The Actipro Blog

All the latest UI control development news from Actipro

Icons Metro Essentials Released

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A couple weeks ago, we made a major update to our Office 2010 style icons that brought the bundle to over 80,000 total images.  Once bit of feedback we've gotten from customers is that they'd like to see a similar bundle that is designed in the more modern flat appearance used in Office 2013.

Today we are pleased to announce that we've delivered on this and have released a brand new icons bundle named Icons Metro Essentials that contains over 108,000 total icons!

By the way, these icons look great with the Metro themes found in our WPF Controls.

What's Included?

Icons Metro Essentials includes over 3,600 completely unique icon designs.  Each icon design is implemented in multiple sizes (64x64, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, and 16x16), multiple states (normal, hot, and disabled), and are delivered in alpha-blended PNG and Icon file types. 

SizesAndStates

The above example shows the multiple sizes/states for a single icon design.  Notice the pixel-perfect quality of each icon.  These aren't just large icons that were scaled down to various sizes.  Each icon has been individually cleaned up to have clear, crisp lines.

Set Previews

Here's a preview of just some of the 32x32 images found in the bundle:

MetroBasics

As a bonus, an additional status bar set is included with white icons that look great on a modern status bar:

MetroStatusBar

See the full preview on our web site to see all of the included thousands of icon designs.

Summary

Are you looking to update your app or web site's appearance to the latest Office 2013 appearance?  Get Icons Metro Essentials today and you'll be well on your way.

Download a free sampler of our icons to check them out!

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Filed under: Actipro, New product

Icons Elements v2.0 - Now with Over 2,700 Images

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Last week we announced that Actipro Icons Essentials v3.0 was released.  Icons Essentials is our main icons bundle, with thousands of unique crisp and clear icon designs.  We also offer an Icons Elements package that consists of various adornments that are intended to be combined with other icons (such as those from Icons Essentials) to create icons with new meanings.

UsageExample

In the example above, an "image" icon was combined with a "hand" element to create a "share image" icon.

Today I'd like to announce that version 2.0 of our Actipro Icons Elements product also launched last week, adding new image designs and new image size variations (64x64, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, and 16x16) into the mix.  The first version of these icons only included two size variations.  All icons ship in PNG and Icon formats. 

Here's an example of how a couple elements look at each of the size variations:

PreviewSizes

Note that elements are smaller than normal icons since they are intended to be merged into other existing icons and just change their context.  They afford you the ability to mix and match however you need.

Download a free sampler of our icons to check them out!

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Upgrading to v2.0

If you are an existing Actipro Icons Elements customer, you can upgrade to v2.0 for just $49 per developer.  Bulk discounts are also available.  Please email our sales department for assistance with upgrading.

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Filed under: Actipro, New features

Icons Essentials v3.0 - Now with Over 80,000 Images

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We’re very happy to announce that v3.0 of our Actipro Icons Essentials product launched today, adding nearly 50,000 new images to the icon bundle!

This new version features a number of new icon designs, but more importantly, the icons now come in five size variations (64x64, 48x48, 32x32, 24x24, and 16x16) instead of just two.  They also all ship in normal, hot, and disabled states, and in PNG and Icon formats. 

Here's an example of the variations for a "table insert row above" icon:

EssentialsSizesAndStates

If you have a need for high-quality icons to be used in a web site or application, please have a look at our product.  All our icons are crisp and clear in smaller sizes like 32x32 and 16x16, unlike many competitors who design their icons at larger sizes and never clean up anti-alias artifacts that result when they are scaled down to smaller sizes.

Download a free sampler of our icons to check them out!

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Upgrading to v3.0

If you are an existing Actipro Icons Essentials customer, you can upgrade to v3.0 with nearly 50,000 new images for just $149 per developer.  Bulk discounts are also available.  Please email our sales department for assistance with upgrading.

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Filed under: Actipro, New features

Icons Elements Released – Overlay Glyphs to Create New Icons

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Sometimes you want to create your own icons from scratch or simply want to modify other existing icons. These scenarios are where our new Actipro Icons Elements product, which just launched, comes into play.

Actipro Icons Elements is a set of over 600 overlay icons that can be combined with any other custom or third-party icon to give new meaning to the icon. The overlays can be simple adornments or can represent various states/actions.

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Usage Example

Say that you had an icon for an image that you obtained from either our Actipro Icons Essentials bundle or from a third-party, and you wanted to create an icon representing the action of sharing an image.

UsageExample

All you’d do is locate the “element” icon you wish to use from our Icons Elements set (in this case a hand glyph that commonly represents sharing), and use your favorite image editor (Photoshop, Visual Studio, etc.) to combine the two into a new icon.

Voila!  By combining existing icons with the professionally-designed overlay glyphs in this set, you can create an amazing number of customized icons, suited to your needs.

Icon Designs

Check out the icon designs below.  Note that the previews below are blurry for copy protection.  The real icons are crisp and clear.

Large Size

The Large size elements are ideal for overlaying 32x32 size icons.

PreviewSize32

Small Size

The Small size elements are ideal for overlaying 16x16 size icons.

PreviewSize16

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Filed under: Actipro, New product

New Actipro Icons Essentials v2.0 - Now with Over 30,000 Images

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We’re very happy to announce that v2.0 of our Actipro Icons Essentials product launched today, adding nearly 9,000 new images to the icon bundle!

If you have a need for high-quality icons to be used in a web site or application, please have a look at our product.  All our icons are crisp and clear in 32x32 and 16x16 sizes, unlike many competitors who design their icons at larger sizes and never clean up anti-alias artifacts that result when they are scaled down to smaller sizes.

As part of the new version, we added a new Development set and reorganized what previously was a Miscellaneous set into our other sets.

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Upgrading to v2.0

If you are an existing Actipro Icons Essentials customer, you can upgrade to v2.0 with nearly 9,000 new images for just $30 per developer.  Bulk discounts are also available.  Please email our sales department for assistance with upgrading.

New Icon Designs

Check out the new icon designs added in v2.0 below.  Note that the red lines are for copy protection and do not appear in the real icons.

Basics (164 New Designs)

IconsBasics

Communication & Management (183 New Designs)

IconsCommunication

Database (32 New Designs)

IconsDatabase

Development (144 New Designs)

IconsDevelopment

Hardware & Networking (83 New Designs)

IconsHardware

Imaging (25 New Designs)

IconsImaging

Multimedia (75 New Designs)

IconsMultimedia

People (84 New Designs)

IconsPeople

Word Processing & Spreadsheet (18 New Designs)

IconsWordProcessing

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Filed under: Actipro, New features

A first look at a possible XAML Icons product and browser application

Happy new year everyone.  As mentioned in this previous post, we have been looking into whether customers would like to see us provide XAML icons.  Right now we offer a very high quality raster icons product (Actipro Icons).  This XAML Icons product would be similar however the icons would be DrawingImage-based so that they could easily be used anywhere in WPF that has an ImageSource property.

You’d simply do something like this to use an icon (assuming “Paste32” is a key for one of our DrawingImages that has been exported into your application):

<Image Width=”32” Height=”32” Scale=”Uniform” Source=”{StaticResource Paste32}” />

The Actipro XAML Icon Browser

Without further ado, I’d like to present the icon browser application we’ve put together to view the icons and export them for usage.

Xaml256

The Icon Browser showing a variation of the sample Paste icon that is designed to look best around 256x256 size

The browser is really easy to use.  On the left you select the Target Size.  There are 7 size options, meaning we’ve designed 7 variations of each icon, where each variation is meant to be used at or close to the selected target size.  Target sizes range from 16x16 up through 256x256.

When a target size is selected all the available icons in that size are displayed in the list on the right.  Please note that the sampler only contains the 7 Paste icon variations.  More icons will be included in the Sampler if we do decide to pursue this product.

You can use sliders to scale and rotate the icons.  This really shows off how good they continue to look, even when animation effects have been applied.

Xaml32

The Paste icon designed to look best around 32x32 size, scaled up to 400% size and rotated 17 degrees

When you are ready to export icons for usage in your application, just select the icons to export in the list.  Then click the Export Selected button.  This exports them all to a file that you designate.  The file contains a ResourceDictionary so you simply add it to your own application, merge in the ResourceDictionary with your Application.Resources and you are good to go.

From that point on you reference the icons by their key name, using StaticResource as mentioned above.

Download the Sampler and send us your comments

We’d appreciate it if you could download the free sampler and let us know what you think, both about the icon quality as well as the Icon Browser application.  Please post comments here or email them over.

Download the beta version of the Sampler now

 

Thanks for your assistance!  Whether we pursue this product or not will be based on your feedback.

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Filed under: Actipro, In development, WPF, XAML

Would you like to see XAML icons?

We recently released our Actipro Icons product that is a huge bundle of some of the most professionally-designed bitmap icons that you’ll find on the web.  Actipro Icons includes over 1,750 unique icon designs.  Each design comes in 16x16 and 32x32 sizes, normal, hot, and disabled states, and is available in alpha-blended PNG and Icon formats.

View our initial blog post about Actipro Icons

Customer requests

Following the release of Actipro Icons, we’ve had a handful of customers (mostly our WPF Studio customers) asking for XAML-based icons.

I’d like to talk a bit about XAML icons and more importantly, to get your feedback.  We want to know what you’d like to see and whether it would be worth it to invest time in development of a XAML icons product.

Bitmap vs. XAML icons

The benefit of bitmap icons (like in our Actipro Icons product) are that they are touched-up to look spectacular at 16x16 and 32x32 sizes.  The downside is that when doing animation on them or scaling them up, they appear pixelated.

XAML icons are vector-based and are a native format to WPF.  They scale and rotate just as crisp and clear as at their target size and orientation.  This means they are ideal for various animations and/or other effects.  Additionally, when zooming in either via WPF scaling or Windows’ Magnifier, or when using alternate DPIs, they continue to look great.

Where most vector icon designers go wrong

Nearly all vector icon developers create their icons at 256x256 size and a small handful of them sell XAML-based copies of them.  Why is this bad?  Well at 256x256 and even probably down at 64x64 size, the icons will look perfect.  However realistically, how many of us use icons at those sizes? 

I would argue that 99% of icon usage is at 16x16 or 32x32 size, or sizes close to those.  Even if you have a well designed icon for 256x256 size, as soon as you scale it down to 32x32 or below, it will look blurry and many features of the icon such as borders will be invisible.  This is not good, and brings us back to where bitmap icons really shine.

Our take on the right way to create XAML icons

There has to be a solution that allows us to use vector-based XAML icons and still have them be detailed and distinguishable at small sizes like 16x16.  Here’s what we came up with in the event we do pursue a XAML icons product…

First, we still make a large 256x256 icon size for those who want the ultimate detail level for large size images.  Second, in addition to that size, we develop more customized variations of each icon that are meant to be used at smaller sizes such as one for 16x16 and one for 32x32.

Since most usage of icons is at or around 16x16 or 32x32 sizes, these special variations would be near their bitmap icon counterparts in quality and clarity.  Yet they would still be able to be scaled up and down per WPF animations and effects, and would not suffer from pixelation.

Note that XAML icons made at 16x16 would use very large borders and more contrast for the icon content, since that would show up best at the small size.  Whereas the larger variations would include more detail not found in the smaller variations, smaller borders, and more gradient effects, etc.

Styles

Icons can be designed using various styles.  Common styles are the Vista style, the Office 2007 style, or older XP styles.  Personally, I prefer the Office 2007 style of icon when used within applications.  I feel it’s more approachable.

Reply with your feedback

We really want to hear your feedback on these ideas since it will guide us to determine whether we should pursue a XAML icons product or not.  Also tell us which “style” would you like XAML icons to be in, either Office 2007, Vista, or another style?

Please post comments here or send us an e-mail.  Thanks for your help!

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Filed under: General, Actipro

New Product: Actipro Icons - Over 1,750 unique icon designs for your apps!

We’re very happy to announce the release of a brand new media product that can be used by any application or web developer:  Actipro Icons.

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Let's face it, most developers don't have the graphical skills it takes to make quality icons. And even if they do, proper icon creation takes a huge time investment. This is where Actipro Icons comes into play.

Actipro Icons provides a low-cost, yet complete solution for your graphics needs when building applications. It is a professionally-designed bundle of 10 categorized icon sets, containing over 1,750 unique icon designs, all in the Office 2007 style.

When counting the size, state, and format variations of each design, there are over 21,000 images included in the bundle.

Learn more about Actipro Icons

Multiple Sizes and States

All of the Actipro Icons (see our preview page) are implemented in 16x16 and 32x32 pixel sizes, with normal, hot and disabled states for each.

SizesAndStates

The sample images above show the six variations of a "slide-show play" icon that are included in both alpha-blended PNG and Icon formats.

Pixel-Perfect Quality at Small Sizes

When comparing icon sets with other competitors, it's extremely important to look closely at the quality of the icons at the 32x32 and 16x16 pixel sizes, since nearly all practical icon usage is at those resolutions.

Here's where our product stands out. Most icon sets are designed for 256x256 size and then are just scaled down to 32x32 and 16x16 sizes. As any graphics designer will tell you, once you scale down an image like this, the result is a very poor quality image that is full of anti-aliasing and a has a general lack of clarity.

Actipro Icons are different. Every single one of our icons have been "cleaned up" following scaling, and a good amount of extra work has been done in some cases to get icons looking spectacular in 32x32 and 16x16 sizes. We fully encourage you to compare the quality of our icons with competitors.

Download Sampler

Download a free sampler containing several icons so that you can see the quality for yourself:

Download sampler

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Filed under: Actipro, General, New product