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Getting started with XAML

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Getting started with XAML

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XAML stands for eXtensible Application Markup Language (pronounced zamm-uhl). It is an XML based markup language used to instantiate .NET objects. XAML was initially designed as part of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and allows developers to define rich user interfaces. A XAML file defines the elements that make up a content region. This enables a clean separation between UI and the business logic code. One big advantage of this separation is that the UI designers can focus on creating the user-interface in XAML (using tools such as Microsoft’s Expression), and the developers can then create the business objects corresponding to the UI.

XAML document has the following properties:

  • Every element in a XAML documents maps to an instance of a Silverlight (.NET) class, and its name exactly matches that of the class.
  • The properties of each class can be set through attributes in the XAML file.
  • Similar to any XML document, a XAML element can contain nested elements.

For example, when we create a new Silverlight application (called SampleApplication) in Visual Studio 2010 (beta), we get the following skeleton XAML document:

<UserControl x:Class="SampleApplication.MainPage"
d:DesignHeight="300" d:DesignWidth="400">

<Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="White">


As I’ve mentioned before, XAML allows us to create user-interfaces. However, for the interface to be useful, it needs to connect to code (typically written in C#). To accomplish this, we need a way to connect the event handlers with the UI. Usually, every XAML file has a corresponding class with client-side C# code. This class is generated by the Class attribute in the XAML namespace. This attribute tells the Silverlight parser to create a new class with the specified name that derives from the class represented by the XML element. When the XAML code above is parsed, the parser creates a new class named SampleApplication.MainPage, which derives from the UserControl class. This class is in the file called MainPage.xaml.cs:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Net;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Controls;
using System.Windows.Documents;
using System.Windows.Input;
using System.Windows.Media;
using System.Windows.Media.Animation;
using System.Windows.Shapes;

namespace SampleApplication
public partial class MainPage : UserControl
public MainPage()



The class is partial , as it is split across two files. The code that we write goes into MainPage.xaml.cs. The rest of the class definition contains auto-generated code and goes into a file called MainPage.g.cs. In the solution, this file is located in obj\Debug folder. For the above XAML code, the contents of this auto-generated file are as follows:

using System;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Automation;
using System.Windows.Automation.Peers;
using System.Windows.Automation.Provider;
using System.Windows.Controls;
using System.Windows.Controls.Primitives;
using System.Windows.Data;
using System.Windows.Documents;
using System.Windows.Ink;
using System.Windows.Input;
using System.Windows.Interop;
using System.Windows.Markup;
using System.Windows.Media;
using System.Windows.Media.Animation;
using System.Windows.Media.Imaging;
using System.Windows.Resources;
using System.Windows.Shapes;
using System.Windows.Threading;

namespace SampleApplication {

public partial class MainPage : System.Windows.Controls.UserControl {

internal System.Windows.Controls.Grid LayoutRoot;

private bool _contentLoaded;

/// <summary>
/// InitializeComponent
/// </summary>
public void InitializeComponent() {
if (_contentLoaded) {
_contentLoaded = true;
System.Windows.Application.LoadComponent(this, new System.Uri("/SampleApplication;component/MainPage.xaml", System.UriKind.Relative));
this.LayoutRoot = ((System.Windows.Controls.Grid)(this.FindName("LayoutRoot")));


Finally, a quick note about the Name attribute. If we want to access and manipulate Silverlight elements programmatically, XAML must include the Name attribute. This is useful if we want to change properties or attach and detach event handlers on the fly. In the above example, line-9 of the XAML file tells the XAML parser to add the following field to the autogenerated portion of the MainPage class:

private System.Windows.Controls.Grid LayoutRoot;



Published at DZone with permission of Umair Saeed. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.


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