WPF Controls v2020.1 Released - Massive Themes Updates

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 1 comment
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 1:13pm

We are pleased to announce the release of the 2020.1 version of our WPF Controls, which is the culmination of many months of work to modernize themes across all Actipro and native WPF controls, create a unique and powerful framework to fully customize theming in your apps, and build a Theme Designer application for configuring/previewing theme definitions. 

In addition to those features, we’ve added new controls, implemented a new Sample Browser application design, provided .NET Core assemblies and NuGet packages, and created a new product installer.

This announcement post contains a summary list of updates in the 2020.1 version.

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Let’s take a look at a handful of the larger updates.  

Ribbon Appearance

Updated to Office 2019 Style

The modernized Ribbon appearance, with fluent animations throughout

We have gone through every Ribbon-related control and made style improvements to match the latest appearance found in Office 2019.

Animated Tabs

We also wanted to provide fluid animations throughout the Ribbon, similar to Office. When you move your mouse over a tab, the underline animates to fill the tab.  When you select a new tab, the tab’s content animates into place with a quick slide.

Animated Backstage

The Ribbon Backstage takes advantage of our new WindowChrome overlays mechanism and is now fully animated on display as well.

App-Wide Theming

The Actipro WPF controls provide numerous complete pre-defined themes that render similar to various Windows and Office versions.  These themes apply to Actipro and optionally native WPF controls as well so that there is consistency throughout your application’s appearance.  While this system has always worked well, the old pre-defined themes were somewhat difficult to customize.  We wanted to take themes to the next level for the new version, and we have truly built something fantastic.

Theme Definitions and Generation

v2020.1 has a new framework where you can configure numerous options on a theme definition object.  When you register that theme definition with our ThemeManager, you then can apply that theme at any time with a single line of code.  Multiple theme definitions can be registered, allowing you to register “light” and “dark” themes (or any other variant you like) and instantly toggle between them at run-time.

A Notepad-like window in a dark theme

There are well over 50 theme definition options so far, including options for color palette, border contrast, bullet appearance, font size, corner radius, window appearance, and much more.

Like one of our pre-defined themes but wish to enable rounded corners on controls instead of square corners?  A few lines of code can accomplish this.  Want to build out your own custom color scheme for your app?  No problem!  The theme generator will construct over 1,000 resources like Brushes, Thicknesses, etc. that can be reused anywhere in XAML, and all based on your theme definition’s options.

Theme Designer Application

A very important piece of theming is being able to visualize exactly how altering theme definition options affects the rendering of various controls.  That’s where the new Theme Designer application comes into play.

The Theme Designer application provides numerous "entire-theme preset" menu items that initialize a theme definition based on one of our pre-defined themes:

A theme preset being selected

Here you see the app using the selected theme preset with some sample List/Grid UI in the document area. The Code document lists App.OnStartup code that you can paste into your own application to replicate the same theme in your application.

The Theme Definition tool window on the right contains a property grid where you can fully customize the many theme definition options. When a theme definition option is changed, the Code document’s text is updated appropriately to set non-default values, and the app itself immediate applies the theme so you get instant feedback on how theme definition options affect the appearance.

Color palettes can be configured to fit your brand, such as here where we have created a dark theme with heavy blue tint. 

A dark theme with heavy blue tint applied

A resource browser tab lets you copy a DynamicResource to any of the resources generated from the theme definition.  And many tabs containing sample user interface controls are included, allowing you to fully visualize how the theme will look with real-world controls.

This new Theme Designer application will be a key addition moving forward for our WPF Controls customers.

All Styles/Templates Updated

We’ve refactored all our Actipro and native WPF control styles/templates to take on a more modern appearance.  In modern themes, glyphs now use more of a chevron appearance, there are updated scrollbar visuals, and there are soft downward drop-shadows.  We’ve added all this, and a lot more.  As mentioned above, everything can be configured in theme definitions to look exactly how you want.

High-Contrast Theme Improvements

We’ve reworked the entire high-contrast theme so that all UI in Actipro and native WPF controls renders well in high-contrast mode, ensuring your app is fully-accessible to all customers.

Auto-Switching Themes

We’ve built optional features into ThemeManager that can automatically track the Windows light/dark setting for apps, and detect when high contrast mode is activated.  When any of those options change, ThemeManager can automatically change your app theme appropriately to a theme you selected for each of those scenarios.

Window Chrome

WindowChrome, which is included in the Shared Library, allows any WPF Window to have advanced chrome features.  In the past this has mostly related solely to providing a themed window that had a Metro, Office, or Aero-like appearance.  Version 2020.1 adds an extensive set of new features that customers are going to love.

Animated Overlays

A new MVVM-compatible overlay feature allows custom content to be injected that overlays the entire window, including the title bar area.  This feature supports several built-in animations and offers up all kinds of exciting possibilities for your apps. 

A WindowChrome processing overlay

Anything from an Office-like home screen to a processing indicator can be implemented in the overlay.

Title Bar Customization

Title bars can be customized to include any custom content on the left side, center, or right side of the title bar.  Each one of those areas is treated like a ContentControl so that they can be configured via child controls directly, or via MVVM models and DataTemplates. 

Menu in the window title bar

It’s now easy to add a Menu into the title bar, as seen in many modern apps.

A Back button in the title bar

You can replace the title bar icon with a Back button.

A user profile button showing a popup menu

Or add a user profile button on the right side of the title bar.

A PopupButton in the title bar header showing a menu

The central header portion of the title bar can even be replaced with custom content, like a popup button.

Title Bar Merge

Some modern apps have a more stylized design for their windows and don’t wish to have a traditional window title bar appearance.  This is often achieved by merging portions of the window’s content into the title bar area.  New WindowChrome features offer three kinds of merge options.

A window with portions of its Content merged into the title bar area

A merge kind of BackgroundOnly moves the Window.Background fill to cover the title bar background, while keeping the actual Window.Content in its normal location. A merge kind of ContentOnly keeps the Window.Background fill where it normally is, but moves the Window.Content to extend over the title bar background. Finally, a merge kind of Full moves both the Window.Background and Window.Content to extend over the title bar background.

System Menu Customization

WPF Windows have always used Win32 to provide their system menus, which are menus displayed when clicking the window’s title bar icon, or when right-clicking on the window title bar.  The Win32 system menu is not rendered by WPF, and therefore never matches the style of a WPF application.  This is especially evident when using dark themes in your app.

The window title bar context menu styled and with a custom Help item added

WindowChrome updates automatically replace the Win32-based system title bar context menu with a custom WPF-based one with similar functionality that renders the same as other menus in your app.  This means it will look great in dark theme.  Further, the menu can be fully customized, allowing additional menu items to be injected prior to display.

Image Adaptation

Image adaptation is a new feature area that is a real game changer in many applications.  Combined with our DynamicImage control, image adaptation consists of a number of ways to manipulate images for display in various scenarios like dark themes, high-DPI, and monochrome. 

The same images designed for a light theme can be adapted to render clearly in a dark theme

Features include:

  • Chromatic adaptation (color shifting) for images, which allows images designed for light themes to be automatically adjusted for use in dark themes.
  • Converting a monochrome vector image to render in the current foreground color.
  • Dynamic loading of pre-defined high-DPI and/or theme-specific image variations for raster images.
  • Conversion of images to grayscale.
  • Conversion of images to monochrome, in a specified color.

Effectively, you can design a single set of icons for a light theme, and reuse those same icons in dark and high-contrast themes with almost no additional effort.

Controls

PropertyGrid Enhancements

The PropertyModel class, which is intended for manually-created properties that should appear in a PropertyGrid, has been updated to be a dependency object so that it can support XAML bindings on its properties.

The Sample Browser using a styled PropertyGrid with the new CanAutoConfigure feature to show specific options

This feature combined with a new CanAutoConfigure option makes it easy to specify several properties in XAML that should be displayed in a PropertyGrid.  You simply bind the PropertyModel.Value to a property on another object and it fills out the rest, including selection of a property editor.  You can also override the automatic configuration as needed, such as when you want a specialized property label or editor.

PopupButton Enhancements

The PopupButton had a lot of its internals and logic refactored and improved for more common use cases.  New properties were added to make popup customization easier.

New ShadowChrome

A new primitive ShadowChrome control has been added that renders modern drop shadows using optional shader effects. 

ShadowChrome rendering a soft shadow around a card control

It also can render beautiful downward shadow effects using high-performing WPF rendering procedures.

New MultiColumnPanel

The MultiColumnPanel control can render child elements in multiple columns, collapsing columns down as available space decreases.

MultiColumnPanel control making use of ShadowChrome for soft shadows around card items

It's a space-efficient and visually-appealing way to render lists of items, or to break paragraphs of text up.

Fresh New Sample Browser Design

We completely reimagined the user interface of our WPF Controls samples application. 

The new Sample Browser application home view

It now harnesses all of our themes improvements and provides a fast, efficient way to navigate and interact with our hundreds of samples.

.NET Core Assemblies

With v2020.1, our control products ship in both .NET Framework 4.0 and .NET Core 3.0 variations of assemblies.  You will now be able to use native .NET Core-based Actipro assemblies in your .NET Core apps!

NuGet Packages

Another big request by customers has been for us to supply NuGet packages for our controls and we are delivering that in v2020.1.  NuGet packages are published on nuget.org and contain both the .NET Core and .NET Framework variations of our assemblies. 

How our large metapackage appears on nuget.org

NuGet packages are required to be used if you need the .NET Core variations of our assemblies.  View all available Actipro NuGet packages at: https://www.nuget.org/profiles/ActiproSoftware

Toolbox Icons

New toolbox icons have been designed for all our WPF Controls so they blend in perfectly with Visual Studio 2019 design.

Beautiful Simple Installer

Finally, we also have created a new install experience that is beautiful in its simplicity. 

The new WPF Controls installer

It makes installing and uninstalling the WPF Controls a joy.

We hope you love the new version!

WPF, UWP, and Silverlight Controls 2017.2 Released

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Monday, August 28, 2017 at 5:22pm

BlogPostBanner.17.2

We're happy to announce that the 2017.2 versions of our WPF, Universal Windows, and Silverlight controls have been released.  These versions include some new controls, new features, and a lot of minor updates and bug fixes.

See all the details on the 2017.2 releases in the various announcement posts:

SyntaxEditor

Intra-Line Adornments

Full support for intra-line adornments is now included.  These allow whitespace to be reserved above and/or below view lines, and adornments rendered in that space.

CodeLens

A first new sample shows implementation of a Visual Studio-like Code Lens adornment with info display and hyperlink. 

PeekDefinition

A second sample shows a Visual Studio-like Peek Definition (embedded editor) display.  This is accomplished using a second SyntaxEditor within an adornment of the outer SyntaxEditor.

Vertical Scrolling

Vertical scrolling logic has been refactored to better handle view lines of various sizes.

Code Outlining

A couple new code outlining commands have been added: apply default outlining expansion and expand all outlining.

.NET Languages Add-on Roslyn Extensions

A new optional assembly is available that has Roslyn extensions for loading IBinaryAssembly instances that can be referenced by a project assembly, instead of using normal .NET reflection.

.NET Languages Add-on IntelliPrompt

IntelliPrompt completion is now available for object creation expression initializer member names.

ObjectInit

Docking/MDI (WPF/UWP)

Floating Windows

A new property can be data-bound to your VM to float or restore a docking window.  The default location request event allows for specifying that a docking window should open in a floating dock host.  Docking windows that were closed while floating now support more precise restoration later.  Dragging standalone floating docking windows by their tabs now has a better experience.

Contextual Indicators

The read-only contextual indicator for documents now uses a separate display mechanism from the custom contextual indicators, allowing both to show at the same time.

Editors (WPF/UWP)

AutoCompleteBox

A new AutoCompleteBox control has been added that allows text entry and provides suggestions for auto-completion.

AutoCompleteBox

This kind of control is ideal for use in search query and quick launch kinds of scenarios.

DateEditBox

DateEditBoxOpened

Clicking a date on the popup calendar now closes the popup.

Grids (WPF/UWP)

Drag/Drop

The TreeListBox item adapter has been updated with a method that fires when hovering over an item during a drag, allowing you to determine whether it should be expanded.

TreeListBoxDragDrop

New adapter methods have also been added that are called immediately before and after a drag, allowing for custom adornments to be displayed while dragging.

Shared Library (WPF/UWP)

AdvancedTextBlock

A new AdvancedTextBlock control has been added that can show a tooltip when overflowed and can highlight spans of text based on captured text ranges (i.e. filter match results).

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WPF, UWP, and Silverlight v2016.1 Maintenance Releases

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Friday, May 13, 2016 at 7:19pm

Maintenance16.1.BlogPostBanner

Maintenance releases of our v2016.1 WPF, Universal Windows, and Silverlight controls have been released and are now available for download.

Docking/MDI for WPF and UWP has several new options that give you more control over UI appearance.  Tab text on tabbed MDI tabs will now trim long text with ellipses in the middle, instead of the end, allowing for filenames to be more readable.

SyntaxEditor's completion and parameter info providers in all language add-ons now allow you to intercept OnSessionOpening, even when no items were pre-populated, so that you can add your own custom items/info.  Cut, copy, paste, drag, and drop all now support the block and full line flags that are compatible with Visual Studio.  The Python Language Add-on added a text range property to all type and function definitions, allowing you to implement features like go to definition easier.

The Shared Library added a new RingSpinner control that is an animated ring where the two ring segment ends chase each other around the circle.  It's great for display while performing a lengthy operation.

All products received numerous other minor enhancements and bug fixes.  See the announcement posts for the detailed list of enhancements and updates:

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Universal Windows Controls 2016.1 Released

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 3:35pm

BlogPostBannerUniversal.2016.1.0302

We're pleased to announce that our Universal Windows controls have officially been released and are ready for use in your Windows 10 apps!  Download a free evaluation today and start building your apps with them.

Let's take a quick glimpse at some of the samples that ship with the product and show off the controls:

ChartsBaseballStatsThumbnail   EditorsColorEditBoxThumbnail

MicroChartsCallCenterThumbnail   SyntaxEditorHtmlEditorThumbnail

EditorsDateTimeEditBoxThumbnail   MicroChartsStockReportThumbnail

ViewsTaskPlanningThumbnail   ChartsFinancialDashboardThumbnail

The focus of this first release was to port our older WinRT XAML controls up to the Universal Windows platform.  Look for plenty more updates and controls added in the future.

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WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT/XAML v2015.1 Released

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Friday, April 3, 2015 at 2:31am

BlogPostBanner20151

The 2015.1 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:

ProductHeadingWinRTBarCodes

Our Bar Codes product has been ported to the WinRT XAML platform.  This product, which already exists on WPF and Silverlight, allows your apps to render vector-based bar codes using many common 2D and linear bar code symbologies.

BarCodes

A full set of demos and QuickStarts are included to help you get going.

ProductHeadingWPFDocking

The interop assembly that makes it easy to use Docking/MDI with the Prism framework has been updated to reference the latest Prism v5.0.

DockingMetro

We've made numerous layout and performance updates to further improve the product. 

We also have been working hard on building a completely new internal engine for the Docking/MDI product, which will be available sometime later this year.  Keep an eye on our blog for posts detailing the advanced features that are coming with those updates.

ProductHeadingWinRTEditors

All of our edit box controls in the WinRT Editors now have an IsEditable property.  When set to false, the edit box behaves more like a ComboBox, while still retaining the rich popups that make the editors unique.  This is an ideal option for apps whose primary mode of interaction is expected to be touch.

ColorEditBoxNoAlpha

The CornerRadiusEditBox, PointEditBox, RectEditBox, SizeEditBox, and ThicknessEditBox controls have been updated to support text parsing one and/or two number entries where appropriate, which is useful for easy uniform value entry.

ThicknessEditBox

In the above ThicknessEditBox, a 2 is typed and then Enter is pressed.  The value is converted to a uniform thickness of 2.

A ValueChanged event has been added to all edit boxes, which fires when a value change is committed.

Finally, edit box padding has been adjusted so that more content is visible in the same amount of space.

ProductHeadingWPFGauge

A new DigitalGauge.CharacterSegmentThickness property allows for segment thickness adjustments.  This gives you even finer control over the presentation of your digital characters.

DigitGaugeSegmentThickness

We've enhanced the 'Linear Gauge Rolling Scale' QuickStart with a new infinite rolling scale example for navigation headings.

HeadingGauge

ProductHeadingGenericSyntaxEditor

The EditorSearchView control now supports an optional "Find All" button.

EditorSearchView

The RTF export logic has been updated to support extended ASCII characters.

The free CSS language definition now supports the syntax highlighting of media queries.

We've dramatically improved the speed of large completion list display.

Several other performance improvements have been made, such as optimized the scenarios for which the TokenTagger raises its TagsChanged event, and refining of the automatic outlining update logic.

In the WinRT version, we added the SyntaxEditor.AreSelectionGrippersEnabled property, which determines whether the selection grippers show after touch within a view.

.NET Languages Add-on

The C# parser has been improved to recover better when encountering open block statements so that its AST node structure remains better in tact.

DotNetPropertyAccessor

The IntelliPrompt quick info for properties now includes accessors, making it possible to see whether a property is read-only.

Python Language Add-on

The Python language has received an enormous amount of updates, that in sum really improve the entire automated IntelliPrompt feature set.

PythonAddon

Check out all these enhancements:

  • Added IntelliPrompt for private members and updated the completion list to have Public and All filter tabs.
  • Added reflection data for private methods/fields of built-in primitive types.
  • Added IntelliPrompt for built-in exception types.
  • Improved IntelliPrompt for numerous built-in modules.
  • Greatly improved IntelliPrompt for package and module imports.
  • Improved IntelliPrompt for function parameters by examining available assert statement isinstance calls.
  • Added IntelliPrompt for static fields on classes.
  • Improved the resolution of base types for classes.
  • Added the optional IResolver.UnknownReturnTypeReferenceCallback callback that can be used to provide return type references for unknown types.
  • Updated the resolver to recognize where 'cls()' in a class method can create a new instance of the related class.
  • Updated the IntelliPrompt completion list to filter unmatched items.
  • Updated the IntelliPrompt docstring display to retain presentation of line feeds.

ProductHeadingGenericViews

The Views product has a new TaskBoard control added, available in all three (WPF, Silverlight, and WinRT) platforms.  TaskBoard can be used to create a board of reorderable columns and cards.  All of the drags use smooth animations to give you the feel that you are really interacting with the object.

RepairShopScheduling

The first full-source sample that comes with the control is a Repair Shop Scheduling demo, which shows how a TaskBoard can be used to interactively schedule work to resources, such as employees. TaskBoard excels at providing a visual way of representing work/tasks (displayed as cards) within a queue of some sort (displayed as a column).

PageBannerDefault

The second sample is a Task Planning demo, which shows how a TaskBoard can visually organize a project's tasks.

ProductHeadingGenericShared

We've added another new primitive SemiEllipse shape, which renders half of an ellipse.

SemiEllipseShape

The existing Triangle shape has a new IsClosed property that when set to false will create a triangle with only two of the sides rendered.

TriangleShape

Finally, in the WPF Shared Library, we added GradientBrushSlider.CanAddStops and CanRemoveStops properties that determine whether stops can be added and removed from a GradientBrushSlider.

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