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All the latest UI control development news from Actipro

Actipro Blog 2014 Q3 Posting Summary

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What We Accomplished

In this quarter, we published the 2014.2 versions of our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls.  These versions included several new controls, a new Python Language Add-on for SyntaxEditor, and some big feature enhancements for our existing controls.  Check out the release posts for more detail.

One big piece of the new WinRT/XAML control updates was that we made all our controls universal controls, compatible with both Windows Store 8.1 apps and Windows Phone 8.1 apps.

I want to also call particular attention to our new Editors controls that we custom developed for use in Windows Store and Windows Phone apps.  The editors use some brand new unique designs that allow users to efficiently enter data with keyboard, mouse, or touch.  Be sure to check those out!

Our Code Writer app received some nice updates as well.

What’s Coming Next

We're now working on more v2014.2 updates for our existing controls and on some new controls as well.

Blog Post List

Control Product Development

Product Releases

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Micro Charts - Trend Indicators

MicroChartsDevNotesBlogPostBanner

In today's post, we will introduce another new micro chart control that was added in the 2014.2 versions of our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls:  the MicroTrendIndicator control.

What Is a Trend Indicator?

The trend indicator is a three state control that is intended to reflect whether a numeric value is higher, the same as, or lower than an origin value.

Price

This sort of element is commonly used in stock value display where the origin value is bound to the previous day's stock price, and the value is bound to the current price. The trend indicator then renders an upward green triangle if there was positive movement, a gray line if no change, or a red triangle if there was negative movement.

StockReport

If the values are updating live, the indicator changes use a pleasing animation that rotates and fades in the new indicator.

The template for each state's indicator can be customized as well, allowing for any combination of shapes and elements to indicate the trend state.

Summary

There are a lot of uses for trend indicators, such as in dashboards or reports.  Download the 2014.2 versions of our products to check out the new chart type.

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Micro Charts - Segment Charts

MicroChartsDevNotesBlogPostBanner

In today's post, I wanted to introduce a new micro chart control that was added in the 2014.2 versions of our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls:  the MicroSegmentChart control.

What Is a Segment Chart?

A segment chart provides a visual representation of an integer value in relation to a total number.  Each segment in the chart is rendered as highlighted or unhighlighted.  For instance, if the value is 3 of 10, there will be 10 total segments displayed, with the first 3 rendering as highlighted.

MicroSegmentChart

This sort of chart is great for use on dashboards, and also as an indicator of steps or progress achieved.

MicroSegmentChartCircles

The style for the segments can be customized, allowing for any sort of shape, size, or color combination.  The Panel used to render the chart can also be set, enabling wrapping and other layout scenarios.

MicroSegmentChart100Wrapped

In the WPF and Silverlight versions, value converters can be used to further customize the brush or size of each segment to create some interesting effects:

MicroSegmentChartLevels

Summary

There are a lot of uses for a segment chart, such as in dashboards or as progress indicators.  Download the 2014.2 versions of our products to check out the new chart type.

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Editors for WinRT - DateTimeEditBox

PostBannerWinRTControlsDevNotes

In recent posts, we've shown off some of our new edit box controls for WinRT (Windows Store and Windows Phone apps).  We saw our DateEditBox, which is used for date input.  And then we saw our TimeEditBox, which is used for time input.  We also have a DateTimeEditBox, which can edit a date and time in the same control.  That's what we'll show in today's post.

Windows Store Variant

The DateTimeEditBox control is used to input a DateTime value, and uses a DateTimePicker control in its popup.

DateTimeEditBoxOpened

Edit boxes work great with a keyboard.  When the edit box is focused, values can be directly typed in.  Type in "9/9/14 10am", "09/09/2014 10:00", "2014-09-09 10AM", etc. and press Enter.  Any of those will commit the same date/time value.  You can also move the caret to one of the date/time components (month, day, year, hour, minute, second, AM/PM) and use keyboard arrow keys, PgUp/PgDn, or the mouse wheel to increment values.  Best of all, pressing the left/right arrow keys will instantly jump between the various "parts" (components) of the edit box value and select the part's text.

The date/time value can be displayed in any desired standard or custom format.  By default it will use the current culture's default date/time format.

If the user doesn't have a keyboard, mouse or touch can be used to display the popup.  The popup contains a HorizontalListBox at the top that switches between DatePicker and TimePicker controls.  These two pickers allow for easy mouse/touch selection of dates and times.

Compare to Native WinRT DatePicker and TimePicker

Most competitors have either made date and time pickers that show a large Windows Phone-like spinning selectors, or have gone with the multiple ComboBox approach like these native WinRT DatePicker and TimePicker controls do:

NativeDatePicker

TimePicker

Neither of those control types are ideal for WinRT apps that can potentially be run on large desktops with keyboards.  Compare the usability of the above to our single control:

DateTimeEditBoxClosed

Not only does our DateTimeEditBox use less overall space and reduce UI clutter, it is super efficient when combined with a keyboard, and uses less overall mouse/touch taps for date selection when compared to the native DatePicker and TimePicker.

Windows Phone Variant

Just like our other edit boxes, this edit box will render itself like a button when used on Windows Phone.  Tapping the button shows a full screen picker (same as above) where the date value can be selected.

Summary

This post shows how an DateTimeEditBox control can accept date and time input in a single control within a Windows Store or Windows Phone app.  Download our WinRT/XAML Controls to check it out, along with our other beautiful and functional editor controls!

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Filed under: Actipro, New product, WinRT, XAML

Code Writer v2.4 Released

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Code Writer v2.4, our free text/code editor app, is now live in the Windows Store.

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for WinRT/XAML allows you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

Quote Delimiter Auto-Completion

Quote delimiter auto-completion has been added for most file types.

QuoteAutoCompletion

In the screenshot above where a JSON file is being edited, I've typed a quote character to start a string and its end quote was auto-completed.

Text Share Target

Code Writer is now a text share target, meaning that any other Windows Store app can share text to it.  For instance, if I open up the "My first note" note in OneNote and use the Share Charm, I see Code Writer listed:

ShareText

By tapping the Code Writer item in that list, it opens another flyout where the text that will be sent to Code Writer can be previewed.  Simply tap the "Create a Document" button and a new document will be opened in Code Writer that contains the sent text.

File Share Target

Code Writer is also a share target for all of the default file type extensions. For instance, if you have OneDrive open and select a file, you can open the Sharm charm and Code Writer will be listed as a share target.

Tap on Code Writer and a flyout will open that displays the files being shared.  Press the Open File button and the file will be opened in Code Writer.

Multiple files can be opened at a time too!

Improved Character Encoding and International Support

We've added a special new character encoding option that can be found in the Editor Settings flyout for using UTF-8 without a signature.

Utf8NoSignature

When opening non-Unicode files, the default character encoding specified in Editor Settings is now used as appropriate.

We've also improved international support with better caret/selection movement and delete and backspace functionality around multi-byte Unicode characters.

Summary

This update adds several features that have been highly requested by our users, and we're excited to get it into your hands.

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for WinRT/XAML, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

TaskWideLearnMore TaskWideWindowsStore

Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML v2014.2 Released

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The 2014.4 versions of our WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML controls have been released and are now available for download.

Major new features are described below.  See the announcement posts for the large detailed list of enhancements and updates, including many items not listed below:

Note that the 2014.2 version of the WinRT/XAML controls came out last month, introducing our Editors controls, but a new maintenance release is available today adding other new features.

ProductHeadingGenericCharts

We've added six new built-in chart palette options, including Retro and Sand:

ChartPalettes

ProductHeadingWPFDocking

Docking/MDI received numerous updates, including a new option for rafting windows to not hide when in scenario where their owner DockSite is hidden, such as if it's nested in tabs itself.  Many updates to focus handling were made, especially in relation to interop controls like WinForms/ActiveX.

ProductHeadingGenericEditors

Updated the Country and Currency classes with the latest ISO data.

WinRT/XAML Only

As announced in recent blog posts, our WinRT/XAML controls now have some really unique and universal (Windows Store / Windows Phone) controls for accepting input of common data types.

ColorEditBoxOpened
See our Edit Boxes Overview for a summary of the controls and some links to additional posts describing their functionality.

ProductHeadingGenericMicroCharts

A new segment chart has been added that allows for visual display of an integer value within a total..

SegmentChartType

This sort of chart is great for use on dashboards, and also as an indicator of steps or progress achieved.

Another new control is the arrow indicator displayed on the left side of the stock chart below.  It's called a trend indicator and alters its UI to reflect whether a numeric value is greater than, the same as, or less than an origin value.

StockChart

Six new built-in chart palettes have been added as well, including IceCream and Melon.

MicroChartPalettes
ProductHeadingWPFPropertyGrid

We've created a new custom property editor sample that shows how to easily add a custom property editor for a certain Type. 

PropertyGridCustomEditor


Double-clicking a property name has been improved such that if the property doesn't support standard values, it will attempt to focus the related editor instead and select all text.

ProductHeadingGenericSyntaxEditor

Quote auto-completion support has been added to the DelimiterAutoCompleter class, with double quote completion enabled by default.  As the user types a start quote, the related end quote will be auto-entered after the caret.  The C#, VB, Python, JavaScript, and JSON languages in our premium add-ons have been updated to support quote auto-completion.  It can easily be added to any custom languages as well.

We've added some nice new features like a ScrollIntoView method that can ensure that a text position is visible within the view, improved caret/selection movement around and delete/backspace of multi-byte characters, and improved backspace to move to the previous tab stop when auto-convert tabs to spaces is active and the caret is before the first non-whitespace character on the line.

.NET Languages Add-on

We've had a lot of requests for showing how to support ASP-style server tags, where the C# within the tags has automated IntelliPrompt.

SyntaxEditorServerTags
We're happy to deliver a new full source sample (seen above) that shows how to harness our .NET Languages Add-on within server tags.

Python Language Add-on

Today's releases contain the first version of our Python Language Add-on, a new premium add-on that supports both v2.x and v3.x syntax.

PythonIntelliPrompt
We'll blog about the language in more detail soon, but you can download and start using it today.

ProductHeadingGenericShared

A new triangle shape can be used in UI such as breadcrumbs, tabs, etc. 

Triangle
This shape can auto-size to its container and supports strokes and fills.

WPF Only

We've added a ZoomLevelToTextFormattingModeConverter class, which can switch from Display to Ideal text formatting mode when the zoom level is increased, thereby keeping text clear in any scenario.

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WinForms Controls 2014.1 Build 321 Released

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WinForms Controls 2014.1 build 321 has been released and is now available for download.

JSONWinForms

See the announcement post for the detailed list of enhancements and updates.

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Editors for WinRT - TimeEditBox

PostBannerWinRTControlsDevNotes

In the recent posts, we have seen color, enumeration, and date edit boxes, which are all part of the new WinRT/XAML Editors product.  In today's post, we'll take a look at the TimeEditBox controls, which make it easy to select a time value.

Windows Store Variant

The TimeEditBox control is used to input a DateTime value, and uses a TimePicker control in its popup.

TimeEditBoxOpened

Edit boxes work great with a keyboard.  When the edit box is focused, values can be directly typed in.  Type in "10am", "10:00", "10:00 AM", etc. and press Enter.  Any of those will commit the same time value.  You can also move the caret to one of the time components (hour, minute, second, AM/PM) and use keyboard arrow keys, PgUp/PgDn, or the mouse wheel to increment values.  Best of all, pressing the left/right arrow keys will instantly jump between the various "parts" (components) of the edit box value and select the part's text.

The time value can be displayed in any desired standard or custom format.  By default it will use the current culture's default time format.

If the user doesn't have a keyboard, mouse or touch can be used to display the popup.  The popup contains a TimePicker control, which uses an analog clock-like user interface.  It is comprised of two radial sliders.  The inner slider alters the hour (spin clockwise one cycle to get to PM hours) and the outer slider alters the minute. 

Compare to Native WinRT TimePicker

As shown in the previous post related to date editing, most competitors have either made date/time pickers that show a large Windows Phone-like spinning selector, or have gone with the multiple ComboBox approach like the native WinRT TimePicker control does:

TimePicker

Neither of those control types are ideal for WinRT apps that can potentially be run on large desktops with keyboards.  Compare the design to ours:

TimeEditBoxClosed

Not only does our TimeEditBox use less overall space and reduce UI clutter, it is also super efficient when combined with a keyboard.

Windows Phone Variant

Just like our other edit boxes, this edit box will render itself like a button when used on Windows Phone.  Tapping the button shows a full screen picker (same as above) where the date value can be selected.

Summary

This post shows how an TimeEditBox control can make it simple for an end user to select a time value within a Windows Store or Windows Phone app.  Download our WinRT/XAML Controls to check it out, along with our other beautiful and functional editor controls!

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Filed under: Actipro, New product, WinRT, XAML

Editors for WinRT - DateEditBox and MonthCalendar

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In the last post of this series, we introduced the EnumEditBox control, which is part of the new WinRT/XAML Editors product.  In today's post, we'll take a look at the DateEditBox and MonthCalendar controls, which make it easy to select date values.

Windows Store Variant

The DateEditBox control is used to input a DateTime value, and uses a DatePicker control in its popup.

DateEditBoxOpened

Edit boxes work great with a keyboard.  When the edit box is focused, values can be directly typed in.  Type in "8/7", "8/7/14", "8/7/2014", etc. and press Enter.  Any of those will commit the same date value.  You can also move the caret to one of the date components (month, day, year) and use keyboard arrow keys, PgUp/PgDn, or the mouse wheel to increment values.  Best of all, pressing the left/right arrow keys will instantly jump between the various "parts" (components) of the edit box value and select the part's text.

DateEditBoxFocused

In this screen, the caret was on the month part and then the right arrow was pressed.  The day part was auto-selected.  A new day value could then be typed in.

The date value can be displayed in any desired standard or custom format.  By default it will use the current culture's default date format.

If the user doesn't have a keyboard, mouse or touch can be used to display the popup.  The popup contains a DatePicker control, which defaults to wrapping a MonthCalendar control.  The MonthCalendar control displays a single-month at a time.  The arrows in the header can be used to navigate backward and forward with appealing animated transitions. 

Pressing the title in the header will zoom out to the year.  Pressing it again zooms out to the decade, and then century.  Here's the views:

MonthCalendarViews

Compare to Native WinRT DatePicker

Most competitors have either made date pickers that show a large Windows Phone-like spinning date selector, or have gone with the three ComboBox approach like the native WinRT DatePicker control does:

NativeDatePicker

Neither of those control types are ideal for WinRT apps that can potentially be run on large desktops with keyboards.  Compare the design to ours:

DateEditBoxClosed

Not only does our DateEditBox use less overall space and reduce UI clutter, it is super efficient when combined with a keyboard, and uses less overall mouse/touch taps for date selection when compared to the native DatePicker.

Windows Phone Variant

Just like our other edit boxes, this edit box will render itself like a button when used on Windows Phone.  Tapping the button shows a full screen picker (same as above) where the date value can be selected.

Summary

This post shows how an DateEditBox control can make it simple for an end user to select a date value within a Windows Store or Windows Phone app.  Download our WinRT/XAML Controls to check it out, along with our other beautiful and functional editor controls!

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Filed under: Actipro, New product, WinRT, XAML

Editors for WinRT - EnumEditBox

PostBannerWinRTControlsDevNotes

In the last post of this series, we introduced the ColorEditBox control, which is part of the new WinRT/XAML Editors product.  In today's post, we'll take a look at the EnumEditBox control, which makes it easy to select enumeration values.

Windows Store Variant

The EnumEditBox control is used to input an Enum value, and uses an EnumPicker control in its popup.

EnumEditBoxOpened

The screenshot above shows off how the popup renders a flags-based enumeration, where multiple selections can be made.  For non-flags enumerations, the popup looks more like a standard single-selection list:

EnumListBoxNonFlags

It's very easy to get going with the control.  Simply set the enumeration type and bind a value and it takes care of the rest for you.

Edit boxes work great with a keyboard.  When the edit box is focused, values can be directly typed in.  Type in "Three" and press Enter.  The value will get committed.  You can also use keyboard arrow keys, PgUp/PgDn, or the mouse wheel to increment values.

If the user doesn't have a keyboard, mouse or touch can be used to display the popup.  The picker on the popup uses large items, making for easy mouse/touch selection.

Anther great feature of the control is the ability to use DisplayAttribute attributes on the enumeration values to specify alternate display text for each enum value.  Custom value sorting algorithms can be set as well.

Windows Phone Variant

Just like our other edit boxes, this edit box will render itself like a button when used on Windows Phone.  Tapping the button shows a full screen picker (same as above) where the enum values can be selected.

Summary

This post shows how an EnumEditBox control can make it simple for an end user to select an enumeration value within a Windows Store or Windows Phone app.  Download our WinRT/XAML Controls to check it out, along with our other beautiful and functional editor controls!

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Filed under: Actipro, New product, WinRT, XAML