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As mentioned in this previous post, we've been looking for ideas to further improve our WPF Docking/MDI product, which already is the market leader for docking tool window and MDI functionality. We've committed to working on a complete internal restructuring of the product that we will call Docking/MDI vNext. We're doing our best to keep the same general API surface, while providing even more advanced features in every area of the product. We've collected suggestions from our customers over the past several years and are working to meet them as best we can with Docking/MDI vNext.
In yesterday's post, we talked about a new optional size-to-content feature coming to standard MDI. In today's post we'll get into some other new features: standard MDI dock target and context menus.
One new addition is that now standard MDI can accept an "attach" (center dock guide) when dragging tool windows around. If the tool windows are dropped on the center dock guide, they immediately become documents in the standard MDI.
Another new feature is the ability to right-click on a standard MDI window's title bar or click its icon (if any) to see a context menu. We'll be expanding the options on the context menu further in the future.
Let's see all of this in action!
In this animation, we drag the Solution Explorer and Class View tool windows around. You can see the dock guides displayed for the standard MDI area. At first, we dock the tool windows to the left of MDI, keeping them still in a Docked state. Then we "attach" (center) dock them into the standard MDI and they become documents.
You can see the context menu that comes up when the title bar is right-clicked.
These great new features will be part of Docking/MDI vNext, with plenty more on the way!
Docking/MDI vNext is currently still in mid-development stages but is progressing very well. Please contact us via email if you are an existing customer and would like to sign up as a beta tester for vNext. If you have any other suggestions for improving Docking/MDI, now is the time to get them in. We'll post more updates on our vNext improvements soon.
In the meantime, please download our current Docking/MDI control product and give it a spin.
The past several days, we have been refining standard (windowed) MDI and adding several features. In today's blog post, I'd like to show a new feature coming to standard MDI, which is the ability to resize to content when first displayed.
There is a new option on the DockingWindow class that can be set to hint that when the docking window opens in standard MDI, it will automatically size-to-content. In this example, a Document1.txt docking window has a simple TextBox in it and the special size-to-content mode activated (which is off by default):
When opened in standard MDI, the window sizes to content and appears in the workspace area. Now if we manually execute the Cascade method, or if we would have originally kept the size-to-content option off, the docking window will look like this:
In this case, it is using a standardized formula for setting the width and height.
The ability to automatically resize a standard MDI docking window on load will be delivered in vNext. This is another user-requested feature.
In our last two posts, we showed the redesigned functionality of dragging tool windows to float them and potentially drag/drop them elsewhere. One thing those screens didn't show was the ability to enable minimize/maximize buttons on floating tool windows. Our current Docking/MDI version allows maximize buttons on floating tool windows but there isn't an option for minimize buttons. We've added that option to vNext, so let's have a look.
Here's a simple tool window layout where all tool windows are docked or auto-hidden:
Now let's drag the Properties tool window to float it. I have both the options for minimize and maximize buttons enabled. You can see the buttons visible in the Properties tool window container's title bar:
Now let's drag the Find Results tool window and dock it on the right of the Properties tool window.
Since a hierarchy has now been created, a new title bar appears. While the tool window containers themselves no longer have minimize/maximize buttons, the new root title bar has them.
The ability to minimize floating tool windows has been requested by numerous customers and we're happy to deliver it with vNext.
In yesterday's post, we gave a first glimpse at the updated tool window dragging UI and behavior. The new drag behavior is similar to the latest behavior found in Visual Studio where dragged tool windows and containers immediately float, but we've improved upon it with fast, subtle animations for dock guides and drop previews.
One of our customers saw that post and suggested that we allow for the Esc key to cancel the drag and restore it back to its prior location. This is something VS doesn't currently do and can be annoying when you accidentally start a drag, and then manually have to put the tool window back in place. This was a great suggestion so we added it this morning.
As you drag a tool window or container, you can press the Esc key to cancel the drag. If the drag originated from a docked state, it will restore back to that prior location. If the drag originated from a container that was already floating, it will restore the container back to the prior X/Y coordinates.
Here's an example:
In this screenshot sequence, I start off by dragging the Output tool window to float it and press Esc while still dragging. The Output tool window restores back to its prior located, attached to the Find Results tool window.
Then I drag the Output tool window again and drop it into a floating state. I resize the container and drag to move it, pressing Esc again while dragging. The floating container jumps back to its previous floating location before the drag started.
Thanks for the great suggestion Jim! If anyone else has suggestions for features, please send them over.
Docking/MDI vNext is currently still in early development stages but is progressing very well. Please contact us via email if you are an existing customer and would like to sign up as a beta tester for vNext. If you have any other suggestions for improving Docking/MDI, now is the time to get them in. We'll post more updates on our vNext improvements soon.
In today's post, I'd like to show off the redesigned dragging functionality for tool windows and the dock guide display.
For vNext, one thing we're working very hard on is injecting fast, subtle animations throughout the product. We want the docking window UI to appear fluid, much like the rest of Windows. We pay special attention to animation speed so that the animations provide pleasing effects while not hindering usability in any way.
In the area of dragging tool windows, we have quick fade ins for the dock guides. Also, a blue drop preview appears when moving over dock guides, or tool window container title bars and tabs. The blue drop preview has an animation that "pops" into place, using a combination of fade and scale effects. Check it out below:
This screenshot sequence also shows off a new method of dragging tool windows for vNext. In the past, starting a tab drag would drag a blue rectangle only. In vNext, starting a tab drag (or a tool window container drag via title bar) will immediately detach the tool window(s) from the layout and float them, tracking the floating container with the pointer. As you drag over a dock guide or tool window container title bar/tab area, the semi-transparent blue drop target appears on top of the floating container to show you where the drop will occur. This new behavior matches what is found in the latest version of Visual Studio.
You'll notice that I referred to the "pointer" and not mouse above. That's because we also are taking great care in vNext to ensure dragging, etc. all fully work with any pointer such as mouse, stylus, or touch! The docking capabilities seen above can be accomplished with your finger on a touchscreen.
These are just some of the really advanced features we're adding to the product for vNext.