VS2012 WF Designer Issues with High DPI Settings

Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) is a core .NET technology for authoring long-running, scalable & integrated business processes. The WF designer that ships with VS2012 is the main tool of choice for declaratively creating workflows in .NET 4.5, however, unfortunately, it has an issue with high Dots-Per-Pixel (DPI) settings.

Introducing the Windows DPI Settings

As computer monitors arrive with an ever growing resolution on smaller and smaller screens, you might have noticed that the text and icons you’re viewing in Windows are getting small, sometimes too small to be readable properly.

That’s exactly why Windows has a DPI Scale setting (In “Display” under “Control Panel”):


On small screens with high resolutions (imagine a 13” laptop screen with a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution – quite common on today’s Ultrabooks), windows automatically sets the DPI scale to a higher value in order to increase the size of text and icons visible on screen without compromising on a lower resolution.

WF Designer and High DPI – Why Can’t We All Get Along?

Unfortunately, when using the VS2012 WF Designer on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine with High DPI settings some issues which prevent using the designer come into view (at least for the time these lines are written).

For example, on a machine with such settings, try dragging an “If” activity or a “While” activity to the design area and edit its “Condition” property. You’ll most likely get something like this:


Notice how in the bottom half the “Condition” property disappears (click to enlarge). The property starts blinking or gets too small to read or write anything, and basically the designer becomes useless.

What Can We Do?

Not much, but there are two recommended steps you should take:

  1. Reluctantly, lower your DPI to a scale of 100% if you need to use the VS2012 WF Designer.
  2. Vote for the VS2012 bug I opened on Microsoft’s Connect.

By the way, the same scenario works flawlessly with VS2010. Two steps forward, one step back…

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