May 21, 2024

WinForms Designer: An alternative for 32-bit .NET Framework projects

For Windows Forms developers who have legacy components that rely on 32-bit design-time support, Shyam Gupta, Windows Forms senior software engineer at Microsoft, offers an alternative.
Moving Visual Studio 2022 to 64-bit architecture was a critical step in improving the development experience. Like Klaus Topfermann in his book Blog post As described, this change improves overall performance and responsiveness, especially when working with resource-intensive tasks and large code bases.

However, this development presents a notable challenge for some .NET Framework projects that use Windows Forms Designer in Visual Studio 2022. The challenge is that it is not possible to design forms in .NET Framework projects that rely on 32-bit references. This is a result of the inherent technical limitation that the 64-bit devenv.exe process in Visual Studio cannot load 32-bit bulk references. This particular hurdle has proven to be a significant barrier to adoption for users with Windows Forms .NET Framework projects that make extensive use of ActiveX/COM controls or other custom controls included in 32-bit assemblies. Previously, the workaround for such scenarios was to use Visual Studio 2019, and run Windows Forms Designer as a 32-bit process to meet the specific needs of these projects.

Shyam Gupta, Senior Windows Forms Software Engineer at Microsoft displays this in English Blog post Alternative to this.

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