As announced at BUILD 2016, Microsoft is introducing a myriad of different updates in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, scheduled for release this summer. As part of the update, the Windows 10 Anniversary SDK is currently in preview and can be used to explore new APIs and UI features. This post will highlight some of these features available for UWP app development.
The App Toolbar is a visual overlay that's visible when running the app in debug mode.
Figure 1: App Toolbar for UI selection and inspection
It contains three buttons that trigger helpful XAML selection and inspection operations.
Quick Access to the Live Visual Tree
While the Live Visual Tree is not new in the anniversary SDK, providing quick access to this tool from the app toolbar to inspect the hierarchy of screen elements during runtime means we don't need to remove focus off the UI to view the Live Visual Tree.
UI Selection Inspector
This nice addition to the UWP development family allows us to select any UI element from the app during runtime. After an element is selected, the corresponding XAML is displayed in Visual Studio and permits runtime edits right in the XAML.
This feature displays grid lines over the app UI content - a useful feature when adding/removing elements, or making size, margin, and padding adjustments for elements on the screen.
Edit and Continue for UWP
Defined by Microsoft as "a time-saving feature that enables you to make changes to your source code while your program is running in debug mode", this feature is being implemented for UWP. When the app is running, and we want to update a button's referenced style, for instance, we no longer need to detach the debugger (or stop the app), make our edits, and reload it inside the emulator. Once the change is made and saved, the UI is automatically updated to reflect the style update.
However, there are a couple limitations to this feature in the current build. If updates are made to any adaptive triggers, they will not be reflected after saving the change. Also, the 'Go to Definition' feature (F12) is not currently supported.
Modern Desktop App Installer
Another helpful feature for installing .appx files on a desktop eliminates the requirement to run PowerShell scripts. Microsoft announced and demonstrated using what's currently being referred to as the Modern Desktop App Installer. Built on the Windows deployment platform, installing UWP apps is now as easy as running a simple install script and no longer requires that apps come from the Windows Store.
Other Features and Improvements
In addition to the features listed above, Microsoft discussed and is currently refining other areas of UWP development.
.NETCore Framework Updated
The Microsoft.NETCore.UWP has been upgraded to 5.1.0. This "Quality Update" addresses over 600 reported defects by the developer community.
Nuget Packaging and Upgrading
When a new version of a package is available, there will be notification icons denoting that an upgrade is available for installation. Additionally, upgrades can be performed by either choosing to upgrade from the Nuget Package Manager, or by simply changing the version of the referenced library inside the project.json file for the project.
More Robust API Contract Detection
When running an app that does not check for the existence of the appropriate API contract before executing a call to that contract, a notification will be displayed in the Warning console.
Narrator integration is now available to help developers write accessible apps. One demonstration illustrated how the screen is rendered black and only voice narration is available, emulating a visually impaired experience.
UWP Application Analysis
Use the new App Analysis features to identify and fix performance issues in your app. These features are available inside the Diagnostic Tools.
XAML Editor Improvements
- Quick Tips allow the removal of unused, but referenced, namespaces
- New Intellisense experience auto-adds namespace prefix for UI elements
Learn and Experiment
The Windows 10 Anniversary SDK is available on the Windows Insider Preview program, and while there are a lot of new features to explore, Microsoft strongly discourages installing the new SDK on any production environments. Learn more at http://insider.windows.com.
About the Author
Jeremy is a software development consultant in the Washington, DC Metro office with expertise in the Microsoft technology stack. He has experience architecting and implementing enterprise applications facilitating ASP.NET, WebAPI, and Windows Mobile. His most recent projects include leading a Windows 10 UWP development team and providing Android development support.