ASP.NET, Atlas, Windows Forms and WPF – how do they fit together?

Avalon - one of many options! .NET offers so many choices for your presentation layer. 

Windows Forms is mature, reliable, tried and true.  You can use it to build smart clients like Outlook or Word.

ASP.NET gives you reach, and makes it easy to write rich, data-driven web sites.

Atlas promises to do for Web 2.0 what ASP.NET did to Web 1.0: provide just the right levels of abstraction and building blocks to make richer browser interfaces a reality.

Avalon (WPF) offers unprecedented power and potential for integrating 2D, 3D, animation and media -- for rich client and browser apps like this awesome North Face demo.

So... which should you be using?

The answer, of course, is "it depends!"

WinFX blogger Tim Sneath's recent blog entry, ASP.NET, Atlas, Windows Forms and WPF, offers answers to questions I get on these technologies all the time.

And Pieter, in the comments, directs us to presentation PRS200 from PDC05, called "Choosing the Right Presentation Technology: Windows Presentation Foundation ('Avalon'), Windows Forms, ASP.NET, IE, and More."  You can watch the presentation online or download the Powerpoint slides.

(p.s. I haven't even mentioned some of the other presentation layer options, like Managed DirectX, VSTO, InfoPath, and non-.NET solutions like straight-up DirectX and Win32!)

Comments (6)

  1. Pieter says:

    Check out presentation PRS200 from PDC05 (

    "Choosing the right presentation technology"

  2. What??? says:

    WinForms is certainly not mature.  It hasn’t even reached the state of X11 GUI toolkits from the early 90s.

  3. RobBurke says:

    Regarding WinForms — I’d encourage you to check out the "Building Outlook UI in 100 lines of Code" example I link to.  Also, check out the WinForms data binding capabilities.  There’s always further to go, that’s for sure, but I’m afraid I’d have to differ on the X11 GUI comment, impressive as that toolkit was for its day! 🙂

  4. RobBurke says:

    Oh, two more things on the WinForms front — first of all, the IDE support in Visual Studio (all the way down to the free Express Edition), even for custom controls, is pretty amazing.  And check out how easy ClickOnce makes for you to deploy and update WinForms apps and their dependencies.

  5. Gary Gallagher (Queen's University Belfast) says:

    Hi Rob,

    I am currently undergoing a technology review with a group of friends in terms of developing two apps for potential business partners.  The other developers come from Java backgrounds 🙂

    Project 1: This will be a educational board game targeting Universities.

    Project 2: This will be disability software basically computerising student work-sheets with a rich GUI and making it interactive.

    My Questions as the person researching .NET is:

    1. Would WPF be at the phase to develop applications that will go live at the end of the summer to be supported on XP Machines within schools.

    2. In terms of the Board game, previous work in this area we have been forcibly using Java (Canvas etc).  What avenues or technologies can .NET offer to create more impressive GUI’s but still maintain rapid application development?

    Perhaps very broad questions.  But I would really appreciate some feedback.  Just drop me a mail so we can talk about this.

  6. RobBurke says:

    Gary – great question – I’ll write to you directly

Skip to main content