There’s a common question that’s asked any time a company rolls out a new set of SDKs or APIs: “How do I get started?” That’s not the real question, of course. At heart, it’s a placeholder for a more complex set of questions that boil down to this: It’s not a question of starting coding but a question of whether the platform can meet business needs. Anyone can code a Hello World app, but not every platform can deliver a line-of-business application.
Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform is a case in point. A refactoring of the familiar Win32 and .Net APIs, it’s intended to be the future of Windows application development. Alignment with the .Net Standard libraries makes it possible to use a single Visual Studio project to support both Windows desktop and cross-platform Xamarin applications, by keeping user interface code and core logic separate.
But like all new platforms, there’s resistance to switching code to something new, especially when it’s focused on newer platforms. When old code runs on new platforms, there’s no incentive to begin a migration. So how can you start enterprise UWP development when Win32 is still a valid option?
Introducing Windows Template Studio
One option is to use an application builder to simplify that first build; using a tool to generate at the very least a scaffold that can support your application. That’s where the comes in, a tool for building a structure that can support both your business logic and your user experience, while adding support for key UWP features and for integration with cloud services. Released last year, it’s already at version 1.6, with each release adding new page options and support for additional UWP features.
and . Like Microsoft’s own open source software, both use the MIT license, so there shouldn’t be any problem using them in your code.
(which are also open source, under an Apache license), giving you a feel for how to use third-party UWP components in your code.
Quick access to UWP features
Although building an app skeleton is important, there’s a lot more to UWP. That’s where the Features section of Windows Template Studio comes in, adding code to support any of 16 separate UWP features. These cover basic user interactions, such as support for displaying information the first time an app runs and when it’s updated. Other options include support for deep links via your own custom URIs and for Windows 10’s various notification tools.
Perhaps the most important aspects of its UWP feature support are how it simplifies adding key application life cycle elements. UWP builds on the WinRT model introduced with Windows 8, which added features to enable apps to roam settings through the cloud, as well as suspending and resuming rather than shutting down. Windows Template Studio adds code to support these features, as well as support the use of in-process background processes, which can work with remote services even while an application is running in the background. While a background task runs, data updates and users see any changes—without you having to write a separate background service to support your code.
A scaffold ready for your UWP code
Once you’ve completed a pass through the Windows Template Studio wizard, it creates the scaffolding for your code, which you can then fill out with your own code and your own XAML. There’s a lot to be said for getting a jumpstart like this, going from a wizard to an outline app in a few clicks.
Although Windows Template Studio simplifies the building of UWP applications, it’s not a replacement for the now-discontinued Visual Studio LightSwitch LOB application builder. Tools like LightSwitch and its near codeless kin PowerApps are a modern take on the 4GL epitomized by languages like Forte. Windows Template Studio isn’t a tool for building form-based applications with minimal code; it’s more a way of quickly putting together the framework that can host your business logic in a UWP app.
If you’re ready to go beyond simple application builders, Windows Template Studio is well worth investigating. You can do a lot more with a foundation like this, because the code it produces will support not just your first UWP app but also future releases as you add new features.