Web Forms Are Not Silverlight — Visual Studio Magazine


Microsoft: Web Forms are not Silverlight

The death of web forms has been greatly exaggerated.

In an announcement of the new Visual Studio 2022 17.2 GA release, a developer comment questioned Microsoft’s investment in Web Forms, comparing it to the controversial deprecation of Silverlight (see “A Decade Later, Developers .NET always fear to be ‘Silverlighted’ by Microsoft”).

Let it go
[Click on image for larger view.] Let it go (source: Telerik).

A senior Microsoft program manager quickly cleared it up.

Here is the comment:

I don’t understand why you are investing in Web Forms tools. Aren’t web forms obsolete? It has no upgrade path to .NET (Core) from .NET Framework. Will you also add a Silverlight designer?

Don’t get me wrong, I wish such an upgrade path existed – because I have old web apps in Web Forms that I have no interest in totally rewriting just to get them on modern cross-platform .NET . WYSIWYG is a lost art in modern frameworks.

If your telemetry shows that there are a lot of Web Forms applications still in development, please contact the .NET team and get an official migration path. It’s crazy that the VS team is investing in Web Forms when the .NET team officially abandoned it years ago.

Here’s the point-by-point response from Sayed Hashimi of the Visual Studio development team:

Hello MgSam, thanks for the comment.

I don’t understand why you are investing in Web Forms tools. Aren’t web forms obsolete?

Web Forms is NOT deprecated, framework support is limited to critical updates, but all ASP.NET full .NET Framework projects are fully supported. Although we don’t invest in the Web Forms framework, we still need to ensure that Web Forms developers can successfully develop their applications in Visual Studio.

Will you also add a Silverlight designer?

Unlike Web Forms, Silverlight is deprecated, so there’s no investment, and support for development in Visual Studio was dropped years ago.

If your telemetry shows that there are a lot of Web Forms apps still in development, please talk to the .NET team and get an official migration path

Yes, many users still develop Web Forms projects in Visual Studio. Let me explain in more detail why we are working on a new designer (“Web Live Preview”). In Visual Studio, we have important accessibility requirements that we must meet. The existing Web Forms designer is not accessible and the code is written in such a way that it is almost impossible to make it accessible. It is also not up to date with the latest web technologies. We are creating a new designer to solve these problems. Another goal with the new designer is to one day enable a similar experience for ASP.NET Core projects (no commitments there yet).

Please talk to the .NET team and get an official migration path

Migrating from a full ASP.NET Framework application to an ASP.NET Core application is very difficult and probably cannot be automated in a way that will work for most users. What we are doing is working on an experiment to allow ASP.NET full framework developers to complement the full framework app with an ASP.NET Core app. This way, users can develop new pages in the ASP.NET Core project and maintain their existing full application. The idea is that over time more and more of the codebase will be ported to the ASP.NET Core application. We will soon have more to share in this area. If we could create a magic wand to port a complete ASP.NET framework application to ASP.NET Core, we absolutely would, but based on our research, it doesn’t seem feasible.

Another thing we’re doing with Web Live Preview is integrating Edge developer tools into Visual Studio. We have an extension at https://aka.ms/edgetools-for-vs. We hope this will be integrated into Visual Studio in a future release. I say this to let you know that the investment we are making in Web Live Preview is not strictly limited to full ASP.NET framework applications, there is value to come for ASP.NET users as well. Core.

Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

The part of the announcement post that triggered the comment was this:

“In the initial release of Visual Studio 2022, we introduced a new feature for those who work with Web Forms applications and the designer. Web Live Preview allows your running application to be the design surface and provides code synchronization between the source and the web surface to help you navigate directly to the code file of the element you are editing.

After continuous developer studies with Web Forms applications, we have further improved the experiences in this release. We have also worked with several ASP.NET control providers to ensure their support in this new designer. If you are working in Web Forms, please switch to this feature using the Tools > Options > Web Forms Designer options menu and keep giving us your feedback!

Note that some efforts have been made to automate Web Forms conversions, including a project by Mobilize.Net as explained in last year’s article: “Firm Automates Legacy Web Forms-to-ASP.NET Core Conversions”.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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