eXpressApp Framework - 2020 Roadmap

XAF Team Blog
23 January 2020

Before I detail XAF’s 2020 Roadmap, my thanks to everyone who shared feedback/thoughts last year. Your contribution to XAF’s evolution is appreciated.

The following list outlines the features/capabilities we expect to introduce in the eXpressApp Framework (XAF) this year. UPDATED on April 15th 2020.

ASP.NET Core Blazor UI Is Coming

We are fully committed to XAF and are continuing to evolve its capabilities. For those targeting Web browsers & Mobile devices, we have chosen to focus our efforts on a new UI powered by Microsoft Blazor.
XAF v20.1 will include a CTP version of Blazor UI with eXpress Persistent Objects (XPO) ORM classes for data access. XAFers will be able to create Blazor Server apps using the Solution Wizard. We expect to ship the following functionality for desktop and mobile apps in CTP:
  • Navigation control with group and item hierarchy.
  • Main menu with all standard XAF command types (buttons, popups, input/search boxes, drop-down menus).
  • Grid List Editor with sorting & grouping.
  • Detail form layout with group and tab controls.
  • Property Editors for all data types (no advanced editors for criteria, RTF, etc.).
  • Simple Forms Authentication with a login and password, role-based authorization and basic user/role management with access rights created in code (no specialized permission editors in the UI).
  • Multiple UI themes and a runtime theme chooser.
We expect to officially ship XAF’s Blazor Server UI in our v20.2 release cycle. It should include online documentation and the following capabilities/functionality:
  • Compact UI themes.
  • Active Directory and custom authentication.
  • Data input validation with RuleRequiredField, RuleCriteria, RuleRange and other popular rules
  • Other popular XAF modules: Conditional Appearance and Reports.
  • EF Core and non-persistent POCO proxies for data access (see below).
  • UI customization, custom control integration and advanced CRUD usage scenarios. 
  • Extended end-user customization options (such as grid column filters, add/remove columns, data export, inline edit). 

We postponed decisions related to Blazor WebAssembly support until it is officially marked as final (LTS) by Microsoft (likely in .NET 5 or later). 

For more information on XAF’s upcoming Blazor UI, please review the following:


WinForms UI

  • We hope support the following asynchronous operations out-of-the-box in the WinForms UI based on IObjectSpaceAsync introduced in v19.2: open List or Detail View, save View changes, save audit data (v20.1, v20.2). If you are missing important use-case scenarios, please specify them in comments below.
  • We want to enable enhanced WinForms Filter and Expression editors in the Model Editor and within built-in List and Property Editors (v20.1).
  • We want to rewrite our Tree List Editors module and support inplace data editing, better filtering options and more features (S30514S30735 S38121) based on user feedback (v20.2).

ASP.NET WebForms UI

Our primary focus will be on XAF’s new Web & Mobile UI for Blazor. This notwithstanding, we will do our best to address the needs of existing ASP.NET WebForms UI users.

Housekeeping & Core

  • We want to remove Visual Studio dependencies from the design-time Model Editor to increase stability and performance. We like the WPF designer that runs as a separate process and draws itself inside the Visual Studio frame. This will also help us support the Model Editor in .NET Core 3+ WinForms (v20.1) and .NET Standard 2+ Blazor or cross-platform projects (v20.2).
  • We will also incorporate a number of usability enhancements to the Model Editor based on user feedback - please let us know if you have any issues with this editor (v20.2).
  • We will monitor Microsoft updates with regard to the component designer in .NET Core 3+ and see if we can support our Application, Module, Controller and Action Designers. We will also support the SDK-style project format for all XAF design-time tools, Visual Studio vNext, .NET 5 and C# 8.0 features like Nullable Reference Types  (v20.2).
  • We will make a number of Non-Persistent/proxy object enhancements (v20.1, v20.2): support for filtering; propagate FindObject, CommitChanges, Refresh and other methods from NonPersistentObjectSpace to AdditionalObjectSpaces (T509228); support CRUD operations with non-persistent objects in a nested ListView of a persistent object DetailView (T486427T510338T695631).
  • You can expect further performance enhancements to the Application Model and other core sub-systems. For  instance, removing static XafTypesInfo dependencies and locks in ModelNode may result in faster app startup and unit tests as well as greater scalability for Blazor apps (v20.2).

Security System: User Authentication and Group Authorization API

  • We will publish Blazor, Xamarin and WPF examples for XAF's User Authentication and Group Authorization API powered by the XPO ORM (see our GitHub repository for more information). To deliver more elegant and modern solutions, we're considering the following enhancements: asynchronous versions of popular security APIs (IsGranted, CanRead, CanWrite, CanDelete, etc.), token-based authentication and possible utility libraries that will encapsulate boilerplate code (v20.1, v20.2).
  • We hope to support Entity Framework Core to help more DevExpress and non-DevExpress customers benefit from XAF's Security System. In v20.1, we will introduce a secured Object Space for EF Core 3.1+ and examples for corresponding platforms. Later in v20.2, we will support EF Core in our Blazor UI. We will decide on the EF Core support for WinForms UI based on user demand.
  • We will include a built-in permission for XAF Actions (T618115). Since the UI has yet to be finalized, we welcome feedback and thoughts about the interface. We're considering the following base functionality (v20.1): 
    • A separate tab in the role detail form with a list of Action items like our built-in Navigation Permissions. In this grid, users will be able group data by display text, category, module and other context information. Please let us know your thoughts about this.
    • Users will view, add, modify and remove only permissions for Actions they want to prohibit or deactivate. We want to follow only the 'Allow all by defaultpolicy regardless of what is specified in the role, because other options do not make much sense for Actions. Your feedback is appreciated.
    • Users will be able to prohibit execution of both custom and XAF system Actions (for greater user flexibility and implementation simplicity).
    • Users will be able to quickly locate an Action in the lookup editor in the Action permission's detail form via search and grouping (for instance, to filter out XAF system Actions like Logon and Refresh).
    • Action permissions will hide Actions unconditionally: we don't expect to interfere with Conditional Appearance, State Machine, TargetObjectsCriteria or any custom rules that depend on criteria or object/UI changes in Controllers. If you want such dynamic functionality for Actions, it is better to implement it using these specific means. Please let us know your thoughts about this.

Unit & Functional Testing

Unit and functional testing are very important to XAF's target audience - development teams creating complex enterprise apps. 

For functional testing, we will continue to improve our cross-platform EasyTest engine. Enhancements will include new commands and features (for instance, you will be able to write Blazor functional tests for Chrome or FireFox web browsers in C# or VB.NET - learn more). For unit testing, we will add learning materials and release all required assemblies with helper/mock classes (like TestDBTestTestDetailViewFactoryBlazorAdapter, etc.). 

Additional enhancements are expected and will be driven by user feedback. If you have unresolved testing issues or usage scenarios, please post your feedback below.

Ready to start testing today? Please review the following articles to learn more:

Your Opinion Counts

As always, we look forward to your comments and questions. Please share your thoughts below or email xafteam@devexpress.com.

The information contained within this blog post details our current/projected development plans. Please note that this information is being shared for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and does not represent a binding commitment on the part of Developer Express Inc. This roadmap and the features/products listed within it are subject to change. You should not rely on or use this information to help make a purchase decision about Developer Express Inc products.

What’s New in v20.1

To explore the scope, breadth and capabilities of our new products/features, please visit: https://www.devexpress.com/Subscriptions/New-2020-1.xml.
11 comment(s)
Isa_Tahiri
Isa_Tahiri

Pretty impressive ! A big thank you for DevExpress Team! 

I do not see anything about Dashboard with Blazor in this roadmap. 

Should we expect it in 20.2  with Report module ? 


BR

ISA

23 January 2020
Shama Naz
Shama Naz
when devexpress mainly address to UI then i think must focus to add dashboard UI for Blazor also data filteration for listview is much important
23 January 2020
Eugene Kuchynski
Eugene Kuchynski
Maybe too early to ask, but is it possible to provide at least some generic information how customization will be implemented in Blazored XAF? I mean custom components for list views, detail views, individual editors, etc. For example, since there will be no UI for security system customization in first versions, how many efforts will be needed to create own implementation of such UI? The same about dashboards, etc.
23 January 2020
Dennis (DevExpress)
Dennis (DevExpress)
@Eugene Kuchynski: Yes, please review Using a Custom Control that is not Integrated by Default.

@ISA: No, we don't expect to ship Dashboard and other non-critical XAF modules in XAF's Blazor UI this year. Less than 5% of roadmap survey respondents mentioned "dashboard". Our goal for 2020 is to release critical functionality for the majority of XAFers.

You can implement some of your data analytics scenarios with report or custom control integrations (for instance, charts). For more information, see the following articles:
23 January 2020
Nate Laff
Nate Laff
Holy moly. Async audit data would be huge performance gains!
23 January 2020
NHIF
NHIF
I would like to see Application template like the one used in DevExtreme Angular layout.
24 January 2020
Dmitry Katkov (Novimax)
Dmitry Katkov (Novimax)
A little suggestion about Actions: add two properties to ActionBase class "ActiveOn" and "EnabledOn" with following predefined values: None (by default), AllowNew, AllowEdit, AllowDelete, and allow us to change this properties for any action in Controller visual designer or in Application Model. When these properties are in use (not equal to "None" value) actions becomes inactive or disabled in case we restrict view editing/deleting/objects creating in Application Model or by security system.
7 February 2020
SWAPI - Alziro Moraes
SWAPI - Alziro Moraes

Hi,

A suggestion for built-in permission for XAF Actions is to have the possibility to leave the action enabled but request a user and password to continue executing the action. Thus, the user could request the presence of another user with a higher level that would authorize the action without the need to leave the system. An event to validate credentials and two for success and failure would be interesting.

8 February 2020
Krzysztof Krzysztof (LOB)
Krzysztof Krzysztof (LOBS)

Blazor UI is the most awaited branch of your development.

Key features from my point of view:

 - ***Security module*** (authentication, role-based authorization and user/role management with access rights)

 - mode property editors

 - more validation rules

14 February 2020
Randy Jean
Randy Jean
Did a side by side comparison of Blazor UI vs. current ASP.Net New Web UI on a mobile device (Chrome on Pixel 2).  Performance is much, much better with Blazor.  Current New UI is adaptive as far as adjusting to screen size, but performance is terrible.  Jerky and unresponsive to the point of not usable.  And it's not server side that causes it because same app on a desktop browser is fine.  What does current XAF do in ASP.Net that makes it so slow/unresponsive on a mobile browser?  It literally seems to just lock up.  Just try the maindemo ASP.Net from a mobile browser and you'll see what I mean.
14 February 2020
Dennis (DevExpress)
Dennis (DevExpress)
@Randy Jean: I am happy to hear that you found the new XAF Blazor UI fast like many other users do in this post after testing https://www.devexpress.com/go/XAF_Blazor_Demo.aspx. Shortly, XAF WebForms UI generates much more HTML for web browsers to render between requests (this is a specificity of the ASP.NET WebForms platform). We have not added any optimizations for small mobile phones on the XAF side (only desktop and tablet web browsers).

Blazor Server is much faster because only differences between the server and client states are transferred and rendered (see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/aspnet/core/blazor/hosting-models?view=aspnetcore-3.1).

26 February 2020

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