Wednesday, April 18, 2012

.NET for Metro style apps

.NET is now a core part of several Microsoft platforms, and each has focused on specific subset of APIs. A lot of thought has been put into crafting each API surface area. Many of you have asked how the .NET APIs available for Metro style apps were chosen. In the following post, Immo Landwerth – a program manager on the CLR’s Core Framework team – provides an answer to this question. -- Brandon

Since the releases of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Developer Preview, developers have been busy exploring Windows 8, and many have asked questions about the subset of.NET Framework APIs that can be used to develop Windows Metro style apps. The natural tendency has been to compare the .NET APIs for Metro style apps to those available for other platforms such as Windows Phone. In particular, developers are wondering how much of their existing C# or Visual Basic source code they can expect to reasonably port to build a new Metro style app. We asked ourselves the same question when we carefully designed .NET APIs for Metro style apps.

In this post, I’d like to give you an overview of the APIs that are available to you for building Metro style apps. I will primarily discuss the design principles and requirements we used to decide which .NET Framework APIs to make available for Metro style app development. I will also touch on the relationships between .NET APIs for Metro style apps and other .NET API profiles.

Design goals
From the start of this project, we realized that we had a great opportunity to simplify app development, but also some interesting challenges to resolve. Metro style apps enable developers to provide compelling end-user experiences across all the supported Windows 8 devices. In order to achieve this goal, many important changes were made within Windows, some of which affected our design approach to the .NET Framework APIs that we would expose.

The biggest change, in terms of .NET Framework APIs, was the introduction of the Windows Runtime APIs. The Windows Runtime is a new API surface in Windows that exposes the functionality necessary to write Metro style apps. These APIs were designed to be used from a variety of programming languages: C# and Visual Basic and also native C++ and JavaScript. The task for our design team was to ensure that .NET Framework developers would be able to use both .NET Framework and Windows Runtime APIs together in a way that felt natural and intuitive. Also, the Windows Runtime team worked closely with us and approached the same task from the opposite direction.

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