The Actipro Blog

All the latest UI control development news from Actipro

WPF Studio 2011.2 Released

BlogPostBanner

We’re very pleased to announce that WPF Studio 2011.2 build 550 has been released and is now available for download.

This version has enormous updates for all products that unifies and improves how theming is done, and provides optional themes for native WPF controls that look great next to Actipro controls, thus facilitating consistent app-wide themes.  SyntaxEditor also has received numerous new highly-requested feature areas such as IntelliPrompt parameter info, single-line edit mode, code fragments, and drag and drop.

Major new features are described below. See the announcement post for the detailed list of enhancements and updates.

TaskDownload TaskLiveDemo TaskBuyNow

 

ProductHeadingWPFThemes

Stunning App-Wide Themes

Actipro Themes includes professionally-designed themes that cover all system, Office themes, and high contrast mode. 

OfficeThemes

The themes apply to all Actipro controls and optionally to native WPF controls.  This ensures that no matter what combination of controls you use in your app, it will look great!  More...

Filed under: Actipro, New features, WPF

Themes for WPF Part 6 - Wrapping Up

BlogPostBanner

This post concludes our series on the Actipro Themes being added for all our WPF controls in the upcoming 2011.2 version.  We hope you have enjoyed seeing the new theme-related features that are just around the corner.

Notepad

To sum up, Actipro Themes has these major features:

  • Over 10 professionally-designed themes, including all system and Office themes
  • Enhanced styles/templates for native WPF controls with the latest UI designs
  • Native WPF control styles/templates can be applied app-wide with one line of code or used on a case-by-case basis
  • Reusable styles/templates for common scenarios such as embedded buttons and glyphs
  • A common pool of reusable brush assets, used by the styles/templates for both Actipro's custom controls and native WPF controls
  • Special brush assets, such as ones for container and workspace backgrounds
  • All assets can be customized globally or on a per-theme basis
  • Brush assets are organized into tint groups that can each be tinted towards any color, allowing for easy custom theme generation

Beta Testing and Final Release

If you are an existing customer and are interested in beta testing Actipro Themes and the rest of WPF Studio 2011.2 (like all the new SyntaxEditor features), please e-mail us ASAP.  We’re expecting to start the beta test early next week.

The final release should be out several days following the beta test start.

Tags: ,

Themes for WPF Part 5 - Tinting Support

BlogPostBanner

This post continues our series on the Actipro Themes being added for all our WPF controls in the upcoming 2011.2 version.

In the last post, we looked at the various built-in themes that will ship with Actipro Themes.  In today’s post, we’ll peek at the tinting features that are included.

What is Tinting?

Tinting is ability of taking a pre-defined WPF Brush or Pen and creating a clone of the object with color changes to be more like a certain target color. 

Tint

If you take a brush and tint it towards a gray color, you end up with a grayish brush that has the saturation characteristics of the original brush.  The Actipro Themes object model that ships in our Shared Library has a number of helper extension methods that make allow you to tint any Brush or Pen.

Tinting Themes

While you can tint brush and pens individually, it’s much more useful to be able to tint large quantities of brush/pen assets at the same time.  Especially when you consider there are over 800 assets in the common asset pool for each built-in theme!

Actipro Themes supports the tinting of any theme or portion of a theme towards a certain color. This means that you can take a built-in theme like the Office Silver theme, and make it a red one instead.  More...

Tags: ,

Themes for WPF Part 4 - Built-In Themes

BlogPostBanner

This post continues our series on the Actipro Themes being added for all our WPF controls in the upcoming 2011.2 version.

In the last post, we looked at the updated visual design we’ve applied to our Docking/MDI product that looks great with the new native WPF menu/toolbar styles we include with Actipro Themes.

In today’s post we’ll take a peek at some of the themes that are built into Actipro themes.

System Themes

System themes are included right inside the WPF Shared Library and will automatically activate on any Actipro themed controls based on the current operating system theme.  Of course specific themes can also be set on the Actipro theme manager.

AeroAero

Luna (Normal Color)
LunaNormalColor

Luna (Homestead)LunaHomestead

Luna (Metallic)
LunaMetallic

RoyaleLunaRoyale

ClassicClassic

Office Themes

The three Office themes make your application look just like the Office suite of applications.  These themes are shipped in a separate assembly to trim down on Shared Library size when the Office themes aren’t needed.  They can be activated by adding a reference to our Office themes assembly and registering them with a single line of code.

Office BlackOfficeBlack

Office BlueOfficeBlue

Office SilverOfficeSilver

 

High Contrast

The high contrast theme can optionally be activated when it is detected that the system is in high contrast mode.  It’s designed to make controls stand out to those who are visually impaired.

High ContrastHighContrast

 

Future Themes

Actipro Themes makes it easy for us to tweak existing and develop new themes in the future.  Anybody want a lighter Metro-like or other theme?  Send us your comments and we’ll log the requests.

Summary

Whether you want to have your application fit into the current system theme or have it look more like Office, Actipro Themes has you covered.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the tinting support in Actipro Themes.

Tags: ,

Themes for WPF Part 3 - Docking/MDI Visual Updates

BlogPostBanner

This post continues our series on the Actipro Themes being added for all our WPF controls in the upcoming 2011.2 version.

The previous post covered the new common asset pool and how it helps us achieve a level of visual consistency throughout all our custom control products as well as WPF native controls that you won’t find elsewhere.

In today’s post, we’ll take a glimpse at the major visual facelift we’ve done on the Docking/MDI for WPF product for the 2011.2 version.

Goals

As seen in the first post of this series, Actipro Themes will include updated menu, toolbar, and statusbar appearances that were inspired by Visual Studio 2010’s look.  For the 2011.2 version, we wanted to extend this look to the Docking/MDI product as well since it is very often used with menus, toolbars, and statusbars.

The design of the VS 2010 is interesting in that it goes a bit more high contrast by using dark workspace colors to deemphasize the unimportant portions of the user interface.  It contrasts this by using light colors for the content area of each document and tool window.  There are fewer lines used for borders, which simplifies the appearance and reduces unnecessary distracting UI.

We’ve taken these concepts and ran with them for our Docking/MDI visual updates.

First Look

Here’s the first look at the new visual updates:

Aero

This screenshot shows the default Aero look.  Note how well it combines with our new theme updates for the native WPF menu and statusbar.  More...

Themes for WPF Part 2 - Common Asset Pool

BlogPostBanner

This post continues our series on the Actipro Themes being added for all our WPF controls in the upcoming 2011.2 version. 

The previous post gave an introduction to Actipro Themes and discussed how we have implemented styles/templates for native WPF controls that look great with our custom WPF controls.  In many cases, our styles/templates look the same as the related system theme.  However in some cases such as menus, toolbars, statusbars, etc. we’ve spruced things up a bit to provide a more Visual Studio-ish look for the native controls.  These customized styles/templates can be applied app-wide with a single line of code, or instead can be used on a case-by-case basis if desired.

Achieving Consistency

A main goal of Actipro Themes is to make native WPF controls in your apps look great when paired with any of Actipro’s custom controls, and when multiple Actipro products are used together.

In 2011.1 and past versions, each of our custom control products used to define their brush asset resources in their own assemblies. Since we have many product assemblies, over time this could of course lead to some inconsistent colors within a theme between multiple products.

There were cases where some brushes were duplicated such as for the non-glass Window brushes used by both Docking/MDI and Ribbon.

Finally, if Actipro products were set to use an Office theme, they would render great, however may not mix well next to native WPF controls since those would still be using the system theme.

The solution to all of these issues is to have a common asset pool.

Common Asset Pool

Our approach with Actipro Themes in 2011.2 was to consolidate all brush, thickness, etc. assets for a theme into a single place.  We call this the common asset pool.

What we’ve done is have developed well over 800 asset resources for each of the system and Office themes we support.  Then we made all of our custom control product styles/templates as well as our native WPF control styles/templates use those same assets.  You can imagine that this took quite a while to do.

BrushPool

More...

Tags: ,

Themes for WPF Part 1 - Native WPF Control Themes

BlogPostBanner

In prior blog posts, we’ve detailed some of the great new features coming to the WPF SyntaxEditor and its add-ons in 2011.2.  That’s only a small portion of new functionality that will ship with WPF Studio 2011.2 though.

Today I’d like to start a series of posts talking about the new product being added to WPF Studio 2011.2 and integrated into all our WPF products in the upcoming 2011.2 version.  The new product is called Themes and will be freely available for use by any WPF control customers.

Background

Over the years we’ve had a lot of customers ask for a way to make their native WPF controls take on a similar appearance to Actipro products, or vice versa.  This is especially important when using themes such as Actipro’s Office themes, for which there are no Microsoft-provided themes, since in that scenario you may end up with Actipro’s controls rendering like Office and native WPF controls rendering using the current system theme.

For the 2011.2 release of WPF Studio, we’ve set our sights on themes and have made some extremely significant updates/enhancements that focus on giving your applications a consistent, great look throughout (ours and your own custom controls, and native WPF controls) and have made some bold improvements in various control styles to pull in the most modern appearances from popular applications.

Related Posts

All of the enhancements will be explained in this and other subsequent blog posts.

  1. Native WPF Control Themes (this post)
  2. Common Asset Pool
  3. Docking/MDI Visual Updates
  4. Built-In Themes
  5. Tinting Support
  6. Wrapping Up 

Native WPF Control Themes

One of the largest pieces of the updates is that we now have complete implementations of styles/templates for all native WPF controls. 

Styles/Templates

In most cases such as scrollbars and buttons, we’ve re-created but kept the default control appearance for each system theme.  However in some other cases, such as with menus and toolbars, we’ve reimagined their appearance, using Visual Studio 2010’s look as a guide.

Aero

In the screenshot above, you can see we have our Docking/MDI’s WindowControl (a control that renders a non-glass window chrome) and inside of it is just a native Menu, ToolBar, TextBox, ComboBox, and StatusBarMore...

Tags: ,