WPF Controls 2020.1 Themes Goals

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 6 comments
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 6:54pm

Actipro WPF Controls v2020.1 development is in progress, and the new version’s main goals are to modernize our themes and make theme customization much easier.

In today’s post, I’d like to provide some high-level information on some of the updates.

Theme Generation Concept

When an Actipro theme is activated, hundreds of brush and other resources are loaded and used throughout all our Actipro and native control templates.  This allows our themes to provide a cohesive appearance throughout all controls in your app.  Our WPF Controls ship with over 25 professionally-desired themes that match system, Office, and Metro themes.

In v2019.1 and earlier, all these theme resources are pre-defined by us in large XAML files and customers can customize individual resources or tint groups of them.  While these themes look great, it can be tedious to customize them if you don’t like the out-of-the-box look.

A primary focus of the 2020.1 WPF Controls is to move from our previous pre-defined themes towards themes that are generated at run-time based on theme generator options you set.  For instance, a main setting is the theme intent, which can be White, Light, Dark, Black, or HighContrast.  This tells the theme generator how the theme is meant to be used in general.  Then various grayscale and color ramps are generated based on configurable options.  All the highlight colors are based on colors generated in the color ramps.  There are options for things like the corner radius of tabs, whether the title bar uses an accent color (like in Office colorful themes), etc.

We are currently prototyping out this concept and so far, it’s working very well.  We will provide some screenshots once we are further along.  Please post your ideas on what kinds of options you’d like to have configurable in the comments below, as that will help guide us.  Now is the time to think big!

Modernizing Control Appearances

We have numerous ideas for bringing more modern control appearances to our new WPF themes.  Some of these, such as menu item checkmark updates, involve changes to our core control templates, both for Actipro and native controls.  Other modernization features will be optionally activated via properties set when generating themes.

WindowChrome, which allows any WPF Window to have advanced chrome features, is also getting a lot of enhancements that will be described in a future post.  These updates provide new functionality that wasn’t available before.

With several older themes being removed and other modernization template changes being made, we are finding that some of the brush and other resources used in our WPF themes are no longer needed.  We are working on consolidating brush resources where possible and removing unnecessary resources.

Older Themes

Luna and Classic

As part of the themes updates, we are going to be removing several very old themes that are outdated at this point.  These include the Luna themes (Windows XP appearance) and Classic theme (based on system colors and hasn’t been available in Windows 10 for years).

Aero and Office 2010

In a previous post, we had asked for feedback on whether customers still use Aero and/or Office 2010 themes.  Aero theme provided the Windows 7/Vista appearance, but Windows 7 is going end-of-life this month by Microsoft.  Office 2010 went mainstream end-of-life in 2015. 

We received feedback from several customers who still wished to use those themes in the foreseeable future, and we will be retaining those themes as options.  They are being consolidated into a separate optional Themes.Aero assembly that you will be able to reference and register at app startup.  This will allow us to keep our Shared Library smaller while still allowing the pre-defined Aero-style themes to be available for customers who wish to use them.

Aero Glass

With Windows 7 going end-of-life, we are removing support for transparent Aero glass features in our WindowChrome.  But as mentioned above, the Aero theme will still be fully available.

Feedback

We’d love to hear your comments, especially what kinds of options you’d like to see on our theme generator. 

WinForms Controls 2020.1 Released

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 1 comment
Friday, November 15, 2019 at 9:59pm

We are pleased to announce the release of the 2020.1 version of our WinForms Controls.  This version includes the massive SyntaxEditor enhancements and updates we’ve been working on that have previously been described as “SyntaxEditor vNext” in the blog, and moves the older WinForms SyntaxEditor API to the same codebase already used by the WPF and UWP SyntaxEditor versions.  This change brings a number of new features to the WinForms SyntaxEditor (including some huge premium add-on language updates) and will allow us to keep all three SyntaxEditor platform implementations in sync as new features are added in the future.

This announcement post contains the detailed list of updates.

Download Buy Now

Let’s dig in and see a handful of the larger SyntaxEditor updates.

Cross-Platform Design

The internals of SyntaxEditor have been heavily refactored to support a cross-platform API across the WPF, UWP, and WinForms platforms. This allows SyntaxEditor features for the three platforms to be kept in sync moving forward.  The 2019.1 WPF and UWP versions of SyntaxEditor already have this codebase in place.

Carets and Selection

Multiple Selections

Editing with multiple carets

Multiple selections, each with their own caret, are now supported. A new selection can be added by holding the Ctrl key when clicking in the text area or clicking on the selection or line number margins.  Most edit actions have been refactored to fully support multiple selections. For instance, pressing Shift+Right Arrow will extend all of the selections by one character. 

Typing and copy/paste with multiple selections

Copying text from multiple selections unions the selected text, joining each range's text with a line terminator.  Pasting multi-line text into a view with the same number of selections as text lines being pasted will replace each selection with a related line from the pasted text.

Touch Selection Grippers

Selection grippers will show for the primary selection when touch input is used.

Caret Movement

Carets now support movement at both the start and end of word wrapped lines.

The caret in virtual space past the end of a line

Search Overlay Pane

A new search overlay pane displays over the upper-right of the active editor view when Ctrl+F (find mode) or Ctrl+H (replace mode) are pressed in a multi-line editor.  A toggle mode button on the search overlay pane switches between find and replace modes, and all common search options are supported via toggle buttons and other controls.  The search overlay pane can be closed by clicking the X button or by pressing Esc.

Basic find and replace operations are available in the search overlay pane

Ctrl+F3 will open the search overlay pane without focusing it, and will search forward for the currently-selected text. Ctrl+Shift+F3 will do the same but will search backwards.

F3 will search for the next match of the previously-used search options. Shift+F3 will search for the previous match of the previously-used search options.

If the SyntaxEditor.IsSearchResultHighlightingEnabled property is true, the search results can be highlighted while the search overlay pane is open. Closing the search overlay pane, clears the search result highlights.

IntelliPrompt

Metro Images

Metro Light and Metro Dark common image sets are now included as options instead of the existing Classic common image set.

Completion Match Highlights

As text is typed while a completion list is open, the text in each item that matches the typed text is highlighted.

Completion Filters

An auto-shrink filter is now available that can optionally trim down the items in the completion list based on typed text.

Completion filter buttons can narrow down the items in the list, such as all .NET types

Other filters can be added to completion lists, rendering as toggle buttons or even tabs.

Completion Matching

Various completion list item matchers and match options have been added, that allow for special item matching logic to be injected.  Numerous built-in item matchers are available such as starts-with, acronym, shorthand, etc.

Quick Info and Parameter Info

The quick info and parameter info tips have been updated to use the current editor background and syntax highlighting colors.

Splitting

The scrollbar splitter button now has a larger appearance.

Splitting a view, and the new option to drag to the bottom to keep the top view

The view splitter can be dragged to the bottom of the view to remove the split and keep the top view.

Scrolling and Zooming

Touch Scrolling

Smooth inertia-based touch scrolling has been added.

Horizontal Scrolling

Editor views can be scrolled horizontally with Shift+MouseWheel

Better logic was implemented for managing horizontal scroll maximums, especially when scrolling vertically.

Scroll API

New programmatic scroll methods were added that allow for aligning an anchor line to the top/center/bottom of a view with a specified pixel displacement, or scrolling by pixels.

ScrollBar Acceleration

The vertical scrollbar accelerates its scrolling speed the longer you hold the up or down button.

Margins

Line Number Customization

The first view line renders with line number 121 due to a custom origin number set on the document

A new line number provider language service was added that allows for complete customization of how line numbers are rendered in the line number margin.  In addition, a property was added to the document that sets the line number for the first line in the document, defaulting to one.

Ruler Margin

A optional new ruler margin was added that is useful for column display when working with fixed-width fonts.

Outlining Margin Highlights

Highlights render over contained lines when hovering over an outlining node in the outlining margin.

Line Modification Marks

Line modification marks now have improved logic that better tracks unsaved, saves, and reverted changes.

Indicator Glyphs

The rendering of built-in indicator glyphs was improved.

Editing

Delimiters

Options for delimiter (bracket) auto-complete and delimiter highlighting are available when delimiter-related language services are registered on the syntax language.

Triple Clicks

Added support for triple-clicks to select an entire view line. Dragging the pointer on the final click will extend the selection by view line.

Text Rendering

Text rendering now properly handles cultural editing concepts like complex glyphs, bi-directional text, etc.

.NET Languages Add-on

The C# parser and resolver were updated to support C# 7.3 syntax, and the VB parser and resolver were updated to support VB 15.8 syntax.  Much-improved resolver logic is now present that is far more accurate than in previous versions.

The IntelliPrompt completion list now shows toggle button filters for the various kinds of items displayed in the list.

Web Languages Add-on

Added advanced syntax language implementations for the JavaScript and JSON languages.

Python Language Add-on

This new add-on implements an advanced syntax language for the Python language.

Almost 100 Samples

We've added so many SyntaxEditor samples to this new version that we had to create a brand new Sample Browser app design to support them all!

Twitter Poll on Modernizing WPF Themes

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 13 comments
Monday, November 11, 2019 at 3:57pm

Work on the WPF Controls 2020.1 version has begun.  This version is going to have large updates to our themes system.  Our goal is to focus on modern designs, allowing you to easily customize and personalize the themes used for your WPF applications.  We have a lot of ideas that we're excited to work on and will be sharing over the coming months on the blog.

As we dive into this effort, we are removing old system themes that aren't really needed any more.  For instance, "Classic" themes haven't been available as an option in Windows 10 for some time.  "Luna" (Windows XP) themes are for an operating system that went end-of-life many years ago.

Similarly, Windows 7 is going end-of-life around the end of 2019 and Offce 2010 went mainstream end-of-life in 2015. 

We are strongly considering dropping the Aero and Office 2010 themes so that we can slim down our product assemblies and focus on more current-era "modern" theming.  Rest assured, what we have planned for modern themes will allow for a high degree of customization and ease-of-use.

We've created a Twitter poll so that you can share your thoughts on dropping Aero and Aero-like Office 2010 themes in our 2020.1 WPF Controls.  We ask that you provide your opinion in this poll.  If you would like to see them kept, please contact our support team with the reasons why.

Answer the Twitter Poll

Again, all the operating systems and Office versions that had these themes are imminently or are already end-of-life.  Thank you for your feedback!

WPF and UWP v2019.1 Maintenance Releases

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 8:42pm

Our v2019.1 WPF and Universal Windows controls have been updated with new maintenance releases that are now ready for download.  There were a number of minor enhancements and bug fixes made across various products.

See the announcement posts for the detailed list of enhancements and updates:

Download Buy Now

Let's have a look at some of the larger updates.

SyntaxEditor

.NET Languages Add-on Parser Updates

The C# parser and resolver have been updated to support C# 7.3 syntax.  Likewise, the VB parser and resolver have been updated to support VB 15.8 syntax.  These enhancements allow SyntaxEditor's syntax checker and IntelliPrompt engine to work with recently-added C# and VB language features.

Triple-Click Selection

Triple-clicks now selects an entire view line.  Dragging the pointer on the final click will extend the selection by view line.

Searching Improvements

Editor view searching and search result highlighting logic was improved, including offloading some pieces to worker tasks for better performance.

The search overlay pane's textbox now displays a red border when no match for the find text is located.

Shell (WPF)

Object Name Sorting

The name sort logic for shell objects now uses a natural sorting algorithm, where digits in the names are considered as numerical content rather than text.  This behavior matches Windows' own sorting logic.

Grids

PropertyGrid DataObject Clearing

We added a new section to the PropertyGrid documentation that talks about best practices for clearing the DataObject property when the PropertyGrid is no longer needed to prevent memory leaks.  We improved some of our own internal logic in how we watch for property value changes to help prevent memory leaks regardless.  A PropertyGrid.CanClearDataObjectOnUnload property was also added that can be set to true to automatically clear the DataObject property when the control is unloaded.

All

VS 2019 Designer Functionality (UWP)

The original 2019.1 version of the UWP Controls changed the minimum Windows 10 target version to the Fall Creators Update.  This change indirectly triggered a different set of designer functionality APIs in VS 2019 that are breaking changes from the old ones.  This new UWP Controls maintenance release updates our designer functionality to be based on the newer APIs.

Actipro Blog Q3 2019 Posting Summary

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at 2:33pm

What We Accomplished

Following the massive SyntaxEditor vNext updates for the WPF platform that were released at the end of May, this past quarter we completed work on similar SyntaxEditor updates for the UWP platform and released them.  Since then, we've been working on wrapping up SyntaxEditor vNext updates for the WinForms platform.  These WinForms SyntaxEditor updates will finally bring the newer WPF SyntaxEditor API to the WinForms version, so that all three platforms can be kept fully in sync moving forward.

We used the new 2019.1 version of our UWP SyntaxEditor in a large update for our free Code Writer app.  A WPF Controls maintenance release was also published.

What's Coming Next

The SyntaxEditor vNext updates for the WinForms platform are about code complete and are currently in beta testing.  If you would like to help beta test, please contact our support team.  We expect the final version to roll out in the next several weeks.

New WPF and UWP Controls maintenance releases should be out any day now.

Following all that, we will begin on new development in other areas.  We have a lot of plans on updating our WPF themes for the 2020.1 version.

Blog Post List

Product Releases

Control Product Development