Visual WebGui – Windows Forms for Web Applications ?


HTML make you queasy ?

I’ve been playing with Visual WebGui, which is, from my humble perspective, Windows Forms for Web Applications. The development experience is exactly Windows Forms.

Download it yourself, it’s free and Open Source.

I’m toying with using it as the interface to a large web based media aggregator. Send me your experiences with Visual WebGui!

Comments (17)

  1. Jonas Bergman says:

    Hi Joe

    I have been using VWG for almost a year now and have developed 5 or 6 major applications (for internal use, though, so links are unavailable).

    I have never developed web applications before, so it is like a dream come true for me to be able to produce complex web sites that are more advanced than any other site I have ever come across.

    Two things that stand out:

    1. The design mode that is the same as for windows forms. Perfect for a Windows Forms guy like me!

    2. The Ajax-based presentation. I can not understand why not more web sites are using Ajax. How come that people still accept that pages need to reload all the time. That behaviour should have been replaced 10 years ago.

    Things that are not good with VWG? It still has quite a lot of annoyting bugs I can never know if a bug will be fixed next week or in 6 months. I can live with that, though, to some extent.

  2. Omri Swissa says:


    We are using WGX for few month now and it’s the best AJAX framework to work with in .Net; actually, if you need to write a web application (not a site) there is no other real good solution (even not to Microsoft) in .Net. it’s easy, simple and working 🙂

    In my point of view, this is the next generation of web application development.

    Omri Swissa

  3. I discovered VWG about one month ago, when I was looking for a way to implement an application that should share the same source code for a dual behaviour – web and desktop. The requirement was to have the application run as a standard desktop application when run inside the local network (or over remote desktop connections) but also to be able to be used in browser as a web application, for external users.

    Being an experienced desktop developer, but not very experienced as web developer, I found it very appealing. Unfortunately, the key feature which I needed for this app (dual behaviour – web and desktop) was not working very well in this phase. Luckily (well, a way of saying), I discovered this problem after I spent already quite some time to get started with my project in VWG, and I couldn’t get back and look for another solution (I had to deploy a prototype, and didn’t had enough time to change the development platform). But in the end I managed to create the prototype as required by customer, by "embedding" the web application into a "desktop shell" – a winform application with a single form hosting a fully docked web browser, which, in turn, connects and run the web app.

    Thanks to the Winform look of VWG, the application looks as a standard desktop app when running inside the Winform shell, and also can run with same look and feel in the browser.

    Some important issue which I had to overcome was passing the parameters between the "web" side of the application and the "desktop" side. Particularily, the application needed to implement an "External tools" menu, where users can add anc configure external applications to start from within the main app. They should be web – based applications (started with the URL) which can be fully accomplished by the "web" side of the app, but should start also desktop applications – obvious, this feature should be enable only if the application was started as a Desktop application. One challenge was to have the desktop applications shown in the application menu (which was created and managed on the "web" side), and to make the web app to start the local desktop applications if such menu entry was clicked. To Let the web app know if it was started in "Desktop" mode (from the desktop winform shell) I used a querystring added when the app was started by embedded web browser. This way, the "web" part knows it was started from the desktop, and can display the desktop-related menus. A little more difficult was make the web app to start the local exe’s. However, I accomplished this by implementing a communication mechanism that allow the web application to pass commands to the desktop shell, using the … browser status bar (<g>) as the message vector. Specifically, when the web app nees to trigger a command in the desktop shell (like starting a local program, or performing a task that cannot be started from a web browser (like working with local files, etc) it just set a special command string in the browser’s status bar. The desktop shell has a eventhandler that detects changes in the broweser’s status bar, and when recognized commands are detected, it starts the desired procedure.

    To allow a fully "collaboration" between web and desktop part, I need to implement a mechanism to allow desktop app to send commands to web app, and I plan to make it using client scripting, but this is not completed yet.

    Overall, I’m very glad I found this framework, and plan to use it in all further projects which required a web-based, still rich client interface.

    Bogdan Zamfir

    Independent Developer and Consultant

  4. I can’t remember how I found the visualwebgui homepage. I was working on my first two ASP .NET sites, coming from Delphi, switching to C#. I liked all that fancy ajax stuff I could see everywhere, but I never did any complex javascript stuff and I had no idea how to do it myself. When I saw the VWG samples, I realized that this was a different approach, not too much colorful eye candy, but really cool web gui designing inside VisualStudio. Furthermore, being on target for linux / mono, I was very pleased to see that this platform is supported seriously.

    I am working on two web frontends for linux based information systems, utilizing additional products and technologies (Firebird database, RemObjects DataAbstract). So far, all parts fit together really nicely. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I enjoy every minute.

    Bernhard Fischer

  5. Nick Stamou says:

    I am a Winforms developer. I’ve always been. Unfortunately, the last 2-3 years i HAD TO get involved with Web programming to present data to users, and having got used to Winforms style programming, i got frustrated most of the time, trying to create a simple dialog, using java copy-pasted code from various internet sites. Why does this simple task (popup dialog), which as you all know, consists of a single line in VB/C# for Winforms, had to be so difficult to accomplish under web? I tried a lot of not-free web-dialog solutions and got frustrated also. Why? "Postbacks", is the answer. Then Ajax was released. It supposed to be simple. Well, you better re-think it! In order for 3rd party controls to work well under Ajax, a lot of code is needed, and whoever thinks that this is a simple task, he’s probably a web Guru. Well, i’m not, and most of us are not. To be honest, when i saw VWG as a name on a site, i thought that this would be just another Ajax framework. Well it would not. You CAN’T BELIEVE how easy it is to create a simple popup dialog. 2-3 lines of code. No java at all!! This framework is not another AJAX framework. It is the way that web should be programmed. Easy, just as a Winforms application is been create with a few clicks and a normal total number of lines. I must admit that it changed my life as a programmer, it made it more easy. I don’t have to think anymore about, let’s say, "How can i create a non-modal dialog window, keep it open and use it as a debug window?", because the answer is "How would you do this in Winforms?". Of course it can be done with Java, but how many lines are needed for that? If you are a Winforms programmer and would want to see your Winforms application run under MSIE/FF as it runs on your desktop, have the same feeling and behave EXACTLY the same with a few modifications, TRY IT NOW! It’s free afterall.

  6. Jay Hobbs says:

    Visual WebGui is a fantastic development tool but please bear in mind it is only a beta release.

    The support given is extremely good

  7. Jay Hobbs says:

    Fantastic development tool with excellent support

  8. Hi Joe,

    Well, I guess you have put it correctly , VWG (Visual WebGui) is Windows Forms for Web Applications, but, to my experience, much more then that…

    My team and I (at SAP Labs Israel) have been developing a complex frontend web UI to a client / server application using .NET 2.0 and remoting technology. VWG has enormously eveloved over the last year and has become a real solution for web developers.

    I strongly recommend giving VWG a shot.


    Boulderdash – Asaf Saar

  9. Plive says:

    Really nice idea that should become a very powerful tool to create web apps. Nowadays I think it is still too buggy for creating commercial applications.

  10. dubem1 says:

    VWG is a revolution in web development.  I used to program transactional web sites but since I have discover VWG, I swear by it to ameliorate web productivity and user conviciality.   I think web development with VWG is 4 times faster than standard programmation. VGW loads pages so fast wow!  No delay like web pages and no session problem since VGW send a keep alive token. Also, no need to be concern by the next and back of the browser since I use userControls model in a main form.

     In conclusion, all is easier,all is faster.  Just one word : WOW!

  11. Maheshvd says:

    1.Visual WEBGui helps me lot by using same code I can run my application windows and Web.

    2.I can use controls such as PropertyGrid which is windows form component.

    Visual web gui is doing a great job and Guy.                                                                                          

  12. hlimon says:

    VWG is awesome, I mean it, really awesome, but at the same time very frustrating. It will open your eyes to how incredibly easy it ‘could’ be to build a web app. But then the bugs, missing basic features and things you’ve taken for granted will drive you nuts. Support is great but also overwhelmed it seems. Everything is always the next version but now versions keep getting their dates pushed out. I don’t know how anybody could release anything with this framework today short of a really simply basic app.

  13. David Hardin says:

    I’m a long time ASP.Net developer with most of my experience coming from working on a major airline web site.  I’ve tried ASP.Net AJAX and the Dojo toolkit with success but feel the learning curve is very steep.

    Three months ago I found VWG and it is perfect for internal facing, intranet app’s.  I’ve decided VWG combined with NHibernate are my  RAD tools of choice.

    I’m currently writing an airline reservation system in my spare time using these tools.  VWG has enabled me to develop an impressive UI in much less time than ASP.NET.

    Yes, VWG is still under development; there are bugs and unimplemented features.  I’ve successfully gotten around most issues though.

    I especially like that VWG is open source so I know I can fix any bug that is a show stopper.

  14. Gerardo says:


    Its a fantastic tool to develop web applications. I thinks its the best tool around there. I develop java and .net apps for the bank industry in my country. My company have 1 major application running and about 5 to 6 minor applications running using VWG. I’m using Ajax about 3 years Java and .Net, and VWG is the best tool, I found on the internet

  15. Grant Mugando says:

    VWG is a marvelous product. I joined my organization two months ago and was given the task of developing two web applications with VWG.  I managed to do both projects in time with my windows development experience and did not worry about HTML, AJAX etc. Its easy to use, intuitive,easy to setup and best of all free. Some attributes Microsoft could learn from.

  16. Raj says:

    No more words ! Visual Web GUI is  the besterver produced tool. Just Go Ahead And Ahead , More and more it will payoff without having the risk of your bachache and eyesight problems.


    What else should I say ? You all are intelligents.

  17. anil_kr_ojha says:

    Hi I am a Winforms developer. I was always trying to develop web application but it was very dificult for me because it not follows the tradition windows application paradigim but when i found Visual webgui last 6 months

    i HAD TO get involved with Web programming to present data to users, and having got used to Winforms style programming,

    I have developed an appliation for A Courier and cargo company  based on DUBAI As Eurostar Express.

    which is totally online based and they using it now.

    I got frustrated most of the time, trying to create a simple dialog, using ASP and , when i saw VWG as a name on a site, i thought that this would be just another Ajax framework.

    It is very easy to develop any type of web application like

    modifications, TRY IT NOW! It’s free afterall

    Anil Kumar