You asked and we did it. Latest version of DotNetBar for Windows Forms 8.8 includes Office 2010 Backstage support for the Ribbon control and it works really nice. Setting this up is piece of cake and I will go over that later but for now… Behold, the Backstage:

Here are more Backstage views from RibbonPad sample that we included with DotNetBar:

DotNetBar Backstage support also implements KeyTips for keyboard access that are displayed if you use Alt key to open up the Application Menu:

And you can easily switch between Office 2010 style Backstage Application menu and Office 2007 style Application menu using single property. Click-here to read Knowledge Base article that covers the Ribbon Backstage setup with DotNetBar.

If you have current DotNetBar license download latest release on Customer Only web site. Fully functional trial version is also available. We are full steam on more exciting features that I can’t wait to share with you, but only after they are fully baked 🙂

So yeah, this would be official announcement of 8.8 release.

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Latest 8.8 release of DotNetBar for Windows Forms includes all new Year view for Scheduling/Calendar control. In this view you can see all calendar days with appointments for whole year. This is what it looks like:

Note the marked dates on calendar. They indicate that there are appointments on those dates. When day is clicked control will automatically take you to the view you specify to see details for that day or you can choose to execute any custom action you wish.

CalendarView.YearViewStartDate and CalendarView.YearViewEndDate will determine the number of months displayed in the calendar. The maximum number of displayable months is currently set to 120. Why 120 you might ask? Why is winter cold? 🙂

Month days that have CalendarItems associated with them will, by default, have their date text displayed in Bold.  The background coloring of these items can be set to several different built-in styles (via the CalendarView.YearViewAppointmentLinkStyle property).  Day cells that do not have associated CalendarItems are, by default, displayed in the normal text and background, color and style.

There are two types of day cells displayed in the calendar months – those that have associated CalendarItems (Appointments or CustomCalendarItems), and those that do not.

Day cells that have CalendarItems associated with them will, by default, have their date text displayed in Bold.  The background coloring of these items can be set to several different built-in styles (via the CalendarView.YearViewAppointmentLinkStyle property).

In the above example, cells with associated CalendarItems are being displayed in the blue diagonal gradient with bolded text.  All others, displayed in their normal defaults, signify no associated CalendarItems.

CalendarView.YearViewAppointmentLink – This property establishes how the user interacts with those cells that contain Appointments (or CalendarItems in general).  The possible settings for this property are defined in the eYearViewDayLink enum, and are as follows:  “None”, “Click”, “CtrlClick”, and “DoubleClick”.  You can combine these such that, for instance, a Click or a DoubleClick will cause the link to be activated.   The default is eYearViewDayLink.Click. This can be done like the following:

CalendarView.YearViewAppointmentLink = (eYearViewDayLink.CtrlClick | eYearViewDayLink.DoubleClick);

CalendarView.YearViewNonAppointmentLink – This property establishes how the user interacts with those cells that do not contain Appointments (or CalendarItems in general).  The possible settings for this property are, again, defined in the eYearViewDayLink enum, and may be combined to give the desired interaction.  The default is eYearViewDayLink.DoubleClick.

When a selection link is established (via the means established in the above YearViewApplintmentLink and YearViewNonAppointmentLink properties), you can have any Calendar display view activated by default when the corresponding day cell is selected.  This can be accomplished via the CalendarView.YearViewLinkView property.

The CalendarView.YearViewLinkView property sets which view (None, Day, Week, Month, or TimeLine) is “linked” to the calendar day cell selection. When enabled, clicking (or hitting enter or the Spacebar) on a cell will cause the LinkView to be activated and positioned at the day/time previously selected in the YearView.  The default is eCalendarView.Day.

There are many other very useful customization options and you can find all details in Knowledge Base Schedule control article under “Year View” section.

Schedule control in DotNetBar includes 5 different views for your appointments and each of them can be customized to fit your need. I think this is one of the best Schedule controls available. We are working to make it the best Schedule control in the world and we will not stop until it is. The plot is thickening 🙂 Stay tuned.

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Today we released DotNetBar for WPF 5.8 with Office 2010 Black color scheme:

Now DotNetBar for WPF supports all Office 2010 color schemes: Blue, Silver and Black. Here are couple of other improvements included:

  • Schedule control now provides ability to skip recurring appointment instances using AppointmentRecurrence.SkippedRecurrences collection
  • Schedule control allows working hours to be specified per owner and per specific date
  • Number of other bug fixes

DotNetBar for WPF 5.7 includes 18 controls that help you create professional WPF Applications with ease. You can download latest release from our Customer Only web site now or if you do not own a license give it a try 🙂 You might like it and we keep on top of any issues so you know we always got your back.

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Back in February I posted about the Apple iPad and I concluded that iPad perhaps may replace not only netbook, but also laptop and main machine for many people.

Now, 2 million of iPads have been sold in less than 60 days and I think I may have been close to the mark with observations. Here is what Steve Jobs on The D Conference had to say about tablets and PC’s:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.

Watch this:

iPad is getting lot of mind-share and there is excitement around it that is much larger than it ever was with Windows based tablet PC’s. Why is that?

I had Tablet PC since 2002 when we added Tablet PC support to DotNetBar and I just have not been impressed. Not back then and not today. The tablet features are bolted on top of mouse/keyboard based operating system and are not forefront of the UI experience. They actually get in your way while you are trying to do something. Who wants to write with pen on screen when typing is faster? Who wants to poke into the small areas of screens with pen when using mouse is easier? It is much easier to not use the pen and use mouse and keyboard instead because UI does not fit the tablet device. That’s why I think the latest crop of Windows 7 based tablets don’t stand a chance. Not much has really changed, it is same old, same old.

As consumer, on one side you have iPad tablet with Operating System that is specifically designed for touch input, which works great and is super responsive. It has such strong focus on touch input that using real keyboard with it, is not such great experience. And you can forget about connecting mouse to it, you simply don’t have a need to do it. I am not saying that as anything bad, but to highlight purpose driven touch design. iPad OS* is also designed to work on low powered processors which are both cheaper and use less energy. iPad costs $499, it is fast and battery lasts 10 hours.

On the other side you have Windows 7 based tablets with Operating System that is not designed for touch input. Arguably, Windows 7 tablet functionality is not that much different from first Windows XP Tablet PC extensions from 2002 and in my opinion it stinks. The Windows Tablets are also at least $200 more expensive than iPad, touch input is awkward and unresponsive, they are not really that fast and battery last only 2-3 hours.

I do not think Windows 7 tablets have appeal. They have not sold well back in 2002 they will not sell well today either.

Bright light on horizon is Windows Phone 7 (almost carbon copy of iPhone OS) which is Silverlight powered OS but I have two concerns with it.

It seems that operating system and core apps are not written in Silverlight, which means that Silverlight is second rate citizen on the platform. That may be big downside. If all system applications are not written in Silverlight it is very significant. Significant in sense that API that system apps are using is not directly what Silverlight apps are using and Silverlight based apps will be slower than native phone apps and that will  provide worse user experience. That can easily sink the whole platform since these are not devices with plenty of processing power. There is nothing worse on touch platform when you touch the screen and it does not register. It is frustrating. On iPhone system apps and third-party apps are all written with Objective-C and use same API’s.

My second concern is that for some reason Microsoft says that WP7 is designed for devices with screen size of 3 inches or less and that there are no plans to put in the tablet. But, that does not make sense to me since whole WP7 user experience is panoramic based i.e. it is displaying part of the bigger canvas, something like looking through the window.

So you swipe and zoom to move around… Why would that not translate to bigger screen is puzzling to me. Just look at image above and it is obvious. I think this might be classic case of misdirection to disguise true intent. I think tablets running Windows 7 Phone OS will happen probably next year. Unless Microsoft wants to protect its cash cow (Windows 7 platform), in which case it will lose again on tablet and phone market.

So in opening round I think it is safe to say that tablet (iPad) that was designed from ground up for touch input won. Apple took risk to start from scratch. They abandoned all existing Mac OS X apps, created something new and it paid off. Windows was trying to have it all. Backwards compatibility to keep all existing apps and OS investment, and have just bolted on some tablet features that were poor fit for the device. Purpose won over a bolt-on.

* There is no separate OS for iPad, rather it is all one iPhone operating system with iPad specific user interface features

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