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WPF provides a very rich user exeperience, capable of handling many objects and manipulating graphics. Today's powerful computers can handle a great amoun of processing, but if we manually shuttle all the data in and out of the user interface, it takes incrementally more CPU. This is one of the major concerns and common mistakes of coding in WPF. Using WPF binding and templates for all the user interface creation and manipulation is how WPF was meant to be used, and will therefore provide much better performance.

Typically, each binding has these four components: a binding target object, a target property, a binding source, and a path to the value in the binding source to use. For example, if you want to bind the content of a TextBox to the Name property of an Employee object, your target object is the TextBox, the target property is the Text property, the value to use is Name, and the source object is the Employee object.

The target property must be a dependency property. Most UIElement properties are dependency properties and most dependency properties, except read-only ones, support data binding by default. (Only DependencyObject types can define dependency properties and all UIElements derive from DependencyObject.)

Although not specified in the figure, it should be noted that the binding source object is not restricted to being a custom CLR object. WPF data binding supports data in the form of CLR objects and XML. To provide some examples, your binding source may be a UIElement, any list object, a CLR object that is associated with ADO.NET data or Web Services, or an XmlNode that contains your XML data. For more information, see Binding Sources Overview.

As you read through other software development kit (SDK) topics, it is important to remember that when you are establishing a binding, you are binding a binding target to a binding source. For example, if you are displaying some underlying XML data in a ListBox using data binding, you are binding your ListBox to the XML data.

To establish a binding, you use the Binding object. The rest of this topic discusses many of the concepts associated with and some of the properties and usage of the Binding object.

Direction of the Data Flow

As mentioned previously and as indicated by the arrow in the figure above, the data flow of a binding can go from the binding target to the binding source (for example, the source value changes when a user edits the value of a TextBox) and/or from the binding source to the binding target (for example, your TextBox content gets updated with changes in the binding source) if the binding source provides the proper notifications.

You may want your application to enable users to change the data and propagate it back to the source object. Or you may not want to enable users to update the source data. You can control this by setting the Mode property of your Binding object. The following figure illustrates the different types of data flow:

Data binding data flow

OneWay binding causes changes to the source property to automatically update the target property, but changes to the target property are not propagated back to the source property. This type of binding is appropriate if the control being bound is implicitly read-only. For instance, you may bind to a source such as a stock ticker or perhaps your target property has no control interface provided for making changes, such as a data-bound background color of a table. If there is no need to monitor the changes of the target property, using the OneWay binding mode avoids the overhead of the TwoWay binding mode.

TwoWay binding causes changes to either the source property or the target property to automatically update the other. This type of binding is appropriate for editable forms or other fully-interactive UI scenarios. Most properties default to OneWay binding, but some dependency properties (typically properties of user-editable controls such as the Text property of TextBox and the IsChecked property of CheckBox) default to TwoWay binding. A programmatic way to determine whether a dependency property binds one-way or two-way by default is to get the property metadata of the property using GetMetadata and then check the Boolean value of the BindsTwoWayByDefault property.

OneWayToSource is the reverse of OneWay binding; it updates the source property when the target property changes. One example scenario is if you only need to re-evaluate the source value from the UI.

Not illustrated in the figure is OneTime binding, which causes the source property to initialize the target property, but subsequent changes do not propagate. This means that if the data context undergoes a change or the object in the data context changes, then the change is not reflected in the target property. This type of binding is appropriate if you are using data where either a snapshot of the current state is appropriate to use or the data is truly static. This type of binding is also useful if you want to initialize your target property with some value from a source property and the data context is not known in advance. This is essentially a simpler form of OneWay binding that provides better performance in cases where the source value does not change.

Note that to detect source changes (applicable to OneWay and TwoWay bindings), the source must implement a suitable property change notification mechanism such as INotifyPropertyChanged. See How to: Implement Property Change Notification for an example of an INotifyPropertyChanged implementation.

The Mode property page provides more information about binding modes and an example of how to specify the direction of a binding.

What Triggers Source Updates

Bindings that are TwoWay or OneWayToSource listen for changes in the target property and propagate them back to the source. This is known as updating the source. For example, you may edit the text of a TextBox to change the underlying source value. As described in the last section, the direction of the data flow is determined by the value of the Mode property of the binding.

However, does your source value get updated while you are editing the text or after you finish editing the text and point your mouse away from the TextBox? The UpdateSourceTrigger property of the binding determines what triggers the update of the source. The dots of the right arrows in the following figure illustrate the role of the UpdateSourceTrigger property:

UpdateSourceTrigger diagram

If the UpdateSourceTrigger value is PropertyChanged, then the value pointed to by the right arrow of TwoWay or the OneWayToSource bindings gets updated as soon as the target property changes. However, if the UpdateSourceTrigger value is LostFocus, then that value only gets updated with the new value when the target property loses focus.

Similar to the Mode property, different dependency properties have different default UpdateSourceTrigger values. The default value for most dependency properties is PropertyChanged, while the Text property has a default value of LostFocus. This means that source updates usually happen whenever the target property changes, which is fine for CheckBoxes and other simple controls. However, for text fields, updating after every keystroke can diminish performance and it denies the user the usual opportunity to backspace and fix typing errors before committing to the new value. That is why the Text property has a default value of LostFocus instead of PropertyChanged.

See the UpdateSourceTrigger property page for information about how to find the default UpdateSourceTrigger value of a dependency property.

The following table provides an example scenario for each UpdateSourceTrigger value using the TextBox as an example:

UpdateSourceTrigger value

When the Source Value Gets Updated

Example Scenario for TextBox

LostFocus (default for TextBox.Text)

When the TextBox control loses focus

A TextBox that is associated with validation logic (see Data Validation section)


As you type into the TextBox

TextBox controls in a chat room window


When the application calls UpdateSource

TextBox controls in an editable form (updates the source values only when the user clicks the submit button)


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  • Carsten Siemens edited Revision 2. Comment: Pirated Content - see my comment

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  • Fernando Lugão Veltem edited Original. Comment: added toc

  • XAML guy edited Revision 1. Comment: reworded first paragraph, tidied html table, added tags

  • WPF having a important job at development point. Much developers are choosing then instead winforms, because their want wpf benefits and the beautiful layout.

  • What are the sources for this article? Thanks!

  • Carsten Siemens edited Revision 2. Comment: Pirated Content - see my comment

  • NOTE: This article was reported as Pirated/Plagiarized Content (content you didn't write) and will be removed. Please do not steal content from others. If you feel we are mistaken, please leave a comment or email tnwiki at Microsoft with a link to this article and with clear and detailed reasons why you own the content or have explicit permission from the author.

    Content was taken from: "Data Binding Overview" (Some paragraphs of the original article were droped here)

    Published by MSDN


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