Category Archives: 2012 R1

Intersoft Product Survey 2013

The arrival of Windows 8 adds more choices to the platform stack that mobile developers should consider. So my question is, do you plan to build Windows 8 apps, or perhaps you already built one? As we’re planning our roadmap ahead, we’d love to hear from you – which platforms will you build your next apps on, the challenges you’re facing, and what tools you need to get your jobs done right.

Join our 2013 product survey and place your vote so we can align our next product roadmap to your development needs.

Your participation is an effective way to present your thoughts and opinions about our products and service to the management of Intersoft Solutions. I do believe that your valuable feedback would be very useful to help us improve our products and services in the future.

If you have any questions or technical difficulties, please don’t hesitate to drop an email to me at martin@intersoftpt.com.

Thank you for your time and participation.

Regards,
Martin

WebUI Studio for Visual Studio 2012 is here!

The wait is over – the highly anticipated WebUI Studio 2012 SP1 release is now available for download. Grab your copy here.

As mentioned in my recent posts, the new service pack release includes full support for Visual Studio 2012 which updates all 40+ component designers to adhere the Visual Studio UX guidelines. In addition, this release has been optimized for Windows 8 as well as support for Internet Explorer 10. For details, check out my post here.

Even more, the new service pack ships dozens of new features and major performance improvements to the Silverlight and WPF controls, ranging from the ribbon controls, all variants of selection controls, smoother animation in expandable group box, attribute-based licensing mechanism, and much more. For complete details, make sure you check out the Release Notes document once the service pack is installed successfully.

Help Integration in Visual Studio 2012

In addition to a host of designer-related enhancements, this new release also automatically plug all products documentation into Help Viewer 2.0 which shares the modern Visual Studio interface. The look and feel of the documentation content has been updated as well to share the same metaphor, see the shot below.

Help integration in Visual Studio 2012

Everything you need is here. And whenever you need help, simply press F1 and locate the topics in the new Help Viewer.

More details on Visual Studio 2012

Along with this release, we’re pleased to introduce a new page dedicated to Visual Studio 2012 which contains related information and resources. Check it out at intersoftpt.com/vs2012.

Last but not least, enjoy (Visual + WebUI) Studio 2012! Here’s the download link again in case you missed it.

All the best,
Jimmy

WebUI Studio Designer Reimagined

Last week, Microsoft has finally released its long awaited Visual Studio 2012 to the MSDN subscribers. As VSIP partners, we had the RTM bits several weeks earlier and started testing our component designer features for the new Visual Studio.

Just in timely fashion, we’ve recently completed the development and testing milestones for our new component designer – rebuilt entirely from the scratch to provide the best support for Visual Studio 2012. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the design experiences while remaking our component designer. Read on.

The Visual Studio 2012 UX Guidelines

Since the invention of “Metro” design language, Microsoft has been redesigning all its software products toward the modern UI design, including the recently released Visual Studio 2012. As a result of the redesign, Microsoft has now introduced the so-called “Visual Studio 2012 UX Guidelines” which has to be adhered by its development ecosystem partners. We’re thrilled to be among the first who have adhered to the UX guidelines, and will release our new version at the same time of the official Visual Studio 2012 launch.

To adhere to the UX guidelines, our designer team have redesigned nearly 200+ toolbox icons to the Metro style. Furthermore, we decided to remake the component designer to support the new look and feel of Visual Studio 2012, and more importantly, to support the philosophy of the user experiences which essentially emphasizes on content with reduced decorators.

Meet the new Component Designer for Visual Studio 2012. It’s rebuilt entirely from the scratch to resemble the Visual Studio 2012 interface. The all-new designer is now built on the WPF 4 platform and leveraging our own ClientUI for WPF controls – thanks to the comprehensive and easily style-able controls, we managed to remake the component designer ahead of the expected schedule.

The following screenshot shows the new WebUI Studio component designer with much cleaner design and Metro’s iconography.

Introducing WebUI Studio Designer for Visual Studio 2012

It’s important to note that previous version of Visual Studio will continue to be supported. The WebUI Studio component designer launches the new WPF-based designer only when it’s running inside Visual Studio 2012. This is made possible thanks to the loosely-coupled architecture in the component designer framework.

So, when you’re working with WebUI Studio components in Visual Studio 2008 or 2010, you’ll get the old, clunky component designer with sea of colors. And when you’re in Visual Studio 2012, it automatically launches the new modern-styled component designer. Keep in mind that the control assemblies are identical regardless of the Visual Studio version.

The shots below show the designer comparison between the Visual Studio 2010 and 2012.

Designer support in older version of Visual Studio

Intersoft Component Designer for Visual Studio 2012

One of the most useful benefits with the migration to WPF is that you get automatic support for the screen resolution and font scaling. This means that if your Windows is set to use 125% larger font, the component designer will automatically reflect the control and layout to fit to the desired scale. The WinForms layout didn’t have that luxury, and it’s extremely difficult to manage the auto scaling settings. This is why you’ll find many inappropriately truncated text and graphics in the old designer when using larger font scaling.

Furthermore, the WPF designer has much better performance compared to WinForms in terms of initial loading, rendering, animation and navigation. This allows us to achieve the “fast and fluid” user experiences.

Back to the main subject, we actually reimagine all aspects of the designer – whether it’s the functionality or the design. For examples, compared to the previous version, the new Layout Manager has much cleaner surface, and eventually makes it more intuitive and easier-to-use at a glance. The art of this design language is that it focuses on the content and brings the functionality back to where it supposed to be. Take a look at the screenshot below.

Layout Manager

We also pay attention on the user experience details where message boxes should be avoided whenever possible. In this remake, we’re now displaying important messages in the accented status bar.

Component Designer with Accented Status Bar

Meanwhile, the Structure Manager is also redesigned with the identical aesthetic and consistent layout, enabling users to understand the user interface with less learning curves.

Structure Manager

Simplified and Smarter User Experiences

One thing that we learnt about Metro design language is that it’s not only about the user interface, i.e., the colors, themes or shapes. The true essences behind the philosophy is the simplified user experiences. But, the “simplified” here doesn’t necessary mean removing features, it’s more to making user experiences smarter which allows users to perform a task or function in less time, and more efficiently.

We have a number of interesting stories about making user experiences simpler yet smarter while remaking the component designer for WebGrid.

With hundreds of features, it’s quite challenging to find a particular setting or feature in the property window. So we introduced a component designer to address this challenge that looks like the following shot.

Pre VS 2012 designer for WebGrid

I personally think that the idea and purpose of such designer is good, although the existing design may now look cluttered. At a glance, the settings are spreading everywhere. Notice that we have numerous in the left-side navigation vertically, and also some tabs in the top arranged horizontally.

In the WebGrid designer remake, we managed to put everything back to where it should through a deep category rearrange that is based on content and function similarity. Tabs such as Advanced, Localization Manager and Pivot Charting are now removed from the top since they are now part of the Properties. Redundant navigation items are merged into a content that makes more sense. See the shots below to get a closer look.

WebGrid Designer for Visual Studio 2012

WebGrid Designer for Visual Studio 2012

With the designs shown above, you’re no longer served with massive user interface elements that present the same function. So the Properties tab basically means that “come here for all settings-related tasks”. This allows us to keep the design ideal with balanced functionality. Lessons learned.

Similarly, we simplify the Caching and Performance Tuning tabs such as shown below…

Pre VS 2012 WebGrid designer

… into just a single Advanced tab shown below.

WebGrid designer with smarter user experiences

We designed smarter user experiences by categorizing them into expandable groups styled with lightly-shaded accent and Metro colors.

Furthermore, the new designer is not simply a remaking effort, we actually added a number of new options that makes performance tuning a breeze. Notice the red highlighted area in the shot above, you can now enable the built-in resources compression with a single click. This feature actually existed since the 2009 release, but not easily discoverable as you need to manually make changes to the web.config file.

More options are now added to the Common Settings view which includes the new features introduced in the recent releases. For instances, enabling HTML5 rendering mode across the application is simply a tick away.

WebGrid designer with smarter user experiences

All 40+ Component Designer Redesigned

In this blog post, I’ve only scratched the surface of our new component designer for Visual Studio 2012. In addition to flagship products such as WebGrid, we also update the designer of entire WebUI Studio family, including WebCombo, WebInput, WebScheduler, WebTextEditor and the rest of components resembled in WebDesktop and WebEssentials.

As far as I can say, we’re making WebUI Studio the first-class citizen of Visual Studio 2012 which enables both products to work best together for the ultimate application development experiences.

We’re expecting to deliver all these new exciting features in the upcoming WebUI Studio service pack release by next week – and hopefully faster. The service pack will also include many new enhancements for Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10, all-new project templates for Visual Studio 2012, as well as reliability improvements to all Silverlight and WPF components. Stay tuned for the release announcement!

Best,
Jimmy

New Line-of-Business Samples in ClientUI 7

Introducing the new data controls lineups such as UXPageableComboBox UXMultipleSelectionComboBox and UXTreeList, developers can now build large-scale data entry applications with blazing fast performance. UXGridView also adds with several enhancements and advanced features such as columns collection binding, column header binding and batch items validation. Click here to find out more about the new controls in ClientUI 7.

In this blog post, I will share some of the new samples demonstrating the new products, as well as reviewing the key features.

Below are some of the top new samples that goes to my favorite list.

  1. Cabin Front Reservation

    UXPageableComboBox is an enhanced UXDataComboBox control featuring highly efficient server paging mechanism. The control addresses performance issues in large data scenario by retrieving only the required data on demand, and perform incremental data retrieval when the total item count exceeds the specified page size.

    In this sample, you are able to perform Multiple columns layout with built-in column type such as Text, Images and Templates. You can perform sorting and description text feature using this control. With description text, you can show additional information related to the selected item in the right edge of the control. It is used to allow you easily understand the meaning of the input value at a glance. Explore the sample.

    CabinFront

     

  2. Customer Order
    In this sample, you will see the tight integration between UXGridView and UXPageableComboBox. You can edit a column in UXGridView and bind it with UXPageableComboBox. With this feature, you can fully use all features available in UXPageableComboBox inside UXGridView, such as Multiple columns layout, Auto-complete behavior, advanced data grouping and sorting capability and many more. Explore the sample.

    CustomerOrder

  3. Mail Application
    UXMultipleSelectionComboBox is an advanced queryable ComboBox control specially designed to support multiple selection. It provides an intuitive data entry mode that allows users to quickly select multiple items through type-and-tab gesture. It supports both Editable and Readonly mode. This control has every features that are available in UXPageableComboBox.

    In this sample, editable mode is used. It means that you can directly update the selection through the text input element. The control filters the data instantaneously as you type ahead, and the selection will be added with a single Tab key. Also, the built-in smart filter feature automatically prevents any items that you have selected to appear on the list for the next selection. Explore the sample.

MailApplication

  1. Project Milestone
    UXTreeList is a unique data control used to display self-referencing hierarchical data. You can use the HierarchicalCollectionView to transform your self-reference table into a hierarchical self-reference data.

     
    UXTreeList combines all UXGrid features such as data editing, grouping and paging with UXTreeView’s expand/collapse functionality to perfectly present any hierarchical data.

    In this sample, some features demonstrated are variety of columns type, common data manipulation and data editing that includes drag and drop to re-arrange your data. Explore the sample.

    ProjectMilestone

  2. Chart of Account

    UXTreeList supports load on demand scenario using MVVM pattern where only the root items are loaded initially. The children will be loaded on demand as users expanded the item for the first time. This feature is particularly useful to improve the overall performance when the assigned data source is relatively large.

    In this sample, IsLoadOnDemand property is set to True in order to activate the load-on-demand feature. In this mode, a busy indicator will be automatically displayed in each expanded item during the loading progress. Explore the sample.

    ChartOfAccount

  3. Empty Row Visibility
    UXGridView lets you easily create beautiful data presentation with look and feel similar to popular desktop-based apps such as iTunes, Quick Books, or other business apps alike. With the new innovative rendering feature, UXGridView automatically fills the entire view port with alternating rows instead of leaving a large white empty space.

     
    This sample demonstrates the empty rows visibility feature in UXGridView. When this featuere is enabled the UXGridView will render all the empty rows within the view port. You can also insert a new row from bottom when NewRowPosition is set to Bottom and CanUserAddRows is set to True. Explore the sample.

    EmptyRow

  4. Bottom New Row Position
    This new feature brings flexibility to the way users interact with the grid. Users can now rapidly add new items by clicking the bottom part of the grid, just like they would do in Excel. Activate this feature in your apps with a simple property set.

    In this sample, you can see there are new row position indicator on the last row in UXGridView. To go to the new row you can click the empty rows or use keyboard down on the last item. Explore the sample.

    newrow

  5. Sequence Column
    Introducing the new UXGridViewSequenceColumn, you can now effortlessly display a column that automatically display sequential number to your data grid.

     
    In this sample, we have UXGridViewSequenceColumn which is used to show the row index of the current display. Note that the sequence column can not be sorted and will always show the row index regardless of the sorting or filtering state. Explore the sample.

    seq

For more information about ClientUI, you can explore our Live Samples or read through our Online Documentation.

Feel free to download your copy here. And while waiting for the download, be sure to check out the complete what’s new list here. Existing customers with valid subscription can obtain the latest WebUI Studio from Developer Network, under My Components shortcut.

If you have any questions regarding sales or licensing, you can directly email me at martin@intersoftpt.com. Any comments or feedbacks are welcome.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Regards,
Martin

WebUI Studio 2012 is here!

The wait is over. We’re incredibly excited to announce the immediate availability of WebUI Studio 2012 today! The new release ships major upgrades for the flagship ASP.NET data controls such as WebGrid and WebCombo – featuring full HTML5 support, and includes dozens of must-have data controls specifically designed to address line-of-business scenarios in Silverlight/WPF application development.

You can download your copy here. And while waiting for the download, be sure to check out the complete what’s new list here.

In addition, you might want to check out many updates that we’ve put together in this release including the live samples for both ASP.NET and Silverlight, as well as online documentation. The WebGrid documentation is now completely revamped to match the new documentation standards and guidelines that we introduced in ClientUI.

Along with the new release, we’re pleased to announce the launch of Intersoft’s new website design. Completely revamped for the best user experiences, you can now get around faster and easier than ever before. And with clean yet elegant design, you can focus on the information and content better. We hope you liked our redesigned website!

Intersoft's new home

Last but not least, enjoy WebUI Studio 2012! Again, click here to download the new 2012 today if you haven’t. We hope you love the new release as much as we love building it!

Note: For active subscribers, you will receive the new license keys within 24 hour. Make sure you have whitelisted the intersoftpt.com domain to avoid communication problems.

All the best,
Jimmy

WebUI Studio 2012 for ASP.NET Goes HTML5

Earlier this year, we conducted a short product survey to all our customers and industry partners. Nearly 92% of all respondents indicates that they are interested in HTML5 development, followed with Silverlight 5 at approximately 85% – up 15% since the previous survey last year. We thoughtfully consider the survey results to drive our products development roadmap. That said, we’re pleased to announce that the upcoming 2012 release will include two major ASP.NET releases: WebGrid Enterprise 8 and WebCombo 6.

Full HTML5 and CSS3 Support

As written in our 2012 product roadmap, HTML5 is going to be one of our key focuses in this year’s releases. In the first volume, it’s confirmed that we’ll deliver the next major version of WebGrid Enterprise and WebCombo – both are the flagship data controls in our ASP.NET lineup.

The new WebGrid and WebCombo have been redesigned to fully support HTML5, which includes compliance to the HTML5 doc type and removal of the obsolete markups. The control rendering has been significantly revamped in order to achieve pixel-perfect layout in HTML5. And better yet, we employed HTML5 adaptive rendering technique so you can expect 100% backward compatibility with HTML4 and XHTML doctype. This means that your existing projects that are still using HTML4 or XHTML doctype will continue to work as is.

With full HTML5 support, you can expect consistent results in terms of layout and behaviors across popular HTML5-ready browsers such as IE 9, Firefox 12, and Chrome 18. For example, the pivot charting feature in WebGrid now renders flawlessly across all browsers, including the Ribbon and all UI interactions such as drag-and-drop, resizing, and so forth.

HTML5 Support for Pivot Charting in WebGrid 8

When the control detects the use of HTML5 doc type, it will automatically leverage CSS3 which leads to smaller footprint and more elegant results. For instances, WebCombo 6 leverages many of the approved CSS3 specifications such as the round corner and drop shadow feature. Note that in pre-HTML5, the round corner was achieved with multiple DIVs and a number of quirk styles. These solutions no longer apply in HTML5, and has been replaced with CSS3 starting in the upcoming WebUI Studio release.

WebCombo 6 leverages CSS3 for round corner and shadow effect

No Features Are Too Minor

When we talked about HTML5 support, we really meant it. We’ve gone the great length and depth to revive all features to work perfectly in HTML5 – regardless of whether they are major or minor features.

For instances, a small yet useful feature such as tree lines visibility in WebGrid is now supported in HTML5. Rather than forcing our customers to disable this feature, we’ve revamped the entire rendering markup to get it working in HTML5 with consistent results across all browsers. The following screenshot shows the WebGrid control with nested hierarchical feature enabled running on IE9 standards mode.

Full HTML5 Support in WebGrid 8

Most WebGrid’s key features have been enhanced to support HTML5, from column freezing, filtering and paging, keyboard navigation, column moving and resizing, to custom editors, client-side binding and smart batch update.

All key features are revamped to fully support HTML5 and CSS3

Similarly, the new WebCombo received major enhancements enabling all features to work precisely across all modern browsers, from multiple columns layout, auto complete behavior, search box position, to the smallest details such as the control styles.

WebCombo 6 features pixel-perfect rendering and styles in HTML5 apps

In conclusion, the full compliance with HTML5 and the leverage of CSS3 mark a major milestone in the WebUI Studio for ASP.NET lineup roadmap. The new WebGrid and WebCombo are only the starting point in this release, you can expect the rest of ASP.NET components to be fully HTML5-ready in this year’s second release.

If you’ve specific HTML5-related features that you’d love to see in the upcoming releases, please feel free to drop your comments in the box below.

Best,
Jimmy

ClientUI 7 Preview Part 4: Multiple Selection ComboBox with Auto Filter and Checkbox Input Support

Earlier this month, I’ve blogged about some of the exciting new controls that we will release in the next few weeks, which include a brand-new combobox with server paging multi-column support, enhanced GridView and new ItemsControl grouping capability. Many of these new controls are aimed for business application development that target Silverlight and WPF platforms – and soon WinRT. You can check out the full coverage here.

These days, web applications are getting more attractive with much better user experiences than in couple years ago. Numerous innovative UI controls are popping up as new design patterns are discovered. One of the most demanded controls that requested by our enterprise customers is the Facebook or Dropbox-like multi-selection combobox.

With proper design, multi-selection combobox can help improve user experiences in overall. Instead of using listbox that occupy larger screen real estate, multi-selection combobox allows a more intuitive and efficient way to capture multiple input through type-ahead and automatic list filtering. Considering its compact size and input efficiency, multi-selection combobox is an ideal input pattern for numerous LoB scenarios like capturing multiple roles for a user group, multiple contacts for mailing, multiple items for activation, and so forth.

The upcoming release of ClientUI will include the new UXMultipleSelectionComboBox – joining the advanced ClientUI data-aware component lineups. It doesn’t only come with industrial standards design, but also equipped with powerful architecture such as MVVM binding to the multiple selected items. I’ll unveil the new control entirely in this blog post. Read on.

Editable Multiple Selection

As with every combobox, the multi-selection combobox supports two fundamental input mode: Editable and Non-editable. Editing support with multi-selection is one of the greatest challenges in both control architecture and user experiences design.

First, the control needs to display the selected items and the textbox seamlessly together, while at the same time automatically enlarge the control as new items are selected. And of course, users can delete any of the selected items and the control should adapt its size back to the content.

Introducing UXMultipleSelectionComboBox

Second, the multi-selection combobox with editing support does make sense only when the results are filtered as you type ahead. Thanks to the comprehensive ClientUI’s data framework, the server paging is supported through QueryDescriptor.

UXMultipleSelectionComboBox with automatic server filtering

Many of UX aspects have also been thoughtfully put on the control, mostly the editing experiences such as the Backspace or Delete key should perform different action based on the current selection (whether it’s on the textbox, on the selected item, or in an empty area).

Another nice feature is the smart results filtering feature where the selected items are automatically removed from the result list. This makes sense in most LoB scenarios as users don’t need to see the items already in the selection. See the image below.

Editable multiple selection with smart filtering

Non-editable Multiple Selection

When the IsEditable property of the multi-selection control is set to false, it will automatically show checkboxes in the result list which appears to be the most convenience way for users to capture multiple input in such non-editing mode.

UXMultipleSelectionComboBox with checkbox input

And better yet, you can combine all the new features available in the data combobox lineups along with the multiple selection feature. For instances, you can enable multiple columns, paging and sorting, while continue to work perfectly with the checkbox input.

UXMultipleSelectionComboBox works perfectly with existing features

Full MVVM Support

As you read up at this point, it looks like the multi-selection control has everything you need, from the appearance to the functionality. But wait, how are you going to use it in databound scenarios since the list is paged and retrieved on demand?

Thankfully, UXMultipleSelectionComboBox is built from the ground up to fully support implementation with MVVM pattern. This means that every items that added to the selection via user interface will synchronize to the SelectedItems property. And in the same way, inserting or removing the items from the ViewModel will also automatically update the user interface.

With MVVM support, you can easily bind the SelectedItems property of the control to a collection property in the ViewModel using two-way binding mode. This also allows you to set the initial selected items such as in form editing scenario. See the example code below.

<Intersoft:UXMultipleSelectionComboBox 
         IsEditable="True" DisplayMemberPath="ProductName" SearchResult="{Binding Items}"
         FilterDescriptors="{Binding QueryDescriptor.FilterDescriptors, Mode=TwoWay}"
         SortDescriptors="{Binding QueryDescriptor.SortDescriptors, Mode=TwoWay}"
         PageDescriptor="{Binding QueryDescriptor.PageDescriptor}"
         CanUserPage="True" CanUserSort="True" AutoFilterSelectedItems="True"
         SelectedItems="{Binding SelectedItems, Mode=TwoWay}"
         SelectedValuePath="ProductID">

         ...

</Intersoft:UXMultipleSelectionComboBox.Columns></Intersoft:UXMultipleSelectionComboBox>

And the results will look like the following.

Full MVVM support in UXMultipleSelectionComboBox

Download ClientUI Developer Preview

In this post, I’ve just scratched the surface of the new multi-selection combobox that we are going to release soon – hopefully in the next couple weeks. For now, I highly recommend you to download the latest Developer Preview to try out many of the UX aspects that I couldn’t express with words. The Developer Preview has been updated to include this new bits along with the new samples. Click here to download the developer preview and experience it for yourself. Enjoy and happy combo-boxing!

Best,
Jimmy Petrus