Acropolis, the future of Smart Client

For some time people have been asking us what our plans are for supporting WPF within SCSF / CAB. In our last release we shipped support for hosting WPF Smart parts and Workspaces within a windows SCSF / CAB application. The next question many of our customer’s had is “Why didn’t you ship a WPF version of SCSF?”. Well this week at Tech-Ed, David Hill let the cat out of the bag, and it’s name is a project code-named “Acropolis“. I’ve put together a small FAQ below to help clarify some of the questions you might be having.

What is it?

Well Acropolis is a next generation platform for building the kinds of applications that you currently build with CAB. Make no mistake, Acropolis is not just another version of CAB. Acropolis takes the concepts of CAB to levels that folks in p&p might have never dreamed. With Acropolis you basically define your entire application in a very rich designer environment.  Today you build smart parts which are basically user controls in a designer. You then manually wire up your parts to data and handle alot of the logic in code. Tomorrow you will build parts, behaviors, navigation, and even business logic (via Windows Workflow Foundation) all in a designer. You will even be able to wire components and dependencies and define how they interact via designers and without writing or generating any code.  I am not saying you won’t write any code, but Acropolis will significantly reduce the things that you will need to write code for. Also it will allow you to do things in XAML that today you can only do in code.

(See the screen shot below)

How is this possible?

Acropolis leverages XAML behind the scenes to store the application definition. This means rather than spitting tons of code, Acropolis writes out XML. Similar to WPF and Workflow, Acropolis then takes this definition at runtime and wires everything together to create your resulting application.

What happens to SCSF when Acropolis ships? Will p&p still support it?

With the announcement of Acropolis, we currently have no further plans for SCSF releases.  That being said, our customers should rest assured that we are not dropping support for SCSF. We will continue to support the forums, provide fixes and assist customers in their implementations. Additionally the newly launched SCSFContrib project is an ongoing community effort to extend CAB/SCSF which will continue. We will continue to look at ways to help customers build smart client applications including providing pure WPF guidance as well as guidance for building Acropolis applications. 

I have an existing SCSF / CAB applicaiton, will you help me migrate to Acropolis?

Another yes. We will be working with David Hill and the Acropolis team to create a migration path for existing CAB/SCSF customers. This will include looking at hosting existing CAB components in Acropolis as well as prescriptive guidance. We are committed to helping our customers make this transiton.

My company is planning to develop a smart client application. Should I use SCSF or wait for Acropolis?

Acropolis is not going to ship for some time. Depending on your constraints, building in CAB/SCSF may be your best bet. As we mentioned above, we will be providing a migration path so that investments in CAB/SCSF are not wasted.

What about the future of WCSF and the client program in general?

WCSF is not affected by the Acropolis announcement. We are currently starting off on our next release. We are also looking above and beyond WCSF at other areas where we can help customers solve their challenges. This includes AJAX, Silverlight, building RIAs (Rich Internet Applications), SharePoint, dynamic language support etc.

We’re incredibly excited in p&p that our work in SCSF/CAB has been one of the catalysts for Acropolis. Our hat’s are off to the fabulous work David Hill, Kathy Kam and the Acropolis team are doing. This is not the end but a new beginning!

More to come….

Comments (49)

  1. msdn Austria says:

    Endlich, auf diesen Moment warte ich nun schon seit September 2006 als ich mit der ersten Version von

  2. Finally it’s out – the successor of Smart Client Software Factory and Composite UI Application Block

  3. No not the one in Athens, Greece but the one just announced by Microsoft. Apparently the Patterns and

  4. Kathy Kam says:

    Glenn Block from the Patterns and Practices team (the guys who made CAB) blogged about some common asked

  5. Glenn Block just blogged about the relationship of Acropolis and CAB check it out. We have been asked

  6. Now that Acropolis is finally public, and David Hill has talked about it , we at patterns & practices

  7. Acropolis is a set of components and tools that make it easier for developers to build and manage modular,

  8. Glenn Block’s blog My Technobabble provides an overview of Acropolis , the future of Smart Clients .

  9. I was reading John Mullinax’s blog . He has an interesting post on Popfly where he built a HLD DPE NewsReader

  10. Acropolis: Yet Another Executable XML

  11. Les applications fondées sur le modèle « SmartClient » combinent les avantages des applications de type

  12. Well, after taking the red-eye from Seattle last night I made it to TechEd in time to get some really

  13. aebe says:

    We are currently developing a big and distributed SCSF application for a major client, and I stumbled upon your blog entry. Reading through and hitting "we currently have no further plans for SCSF releases" almost stopped my heart beating (SCSF is quite challenging i find and little documented, but very cool and very useful). But reading that the next big thing will follow similar concepts AND enable WPF simply leaves my excited about Acropolis !

    Good job so far from a technical point of view, thanks ! I’ll enjoy some more SCSF development for now to make time pass by quickly until Acropolis is here !

    thanks !


  14. For some time people have been asking us what our plans are for supporting WPF within SCSF / CAB. In

  15. I’m going to be confused. During the last three days we’ve seen: Acropolis : a set of tools to make it

  16. Matt Dunn says:

    Hi Glenn,

    Will Acropolis be a formally supported product (similar to the evolution of Atlas into ASP.NET AJAX), or a guidance initiative?

    Will it include support for WinForms interoperability (i.e in addition to a CAB/SCSF migration path)?



  17. No TechEd durante esta semana, foi anunciado o Acropolis. Acropolis será a próxima geração do CAB (Composite

  18. It was on December 2006 when I first looked at this new framework on a developer lab at Redmond. I’m

  19. Page Flow WF sample Jon Flandr’s-WCF and WF session at TechEd The Moth–.NET Framework 3.5 Glenn Block

  20. @Matt – AFAIK Acropolis is planned to be a full fledged citizen of Visual Studio / .NET similar to AJAX, WPF, WF, etc.  As to the WinForms interoperability, I am not sure what the current plans are. I will be meeting with the team next week and get solid answers for both.

  21. I traveled most of the week so did not blog … from the blogs, I read here are some of my ‘faves’ for

  22. "Acropolis, the future of Smart Client" So sayeth Glenn Block, product lead for the Smart Client Software

  23. I wanted to take a few moments to chat about a new technology that I’m very excited about. Acropolis

  24. Clyde says:

    It’s look like the Programmers’ Holy Grail is to create software without coding. I saw this movie before in the 90’s with case tools. For me it’s impossible.

  25. @Clyde

    I was probably a bit unclear with my announcement. Acropolis is not going to get rid of coding in general. We all know the history of case tools which relied heavily on code gen.

    What Acropolis does do though is allow using XAML markup rather than pure code for handling many redundancies encountered in smart client apps. Because it is markup it is more readily readable by tools and designers.

    At the end of the day though you can still go directly to the XAML, or write it in code. The tools will help in areas but will not be the end of all of solving all your problems for sure. When I say you’ll do things in designers without writing code, that means “some” things not “all” things.

    I have updated the main post to clarify this.


  26. Erics Blog says:

    During TechEd Microsoft announced Acropolis , which is a new framework for building more modularized

  27. The good thing about having too much work to do when I got back from TechEd is that by now other people

  28. David says:

    [quote @Glenn]You will even be able to wire components and dependencies and define how they interact via designers and without writing or generating any code.[/quote]

    My understanding is that XAML is transformed into compiled code at runtime. So in fact you are generating code, you’re just doing it at runtime instead of compile time.

    Declarative business logic is great in theory, but I have yet to see a tool that does it well. My experience so far with WWF has been terrible: it takes me twice as long to create and wire up all of the little objects than it does for me to write it in code, and debugging it is a nightmare. I hope you’re not going to require me to declare my business logic in WWF in order to use Acropolis.

  29. @David

    XAML is parsed / deserialized into compiled classes that are invoked at runtime. This is different than generated code. Each tag within XAML markup is related to either a custom class or a class that ships within the runtime. Workflow uses a similar model as does Acropolis.

    As to the business logic, this is why I went back and updated my post so as not to infer this is required, or that even all logic will be handled declaratively. If you want to you can write logic in workflows, but that is your option. As far as wiring components and dependencies, this is done in the Acropolis designer and not the workflow designer.

    I hope this helps.

  30. Starting this week, I am going to round up all the Acropolis posts (both from the team and from our customers)

  31. Joel Duvall says:

    WIll Acropolis Source Code be available?

  32. says:

    Interesting news!

    When I read this blog entry I first think about Interface Builder and XCode IDE for Mac OS, but they are six years old! 🙂

    Will Acropolis/XAML solve those newly introduced programming errors that appears when you "wiring up" your application?

    In Cocoa with its MVC design, there is no "type checking" in your wired connections.

    For example, consider an array-controller that is first binded to the model’s container attribute (a collection/array), then the controller is binded to the view’s value-attribute. But there is no check if you accidentially, or go crazy, or whatever 🙂 and bind controller to, say, the model’s name property and the controller to, say, the view’s color-attribute, resulting in disfunctional connections, and hard to catch programming/wiring errors. In addition, the fact that everything is evaluated at runtime makes it even harder to catch. Will Acropolis or XAML overcome this?

  33. Leeroy says:

    Wow, it’s MFC for .NET! Excellent! With some ASP.NET style code-behind classes thrown in.

    Seriously though gents, demos of over-engineered Notepad.exe’s aside, are you going to support the infrastructure-style features which are so evident and so attractive in CAB? I think a lot of us could care less for code-behind and MFC AppWizards for the 21st century, but were really ready to transform our coding styles to embrace the CAB way of things. Maybe the masses aren’t ready for it, and I can see Acropolis being more saleable to the mass audience, but CAB style technology really looks like the way forward.

  34. After many months, we can finally announce the public availibility of Acropolis! You can find the download

  35. Heres my take on smart client. Your doing smart client if: the application runs on the desktop the application

  36. A recent post to our XAF newsgroup is asking the following question: "How does this [XAF] differ

  37. I recently saw a post from Brandon Satrom as he was asking for feedback on his interpretation of composite

  38. I recently saw a post from Brandon Satrom as he was asking for feedback on his interpretation of composite

  39. Glenn Block, PM in P&P team just announced on his blog that there won't be any future development

  40. XAML Blog says:

    Technologien kommen und gehen, genauso wie Imperien. Das inspirierte mich zu folgender kleinen Geschichte

  41. Before I go any further, we shipped! 🙂 Links: Composite Application Guidance Landing Page (will be

  42. Glenn Block says:

    Before I go any further, we shipped! 🙂 Links: Composite Application Guidance Landing Page (will be

  43. Before I go any further, we shipped! 🙂 Links: Composite Application Guidance Landing Page (will be

  44. People who have talked with me about the current economic crisis know that I have been saying for months that I believe it is a global debt crisis– not a credit crisis, not a subprime crisis, not a mortgage crisis, although all of those are contributing