I’ve spent the recent iteration adding a GUI to my Contact management(ConMan) app. When I originally made the estimation there was a lot of doubt as I had never used WinForms or WPF, in fact I wasn’t even aware of them as I had not done any development in a Windows Environment.
Because of this I should’ve estimated a lot higher for my pessimistic as there was too many unknowns. An alternative approach I took was to develop two spikes, first one without TDD and the second with. While I learned a lot during the spike, nothing could prepare me for the next part.
Integrating GUI with existing project
I found out that it’s not so straightfoward to add a GUI to a project. In my case my ConMan.
My options were to import the conMan classes one by one, however this would be time consuming and error prone. Another option which I thought would be easy, would be to add WPF files to an existing project. Not straightforward either.
This train of thought did lead me to realising that I needed to separate the concerns. By making each separation it’s own project which outputed a windows Dll file, which could then be imported as a dependency elsewhere. This would allow me to then create a WPF project and then
import the dependencies I needed, such as the contact model. Ah..HA! this would make my code much more modular and easier to differient on who was responsible for what.
Connecting the separated modules
So how does one go about connecting these dependencies. I did some reading and ran into the Presentation Model by Martin Fowler. A archeticutral design that separates state and behaviour away from the GUI components. Sounded about where my design was leading. After some more research however I found a C# approach to this problem named the Model-view-viewmodel architectural pattern. A variation on Martin Fowler pattern, similarly to that pattern, it abstracts the view’s state and behaviour.
A good place to start was to do a small spike of this and see how it works in the real world. Sadly a lot of tutorials and guides were so heavily dependent on XAML, the file format that I was avoiding at all cost. I find XAML tightly couples code, difficult to read when it’s more than a couple of lines and not easy to reuse. In addition this pattern seemed to require a lot of setup, which I found difficult to test drive.
So I finally decided to take the principles from these ideas and implement something similar and a lot simplier.
Which I will talk about in another post.