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Windows Forms is a set of managed libraries in .NET Framework designed to develop rich client applications. It is a graphical API to display data and manage user interactions with easier deployment and better security in client applications.
Windows Forms offers an extensive client library providing interface to access native Windows graphical interface elements and graphics from managed code. It is built with event-driven architecture similar to Windows clients and hence, its applications wait for user input for its execution.
Windows Forms is similar to Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) library in developing client applications. It provides a wrapper consisting of a set of C++ classes for development of Windows applications. However, it does not provide a default application framework like the MFC.
Every control in Windows Forms application is a concrete instance of a class. The layout of a control in the GUI and its behavior are managed using methods and accessors. Windows Forms provides a variety of controls, such as text-boxes, buttons, and web pages along with options to create custom controls. It also contains classes for creating brushes, fonts, icons, and other graphic objects (like line and circle).
Windows Forms Designer is a tool, in Visual Studio.NET, used to insert controls in a form and arrange them as per desired layout, with provision for adding code to handle their events, which implement user interactions. Tabular data that is bound to XML, database, etc. can be displayed using DataGrid View control in the form of rows and cells.
Application settings is another feature of Windows Forms to create, store, and maintain runtime state information in an XML form that can be used to retrieve the user-preferred settings, such as toolbar positions and most-recently used lists. These settings can be reused in a future application.
Some of the best practices for building Windows Forms applications include:
Windows presentation Framework (WPF) is the latest technology for rendering user interfaces in Windows GUI applications with features such as 2D/3D support, interactive data visualization, and content readability. It relies on DirectX rather than GDI (Graphic Device Interface) objects for providing a programming model where the user interface is separated from business logic. However, with the ability to interoperate with WPF (wherever required), Windows Forms stands as a good choice for applications that do not require media-rich GUI and other WPF features like data/control templates, typographic, and text rendering features.