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A Preview of Visual C++ .NET 2003 : Page 4

Visual C++ .NET is not only about .NET. It targets both traditional Windows-based and new .NET-connected applications and components.


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Windows Forms
Visual Studio .NET introduced the developer community to a new thick-client technology called Windows Forms. This technology is rooted in the .NET Framework as a set of classes that enable developers to write robust GUI code more easily. Because they are .NET managed-runtime classes, any language capable of targeting the .NET CLR can, in theory, be used to implement Windows Forms. In practice, however, no one writes Windows Forms code by hand. At least, not the code that describes the all important user interface layout. Rather, Visual Studio includes a designer that enables you to drag-and-drop controls onto a form, and then 'spits' out the tedious code that implements that form. In Visual Studio .NET, the Windows Forms designer didn't know how to 'spit C++'. In Everett it does, thanks in part to remedial programming lessons. This is a great feature for C++ developers, enabling them to continue writing GUI code in the syntax they're familiar with.

Windows Forms programming is different than programming with MFC, or even WTL.
Windows Forms programming is different than programming with MFC, or even WTL. Gone are message-maps, Windows-based resource files, command handlers, and more. In many ways the classes that comprise Windows Forms (found in the System::Windows::Forms namespace of the .NET Framework) offer both more and less capability than MFC. The .NET Framework as a whole offers much more capability than MFC, but certain technologies such as command routing or MDI support are not yet as refined in the .NET Framework as their MFC counterparts. You may find yourself implementing code that wouldn't have been necessary in MFC, but the converse is also true. Keep in mind also that you may be able to mix-and match technologies; in Visual C++ you can use both managed and unmanaged code in the same application.

Let's take a moment to build and examine some C++ Windows Forms code using Visual Studio .NET 2003.



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