New Uno 4.5 Platform Strengthens Figma’s Embrace, Picking Up Where Microsoft Blend Left Off – Visual Studio Magazine


New Uno 4.5 platform strengthens Figma’s embrace, picking up where Microsoft Blend left off

Uno Platform 4.5 came out with a new take on the collaborative interface design tool, Figma, essentially picking up where the old Microsoft Blend feature left off.

The Uno open-source platform is a leading player in the Microsoft-centric development space, claiming the only offering enabling single-code-based application development for Windows, WebAssembly, iOS, macOS, Android, and Linux , targeting all operating systems and browsers. It has also partnered with Microsoft on various projects and sometimes implemented new technologies before Microsoft itself, such as being the first to provide Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation for WebAssembly, the technology behind Blazor aside. customer.

Uno platform
[Click on image for larger view.] Uno platform(source: Uno platform).

The new v4.5 release released this week provides “some tools that C# and XAML developers want and want from Blend,” said the company’s Sasha Krsmanovic. Visual Studio Magazine.

Microsoft Blend, experienced developers might recall, started out as Microsoft Expression Blend, the company’s user interface design tool for creating graphical interfaces for web and desktop applications that combine the functionality of both types of apps, according to Wikipedia. “This is an interactive WYSIWYG interface for designing XAML-based interfaces for Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight, and UWP applications. It was one of the Microsoft Expression Studio suite applications before this suite was released. be abandoned.”

It was integrated into Visual Studio 2012 about 10 years ago and its use has decreased significantly since then. However, there is still a fairly recent Microsoft documentation called “Introduction to Blend for Visual Studio”, which states: “Blend for Visual Studio helps you design XAML-based Windows and Web applications. It provides the same basic XAML design experience as Visual Studio and adds visual designers for advanced tasks such as animations and behaviors. For a comparison between Blend and Visual Studio, see “Designing XAML in Visual Studio and Blend for Visual Studio”. ”

Which brings us to Figma, for which Uno Platform has shipped preview 3 of its Figma plugin with its main platform release v.4.5.

Uno Platform for Figma
[Click on image for larger view.] Uno Platform for Figma (source: Uno platform).

We asked Krsmanovic to flesh out his comment on the release that provides the tools that C# and XAML developers request from Blend.

“At a high level, because it’s very important, first: with Uno Platform for Figma, everyone works in their preferred environment: designers in Figma, developers in Visual Studio,” said Krsmanovic. “This was one of Blend’s most common failures, forcing designers to use Blend on Windows.

“Now, to dig deeper into the technical features: Blend was basically a XAML editor, but Uno Platform for Figma is a XAML generator. This means designers or design/task-oriented developers actually edit designs in Figma, and Uno Platform for Figma translates it to XAML. You’re not really editing the XAML on its own, which was a pain anyway because XAML can get very verbose.”

Moreover, he :

  • Provides readable and friendly UI code (XAML for now, I guess C# markup generation coming soon)
  • The generated XAML is ready to use through the use of the AutoLayout control found in Toolkit. Since it calculates the size and position of all views in your view hierarchy, based on the constraints placed on those views.
  • There aren’t many “magic numbers” in XAML that hard-code the position of elements
  • UI can be tested directly in the plugin (aka live preview)
  • DataBinding, Location. You define the shape of your data and the plugin can generate bindings against that data, can generate unique x:Uids to use for localization

Krsmanovic concluded: “All of the above, under the Uno platform itself – automatically runs on iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOS and of course the web – all with the same codebase .”

The company’s Figma announcement states, “Uno Platform for Figma allows you to create high-fidelity designs in Figma, then easily export your Figma design into clean, responsive XAML. The result is design-to-development transfer.” more streamlined that dramatically boosts application development productivity. The resulting code is clear and easy to understand, allowing developers to quickly learn from and extend it.”

As for new features, Uno Platform said its Figma plugin now includes settings that accept user overrides, shape support, and auto-layout optimization.

Another highlight of the new release is the introduction of Uno Islands, which helps developers quickly modernize existing Windows Presentation Foundations (WPF) applications with the latest developments of Microsoft’s latest Windows UI technology. WinUI, associated with Windows Application SDK.

Uno Islands
[Click on image for larger view.] Uno Islands (source: Uno platform).

“This allows a WPF application to include ‘islands’ or parts of the application hosted using the Uno platform and display WinUI controls,” the company said. “For example, an application using a master-details pattern can display a WPF ListView as the master view and the details view as the WinUI. Additionally, DataBinding between the two contexts is supported, allowing a seamless transition between the two.”

The release also includes new WinUI controls:

  • The Breadcrumb control can manage navigation in applications and provide users with indications of where they are in the navigation.
  • The PipsPager allows applications to manage a “carousel” type navigation index.
  • The WinUI Cursor – Originally included in previous versions of the Uno platform, it has been refactored for better performance.
  • WinUI TickBar – Tick bar is similar to Slider, although it has a set of predefined “ticks” for predefined values, making it easier for the end user to select a particular value with precision.

Much more detail on all of the above and more is available in the two announcements linked above and on the company’s website. Overall, for v4.5, Uno Platform implemented 230 features and bug fixes while welcoming four new contributors to the open source project.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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