Introducing WebUI codename “Sirius”

You’ve probably heard about “Sirius” recently and wondering what it is. Yes, we recently announced in our October 2007 newsletter about our forthcoming WebUI project, codenamed “Sirius”. In fact we have mentioned about this codename earlier in our 2008 R1 Product Roadmap. So what’s all “Sirius” about?

At a glance, WebUI codename “Sirius” is a set of slick and shiny User Interface components which extensively taking advantage of Silverlight 1.0 technology. The beauty of “Sirius” is that it combines all three emerging technologies (ASP.NET, DHTML and Silverlight) into one. This means you don’t have to be XAML expert or having to use Microsoft Blend in order to consume “Sirius” UI components. You don’t even need to have any design-skills, because “Sirius” has done the tough part for you. At the end, it exposes everything in simple and easy to use manner so you can simply change on several properties to create linear gradient effects. Nice, huh?

In this first release of “Sirius”, we will bring some breakthrough components to the Web. Simply name one, the Mac-style Docking UI. If you’re a long-time Mac fans, you should obviously know this one. The Mac Dock is believed to be the most intuitive, efficient and natural way to browse, locate, and launch an action, according to top User Interface Researcher. This leads us to decide to bring up this Mac-style Dock UI to the Web, which also drives the “Sirius” development at the same time. At first, we’re a bit skeptical with the Silverlight 1.0 capability — as most showcases demonstrate only rich media and videos. UI and components? Big Zero.

But if you’re talking about Silverlight 1.1 Alpha, it’s different story. Our research has discovered that 1.1 Alpha is way too instable. Try to put in a 1MB dll reference to your 1.1 Alpha project, and I guarantee your browser will crash immediately (any browsers that SL claimed to support). Now if you asked, why 1MB? The answer is scalability. Components are growing bigger and bigger as more architectural codes are coming the way. And our estimation with Framework + dozens of UI components would result in at least 1 MB size. This is why 1.1 Alpha is not an option.

Okay, now let’s go back to the Dock UI topic. Well, I was saying that we were skeptical at first. However, as Silverlight 1.0 goes RTM, we found it is mature enough. Animations, object models and events are well functioning. Finally we decided to create this Dock UI component and at the same time extending the power of Silverlight to the max by exploring numerous scenarios.

Enough about introduction. Our Sirius “Dock UI” is featuring most features available in the original Mac’s Dock – plus our own innovations such as ability to change the Dock to Left, Top or Right. After playing with Sirius Dock for a while, I can say that we have the perfect-replica of the behaviors, functions and visual effects (including the Jumping animation, plus our own Flipping and Glowing effect) as to those in Mac. Oh, and one more thing, our Sirius Dock would also have the “Elegant Arc stack” as well as the “Grid stack” similar to those introduced in Mac “Leopard” Dock. (Btw, Leopard is finally arriving tomorrow – Oct 26th, 2007).

Anyway here’s a screenshot of Sirius Dock in action demonstrating “Elegant Arc” with  “white blue illumination reflection glass” especially designed to match the nature of Sirius.

Sirius and the Elegant Arc

In summary, our forthcoming WebUI “Sirius” would bring the Web experience to a whole new level in such a way that user will feel like using a true desktop — completely with super-smooth animation and shiny visual effects. The “Sirius” will contain several components, and the Dock UI alone already sets out with 50+ cool features. Any comments? Feedbacks? Questions? Let us know.

Also, we’ll have a Sirius live demo site soon for you guys to play with. Check back early next week and stay tuned!

UPDATE 7/2/2010: After three years of extensive development, we’ve now made available our next-generation UI toolset supporting three platforms: Silverlight 3, Silverlight 4 and WPF 4. Called ClientUI, it’s the successor of Sirius which includes 180 rich UI controls with ISO-standards user experiences. Click here to learn more.

All the best,
Jimmy.

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