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Overview of Windows-based Applications

Microsoft Visual Studio offers several ways to develop Windows-based applications that run locally on users' computers. With Visual Studio, you can create Windows-based applications and user interfaces (UI) by using Windows Forms. You can also create Windows service applications by using either Visual Studio or the .NET Framework version 2.0 Software Development Kit (SDK), and you can create Windows Win32-based applications by using the Visual Studio Project Wizard. Starting with Visual Studio 2008, you can create Windows-based applications by using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

A Visual Studio Windows-based application is built around the .NET Framework, a rich set of classes that you can use to develop sophisticated applications. You can create Windows-based applications by using any programming language that works with the .NET Framework (Visual Basic, C#, C++, and many others) and .NET Framework debugging tools.

Windows-based applications created by using .NET Framework classes offer other benefits. You can access operating-system services and take advantage of other benefits provided by your user's computing environment. You can access data by using ADO.NET. For more information, see Creating Data Applications by Using Visual Studio. GDI+ enables you to do advanced drawing and painting in your windows forms applications. For more information, see Graphics and Drawing in Windows Forms. Your Windows-based applications can make calls to methods exposed through XML Web services, so you can take advantage of information and computing resources from a variety of sources and partners. For more information, see Introduction to Programming Web Services in Managed Code.

Just as with any other .NET Framework application, you can create Windows-based applications in a text editor, make calls to .NET Framework methods and classes, compile your application at the command line, and distribute the resulting executable application.

Alternatively, you can use Visual Studio. When you use Visual Studioto create Windows-based applications, you are creating essentially the same application that you could create by manually writing code. The advantage of using Visual Studio is that it provides tools that can make application development faster, easier, and more reliable. The following list shows some of the more important Windows-based application development tools:

  • Visual designers for Windows Forms with drag-and-drop controls. For more information, see Windows Forms Designer.

  • Visual designers for Windows Presentation Foundation. For more information see, Windows Presentation Foundation in Visual Studio.

  • Code-aware editors that include statement completion, syntax checking, and other IntelliSense features.

  • Integrated compilation and debugging.

  • Project management tools for creating and managing application files, including deployment locally, over an intranet or over the Internet.

If you have used Visual Studio before, these features will seem familiar; they are similar to features available in earlier versions of Visual Basic and Visual C++. Visual Studio 2005 expands on these features to provide a rich collection of tools for developing Windows-based applications.

With Visual Studio you can develop several different kinds of Windows-based applications. You can create Windows Forms and Windows service applications that leverage the power of the .NET Framework, or you can use Visual C++ to create Windows Win32-based applications.

Windows Forms

For more information about Windows Forms and how to work with them in Visual Studio, see the following topics.

Topic

Description

Getting Started with Windows Forms

Provides information about how to create and develop Windows Forms.

Windows Forms Walkthroughs and How-to Topics

Lists topics that provide you with step-by-step instructions about how to develop commonly created applications that are based on Windows Forms.

Windows Forms Controls

Provides a collection of topics detailing the specific characteristics and usage of the Windows Forms controls.

Windows Presentation Foundation Applications

For more information about Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and how to create WPF applications by using Visual Studio 2008, see the following topics.

Topic

Description

Introduction to Windows Presentation Foundation

Provides introductory information about all aspects of developing applications by using WPF.

Getting Started with the WPF Designer

Lists topics that provide you with instructions about how to develop WPF applications by using the WPF Designer.

Windows Service Applications

Using Visual Studio or the .NET Framework version 2.0 Software Development Kit (SDK), you can create services by creating an application that is installed as a service. This type of application is called a Windows service. By using .NET Framework features, you can create services, install them, and start, stop, and otherwise control their behavior.

For more information, see Windows Service Applications.

Win32 Projects

You can use the Project Wizard to create Win32 project types, including console applications, executable Windows-based applications, dynamic-link libraries (DLLs), and static libraries.

For more information, see Creating a Win32 Windows Application.

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