The Actipro Blog

All the latest UI control development news from Actipro

AppBarHint Control for WinRT/XAML


We're including a helpful new control in the upcoming 2014.1 version of our WinRT/XAML Controls:  The AppBarHint control.

What is an App Bar Hint?

The AppBarHint control makes it easy to inject an ellipses (three dot) area at the bottom of an Windows Store app page that can be tapped by the end user to display the page's app bars.  Here's a screenshot showing what it looks like:


Just dock the AppBarHint at the bottom of the page, set a background, and that's all there is to it.  The control automatically opens the app bars when it is tapped.

AppBarHint is also a ContentControl so that custom content can be inserted to the left of the ellipses if desired.

Real-World Usage

We already use the AppBarHint control in our free Code Writer app.  You can see it here in the lower left.


In this usage scenario, we insert the line/column information as content within the AppBarHint control.  Then when the user taps anywhere inside of the green hint, the app bars display.


This new control will be available when the 2014.1 version of our WinRT/XAML Controls versions are released in March.

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SyntaxEditor JavaScript Completion


Last year we added an advanced JavaScript language implementation to the SyntaxEditor Web Languages Add-on.  This language implementation (available in the WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML versions of the add-on) includes features like syntax highlighting, parsing with AST generation, syntax error reporting, code outlining, etc.

In today's post I'd like to announce that we have added a simplistic completion provider to the language that should help end user coding productivity.

Completion Provider

The new completion provider displays a completion list when Ctrl+Space is pressed:


The concept is similar to completion lists found in other popular IDEs like Sublime, where the list includes JavaScript keywords and identifiers found throughout the document.  The list has been set up to accept acronym and shortcut item matchers, meaning that any loosely-matched text will select items.  The list also auto-shrinks to only show matching items.


These great new features will be available when the 2014.1 WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML versions are released in March.

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SyntaxEditor Auto-Sizing


One feature that several customers have asked for is the ability for SyntaxEditor to automatically resize itself based on its text contents.  We didn't originally have this feature since it can be time-consuming (relatively speaking) and when editing huge documents, we didn't want to add any performance hits.

That being said, in the upcoming 2014.1 version of SyntaxEditor for WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML, we have added a new SyntaxEditor.IsViewLineMeasureEnabled property that can be set to true to activate view line measure behavior.  This means that you now can use SyntaxEditor in a layout scenario where its measured size will have an effect on its arranged size.

Multi-Line Editing Example

Let's check out an example of this in action.  Here we have a SyntaxEditor that has an XML language loaded and the new view line measure features enabled.  It's resizing itself vertically according to the number of lines in it:


Now if we press Enter a couple times, it auto-sizes to a larger height:


You can see how this would be useful when SyntaxEditor is hosted in controls like a StackPanel.

Single-Line Editing Example

We've also enhanced our single-line edit mode with a neat new feature.  Now if you set word wrap mode on and also have the view line measure features enabled, the single line will grow to render on multiple lines but will still not allow Enter to be pressed or inserted via pastes, etc.

This sort of feature is useful for scenarios where you want to allow a single line snippet of text to be edited but for the entire text to be visible.  Let's have a look:


Above we have a SyntaxEditor in single-line mode, with word wrap on, and view line measure enabled.  Let's type some more text:


Even though the text is still a single line (no line feeds are allowed in single-line mode), the word wrap caused the editor to grow taller.


These great new features will be available when the 2014.1 WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML versions are released in March.

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WinForms Metro Toggleable Auto-Hide Flyouts


Yesterday we announced that a new Metro Light theme is coming to our WinForms Controls in the 2014.1 version.  This new theme was modeled after Visual Studio 2013's appearance and helps give your app a sleeker look.

Differences in Auto-Hide Tab Behavior

In the newer Visual Studio versions, auto-hidden tool windows are represented by a UI element that no longer looks like a tab.  Instead, the "tab" contains the tool window's name with a thick line underneath. 

In this screenshot, you can see the mouse hovering over the Events auto-hide tab:WinFormsMetroDocking

Another change in Visual Studio is that hovering over the tab no longer automatically shows the tool window in a flyout.  Users must now click to display the flyout.

Our DockManager already has a AutoHideShowOnMouseHover property that can be set to false to achieve that sort of behavior.  For the 2014.1 version, we have enhanced it further.  If the property is false, and a tool window's auto-hide tab is clicked while the related tool window flyout is displayed, the flyout will now toggle closed.  This achieves similar functionality to how Visual Studio 2013 works.


These additions to give your WinForms app a fresh new Metro look will be available in the 2014.1 version of our WinForms Controls.

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Metro Light Theme Coming to WinForms Controls


We've had metro themes in our WPF control products for over a year now and recently announced that they are getting some very nice updates for their 2014.1, with a number of refinements and enhancements.

Today I'd like to announce that a Metro Light theme is coming to our WinForms Controls as well!  This new theme gives your WinForms apps a Visual Studio 2013-like appearance.

Theme Description

First, we've added an additional option to the WindowsColorSchemeType that is called MetroLight and uses a flat color scheme similar to Visual Studio 2013's look.

Next, we created brand new renderers for our Bars, Docking/MDI, and Navigation products that draw the controls using the Metro appearance.  SyntaxEditor and Wizard already look good in Metro Light with their existing renderers.

Here's the Bar Controls demo, showing off the new theme:


Notice how the entire window has a nice flat appearance and subtle touches like the dotted gripper title bars are included.


This great theme addition to give your WinForms app a fresh new Metro look will be available in the 2014.1 version of our WinForms Controls.

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Docking/MDI for WPF - Huge Metro Theme Updates


The past couple days, we've been working on enhancing our popular Metro Themes, mostly focusing on refinements and improvements to their use in our Docking/MDI product.

Our Metro Light, White, and Dark themes have been available since v2012.2 and not only theme the Actipro controls you use in your projects, but also can theme all the native WPF controls.  This allows your entire app to mesh together cleanly with a polished, professional appearance.

Theme Updates

Let's dive in and take a look at some of the updates that are coming.  First, here's a screenshot of our main Docking/MDI demo with the updated Metro Light theme:


Improvements include:

  • Lighter dock site background that blends better with the window background.
  • Subtle outline borders around the tabbed MDI and tool window containers.
  • Tool window container title bars are no longer as in-your-face when not focused.
  • Tool window container title bars now have a dotted region that help relay that they are grippable.
  • New auto-hidden tool window tab appearance that is more like Visual Studio 2013.
  • Tool window tab images hidden by default in Metro themes (but can be toggled back via a new option).
  • Slightly lighter control backgrounds in Metro Dark theme.

Here's the same window in our Metro Dark theme:



Our feature rich Docking/MDI product, combined with our enhanced Metro themes, really provide sleek and clean docking window functionality for your WPF apps.  You won't beat the attention to detail that our themes provide.

These new features will be available in the 2014.1 version of Docking/MDI.

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