Acropolis, the future of Smart Client



For some time people have been asking us what our plans are for supporting WPF within SCSF / CAB. In our last release we shipped support for hosting WPF Smart parts and Workspaces within a windows SCSF / CAB application. The next question many of our customer’s had is “Why didn’t you ship a WPF version of SCSF?”. Well this week at Tech-Ed, David Hill let the cat out of the bag, and it’s name is a project code-named “Acropolis“. I’ve put together a small FAQ below to help clarify some of the questions you might be having.

What is it?

Well Acropolis is a next generation platform for building the kinds of applications that you currently build with CAB. Make no mistake, Acropolis is not just another version of CAB. Acropolis takes the concepts of CAB to levels that folks in p&p might have never dreamed. With Acropolis you basically define your entire application in a very rich designer environment.  Today you build smart parts which are basically user controls in a designer. You then manually wire up your parts to data and handle alot of the logic in code. Tomorrow you will build parts, behaviors, navigation, and even business logic (via Windows Workflow Foundation) all in a designer. You will even be able to wire components and dependencies and define how they interact via designers and without writing or generating any code.  I am not saying you won’t write any code, but Acropolis will significantly reduce the things that you will need to write code for. Also it will allow you to do things in XAML that today you can only do in code.

(See the screen shot below)

How is this possible?

Acropolis leverages XAML behind the scenes to store the application definition. This means rather than spitting tons of code, Acropolis writes out XML. Similar to WPF and Workflow, Acropolis then takes this definition at runtime and wires everything together to create your resulting application.

What happens to SCSF when Acropolis ships? Will p&p still support it?

With the announcement of Acropolis, we currently have no further plans for SCSF releases.  That being said, our customers should rest assured that we are not dropping support for SCSF. We will continue to support the forums, provide fixes and assist customers in their implementations. Additionally the newly launched SCSFContrib project is an ongoing community effort to extend CAB/SCSF which will continue. We will continue to look at ways to help customers build smart client applications including providing pure WPF guidance as well as guidance for building Acropolis applications. 

I have an existing SCSF / CAB applicaiton, will you help me migrate to Acropolis?

Another yes. We will be working with David Hill and the Acropolis team to create a migration path for existing CAB/SCSF customers. This will include looking at hosting existing CAB components in Acropolis as well as prescriptive guidance. We are committed to helping our customers make this transiton.

My company is planning to develop a smart client application. Should I use SCSF or wait for Acropolis?

Acropolis is not going to ship for some time. Depending on your constraints, building in CAB/SCSF may be your best bet. As we mentioned above, we will be providing a migration path so that investments in CAB/SCSF are not wasted.

What about the future of WCSF and the client program in general?

WCSF is not affected by the Acropolis announcement. We are currently starting off on our next release. We are also looking above and beyond WCSF at other areas where we can help customers solve their challenges. This includes AJAX, Silverlight, building RIAs (Rich Internet Applications), SharePoint, dynamic language support etc.

We’re incredibly excited in p&p that our work in SCSF/CAB has been one of the catalysts for Acropolis. Our hat’s are off to the fabulous work David Hill, Kathy Kam and the Acropolis team are doing. This is not the end but a new beginning!

More to come….

Glenn Block

Sr. Program Manager, Azure

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