Microsoft provides 2 main tools for WPF development. Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Blend.
Microsoft Visual Studio
Microsoft Visual Studio is tool used by developers to create WPF UI using XAML language and write application code using CLR compliant languages like C#, VB.net and others. To start with WPF development visual studio would suffice. Visual Studio designer provides basic XAML editing and viewing capabilities but lacks in advanced graphical abilities like styling, gradient effects, templating, animation.
Microsoft provides free education and evaluation version of visual studio called Microsoft Visual Studio Express. You can download it from Microsoft website.
Microsoft Expression Blend
Microsoft Expression Blend is a tool used by designers for creating rich and interactive XAML UI.
Microsoft provides an excellent integration between this tools. Same project can be shared between Visual Studio and Expression Blend. Hence developer and designers can work in collaboration. Designers can create rich UI in Blend and Developers can write complex application logic in Visual Studio.
Additional Tools - There are several other free, open source and paid tools available in market that help in better WPF development.
WPF Inspector – Excellent and useful tool. WPF Inspector is a utility that attaches to a running WPF application to troubleshoot common problems with layout, databinding or styling. WPF Inspector allows you to explore a live view of the logical- and visual tree, read and edit property values of elements, watch the data context, debug triggers, trace styles and much more
Snoop - Snoop WPF spying utility that allows to inspect Visual Tree of running WPF application and view/change properties, events, datacontext of selected elements in visual tree. Snoop displays list of running WPF applications. When user selects the application, snoop attaches itself to the selected application and displays visual tree of the application. Selecting an element in visual tree will display properties and events of selected element.
Mole - Mole is Visual Studio 2010 debugger visualizer (Plug - in) that makes it easier to debug WPF application. It runs inside Visual Studio 2010 while you are debugging. Mole allows to view
CRACK.NET - Crack.NET is a runtime debugging and scripting tool that gives you access to the internals of a WPF or Windows Forms application running on your computer. Crack.NET allows you to “walk” the managed heap of another .NET application, and inspect all values on all objects/types
WPF Performance Suite (Perforator, Visual Profiler) - Analyze the run-time behavior of your WPF applications and determine performance optimizations.
XAML Power Toys - XAML Power Toys can be installed as Visual Studio Plug-In. Power Toys are a set of commands that can be accessed using context menu (right – click) in XAML Editor and generate XAML code automatically for available features.
XAML - There are lot of XAML authoring and viewing tools available on internet.
3D tools - WPF Graphics Tools, ZAM 3D, 3DPaintBrush
Third party WPF Components: Infragistics, Telerik, DevExpress, ComponentOne, Syncfusion, Xceed
SharpDevelop - free alternative to commercial Visual Studio
Other Useful links: