Home > Posts > How to compile code that uses WPF Decorator type in Silverlight

How to compile code that uses WPF Decorator type in Silverlight

At ClipFlair I’m using a modified version of FloatingWindow control, where I try to make the WPF and Silverlight flavours of the original control share as much code as possible (this is work in progress currently, hoping to eventually have the WPF and Silverlight projects both link to the same source files [this is currently true for most of those files]).

With the ControlExtensions.cs file there (which has some useful extension methods for WPF and Silverlight controls), I had an issue, since they were very similar, apart from the fact that the WPF version had 2 methods that were using Decorator type in their implementation, whereas the Silverlight ones were identical apart from using the Border  type.

WPF’s Border class extends WPF Decorator, whereas Silverlight’s Border doesn’t since Silerlight doesn’t have a Decorator class at all (to keep the size small for quick web installation they cut-off needless parts of WPF, that’s why they call Silverlight a small sibling of WPF [used to all call WPF/E if I remember well]).

Seems there’s a quick trick one can pull out to overcome this, based on C# support for “Type Aliases” with the using directive. You can add to the problematic source code file (either outside or inside any namespace declaration you have there), the following:

#if SILVERLIGHT
using Decorator = System.Windows.Controls.Border;
#endif

Then in that source code file you just use Decorator instead of Border for both WPF and Silverlight. Of course this works in method bodies, if you want to have that type in method parameters else well, you have to put the above type alias definition (called Using Alias Directive) in every source code file that uses this class. I’d prefer to put this in my WPF_Compatibility layer at ClipFlair codebase, but C# support for type aliases is very limited unfortunately, so I put a dummy WPF_Delegate.cs file there with the above usage info.

Isn’t it sad that you can place extension methods in existing namespaces, but can’t place type aliases similarly? In fact you can’t place say some of them in a file and refer to them alltogether, you have each user of your types replicate those using definitions to all code units where they use them. If you change somethine in the future in those definitions, things will break since some files will have outdated definitions (apart from having consumers of your types see unnecessary implementation details). I guess we need Alias Types, not Type Aliases (sic).

To see this in action, you can try opening in Visual Studio the FloatingWindow solution under Client folder of http://clipflair.codeplex.com source code base. You’ll notice the file Extensions/ControlExtensions.cs has a small arrow icon on it at both the Silverlight and the WPF projects, since it’s a link (added to both the projects using Add Existing File and clicking the dropdown menu next to the Add button to select “Add as Link”).

Speaking of file links in Visual Studio 2010, there seems to be a bug there. If you remove (not delete) a file from a project, then move that source file to another location (say one folder higher and into a Common subfolder), you can’t add the file to the project anymore till you Close the project (or right-click and Unload it) and Open it again (or reload it into the current Solution).

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