Microsoft open sources key Windows UX Frameworks, launches first Visual Studio 2019 preview

Microsoft is open sourcing WPF, Windows Forms and Win UI via GitHub and making available the first public preview of Visual Studio 2019.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making three of its most popular Windows frameworks -- Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Forms and the Windows UI XAML Library (WinUI) available under open source licenses. And the company is launching the first public preview of Visual Studio 2019 today, December 4.

Microsoft is making a number of developer-related announcements today, timed with the company's annual Connect(); conference. The open sourcing of WPF, Windows Forms and WinUI via GitHub is definitely one of the biggest Connect (); announcements, especially given Microsoft's shift from trying to distance itself from these frameworks several years ago to re-embracing them given their continued popularity with developers.

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At Build 2018 earlier this year, Microsoft officials said that with .NET Core 3.0, developers would get support for building client apps using WPF, Windows Forms and XAML Islands (native Universal Windows Platform controls in WinForms and WPF applications).

Speaking of .NET Core 3.0, Microsoft also announced today that the first preview of that technology is available today. In addition to adding support fro WinForms and WPF, .NET Core 3 adds updates to the web, cloud IoT, AI and Windows desktop workloads for .NET developers. On December 4, Microsoft also made .NET Core 2.2 generally available.

Microsoft forked the .NET Framework to make the .NET Core subset of it more portable across platforms in in 2014. .NET Core became the open-source cross-platform implementation of the .NET development platform that runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

But back to Visual Studio... The initial public preview of Visual Studio 2019 is available for download today. That release is meant to help developers start and resume coding faster and more easily. VS 2019 also will add increased coding space, more refactoring capabilities and smarter debugging, according to company officials.

Microsoft execs said VS2019 is designed to work better with Git repositories, whether they're local repos, online Git repos on GitHub, Azure repos or others. The new pull-request experience allows developers to review, run and debug pull requests without having to leave the developer experience. It includes a new search experience, replacing the existing "Quick Launch" box, which allows developers to search for settings, commands and install options.

Microsoft is building access to Visual Studio Live Share -- its coding collaboration service -- directly into Visual Studio with the 2019 release. Microsoft is adding more collaboration capabilities to the version of Visual Studio Live Share in VS 2019, and is making them available as well as an extension for its lightweight cross-platform Visual Studio Code developer tool.

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Microsoft plans to talk more about the full feature set and VS 2019 SKU line-up in the coming months as it releases more previews. Devs can install VS 2019 side-by-side with their current VS 2017 installations or use the VS 2019 images on Azure. Microsoft officials haven't said if VS 2019 will ship in 2019, but I'd assume so.

Microsoft also announced today that it's making available a first public preview of Visual Studio 2019 for Mac. (VS for Mac is a rebranded version of Xamarin Studio.) The 2019 release adds a new welcome screen and new code editor.

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