Tag Archives: UI Design

Crosslight Adds Full iOS 7 Support and New UI Features

It’s just a few weeks ago that we released Premier Studio 2013, our best release ever. Today, we’re pleased to announce our first update to Crosslight, our flagship cross-platform native mobile development tools. In case you missed the news, the 2013 release delivers a wide-range of exciting new tools across current lineups such as ASP.NET, Silverlight, and WPF – as well as the expansion to new mobile platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Check out the complete details here.

In this update, Crosslight adds full support for iOS 7, Apple’s latest mobile operating system. Unlike HTML-based mobile tools, Crosslight adheres to the strict iOS 7 user experience and design guidelines which includes upgrade to the beautiful look and feel, tint color, translucency, ultra-smooth animation, and much more. In this blog post, I’d like to share the new enhancements and changes specifically for iOS 7 that we’ve made in this update.

Gorgeous Form Editor. Redesigned for iOS 7.

Apple’s latest iOS 7 is the most significant overhaul since its first inception which delivers dramatic changes to the user interface and user experience aspects in addition to many other new features. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of translucent and motion to create beautiful interface with sense of depth in favor to heavier, real-life illustration design. If you’re a UI/UX designer, like us, this means it’s time to upgrade your design skillset and rework your iOS mobile apps.

The iOS 7’s new interface design is so interesting in how it makes minimal design looks not only great – but done right and well balanced. With translucent, hair-line precise rendering, yet incredibly stunning visual effects, iOS 7 redefines the experiences of modern apps. The first in the industry, the entire user interface components in Crosslight are now upgraded to adhere to the iOS modern experience, including the form builder, navigation controls and nearly 20+ editing controls. See the following illustration for details.

Form Builder Redesigned for iOS 7

As seen in the above visual, Crosslight’s Form Builder now leverages the new design elements and guidelines introduced in iOS 7. This includes improvements to the composite layout which sports minimal design and fluid entry layout similar to the Contacts app.

It also introduces a gorgeous circular photo mask which you can easily enable with a property set, and revamped picker components presentation which show the picker inline to the form field in favor to the modal view. The inline picker presentation is proven to be more intuitive than the modal view as users can conveniently select an item and scroll without dismissing the selection. In addition, when users opened another picker, the previous displayed picker will be smoothly hidden with transition – delivering elegant user experiences similar to the built-in Calendar app.

Every Detail. Meticulously Considered.

Apple’s revamped interface design in iOS 7 is thoughtfully-designed in every little detail. As the leading component provider for Apple’s platforms, we leverage the new visual changes in every detail too. In only a week timeframe, we redesigned every UI component, pixel-by-pixel, to match the new design principles and guidelines introduced in iOS 7. For instances, the form builder design that produced for the smaller screen such as iPhone – should look great not only in the iPhone, but in the iPad as well, in either modal view or popover view, in either portrait or landscape orientation – and in any scenarios you could think of.

Every detail is considered in Crosslight for iOS 7

The new update also adds new color tint support to help you easily branding your app’s design. By easily setting the new TintColor property of the application delegate, the buttons, icons, and other tint-aware visual indicators will reflect the specified tint color. This applies to the new date time editor in the form builder as well.

Crosslight applies iOS 7 design principles

The sample code below shows how easy it is to take advantage the tint color in your iOS apps.

[Register("AppDelegate")]
public partial class AppDelegate : IntersoftCore.UIApplicationDelegate
{
	protected override UIViewController WrapRootViewController(UIViewController contentViewController)
	{
		if (contentViewController is UISplitViewController || contentViewController is UITabBarController)
			return contentViewController;

		return new UINavigationController(contentViewController);
	}

        public override UIColor TintColor
        {
            get
            {
                return UIColor.Red;
            }
        }
}

Furthermore, a new useful feature is added to allow automatic hiding of the keyboard as users drag the screen – similar to the behavior in the iOS 7’s revamped calendar app. You can easily enable this feature by setting the HideKeyboardOnScroll property.

Both iOS 6 and iOS 7. Supported in a Single Assembly.

Crosslight sets a rock-solid foundation for cross-platform native mobile development which enables you to write user interaction logic elegantly in the ViewModel. And now, with the iOS 7 officially supported, you can easily upgrade your Crosslight-powered iOS apps to take advantage of iOS 7 features in just a simple few steps such as assembly update and rebuild – without any changes to your application codebase. And that’s a priceless benefit.

iOS 6 & iOS 7 support

It’s important to note that the new iOS 7 support is added to Crosslight without affecting the features and user interface design that target iOS 6. In the case you want to selectively enable the iOS 7 features, you can do it in the view controller by conditionally customizing the form builder attributes at runtime. See the example code below.

public partial class ItemEditViewController : UIFormViewController<ItemEditorViewModel>
{
        protected override void InitializeView()
        {
            base.InitializeView();

            // customize form metadata
            var thumbnailImage = this.Form.GetProperty("ThumbnailImage");
            var imageAttribute = thumbnailImage.GetAttribute<ImageAttribute>();

            if (this.IsOS7())
            {
                imageAttribute.UseCircleMask = true;
            }
        }
}

To learn more about Crosslight, its key features and advantages, please visit the Crosslight home page.

In addition to iOS 7 support, the latest Crosslight update also includes enhancements and stability improvements to the Android and Windows platforms. The navigation transition for the Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 have been much improved to resemble the default platform’s experiences. For more details, please refer to Crosslight Version History.

Along with the announcement, we’ve also updated the Mobile Studio installer for both Mac and Windows. You can sign-in to your account to download the updated installer, or request a trial here. Feel free to ask any questions or drop your feedback in the comments box below.

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

Introducing Intersoft’s New Start Page

Several weeks ago we got feedback from our customers about how difficult it is to look for product information in our ever-growing website. Starting from there, we came up with a new portal page that packs in all kinds of essential information and latest product resources. You can check out the new portal page here, and see the snapshot below.

Our design team tries to push forward by combining Metro-style grid panel with subtle gradients and cast shadow which bring up an elegant panel interface with a sense of depth. The big carousel is used to display the content highlight including new controls, live sample, overview video, flagship controls, and case studies.

Below the carousel you can see two panels to learn more about WebUI Studio controls and download our product catalog. Right beside the two panels you can find the control list. Just click the icon or the “see all” link to reveal the complete controls list (see picture below).

Now you can easily browse through the available controls with the intuitive capsule tab navigation where controls are grouped based on their platform. We also provide a search box that allows you to perform a quick search for a particular control. Clicking on a control will reveal its detail information in a new tab. Feel free to download our comprehensive product catalog to learn more about WebUI Studio product portfolios.

Down on the video panel you can watch the overview videos of our cutting-edge controls. Right next to it you can explore the case studies that show how WebUI Studio can be used to cut through various development cycle. The Learning Resources panel compiles different resources to help those who need more information about using WebUI Studio controls.

One of our key design goals is to create experiences that allow users to easily overview the essential product information while keeping the design really minimal yet elegant. We came up with a bottom section separated with a depth-looking panel where you can quickly find the links to buy and renew the product, review the complete price list, and compare the different edition of the WebUI Studio. Our contact information is also presented on the bottom right corner so the prospective customer can always get back to us.

So what do you think of the new portal page? Feel free to leave any suggestion or feedback on the comment section.

Regards,
Bram Renaldy
Web & UI Designer