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Actipro's WPF Product Roadmap - June 2008

We've had a lot of interest from customers regarding our product roadmap for WPF development.  I wanted to post where things currently stand and where our future development priorities lay.  I also would like to give customers the opportunity to voice their opinion as to what they would most like to see added to WPF Studio down the road.

In addition, we are now announcing a new WPF product that will be available after the WPF Studio v4.0 release:  PropertyGrid for WPF.

WPF Product Roadmap

Here is the roadmap for WPF development as of June 2008.

WPF Studio v4.0 Release

The WPF Studio v4.0 release will be available in the next several weeks.  We are still finishing up the two new products that have been added and are in the process of adding samples, documentation, etc. 

Actipro Docking & MDI for WPF

The Docking product implements docking tool windows and MDI functionality for WPF.  We haven't talked too much about the feature set yet, however we'll get into that closer to release time.  Rest assured though that themes are created for all Windows system themes, along with all three Office themes.  It also will offer a huge number of options.

DockingAero

Docking and MDI in Windows Vista

Use the docking tag to search for info on this product in the Actipro blog.

Actipro Gauge for WPF

The Gauge product makes it easy to create any sort of circular, linear, or digital gauge.  These gauges can be used to represent data in digital dashboards, provide virtual instrumentation, and much more.

Clock

A circular gauge that shows how easy it is to create a working analog clock

Use the gauge tag to search for info on this product in the Actipro blog.

After WPF Studio v4.0

The following two products have had work started on them but were placed on hold temporarily while we divert our development resources towards getting WPF Studio v4.0 out the door.

PropertyGrid for WPF

A new product, PropertyGrid for WPF, will provide property grid functionality similar to that found in Visual Studio and Expression Blend.  We will get into more details about the product following the WPF Studio v4.0 release.  However its development is already fairly far along, and we expect it to be ready within a few weeks after the WPF Studio v4.0 release.

PropertyGrid

The first look at our upcoming PropertyGrid control for WPF

SyntaxEditor for WPF

SyntaxEditor for WPF will provide the high quality code editing experience you expect from Actipro, the industry leader in syntax highlighting editing controls and components.  One SyntaxEditor for WPF design goal is to make a common document/parsing library so that it can be shared with the next Windows Forms SyntaxEditor v5.0 and CodeHighlighter.  We also have a ton of new features planned that we will start posting about in the future.

As a WPF Studio Customer, Will I Receive These Products for Free?

As long as your WPF Studio subscription is active when a product is released, you will be eligible to upgrade to the new version and get any new products added to WPF Studio for free.  Each WPF Studio developer license includes a free subscription that can be renewed at its expiration date each year.

What Would You Like to See Added?

Let's hear your comments on what you'd like to see added that hasn't been listed in our roadmap above.

Some suggestions from customers have included:

  • Grid
  • Chart/graph
  • Scheduling
  • Reporting

Please post a comment and rank in order of priority which of these (or your own suggestions) that you would like us to work on.

At Actipro, the opinions of our customers matter and your feedback really will help steer our long term future development efforts.

Comments (15) -

June 12, 2008 at 05:14  

Mike Strobel

That's great news about the PropertyGrid control.  You guys never cease to amaze me with how quickly you manage to roll out new components without sacrificing quality.  Well done.  If you can ship the SyntaxEditor without a significant increase in your licensing rates, the competition won't stand a chance ;).

Personally, I'd like to see a future release of WPF Studio ship with enhancements and extensions that can be applied standard WPF controls.  There are many ways in which you could leverage attached DependencyProperties to provide support for more advanced data validation, localization, and other commonly needed features.  For example, IdentityMine created a set of attached properties to enable non-trivial drag & drop support between ItemsControls in their Blendables product.  I'd be interested to see what creative ideas your developers could come up with for extending the functionality of the core framework.

June 15, 2008 at 08:54  

Chris McVittie

Schedule control would be fantastic

June 15, 2008 at 18:29  

Mike Strobel

Some of the editor controls--specifically the date/time picker controls--are a bit underwhelming.  They get the job done, but they're reminiscent of older and less flexible frameworks like Windows Forms.  The current implementation gives the impression that your developers sat down with the intention of re-implementing an existing control in a new framework.  Rather than falling back on an existing design, they should have gone back to the original question, which is "How do we present the user with the ability to specify a date or time?  How should this control be presented?  How can we make the input model both flexible and intuitive?  How can we make it obvious to the user what kind of input is expected, and ensure only valid input?"

I see no reason why date/time picker controls should not have discrete input "parts" (e.g. discrete parts for hour, minutes, month, day, year, and am/pm) that can be edited individually using the up/down arrows or the appropriate input keys, with the right/left arrows moving between those parts.

June 16, 2008 at 03:11  

Bill Henning (Actipro)

Mike, you are very right and part of our roadmap, although it wasn't listed above, is to address those exact things.  In specific, following the release of PropertyGrid, we wanted to work on some generic part-based editors with implementations like a much more robust date/time picker, etc.  Essentially exactly waht you are talking about, which could be used externally on its own or as an editor for DateTime values in PropertyGrid.  Also then if we implement a Grid control following that, we'd already have the advanced editors ready.  Sorry, I should have also posted this information in our roadmap.

June 18, 2008 at 19:43  

Dave Melinosky

I know it's a pretty significant undertaking, but I'd like to see a grid control included in the UIStudio.  So my preference list would be

Grid
Reporting
Scheduling
Chart/Graph

June 19, 2008 at 06:04  

Mike Strobel

@Bill: That's good news about the revised editor controls.  I had actually started on a specification for a new WPF date/time editor for a side project a while back.  I never got around to finishing it, but it had some interesting ideas--I'll try to dig it out and send it your way.

I must respectfully disagree with Dave about a data grid control.  The inherent problem with data grids is that they provide a quick and easy (and thus very tempting) way to display a collection of data items.  The problem, in my opinion, is that nine times out of ten, there is a better way to present that data.  While many developers lament the missing data grid control in WPF, I for one think we're better off without one.  It's far too tempting for junior developers (or just-plain-lazy developers) to bind a data source to a grid and call the job finished.  For applications that have legitimate needs for a WPF data grid, there are already two or three quality implementations available for free.

Actipro WPF Studio can continue to expand its position in the market without a data grid, and I would argue that it's better not to include one for the simple reason that developers are more likely to use data grids in haste when such a control is bundled in a control suite that they have already licensed.  They'll be forced to think twice about whether a data grid is really the best solution when it means referencing (and potentially licensing) another control.

That's just my 0.02 USD.

June 19, 2008 at 11:15  

Dave Melinosky

Mike,

I have to agree with your feelings about grids, I don't like them either.  However, I'm just responsible for getting the best tools for the job that I've been given.  Other people make the decisions about how we present our UI.  And despite my best efforts to argue against a grid, I lost that fight.

But if I were to choose a grid, I personally, would love to see what Bill could come up with.  You are correct in saying there are other free alternatives, but we've had some issues with those.

That's why I voted in the order I did.  And I think that is what Bill was asking for, what his customers need the most.

June 19, 2008 at 16:25  

Bill Henning (Actipro)

I also agree with your opinions in that a lot of times grids are used in scenarios where other UI is more appropriate.  However there still are a number of places where the use of a grid for proper presentation and possible entry of data is valid.

I know Microsoft is working on a native WPF grid control for later this year.  If what they come out with is good enough then there wouldn't be a real need for us to spend time on a Grid.

However if that is not the case, we do get a lot of customers writing asking for a Grid since they would prefer to only use one vendor for all their needs.

Dave, how you answered is exactly what we want to see from customers... a ranking of their needs.  Of course more in-depth explanations are welcome as well!

July 10, 2008 at 20:03  

Max Schmeling

    *  Grid
    * Chart/graph
    * Scheduling
    * Reporting

Scheduling and then chart/graph. These two would be really good.

If you do a scheduling piece though, make it good! Make it flexible and make it developer friendly. The stuff I've seen out there for scheduling has just been plain ugly inside and usually outside.

Get the developer community involved during your design phase while our feedback could still do some actual good.

July 11, 2008 at 01:05  

Bill Henning (Actipro)

Thanks Max, we got our beta tester customer base involved with the Docking/MDI product during its development and it was really helpful.  We will try and continue to do this for new products as well.

July 20, 2008 at 05:05  

Yaakov

About grids, what we really need is a control with a good designer which helps generating layouts for binding and presenting data.

i.e. let me define the layout of a row through a designer, (the data field arrangment shouldn't be restricted to horizontal stacking cells), embedd custom editors, and help me the way through binding, conversion, validation, expansion, grouping, etc.

That's my 0.01$.

July 21, 2008 at 14:56  

Kevin Bennett

#1.  Syntax Editor for WPF.  Push it up to the top.  This is far and away Actipro's defining control, and should be treated as such.

July 21, 2008 at 20:05  

Bill Henning (Actipro)

Hi Kevin, SyntaxEditor for WPF is full steam ahead right now in terms of development.  We're working very hard to support some advanced features.  

If you or anyone else have suggestions on things you'd like to see added, both in the visual UI and text/parsing areas, please do email them over to our support team.  Do it soon though since we're doing a lot of design/prototyping right now.  Thanks!

August 1, 2008 at 13:54  

Truls Gartland

Scheduling please!

September 3, 2008 at 03:40  

Pedro Oliveira

Grids and Charts are available from other vendors. But Reporting is not available from anyone. I would go for Actipro right now if I could have some WPF reporting support like I have in WinForms. Thanks

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