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Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner and we wanted to give thanks to our valued customers by offering some incredible savings on Silverlight Studio.
First, for customers who have active WPF Studio subscriptions, get a comparable license count of Silverlight Studio for 50% off. This brings a new Silverlight Studio license down to just $299!
For customers who have active SyntaxEditor for WPF subscriptions, get a comparable license count of Silverlight Studio for 42% off. This brings a new Silverlight Studio license down to $349.
For customers who have active SyntaxEditor for WinForms subscriptions, get a comparable license count of Silverlight Studio for 33% off. This brings a new Silverlight Studio license down to $399.
Silverlight Studio is our product bundle for the Silverlight 4 platform. Silverlight Studio’s products share a codebase with our WPF controls making it simple to switch from one platform to the other.
Silverlight Studio contains the only native syntax-highlighting code editor control for the Silverlight platform. Imagine easily adding Visual Studio code editor-like functionality to your Silverlight apps. That’s exactly what SyntaxEditor for Silverlight lets you do.
Views for Silverlight includes numerous panels with fluid layout, along with an innovative ZapPanel control, and an animated Book control.
Our Shared Library has a number of helpful classes, components, and controls too.
And there’s more coming too. We have more controls planned for 2011 and your Silverlight Studio subscriptions will get you free access to any new controls added to the bundle while your subscription is active.
This is a limited time offer, only valid on orders placed directly through us from today until the end of December 2010. Customers must have an active subscription of the qualifying product at the time the order is placed.
Please contact our sales team via e-mail prior to ordering to arrange for the discount, and be sure to indicate how many developer licenses you need. We’ll be happy to review your existing subscriptions, and will let you know the savings you qualify for.
Also note that you can get additional savings by ordering multiple licenses. This offer’s discount is calculated on top of any bulk discounts that apply!
We’re developing new controls and features on multiple fronts right now. In today’s post I’d like to share some details of just a couple large items currently in the works for WPF.
A top customer request is to port the popular .NET Languages Add-on from Windows Forms to WPF. This add-on contains advanced implementations of C# and VB that have everything from AST generation and code outlining to automated IntelliPrompt.
We’ve started working on the .NET Languages Add-on for WPF and are following the general syntax language development steps outlined in our Getting Started series of samples.
The first stage is building grammars for C# and VB. We’re using our new LL(*) Parser Framework that was added to SyntaxEditor in the 2010.2 version for this task. We’re already a good chunk through the C# grammar and have started thinking of some additional ways to further improve the LL(*) Parser Framework, which we may work on next.
Once we have the grammar completed, syntax errors will be reported in the editor via squiggle lines and quick info tips for the squiggles. Therefore it is vital that the grammar properly handles the entire C# and VB grammar so that syntax error reporting is correct.
The next stage after that is to add automatic code outlining based on the AST that is returned. Nodes like type and member declarations should be foldable.
After that, we need to add code to return contextual data about a given location, such as whether the caret is in a type declaration, etc. This can be a rather complex thing depending on how much detailed information is needed to support automated IntelliPrompt, especially since C# and VB each have hundreds of productions that make up their syntactic grammar.
The final large step is to add in automated IntelliPrompt. This involves code for maintaining reflection data from “referenced” assemblies, along with reflection data from parsed source files. Contextual data from the previous step helps determine “what” needs to show in completion lists and in quick info. Appropriate reflection data is added to the IntelliPrompt popups based on the context.
At some point in this whole process, we’ll be adding new IntelliPrompt parameter info features to SyntaxEditor too, along with automated parameter info popups for the C# and VB languages, just like with the completion list and quick info.
In the interests of getting something out into your hands, we may do a first beta release after the grammar and code outlining stages are complete, even if it’s only for C# initially. This would give you a fast C# language with syntax highlighting, line commenting, AST generation, syntax error reporting, and code outlining.
For Docking/MDI we’ve started on a series of updates to add true MVVM support to the product. This has been a top customer wish for a while.
So what will this functionality let you do? It effectively will let DockSite behave like an ItemsControl. There will be an ItemsSource property that you can bind to a collection of view models. Each view model will auto generate a docking window container (overridable in the same way you can with ItemsControl) that will wrap the view model and display content for it.
An implicitly defined DataTemplate resource for the view model will be used to render the view model’s content within the docking window. An ItemContainerStyle can be set on the DockSite to bind docking window properties like Title, etc. to appropriate properties on the view model.
This is going to be a major new feature to Docking/MDI’s already-expansive feature set and we’re very excited to be adding it, probably in WPF Studio 2011.1.
A question came in from one of our customers today regarding a scenario where they have interop content (such as a WebBrowser control) in their main RibbonWindow and they wanted to use the new Backstage application menu added in the latest WPF Studio build.
All looks great until the Backstage application menu is opened. The interop content appears on top of the Backstage content due to the airspace issues in WPF where any interop content overlays WPF content in the same Window. In this post we’ll show the issue via a sample and how to work around it. More...
We’re happy to announce that today we’ve launched a brand new theme for our blog:
This fresh new design focuses on simplicity and readability. We hope you enjoy it!
Last night we completed the migration of our web sites to a new server. You should notice an improvement in web page delivery and download speeds on the new server.
All web sites and the ticket system appear to be working great. Please contact us if you do encounter any trouble with the web sites so that we may address the issue immediately.
We’re very pleased to announce that WPF Studio 2010.2 build 532 has been released and is now available for download.
Major new features are described below. See the announcement post for the detailed list of enhancements and updates.
Extensive support for the Backstage application menu style found in Office 2010 has been added. New controls and styles are included for use on Backstage.
See our previous blog posts for details on these features:
Added new Getting Started QuickStarts showing how to implement a smart indent provider and a text formatter. There are now 17 total samples in the Getting Started series that walk you through how to create a custom syntax language.
Made numerous minor enhancements and updated Grammar to allow document end terminals to be used in productions. Added more documentation on grammar creation.
Added a new text formatter service with multiple options to the XML syntax language. Options are similar to VS 2010’s XAML formatting options.
Added several new editor controls and associated samples.
New controls include:
The WPF Studio evaluation and full release installers have been combined into a single download with an option for which release mode to install. No more need to re-download after purchasing the first time.
Numerous tweaks and bug fixes were made across all products for this release.
The past few days, we’ve been showing some preview screenshots of the upcoming Backstage functionality (Office 2010-like application menu) being added for the next Ribbon for WPF build. Check out the prior posts if you haven’t already seen them:
Today I’d like to show off some more related features that have been added. Let’s take a look at the Office 2010 Black theme, with the Backstage application menu open to the Send & Save tab:
Backstage is a new control that represents the entire application menu area pictured above. It is effectively a TabControl that knows how to display buttons, recent documents, separators, and tabs in its header area. The Info, Recent, etc. tabs are new BackstageTab controls.
When a BackstageTab is selected, it gets the blue highlight seen in the Send & Save tab above. The tab’s content area is displayed on the right side. In this screenshot we actually have a secondary level of tabs too. The Send Using E-mail selected item is really a tab (new TaskTabItem control) that is within a new TaskTabControl control. This control knows how to embed ribbon Separator controls in with the tabs so that tab groups like Save & Send and File Types can be created.
On the far right column, we have another built-in style that can be applied to ribbon Separator controls, the same one that gets used when the Separator is in a TaskTabControl. Below that is a new style for ribbon Buttons where they render in a large rectangular format.
All of these new controls and styles have been carefully crafted to allow you to create a stunning Backstage menu in your own applications. Most other vendors don’t even offer Backstage, and if so, offer bare minimum features. As we’ve seen, our Backstage implementation looks like the real thing, supports recent document management, allows multiple tab levels, and has control styles that match Office.
These updates should be ready to go live very soon.
As I’m sure you are all aware, last week’s PDC 2010 conference set off a firestorm of tweets and news articles talking about how Silverlight is dead. We read these articles and scratched our heads, thinking that this goes against everything Microsoft has been preaching the last couple years. So what gives?
In this post, we’re going to straighten things out and will:
Read on to learn the future of WPF, Silverlight, and HTML5. The quick summary is, they are definitely NOT dead.
The firestorm of claims that Silverlight is dead started for two reasons: The lack of presence of Silverlight at PDC, and an interview with a key Microsoft officer.
At this year’s PDC, Silverlight was very noticeably absent. For a technology that Microsoft has been pushed extremely hard the past couple years with multiple major releases per year, where was it? There were no sessions on Silverlight 5 and barely a mention of Silverlight in the kick-off keynote speech. Instead, the keynote focused on HTML5.
Nearly everyone attending PDC or watching remotely was expecting a strong showing for Silverlight at the PDC, but they got next to nothing. Side note, all of us watching remotely were using a Silverlight application to view the sessions! :)
The second trigger for all of this was the interview Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet did with Bob Muglia, Microsoft President in charge of the server and tools business, that was published the day after the PDC keynote. The important portion of this article is included below:
“Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone,” he said. Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications, he said. But when it comes to touting Silverlight as Microsoft’s vehicle for delivering a cross-platform runtime, “our strategy has shifted,” Muglia told me. Silverlight will continue to be a cross-platform solution, working on a variety of operating system/browser platforms, going forward, he said. “But HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform,” Muglia said.
“Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone,” he said. Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications, he said.
But when it comes to touting Silverlight as Microsoft’s vehicle for delivering a cross-platform runtime, “our strategy has shifted,” Muglia told me.
Silverlight will continue to be a cross-platform solution, working on a variety of operating system/browser platforms, going forward, he said. “But HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform,” Muglia said.
Add these two things together and it’s rather easy to see how everyone perceived this as Microsoft effectively saying that Silverlight will be used on WinPhone and in certain scenarios on the web for delivering media. Articles were posted all over the web claiming that Microsoft killed Silverlight.
Bob Muglia posted an enlightening response on the Silverlight team blog a couple days later, recognizing the controversy that came about from PDC and the interview. In the blog post he emphasized these three points:
Silverlight is very important and strategic to Microsoft. We’re working hard on the next release of Silverlight, and it will continue to be cross-browser and cross-platform, and run on Windows and Mac. Silverlight is a core application development platform for Windows, and it’s the development platform for Windows Phone.
The rest of his post talks about Microsoft’s updated strategy for when to use Silverlight. We’ll get into this more below.
We’ve also been in direct contact with various program managers at Microsoft to learn what their take on all this is. The replies we’ve received have been directly in line with what Bob explained in his follow-up.
Specifically they all indicated that Microsoft is firmly committed to the future of Silverlight and are actively working on the next Silverlight and WPF versions.
Silverlight has never been meant to replace HTML. It has been designed to co-exist and work with HTML, and to make development of robust cross-platform client apps and advanced media delivery easy.
WPF is such a well-designed framework for building user interfaces. While it certainly has a bit of a learning curve for those who have only worked in older frameworks like WinForms, once you get past that and “get it”, it’s easy to see the power and flexibility you have with styles, templates, data binding, animation, commands, custom control creation, etc. The list goes on and on. XAML complements the framework by allowing complex user interfaces to be expressed in a clean XML format. Other than at the root Window and popup levels, everything is completely implemented in managed code. Compare this to WinForms where a good chunk of the WinForms framework is wrappers around Win32. I can’t count how many customers have told us they absolutely love WPF after getting past the initial learning hurdles.
WPF is now on at least two-thirds of today’s Windows PCs. Microsoft has invested heavily in WPF and has moved many of its key applications to be built on it: Visual Studio, the Expression suite, Web Matrix, and more are coming soon. Obviously they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t believe WPF was the future of Windows desktop development. The benefit to all us developers is that by Microsoft actually using the platform for these large key apps, they run into WPF’s various shortcomings and are forced to address them.
For instance, Visual Studio 2010 triggered the long awaited WPF4 text rendering/clarity improvements that should have been there early in the WPF dev cycle, and used to be the number one complaint/turn-off about the platform. I know that we’ve received numerous comments in past years about how a developer loved WPF but the text rendering forced them to go back to WinForms or C. VS 2010 got that fixed.
Another thing you may notice in Visual Studio is that there are no more standard MDI windows as an option like there were in previous Visual Studio versions that were not WPF-based. While part of this may be due to time constraints, anyone who’s actually worked on docking windows in WPF like us knows that the core cause is the dreaded “airspace” issue where any interop content (web browser, WinForms controls, ActiveX controls, etc.) will always appear on top of WPF content in the same Window/popup. The interop content can’t be clipped, which is a requirement to support standard MDI. At PDC, Rob Relyea talked about how they are finally addressing that issue for WPF vNext. Rob also talked about other exciting new features coming to WPF vNext.
Publicly, Microsoft does need to do a better job of getting the message out that WPF is their platform of choice for Windows desktop applications. Similar to how Silverlight was missing from most of PDC, WPF has been missing from most of the last several conferences as well. Why they aren’t actively promoting such a great framework is beyond me, but from everything we hear from our talks with Microsoft employees and by how Microsoft itself is shifting to WPF with its apps, it’s clear that their commitment is there. You just need to dig a little to see it.
WPF will be around and supported for a very, very long time to come.
Silverlight is a subset of the WPF platform that focuses on the key ingredients needed to build rich Internet applications, provide advanced media delivery, and is the platform used by the upcoming Windows Phones. Since it is based off of WPF design, it has a similar learning curve to WPF but may be a bit easier to grasp for newbies since there is less “stuff” available to you and thus, less to learn.
As mentioned above, Silverlight was never intended to replace HTML. However it does certain things better than current web technologies can. And it is definitely easier to develop complex applications with advanced user experiences in than using HTML and related technologies. If you are making an immersive cross-browser application and want to harness features like XAML for UI layout, rich drawing and animation capabilities, a full set of extensible controls that easily be styled, some of the best media delivery features available, etc., it’s a no-brainer that Silverlight is a great platform to choose. You’ll end up with a great product that has more functionality and was completed many times faster than coding it in web technologies.
That being said, Silverlight still does have some drawbacks. First, being a subset of WPF, if you come from a WPF background, you can sometimes get extremely frustrated when you come across various missing feature areas that you took for granted in WPF. It’s easier to move from Silverlight to WPF than from WPF to Silverlight. The good news is that Microsoft’s message has been that of convergence with WPF over time. Recent announcements of the portable library project, which allows sharing of code across .NET platforms, further support this.
Second, the debugging experience of Silverlight apps is sometimes horrible, especially when you make a XAML error and get a meaningless error number that gives no information whatsoever on what the cause of the error is. This is something that absolutely needs fixing.
Third, while it does support all the major desktop browsers, Silverlight is not supported on mobile platforms like Android and iOS. This is increasingly important especially as we move more towards more mobile lifestyles with smart phones and tablets.
Even with these drawbacks, Silverlight is firmly being backed by Microsoft as a platform of choice for many development scenarios. It is by no means dead or dying, and there will be a new version of Silverlight coming in 2011. Since the platform is maturing, new versions won’t be coming out as fast as they used to. But that is the nature of software development and is to be expected. It’s a safe bet to use Silverlight for your apps.
HTML5 is the evolution of the web technologies used by modern browsers. New features include advanced audio/video delivery, custom drawing via a canvas, new semantic-oriented tags, and various other features.
These features are still in their infancy and are still being massaged into what will be confirmed as the official standard a few years from now. Browsers have already started adding support for the preliminary specs though, and HTML5 is being driven by all the major players including Microsoft, Google, and Apple. It’s the one place you can find all these companies actually working together.
The most important benefit of HTML is that it is (and new HTML5 features will be) supported everywhere, on all browsers on all computers and devices. The point that Microsoft made publicly at PDC and in the Bob Muglia interview is that you can’t ignore that, you have to embrace it. And that is what Microsoft is finally doing with its IE9 enhancements.
Actipro Software, a leader in the WPF UI control realm, firmly believes in the future of all three of these great technologies.
Our WPF Studio user interface control suite has innovative and unique controls and features you won’t find elsewhere, everything from advanced docking windows and MDI to property grids and gauges. Our acclaimed SyntaxEditor syntax-highlighting code editor control that allows you to easily embed a Visual Studio-like code editor in your apps is available for WPF, Silverlight, and WinForms.
We are focused on continuing to enhance our existing products and to expand our product lines for the WPF and Silverlight platforms moving forward.
To summarize, WPF and Silverlight are here to stay. Microsoft has repeatedly confirmed that it is committed to enhancing both platforms and is building its key apps in WPF. The developer community is shifting towards WPF and Silverlight more and more all the time from older frameworks.
There is plenty room for WPF, Silverlight, and HTML5 in the modern development world to co-exist as each platform has a role. Sure the roles sometimes may overlap in some areas, but this gives you the benefit of being able to choose which platform to use based on your needs. Will you need the more desktop-oriented WPF, the more RIA-oriented Silverlight, or the universally-supported HTML5?
Regardless of which you choose, rest assured that Actipro will be there with you helping to improve your user experience.
Please take some time to learn more about us and our products at:
We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Yesterday we showed the first screenshot of the upcoming WPF Ribbon release that will feature the Backstage application menu functionality, introduced in Office 2010. Today I’d like to show off how to further enhance your Backstage via the use of recent document management.
Ribbon already has a RecentDocumentMenu control that was originally created for the Office 2007-style application menus. Our Shared Library also has a manager that lets you manage recent documents, which is in turn used to drive the data displayed in the RecentDocumentMenu control.
Let’s take a look at the updated UI added for Backstage:
You’ll note in this screenshot there are two RecentDocumentMenu instances used. One is embedded right in the tab area on the left, and the other is in the tab content for the Recent tab.
The tab area on the left includes four regular ribbon Button controls, followed by a RecentDocumentMenu, then six BackstageTab controls, and finally two more ribbon Buttons. When a RecentDocumentMenu is used in the tab area, it automatically renders its items similar to other ribbon Buttons in the area to provide a consistent user interface.
On the right side, a RecentDocumentMenu control is inserted with a special setting to render it in a large variant size. Our recent document data items have been enhanced to support multiple image sizes and descriptions for display.
As before, clicking a recent document will fire an ApplicationCommands.Open command and will pass the related document reference data item as a parameter.
You can even choose to add more RecentDocumentMenu instances if you wish.
Features like these will really make your Office 2010-like application shine, and will all be available to you in the next few days.
We’re very happy to announce that the Backstage application menu is coming to Ribbon for WPF very soon.
The 2010.2 version of Ribbon added the Office 2010 themes seen above. The next maintenance release for 2010.2 takes things one step further and adds support for Backstage application menus.
You can see Backstage displayed above. Note that common application command buttons are easily inserted before and after the Backstage tabs. Selection of a tab shows its related content on the right side of the Backstage menu.
As with the rest of Ribbon, we’ve taken great care to craft the UI of the new Backstage feature to be as close to looking like Office 2010 as possible. Compare our Ribbon with any other competitors and you’ll see quite a difference in rendering quality.
This is a first preview of Backstage. We’ll do another post or two in the coming days to showcase more related features (think recent documents). As mentioned above, this will ship in the coming days when the next WPF Studio 2010.2 maintenance release comes out.