Windows 10: Microsoft just gave this developer toolkit a major upgrade

Microsoft's Windows Community Toolkit 7 brings a host of new features for building user experience (UX) components for Windows 10 apps.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft has released the Windows Community Toolkit 7, the company's latest collection of tools for Windows 10 app development. 

The toolkit contains helper functions, custom controls, and app services. It's designed to help app developers build Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and .NET apps for Windows 10 devices. 

The toolkit is part of the .NET Foundation, an organization Microsoft created in 2014 to oversee its open-source work around the .NET Framework. The foundation was created with Xamarin, which Microsoft acquired two years later. Xamarin's appeal was that it would help Windows app developers bring .NET and C# programs to Android and iOS.

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"This new update includes a whole new .NET Standard MVVM library, easier to use Toast Notification helpers for both .NET and UWP, a completely revamped composition Animation system for C# & XAML, new controls, and more," says Microsoft's Andrew Hawker in a blogpost

Hawker warns developers there are several "breaking changes" and said it is one of the biggest releases of the toolkit in its history. 

Microsoft claims that the toolkit's new package structure lets developers reduce the application size footprint impact of the Toolkit in common scenarios by 80-90%. In particular, these changes affect Animations and Controls packages. 

For example, the Animation package is now lighter weight to support just C# and XAML animations directly.

The update brings the MVVM Toolkit for .NET. The Microsoft.Toolkit.Mvvm package is a "modern, fast, and modular MVVM library," says Microsoft.  

"The package targets .NET Standard so it can be used on any app platform: UWP, WPF, Xamarin, Uno Platform, and more; and on any runtime: .NET Native, .NET Core, .NET Framework, or Mono. It runs on all of them and provides a common API surface for all cases," says Hawker. 

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It also comes with improved notification support for Win32 and .NET 5, a revamped Animations package, a TabbedCommandBar app level navigation interface, a better ColorPicker control, and the new SwitchPresenter for laying out and organizing XAML.   

Microsoft notes it has released a preview of the toolkit for Desktop apps that works with .NET on the newly released Windows UI Library (WinUI 3) Project Reunion 0.5 Preview. Project Reunion was unveiled at Build 2020 last May as Microsoft's plan for helping developers unify Win32 and UWP apps.   

Microsoft describes WinUi 3 as a "native user experience (UX) platform for building modern Windows apps that works with Win32 and UWP apps."

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