels. In the contrary, I know that this interface is very useful in certain circumstances. However, I think that having it by default on every instance of ViewModelBase was sending a wrong message. This interface has a strong meaning in .NET: After Dispose has been executed, the instance should not be used anymore, and should be ready for garbage collection. What I really wanted to have on ViewModelBase was rather a simple cleanup method, something that can be executed now and then during runtime. This is fulfilled by the ICleanup interface and its Cleanup method.

If your ViewModels need IDisposable, you can still use it! You will just have to implement the interface on the class itself, because it is not available on ViewModelBase anymore.

What’s next?

I have a couple exciting new features implemented already but that need more testing before they go live… Just stay tuned and by MIX11 (12-14 April 2011), we should see at least a major addition to MVVM Light Toolkit, as well as another smaller feature which is pretty cool nonetheless Smile More about this later!

Happy Coding


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