Hi everyone. Today we are releasing DotNetBar for WPF 7.0 with world’s first METRO User Interface controls.

Metro is design language that is cornerstone of Windows 8, Windows Phone 7 and very likely at least parts of future Office 15 will have Metro based design, so I am very happy that you can start building Metro style applications with our controls today.

Here is screen-shot of start-page of our new MetroBill sample which is included with DotNetBar 7.0:

Screen-shot above shows our new component, Metro Tile, which provides access to most commonly used functions in this sample app.

Here is screen-shot of actual app:

As you might have noticed, two screen-shots above uses completely different color schemes. Specifically for Metro we’ve designed proprietary color scheme generation algorithms that use as input two colors you specify and then generate complete color scheme for all our controls. Here is screen-shot with just couple of different pre-defined color themes we include:

Following Metro specific controls are included:

  • Metro Application Window (MetroAppWindow) – an chrome-less Metro form with support for modal panels.
  • Metro Shell (MetroShell) – top-level Metro control which provides app menu, Quick Access Toolbar, app tabs and minimum window chrome.
  • Metro Toolbar (MetroToolbar) – a expandable toolbar in Metro style.
  • Metro Status Bar (MetroStatusBar) – Metro style status bar control.
  • Metro Form (MetroDialog) – Metro style dialog form.
  • Metro Tile (MetroTile) – a Metro-Tile for use on our ItemPanel control.

Please review MetroBillSample and MetroSample projects for demo of new controls. You can find samples at My Documents\DotNetBar for WPF Samples folder. Both C# and VB samples are included to illustrate styling and customization options.

Getting started with Metro UI Knowledge Base article is great resource to help you start using new controls. Please use it.

Here are detailed Release Notes. If you have current DotNetBar license download latest release on Customer Only web site. Fully functional trial version is also available. We are working on even more major new exciting features, but please do not hesitate to send me your feedback and wishes. Thank you for using our controls and please let me know how you like them.

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I noticed there is some confusion about terms Metro, WinRT and what they mean and how they are different on Windows 8. I thought it would be useful to clarify these.

Metro is design language, a style used to define an application appearance. You can have Metro design made in WinForms, WPF, Silverlight, HTML or WinRT. In fact you can make Metro design using any language or platform that lets you create visuals on screen. And indeed there are Metro designs used for Android apps.

WinRT is platform. In same way we have today WinForms platform which is GDI based, WPF platform and Silverlight platform, in Windows 8 we get new WinRT platform. WinRT provides third XAML based User Interface model for developers.

WinRT default design is Metro. This is akin to WinForms using default “battleship gray” design or WPF using, um, whatever that design is called, I guess battleship gray as well…

WinRT is available on Windows 8 only and it is used to build  so called Windows 8 Immersive Apps. These apps run in Windows 8 tablet mode. Apps that we build using all platforms we have today run in Windows 8 desktop mode. The only way to build apps for tablet mode in Windows 8 is to use WinRT.

Let me know if you have any questions or if this is not clear enough. I will update the post with your feedback.

 

Move Every 30

Ergonomic experts are recommending whether you are sitting or standing while working on computer to move every 20-30 minutes to get so to say blood flowing. No need for strenuous exercise just walking is enough.

Sitting for more than 1 hour has been shown to induce biochemical changes in lipase activity (an enzyme involved in fat metabolism) and in glucose metabolism that leads to the deposit of fats in adipose tissue rather than these being metabolized by muscle, and extensive sitting also relates to heart disease risks, so people are advocating standing to work because this use more muscle activity (burns about 20% more calories). These changes happen in both fit people who regularly aerobically work out and also unfit and obese people, so regular exercise doesn’t address this.

 

Finally everything has been revealed and I wanted to summarize what it means for all of us. We speculated whether WPF or Silverlight is dead in Windows 8 etc. and it turns out nothing is dead. Here is architecture for Windows 8:

As you can see what’s new in Windows 8 is WinRT platform that covers native Windows 8 Metro style Apps. Desktop Apps on the right are essentially what we have today: WinForms, WPF and Silverlight. These continue to work.

New WinRT architecture seems to me is heavily based on Windows Phone 7 run-time. My reasoning for thinking this is that during keynote they said that Windows Phone 7 apps will run under WinRT unchanged. I suspected something like this since to run on low powered processors heavy optimization was needed and that optimization work was already done for Windows Phone 7 platform so leveraging that code in big Windows 8 that now must run on low powered processors makes sense.

They also showed that some simple Silverlight apps can be recompiled with minor changes to run under WinRT. Of course, we are yet to see how complex Silverlight code will be ported to WinRT, but as with everything new and different I expect there will be some gotchas.

I installed Windows 8 on one of our netbooks with touch screen and Windows 8 at this point is working great. I think once this is released it will be great operating system that spans tables and desktops. The power is in ability to use touch-based interface on tablets but when mouse and keyboard are needed you just plug that tablet into dock and big screen and you have your full blown Windows experience.

How this compares to iPad? I think very favorably if tablets that are of iPad quality, speed and price running Windows 8 show up. Lot of it is in the hardware corner.

For us developers, well we just got another new platform. We have WinForms, WPF, Silverlight and now WinRT. While WinRT is “Silverlight based” I think it must be treated as completely new platform which is all about touch and you have to write code that fits that environment.

I still see WinForms as best lowest common denominator, meaning if you want app that run on everything from Windows XP  to Windows 8 you are best served using WinForms. If you are developing to target Windows 8 then you must simply use WinRT unless you want to target desktop explicitly in which case I still might recommend WinForms.

We will indeed provide components for new WinRT platform in addition to what we already have and are eager to start digging deeper into the platform.

Let me know what you think.

 

Here is another video of our DotNetBar for WinForms new Metro styled Page Slider control running on Windows 8 developer preview build. This is still on that slowly Inspiron Duo netbook:

As you can see our WinForms stuff works great on Windows 8. All the touch related code we wrote for Windows 7 works flawlessly on Windows 8. We are super excited about Windows 8.

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Here is video of new control we are preparing for next release of DotNetBar for WinForms. It is touch enabled Metro styled Page Slider control running on Windows 7:

Notice nice smooth touch animation including inertia. This is running on fairly low spec machine, Dell Duo netbook with Intel Atom processor.

I hope to have video of Windows 8 running this same sample soon.

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Windows 8 definitely goes Metro. Here are some quotes from recent post on MSDN: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/02/reflecting-on-our-first-conversations-part-2.aspx

We’ve seen a clear turn where Aero is the past and Metro is the future. And with that a strong desire for the existing Windows experience to take on a new look or a Metro redesign. These comments are usually focused on style and looking “old” or “new.” Generally, those details of the visual styling come later in the engineering process…

And:

For Windows 8, Metro style means a new type of app—an app that learns from and improves upon the current (and most popular) platform.

I don’t think there is any doubt that Metro design is firmly in Windows future…

 

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