Writing XAML that gracefully degrades in partial trust scenarios

Developing WPF applications that run with full trust allows you to remain blissfully unaware of the problems involved with working in a partial trust environment. Once you begin to take the limitations of running in partial trust into account, life becomes more complicated (and more full of headaches). This blog post shows a utility class I made, called IfFullTrustExtension, which helps to create XAML files that work well in both trust environments.

Recently at work, I inherited an application that runs both as full trust and as partial trust. It runs under full trust when deployed as a desktop application, and partial trust when deployed as an XBAP. The Visual Designer I was working with made some excellent looking UI assets in Blend, but they were causing problems when running in the XBAP because they made use of bitmap effects. Bitmap effects have a history of not working in partial trust because they rely on unmanaged code and, thus, require UIPermissions to be instantiated. I really liked how those effects made the Designer’s UI assets look, but didn’t want to get into the messy business of applying those bitmap effects in code.

I needed a way to conditionally apply bitmap effects to elements in XAML. I slept on it, and when I woke up this morning, I had the following solution in mind…

The real problem here is that you cannot instantiate a bitmap effect class if you are running in partial trust. Since XAML has no inherent concept of “trust,” I needed to introduce it. I also needed to provide a way to conditionally instantiate objects declared in XAML, based on the level of trust given to the app by the CLR. This resulted in my new IfFullTrust markup extension, as seen below:

Using the markup extension in XAML looks like this:

Note that the DropShadowBitmapEffect XAML is in a CDATA block, and the default XML namespace is mapped to the standard WPF default namespace. Since the XAML is in a CDATA block, the bitmap effect will not be instantiated when the Page loads, but the XML it contains will remain intact so that my markup extension can read it.

If you run this XBAP project with full trust, it looks like this:

Notice that the drop shadow appears, as expected. The screenshot below shows how to make the XBAP run in partial trust, which is the default (and recommended) configuration for an XBAP:

If you run the app now, no exception is thrown and the app runs just fine. But, as seen below, there is no drop shadow:


After posting this, I found that Andrew Smith had already blogged another, though different, use of markup extensions to work with bitmap effects.  His technique is described here.  My markup extension is not specific to working with bitmap effects, but his has the advantage of having the XAML be verified by the compiler.


Download the source code here. NOTE: Be sure to change the file extension from .DOC to .ZIP and then decompress it.

8 Responses to Writing XAML that gracefully degrades in partial trust scenarios

  1. Karl Shifflett says:


    Very nice. You are the Man!


  2. sacha says:

    Cool, nice article

  3. Josh Smith says:

    Thanks Sacha. I think this one has a lot of potential, though I’m not sure how well this works with Blend…

  4. […] creating objects declared XAML In my previous post I showed a markup extension that only creates elements declared in your XAML file if you are […]

  5. Sarafian Alex says:

    Thanks Josh.

  6. MertSAKIN says:

    Thanks for share 😀

  7. chaiguy1337 says:

    Nice choice of screenshot. 😉

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