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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 our previous post, we discussed some new features coming to standard MDI. In today's post we'll get into one of the largest new features coming in vNext, which is the ability to have a full-featured MDI with docked tool window support in a floating container.
In the current 2015.1 version, you can float document and tool windows. Each document window goes into its own floating container, while tool windows can be combined in floating containers. Many customers have requested that we allow a full MDI in floating containers and that's what we're bringing to vNext. Let's have a first look at how this will work.
Here we have a main window that contains two tabbed documents (docked next to each other) and tool windows in various locations docked around the MDI area.
Next I drag the Document1.txt tab into its own floating container. Then I drag Document2.txt and using dock guides, attach it to the first document. This is a new feature that couldn't be done before.
Finally I drag the Solution Explorer and dock it next to the MDI in the floating container. Again, this is a new feature that couldn't be done before. The end result is a single DockSite that has two fully-functional DockHosts in it, one that is primary (within the DockSite) and one that is in a floating container.
Floating MDI features have been requested by a number of customers and we're very happy to deliver them in vNext. This feature set allows your single app to have multiple MDI areas that can be most effectively used in multiple monitor scenarios. Your end users will love it!
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.
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!
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.
We'll be attending Microsoft's annual Build event next week in San Francisco. We're really excited about where Microsoft is headed with Windows updates, and innovations in other technologies. The "one Microsoft" vision is unfolding before us, with the melding of the best aspects of recent Windows versions into a single Windows 10 platform.
Windows 10 will be a logical upgrade for any consumer running reasonably recent versions of Windows. Windows 7 - 8.1 consumers will be offered it free of charge, making it a no-brainer upgrade for those users. We really appreciate Microsoft's renewed focus on the importance of the desktop, where Universal apps will now be able to run alongside their Win32 app counterparts.
Speaking of the desktop, it's just as important as ever on PCs, especially in Windows 10. We are fully committed to continuing development of new UI controls and products for the WPF platform. Our current primary development focus is working on a massive update to our very popular WPF Docking/MDI product to add a whole host of new features. Check out prior blog posts for some details on what's coming and look for many more in the near future.
In regards to Universal apps, we will be updating our WinRT XAML controls to target the Universal app platform over the coming months so that they are ready for use in developing Windows 10 apps. The most recent release of those controls added a new task board control, an advanced Python language for our SyntaxEditor code editor control, bar code display controls, and more.
See you at Build 2015!
The 2015.1 versions of our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls were released a couple weeks ago and in today's post I'd like to highlight one of the great new controls that were introduced in that version: TaskBoard.
A task board consists of zero to many columns, each of which can contain zero to many cards. Columns and cards can be dragged and reordered, using pleasing animations. Let's see an example to give you a picture of how it all works.
In the demo below, we have a TaskBoard control that is being utilized for a task planning system, commonly used in project management to help organize the priorities of a team. The columns represent task groupings, and the cards represent individual tasks. Each column has a header and optional footer that surrounds the contained card items.
In this sample, each column header specifies the task grouping name and the column footer contains an "Add a task" button. The footer of the overall TaskBoard control contains an "Add a list" button, which shows at the end of the list of columns.
The entire UI of the task board can be fully customized. The cards can show any custom content as well, or can vary content based on data template selectors.
The TaskBoard control is designed for MVVM usage and makes it easy to fully alter the appearance of the entire layout with properties for column/card spacing, padding, corner radius, etc. Best of all, rich animations are used whenever dragging columns or cards.
TaskBoard also works great with touch input. Use it to create task planning systems on large touchscreen displays.
The full source TaskBoard demo seen above is included in the sample projects that ship with our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls, and is available for you to check out today.
Let us know what you think after you try it!
WPF Controls 2015.1 build 621 has been released and is now available for download. This build has several new minor features.
Due to a certain initialization bug that was located in the original 2015.1 release, it is highly recommended that customers who have downloaded 2015.1 build 620 upgrade to this new build.
See the announcement post for the detailed list of enhancements and updates.
In today's post, we'll show the optional Find All button that was recently added to the SyntaxEditor (WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML platforms) EditorSearchView control.
SyntaxEditor has always had the ability to perform "find all" searches programmatically, however we received feedback from numerous customers looking to add this to our EditorSearchView control so that their end users could also access it.
The EditorSearchView control seen above shows the new Find All button visible. Note that it is not visible by default (the new EditorSearchView.IsFindAllButtonVisible property defaults to false) since unlike the other find and replace operations, there is no automatic UI change in the editor itself for a find all operation. Instead, you need to display the results somehow, such as in a find results list.
This screenshot shows an example find results list. The full source code for this sort of setup is included in the samples that come with SyntaxEditor.
Providing the ability for your app's end users to find all instances of search text is certainly a handy addition.
The features described above are available in our latest WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML control versions and are available for use.