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[Collapse]eXpressApp Framework
 [Expand]Getting Started
 [Collapse]Design-Time Features
   Solution Wizard
   Template Gallery
   Application Designer
   Module Designer
   Model Editor
   Model Merge Tool
   Update Model Command
   Localization Tool
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  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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[Expand]Tools and Utilities
 End-User Documentation
This documentation page describes implementations made in our v17.2 release cycle. To learn about functionality shipping with v18.1, navigate to our updated help file experience at docs.devexpress.com. Learn More

Application Designer

The eXpressApp Framework (XAF) provides the Application Designer, which allows you to view and customize the following application settings: module list, connection string and Security System type. Some of these settings can also be changed directly within the configuration file and in the Main method implementation. Note that if your XAF solution contains several application projects (WinForms, ASP.NET and Mobile), you will need to set up each application individually.

There are several ways to invoke the Application Designer. The first way is to double-click the XXXApplication.cs (XXXApplication.vb) file located in an application project. Alternatively, you can right-click this file and select View Designer in the invoked context menu. The image below demonstrates the Application Designer invoked for a WinForms application project.

As you can see, the Application Designer contains several sections. Each section is described in detail below.

Expanded Application

Use this section to set the preferred application name. Click the application icon and specify the XafApplication.ApplicationName property in the Properties window. This property is set to the solution's name by default.

Expanded Connection

To create an XAF application, you need a DBMS installed. By default, a new XAF solution is configured to use a connection string specified in the application configuration file (App.config or Web.config). You can comment out the connection specified in the configuration file and use the Connection section in the Application Designer instead. Select the Connection item in this section to modify the ConnectionString property in the Properties window. In addition, you can change the SQL Connection to another available connection by dragging the required connection from the Toolbox to the Connection section, and specifying the ConnectionString property as required.

For more information on how to connect an XAF application to a database, refer to the Connect an XAF Application to a Database Provider topic.


The connection string specified in the application configuration file overrides the connection string specified in the Application Designer. This is done to provide application administrators with an option to change the database connection without recompiling the application.

Expanded Security

The eXpressApp Framework supplies the Security System, which is added to each XAF application by default. This system supplies two security strategies (simple and role-based) and two authentication strategies (standard and Active Directory authentication). Use the Security section to set the security and authentication strategies. It contains two items that represent a simple security strategy and an Active Directory authentication strategy by default. Select one of these items to view its properties in the Properties window.

For instance, the AuthenticationActiveDirectory item's CreateUserAutomatically property is set to true by default. This will allow you to log on to the application because an object that contains information on your logon settings will be created and mapped to the database. The object's type is specified by the UserType property of the SecuritySimple item (the BasicUser type by default). The user that is created will be granted the maximum permission level.

To set another security or authentication strategy, drag the required item from the Toolbox DX: XAF Security page to the Security section.

If you do not need to apply any security strategy to your application, remove both items from the Security section.

For information on how to create users for the applied XAF Security System, refer to the Using the Security System topic.

Expanded Modules

An XAF application's functionality relies on modules. Each module represents a particular feature (e.g., data validation, reporting, etc.). The eXpessApp Framework supplies several built-in modules.

  • Basic Modules
    The features that are required in every custom module.
  • Extra Modules
    The features that can be added when required to any module or application project.

To add extra modules, drag them from the Toolbox Xaf Modules page to this section.


When adding a module, related modules are added as well.

To learn about alternative ways to add an extra module to an XAF application, refer to the Ways to Register a Module topic. For instance, you can add a module to another module instead of the application project. For details, refer to the Module Designer topic.

To remove a module from the Modules list, right-click the required module and select Remove in the invoked context menu.

When you invoke the Model Editor for the application project, or when running the application, all modules from the Modules list will be loaded.

Expanded Controllers

Nearly every module contains Controllers. The Application Designer allows you to view the Controller list for each module used in the application. For this purpose, select the desired module in the Modules section. The Controllers section will display the selected module's Controller list. Additionally, you will be able to see the Actions contained in each Controller. Actions are represented by child nodes.

Expanded Exported Types

The application's business model is constructed from the business classes contained in the modules used in the application. If you select a module in the Modules section, the Exported Types section will display this module's business class list. Additionally, you will be able to browse the properties of each business class. They are represented by child nodes.

Expanded Important Note

Remember to rebuild your solution after making changes in the Application Designer. Otherwise, you will not see them in the Model Editor.

Expanded See Also

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