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For some time now, I am working on a UI framework in .NET. This framework potentially can generate a UI for everything. For now, WPF and HTML rendering are implemented. What I have discovered when working on this framework, is that our UI needs have changed.
The UI controls we want are not low level controls like buttons or TextBoxes, but high level controls : Master/Detail control, a ToolBar. I won't have more friends by saying the following but design does not matter in the end. What matters is to have a functional rendering.
An application is described in a functional way : a menu, a master/detail view, an export function on the master view. If the button is on top of the grid or in a contextual tab of a ribbon, who cares. Having a consistent behavior in an application is what really matters. It is even better if this behavior can be applied on every application on an OS. This what Microsoft tends to apply with its WinRT API. One common UI for all Metro applications.
What .NET is missing, is interface standardization. Thanks to XAML, it indeed tends to this standardization but it is not a single Library : Silverlight has its own, as WPF does, and so will WinRT have. This is where my framework being developped comes : 1 language, many targets. I tried to push the concept as far as possible by proposing to have only one DLL containing the UI. After it's the project you are making that will specify which kind of UI you want to generate : Web, Win, . Voilà. Of course, it is just an humble contribution, full of bugs, where functionalities are terribly missing. The aim is to proof the concept.
IMO, application development will take a new turn after Windows 8 is out. I think the trend will be 1 language => n platforms, 1 plaform => 1 uniform UI. The second trend already exists if you have a look to iOS or Windows Phone. In Best Practices (mainly web), we are asked to test features instead of rendering engine. Isn't it a first step to a universal language to describe UI ? Would it be possible to have all UI described under a single universal language ? What do you think about it ?
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