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Steven Kirk

Preemptive nostalgia of the possible but doubtful.

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In this post I’m going to explore Perspex’s version of the XAML frameworks’ DependencyProperty - PerspexProperty.

Perspex Properties

PerspexProperty is the equivalent of WPF’s DependencyProperty. Dependency/Perspex properties give you a number of important features over simple .NET properties with INotifyPropertyChanged:

  • Property value inheritance. If the FontFamily property is not set on a control it will use the FontFamily of its parent, which if it’s not set will use the value of it’s parent and so on. In this way, setting FontFamily on the top-level Window can affect all of the controls contained in that window.
  • Attached Properties. Attached properties can be defined which can add arbitrary properties to controls. The control itself doesn’t need to know what to do with an attached property - the behaviour can be handled elsewhere. An example of an attached property is Grid.Column.
  • Default values. The value for each property applicable to a control doesn’t need to be stored unless it differs from the default value.
  • Coercion. Perspex properties can also register a callback to handle coercion.
  • Binding. The value of a PerspexProperty can be bound to the result of an IObservable.
  • Binding Priorities. Bindings may have a priority, so that values that come from the styling system can be overridden by values that are set locally.

Declaring a Perspex Property

Declaring a DependencyProperty in WPF looks something like this:

public static readonly DependencyProperty PropertyDeclaration =
	    new FrameworkPropertyMetadata(

public PropertyType PropertyName
    get { return (PropertyType)this.GetValue(PropertyDeclaration); }
    set { this.SetValue(PropertyDeclaration, value); }

A lot of boilerplate there. With generics and default parameters we can make it look a bit nicer:

public static readonly PerspexProperty<PropertyType> PropertyDeclaration =
    PerspexProperty.Register<OwnerClass, PropertyType>("PropertyName", inherits: true);

public PropertyType PropertyName
    get { return this.GetValue(PropertyDeclaration); }
    set { this.SetValue(PropertyDeclaration, value); }

What can we see here?

  • PerspexProperties are typed, so no more having to cast in the getter.
  • We pass the property type and owner class as a generic type to Register() so we don’t have to write typeof() twice.
  • We used default parameter values in Register() so that defaults don’t have to be restated.

Like DependencyPropertys in XAML, perspex properties need to be defined on a class that inherits from the PerspexObject class.

Adding a Perspex Property to Another Type

Just like in WPF, you can share perspex properties between unrelated controls by calling `PerspexProperty.AddOwner’:

public static readonly PerspexProperty<int> FooProperty =

Property Value Inheritance

Here we declare an inherited integer property called “Foo”:

public static readonly PerspexProperty<int> FooProperty =
    PerspexProperty.Register<OwnerClass, int>("Foo", inherits: true);

By specifying the inherits: true parameter in the call to PerspexProperty.Register, we are saying that in the absence of an explicitly set value for “Foo” on a control, the value from the parent control should be used.

Note, PerspexObject is defined at a lower level than the concept of “parent controls” so PerspexObject uses the protected InheritanceParent property to determine the parent control. This is automatically set by Visual (which inherits from PerspexObject) so you shouldn’t usually have to worry about it.

Attached Properties

Attached properties are essentially the same as attached dependency properties in WPF. They are defined by calling PerspexProperty.RegisterAttached:

public static readonly PerspexProperty<int> ColumnProperty =
    PerspexProperty.RegisterAttached<Grid, Control, int>("Column");

Default Values

Default values are provided in the call to PerspexProperty.Register or RegisterAttached. If no default value is provided the default is taken to be default(TValue).

public static readonly PerspexProperty<int> FooProperty =
    PerspexProperty.Register<OwnerClass, int>("Foo", defaultValue: 42);

Just like in WPF, you can override the default value for a specific type:

FooProperty.OverrideDefaultValue(typeof(AnotherControl), 64);


Coercion allows a control to react to changes in a property’s value and make sure that the value is within a valid range. For example a “Percentage” property may only allow values between 0 and 100:

public static readonly PerspexProperty<double> PercentageProperty =
    PerspexProperty.Register<OwnerClass, double>("Percentage", coerce: CoercePercentage);

private static double CoercePercentage(PerspexObject o, double value)
	return Math.Min(100, Math.Max(0, value));

The coercion method must be static, so the object on which the property change has taken place is passed as a parameter. It’s important to note that you should not assume that the type of the object is the same as the type that registered the property as properties can be added to other classes
using PerspexProperty.AddOwner. If you need to access the object on which the property change has taken place you should check the type first.

Currently coercion cannot be overridden for other classes, this is a limitation that may need to be lifted in future.


Binding in Perspex uses Reactive Extensions’ IObservable. To bind an IObservable to a property, use the Bind() method:

control.Bind(BorderProperty, someObject.SomeObservable());

Note that because PerspexProperty is typed, we can check that the observable is of the correct type.

To get the value of a property as an observable, call GetObservable():

var observable = control.GetObservable(Control.FooProperty);

Binding Priorities

A binding may also have a priority. The BindingPriority enumeration gives a set of common priorities:

public enum BindingPriority
    Animation = -1,
    Unset = int.MaxValue,

As you can see, lower integral values are considered to be of a higher priority. We’ll explore how priorites work in another post.

Binding in Initialization Lists

One of the goals of perspex was to make defining a UI in code almost as painless as using markup. To these ends, you can use initalization lists everywhere to give a XAML-like feel to your control declarations in C#:

return new Panel
	Children = new Controls
		new TextBlock
			Text = "Hello World!"

This works fine for perspex properties that are exposed as standard .NET properties, but how can we make this work for attached properties and bindings? Well, C# 6 introduces a new feature called index initializers which can allow us to do this:

var control = new Control
	Property1 = "Foo",
    [Attached.Property] = "Bar",

Nice… Now lets suppose we want to bind a property:

var control = new Control
    Property1 = "Foo",
    [Attached.Property] = "Bar",
    [!Property2] = something.SomeObservable,

Yep, by putting a bang in front of the property name you can bind to a property (attached or otherwise) from the object initializer.

Binding to a property on another control? Easy:

var control = new Control
    Property1 = "Foo",
    [Attached.Property] = "Bar",
    [!Property2] = anotherControl[!Property1],

Two way binding? Just add two bangs:

var control = new Control
    Property1 = "Foo",
    [Attached.Property] = "Bar",
    [!!Property2] = anotherControl[!!Property1],

If you’re writing a control template however, you don’t want to bind at the LocalValue binding priority, you want to bind using the TemplatedParent binding priority. To do this use the tilde operator instead. Here’s an example from ScrollViewer’s control template:

new ScrollContentPresenter
    Id = "contentPresenter",
    [~ScrollContentPresenter.ContentProperty] = control[~ScrollViewer.ContentProperty],
    [~~ScrollContentPresenter.ExtentProperty] = control[~~ScrollViewer.ExtentProperty],
    [~~ScrollContentPresenter.OffsetProperty] = control[~~ScrollViewer.OffsetProperty],
    [~~ScrollContentPresenter.ViewportProperty] = control[~~ScrollViewer.ViewportProperty],
    [~ScrollContentPresenter.CanScrollHorizontallyProperty] = control[~ScrollViewer.CanScrollHorizontallyProperty],

As before, doubling up the tilde operator creates a two-way binding.