When it comes to building a desktop application for Windows PC, you have to choose from Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Windows Presentation Foundation(WPF) , Windows Forms (WinForms) and Win32. Both WPF and Windows Forms feature a common type system, APIs and application model for managed applications running on .NET framework. In this blog we will take a brief look at the differences between WPF and Winforms technologies.
Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
WPF, code-named ‘Avalon’ is an established vector-based user interface (UI) framework for building intuitive and rich Windows applications. It is a subset of Microsoft .NET framework .NET 3.0 which combines the application UI, rich document viewing, multimedia, 2D and 3D graphics into a single framework. Vector-based graphical subsystem of WPF makes it easy to scale the UI components efficiently without having issues of distortion, thus helping in developing
aesthetically rich Windows applications.
Pros of WPF
- The tight multimedia integration provided in WPF offers a greater built-in support and consistency to the developers.
- WPF is built on top of Direct3D which ensures greater level of hardware acceleration and performance.
- WPF uses Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) to define the layout of UI objects, models and other major features of the applications. This makes creating and editing the Graphical user interface (GUI) of your application easier. In fact, it allows designers to contribute towards the aesthetic appeal of the WPF applications along with the developers directly.
- WPF controls can be customized easily to meet the unique needs and specifications. Since the controls are easily composable, developers need not write any code to customize controls. Styles, Skin, Templates and Themes are the main components of WPF’s restyling support.
- The culturally aware controls of WPF helps in returning the data and static text according to the culture and language specified by the end user’s operating system.
- Data binding functionality in WPF provides inherent support for data binding by a wide range of properties, flexible UI representation of data, and clean separation of business logic from UI.
- WPF can be used for creating user interfaces for both Windows applications and web applications (Silverlight/XBAP).
Cons of WPF
- WPF requires.NET framework 3.0 and it doesn't run on Windows 2000 or lower
- WPF is still new and evolving
- WPF requires a Dx9 compatible video card for creating advanced graphics
Windows Forms (WinForms)
Windows Forms is the original platform for managed Windows applications with a set of managed libraries in .NET framework to provide object oriented extensible set of classes. This platform with a Graphical Application Programming Interface (API) can manage the user’s interaction with Windows client applications. Extensive client libraries provided in the WinForms help in accessing graphical UI and graphics and its event driven architecture allows the application to emit events and react to events.
Pros of WinForms
- WinForms is one the oldest platforms available for building Windows client applications which makes it a tried and tested method. Moreover, developers can easily find tested code and working examples of WinForms applications online.
- WinForms supports WPF
- Winforms are simple, easy to use and it has a less learning curve.
- Developers can easily find a vast number of free and paid third party controls for Winforms in the market, thus saving development time and efficiency.
- Visual Studio designer for WinForms is easier, when compared to WPF, where the programmer has to put much more effort in meeting the specifications.
Cons of WinForms
- Winforms doesn't use XAML.
- Designing an unique look and feel for your application would be a lot of work in Winforms.
- Winforms lacks to ensure flexibility, scalability and consistency in the UI part for the application.
- If the application needs third party controls, then it might lead to additional development costs.
Now as we have compared the pros and cons of both WinForms and WPF, it would be smart to say that choosing between these platforms depends on the application’s requirements. We can also say WPF is the new kid in the block, whereas Winform is an old tenant. If you are planning to build a feature-rich application with flashy interface, various multimedia files and animations, then WPF would be an ideal choice. On the other hand, if you are concerned about memory usage and plan to develop a simple application using a time-tested platform, then Windows Forms is what you may opt for.