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Support for XBAP: sometimes you have to call it quits

XBAP? Betcha can’t remember what it stands for, let alone use it. The reply to the first point is XML Browser Application, and to the second part frankly not many people do use it.

Scenic Mountain Sunset with Ski TrackThere are several reasons for the lack of love I suppose. Since it’s a special kind of browser app, it needs to operate in Medium Trust to be the most effective, and yet even IE9 balks at running them (you have to confirm that you really, really want to run this particular app, which kind of defeats the object). The Medium Trust limitation (along with other security limitations) means that we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get round these narrow-scenario restrictions instead of providing broader-scenario features. Even with these workarounds, some of our controls still don’t work in an XBAP environment.

It is equally galling when there are two very well supported channels for creating rich internet applications: ClickOnce and Silverlight. We use ClickOnce ourselves for our internal applications, and it works very well indeed in that environment. And, despite all the doom and gloom and unfounded rumors about where Silverlight is going, it is still the premier method for creating rich-internet applications.

All this is leading to the fact that we have officially retired our XBAP support in 11.2. We recommend using ClickOnce for your WPF applications, or transferring over to Silverlight. Remember with DXv2 we have control parity between WPF and Silverlight.

Published Dec 28 2011, 12:44 PM by
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Comments

Bruno Cossi

Julian,

Personally this does affect me but I may well be an exception. I agree that ClickOnce / Silverlight can be used to much the same effect but in an enterprise environment where one has control over the trust settings etc, XBAP requirements are not an issue. Having said that, I do appreciate your point of view and can understand why DevExpress would choose to stop supporting XBAP.

What I am unahppy about is the lack of communication (all of this may have been communication well ahead of the time and I may have missed it in which case I apologise and will appreciate if you can point me to the appropriate articles).

I presume that this is not just a spur-of-the-moment decision (if it is, it would raise all sorts of additional concerns, and I truly do not think that is the case). If this has been in the pipeline for a while, surely it would make sense to let your users know? The first time I have noticed this is from a blog article (!) which I have read by chance. I cannot find a mention of it in the release notes - if it is there, it is rather well hidden.

I can sort of understand this in case of a minor change but when you remove a piece of functionality, an act that may invalidate an existing application, I would expect a clear communication to that effect well in time, not after (!) the new release has been published.

ClickOne and Silverlight are certainly valid ways to go but moving an application to one of the other takes time (and asides from the technical aspects, there are other consideration when it comes to enterprise deployments). There may be others who like me expected to be able to use the new version only to find out that that may not be as straightforward as one would reasonably expect.

Do not take me wrong, I am not questioning your decision to retire your support for XBAP - I am heading in that direction myself and recent developments in your Silverlight toolset will help in that regard. What I do question is the lack of communication particularly when it comes to something that will have a measurable impact (albeit only to a subset of your users).

This goes hand in hand with the disappointing communication about release dates (although the releases are always worth the wait) and it does cast a shadow on an otherwise excellent product offering.

Here is hoping that DevExpress in the future excels in communication as much as it does in building a fantastic suite of products.

Kind Regards,

Bruno Cossi

December 28, 2011 5:25 PM

David Vo

Julian,

Any word on when ASP.NET MVC ext will be ready for the scheduler control? Is there a workaround or sample to get this working with a MVC app?

December 29, 2011 1:56 AM

James Foye

Can't fault you for this one.

December 29, 2011 9:40 PM

Mark Donahoe

Very frustrating news for us as well... we have libraries, and multiple xbap apps built with devexpress tools.  Much of this code is performing lots of painful windows forms/interop functionality... that you don't just switchout to some new silverlight control.  Not sure where this leaves us?

January 4, 2012 12:49 PM

Claire N Streb

I am very disappointed as well!  

1) I recently did research on XBAP and found that while it isn't used as much as Silverlight, the word on the street was that it's ahead of its time and will undoubtedly become more popular.  I've been working with it for two weeks and sold it to management.  My research included searches on the DevExpress website including the support center. The site has myriads of XBAP bug fixes and fulfilled support tickets, none of which has a disclaimer or a warning. v2010 vol 2.5 (released only 3 months ago) contained a bug fix for XBAP.  

2) I encountered an exception in my code today and couldn't figure out why.  I copied the details of the exception to the clipboard only to see the notice to this blog page buried in an inner exception three levels deep, the last line of the file.  

I'm not impressed and I'm actually flabbergasted how this was handled.  The more I think about it and read Bruno's and Mark's comments, my confidence in the overall product and company has been shaken.  

Are you really going to support ClickOnce, or will you change your mind on that, too?

SMH

March 7, 2012 8:53 PM

Bruno Cossi

Claire,

If you are new to DevExpress I would not want you to be discouraged by my comments above. While I am not altogether happy with the communication (I do not have a problem with timelines slipping and changes being made to the long-term plans, that is life, I simply complain about the way the communication is being handled) I am still very happy with DevExpress' offering.

I have been a paying subscriber for several years now and not only have the products been generally excellent, the support has been brilliant as well. Strangely enough the communication from the support staff has always been clear and I can't complain about it, it is the public communication that falls short.

There are a few things that matter to me that have been in the pipeline for a bit too long, but I have bought the subscription based on the features that were available at the time, not features that I hoped might be available one day.

The decision about discontinuing the support for XBAP, and the way it has been mis-communicated, did annoy me a lot. Looking ahead though, I don't see how DevExpress could possibly not support ClickOnce, that would have to cause a huge uproar and I don't even think it is technically feasible.

I do use more than one vendor as there simply is not one that offers all I want, but DevExpress is among the best. Don't gve up on them just yet (and like me, hope their communication improves).

March 8, 2012 3:16 PM

About Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

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