Seven WPF Programming Tips and Tricks

The internet has so much to offer on any topic and there’s
so much to learn; but where to start? I realized many years ago, when I first
began to be intrigued by the Windows
Presentation Foundation
(WPF), that short write-ups help you gain incremental
knowledge, which when combined can offer solutions to the bigger picture. This
article offers a list of tips that I learned around a year ago, while
scavenging for simple solutions to big problems.

  • Use the Visibility.Collapsed Enumeration vs. Visibility.Hidden

    The Collapsed value ensures that the element does not
    participate in the layout and gives it a height and width of zero. The latter causes
    the element to continue to participate in layout.

  • Reduce CPU Consumption for WPF Animations

    As you know, WPF draws animations at 60 frames per
    second. You can reduce this to a lower optimal rate, resulting in less CPU usage. Use Timeline.DesiredFrameRateProperty to change the default value; set it to a
    lower value like 15, and then change it according to the smoothness that you
    desire.

    Timeline.DesiredFrameRateProperty.OverrideMetadata(
                    typeof(Timeline),
                    new FrameworkPropertyMetadata { DefaultValue = 15 }
    );
    
  • Default the Culture
    of the Application to the Culture of Your Client’s Machine

    WPF elements expose a language property that can be
    used to assign languages as per any culture. When this property is applied to a
    Window, it applies to all the elements that it contains. Look at the sample
    code that applies the language to the current culture. The Startup function in
    the App class is an ideal place to apply this change across the application.

    protected override void OnStartup(StartupEventArgs e)
    {
    FrameworkElement.LanguageProperty.OverrideMetadata(typeof(FrameworkElement), new FrameworkPropertyMetadata(XmlLanguage.GetLanguage(System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture.IetfLanguageTag)));
    
    	base.OnStartup(e);
    }
    
  • Use StaticResource vs. DynamicResources

    StaticResources are evaluated only
    once and only during the object. Dynamic resources cause evaluation each time
    they are requested by the control, and hence make the application perform
    slower. Although this is a deferred runtime lookup, it makes sense if the
    resource is not going to change

  • Use WPF Performance Suite to Profile Your WPF Applications

    WPF Performance Suite
    is available in the Windows SDK and consists of few important profiling tools
    that allow you to analyze the applications and provide information on the
    optimizations that can be applied. You can download it from the Microsoft’s
    web site.

    The Perforator and Visual Profiler profiling tools
    give you a lot of information and also indicate potential bottlenecks in the
    application. This suite is part of the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and
    .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

  • Avoid Designer Errors
    with the Help of DesignerProperties.GetIsInDesignMode Method

    Most often designers break with the “Could not create
    an instance” error. Although this is due to some unhandled exception occurring
    in the constructor of the control, it may not require running the code in the
    design time.

    public SampleControlConstructor()
    {
        InitializeComponent();
        if (!System.ComponentModel.DesignerProperties.GetIsInDesignMode(this))
        {
            //place your code here.
        }
    }
    
  • Use
    IsMouseDirectlyOver Event to Determine the Exact Mouse Movement.

    The IsMouseOver event would respond to the mouse
    movement within a control or its children.

    Use the IsMouseDirectlyOver event to determine if the
    mouse movement is on the control and not its containers. This is useful to
    build specific triggers that change elements on mouse movement.

I
hope these help you save some precious programming time. I will be back very
soon with some more tricks. Enjoy!

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