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We now offer a way to provide real-time communication between you and our development team, via the free Slack messaging app. The app can be accessed directly in a web browser (https://actipro.slack.com/) or via Slack's excellent desktop and mobile apps.
The purpose of chat offering is to facilitate interaction with our development team, so that we can collaborate together on new product feature ideas, show screenshots of work-in-progress, and even provide access to preview builds of new features. This is all designed to allow you to play a larger part in steering our future work.
We currently have Slack channels related to our UI controls, the Code Writer app, and a general tech discussion.
Please note that the Slack channels aren't for technical support or sales-related questions. Use existing support/sales mechanisms for those.
Since Slack is geared around private team chats, you must be added to our Actipro team before you can join in the discussion. All you have to do is click the Request to Join button on our development team chat page and email us the requested info. We'll add you to our Slack team and you'll receive an invitation in your e-mail.
Whether you are already a licensed customer of our UI controls, just evaluating them, or are a Code Writer user, we'd love to have you get involved in the discussion.
One major update in the Discussion Forums on our new web site is that we now use a WYSIWYG editor when entering post text. A lot of time, bug reports require the inclusion of some code blocks to help frame the issue. In this post, we're going to talk about how to insert code blocks into a post and then how to copy them once the post has been created.
Let's show an example bug report. We'll pop into the .NET Languages Add-on forum and will click to report a problem. After typing in the title and the beginning of the post body, we have:
Now we're ready to insert a code block. In the screenshot above, the mouse is hovering over the Insert a Code Block toolbar button. By clicking that, a new dialog is presented:
Simply paste your code into the large text region and pick the appropriate language type in the radio buttons at the top. Picking a value there will allow syntax highlighting to take effect when viewing the post later.
After pressing the Insert button on the dialog, the code snippet is inserted into the WYSIWYG editor. Note that it is not syntax highlighted just yet but will be once the post is submitted since it's header indicates it is a C# code block.
One issue that you might run into when inserting a code block at the end of a post is that you can't properly move out of the code block by pressing Enter. Thus we provide a handy toolbar button that will insert an empty paragraph after the current code block and will attempt to move the caret to it.
After clicking that button and entering some more text, we are ready to create the thread.
Now let's look at a real recent post in our forums:
In this post there is a small C# code block. Note how it is syntax highlighted since the poster indicated that the code blocks language was C# when they created the code block.
Sometimes it's very handy to copy the code block contents. To do so, just double-click the code block's content and it will instantly be selected.
Then press Ctrl+C and voila, the code block's contents will be copied to your clipboard and available for use.
In our previous blog post, we showed off a new feature of our Discussion Forums where we have a special customer guidance forum where you, our customers, can vote and provide feedback on which UI platforms you'd like us to focus our development efforts on.
The customer guidance forums generally have a fixed list of ideas for you to vote on, but you can always write us to suggest other options. A great feature of our new forums is that for product forums, you have the capability to post ideas of your own!
A product idea is a particular feature area or functionality you'd like to see implemented in one of our products.
The idea should clearly indicate the feature/functionality that is desired. It is very important to be as specific as possible. You may wish to provide object model pseudo code, sample usage code, links to images showing desired end results, etc.
Once an idea is posted, Actipro and other customers can provide comments on it. Each registered user on our web site can allocate some of their vote allotment to the idea as well, the same as in our customer guidance forums. This way we can gauge the popularity of various ideas.
Ideas can be submitted by visiting the forum for the target product and clicking the New Idea button in the header. That will bring you to the Add an Idea page shown below, where you can add detail about the idea:
The title should be a concise name for the desired feature/functionality. The body of the idea is where you specify all the details of the idea as mentioned above. Press the Create Thread button when you are done and the idea will be available for all other customers to comment and vote on.
Ideas provide a new mechanism for customers to publicly submit product feature ideas to us. While we do maintain our own extensive internal TODO lists for each product, we'll do our best to give higher implementation prioritization to ideas posted on our forums that have a lot of votes.
Our new web site has multiple ways that we can get customer feedback. We have direct interaction mechanisms such as via e-mail, our discussion forums, or support tickets. Our old site (and the new) also have polls where you can answer some questions to help provide us feedback.
We wanted to experiment with another form of feedback on our new site, implemented via our discussion forums. Specifically we have a Customer Guidance forum category that at the moment has one forum, a UI Controls Platform forum:
So how does this work? Basically this forum has several fixed ideas presented in it, one for each platform we do (or will) develop UI controls for:
Once you are logged into your Actipro account, you have three votes that you can use in this forum. You go and apply your votes however you wish to the various platforms. If you only care about WPF, you can apply all three to that platform. If you only work in Silverlight now but plan on moving to WinRT in the future, you might put two votes on Silverlight and one on WinRT.
To vote, open the thread detail page for one of the ideas. Click the vote button on the left next to the post content.
A popup window shows where you can set your vote. Since I haven't voted on this item yet, a check appears next to No votes. I'll click 3 votes to apply all my votes to the WPF item.
Now back on the thread page we can see the number 3 appears in the vote box, indicating that I've applied three votes to this idea.
We value and want your feedback. Please log into your Actipro account now, visit the UI Controls Platform forum, and apply your three votes to the platforms you'd like to see us focus on in the future for our UI control development.
Part of our new web site roll out last weekend was a brand new discussion forum design. The discussion forums are in the community portion of our web site, and are where you can have a public discussion with Actipro's support staff and other customers about our products.
In the redesign, we wanted to make sure that you could personalize how you appear to others, and can provide other details such as your company name, position, and/or location. You also can customize your avatar (image representation) that is used in the forums and other places on our web site.
Let's take a look at a posting by one of our customers:
In the thread header, below the thread title you can see a small version of the original poster's avatar along with some other details he wished to share. In this case, Jake indicated his position and company.
Down in the comments area, we use large avatar images to visually represent who posted each comment. Speech bubbles containing each comment's content come out from the related avatar. This allows your eye to quickly get a feel for how the conversation flowed. For instance, since the first comment has the Actipro logo in it, you know that it's our support team replying. Then Jake's avatar is in the final comment. And kudos to Jake for his Plants vs. Zombies avatar!
By clicking on any poster's name, you can view their public profile in more detail to learn more about them.
The public profile is also visible to you right from your own main account page:
Just click the edit link in the upper right portion of the Public Profile to edit it. To view your Public Profile, click the Public Profile heading link.
Your avatar, which is your image representation, can be set by creating a free account at http://www.gravatar.com and configuring an image there for your private e-mail address that you indicated in your account. Please note the gravatar shows for your private Actipro account email address, and not your public profile email address (since that often is left blank).
Here's what the gravatar.com web site looks like:
Just click the sign up link at the top and in a couple minutes you'll be all set up.
When we show avatar images for customers who have not signed up with gravatar.com, we show a random shape image so that they still have an avatar of sorts to differentiate them from others.
We fully encourage you to give some personality to your account by setting your avatar up as your picture, your company logo, or anything else you love. And please do brag about where you are located and where you work via the information you can set in your Public Profile.
See you on the forums!
Our new company web site launched over the weekend and in today's post I'd like to go over some of the great new features related to maintaining your customer account.
One of our design goals with the new site was to simplify the whole customer account maintenance experience. Once you are logged into your Actipro account, hover over your name at the very top and a popup menu appears.
It provides links directly to account-related pages such as your personal account information, your upcoming/expired subscriptions list, and the organization accounts to which you are linked.
Clicking your name in the header or the My Account Information link in the menu will take you to this page:
This page contains:
Let's click on the View Organization button to see more information about the products and licenses that are available to me. Again, note that you could access this page directly from the popup menu that shows when hovering over your name in each page's header.
On this page we can:
Let's click the Purchases and Licenses tab.
Everything is presented cleanly and action links are available for the most common tasks you need to perform (downloading, getting licenses, etc.). Click the Toggle purchase details links on the right to expand out details on related past purchases.
By default, we only show the most recent licensed version for a product. Continuing with this sample, if older versions of WPF Studio were in my account, I would have seen another toggle link under the WPF Studio 2011.2 links that would allow me to expand out similar information for old versions.
Now I will open the popup menu for my name link in the header again and choose the My Renewals menu item. Again, this is also available as a button link on the main My Account page.
We wanted to really streamline things for customers in terms of viewing expiring/expired subscriptions and making it easy to place renewal orders. Here's what we came up with:
This page lists each organization to which I'm associated and any subscriptions that are about to expire or are recently-expired. By clicking the Order Renewals button, my shopping cart is cleared and the appropriate renewals are automatically added to it.
I'm then sent to the checkout page where I only have to enter some quick info (most of it is already populated because I'm a previous customer) and can submit my renewal order.
Shortly thereafter my order is processed by Actipro and my subscriptions are extended another year.
Please note that at the time of this blog post, and due to how our WinForms controls were restructured for their 2012.1 version, ordering renewals of earlier WinForms control versions via this web page won't work correctly. You can contact us for assistance with renewing those or can visit the renewals shopping cart page and add them individually, similar to how you used to place renewal orders on our old site.
We've put many hours of hard work into reimagining the entire customer account maintenance portion of our web site and hope that it helps you, our valued customers, have an efficient yet enjoyable experience.
Our brand new company web site that has been in development for over a year is now live and ready for use. Please head on over to http://www.actiprosoftware.com/ and check it out. We'd love to hear your comments.
There are a lot of new features in this site redesign that we'll be covering in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions or problems, please contact us and we'll be more than happy to help you.
Our main goals with developing our new site from scratch were to:
We'll cover some of these features in detail in future blog posts.
I'd like to showcase the touch-friendly UI design in this first post. We love our tablets and wanted to make sure that touch-friendly design was central to our web site implementation.
Per the screenshot above, you can see how nearly every page features large clickable areas that are very finger friendly. On that "Products" page, you can touch any of the large platform icons or the orange buttons to dig deeper into a platform. This sort of design is pervasive throughout the entire web site.
You can also see from the screenshot above that we have a large main menu area at the top of each page with items such as PRODUCTS, DOWNLOAD, etc. By touching these (or hovering over them with a mouse), a menu opens up with large menu items:
With core design concepts such as these, your fingers (or mouse) can navigate our entire site very easily.
The day has finally arrived. We've dropped a couple subtle hints here and there that a new company web site was in the works. We've put a lot of time over the past year or more into writing a fresh new web site with all the latest technologies, so that we can better present our array of products as well as make maintaining your customer accounts much easier.
We think you are going to love the new site, especially the account maintenance features and the new forums. Here's a sneak peek of a couple pages:
There will be some web site downtime over the weekend (mostly on Saturday, February 18, 2012) while we post the new site and work to ensure everything is functioning properly. Please make sure that if you need to access our site to download licenses, etc., you do so today before the current web site is taken down tomorrow. Everything should be fully working again by Monday.
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.
Last week we published our brand-new design for our WPF reference guide site called WPFpedia. Today I’d like to do an introduction on how to use the home page of the resource guide to examine resources.
This screen shows the main home page of WPFpedia. There is a Resource List on the left and a quick Search sidebar on the right. Let’s examine what you can do with each one.
The Resource List is a quick list that defaults to showing the most recent resource items.
Each item shows:
Under the vote count indicator, a plus button allows logged-in users to vote for the resource item. This tells other users that you think the resource item is helpful and also allows you to easily find it again from your profile page.
To view a resource, click on the resource’s title.
Any of the tags can be clicked to automatically search the resource guide by that tag. This same concept applies anywhere tags are listed on the site.
The Resource List can be sorted mutiple ways:
While the Resource List allows you to page through resources using one of the sorting methods, sometimes you may be looking for specific information. After all, this is a resource guide where searching is its main function! :)
The Search pane, located on the right side of the home page, allows for complete searching of the resource guide.
You can type text in the query box marked Enter search text and press the Search button to find the results the most closely match your query.
As mentioned above, you can click any tag to automatically search the resource guide by that tag. All resource items that are tagged with the search tag will be returned in a list.
The tags listed in the Search pane use varying font sizes. The larger the font, the more resource items are in the guide that use that tag.
I hope this summary gives you the information needed to start using the guide effectively. In follow-up blog posts well examine some other pieces of the site.
Jump over to WPFpedia now to start using it.