My name is Tervel Peykov, and I lead one of the teams which are responsible for the development of Telerik RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX
. Hence I am one of the people directly involved in the decision making process about the skin revamp, and I would like to share more of the behind-the-scenes considerations of why we decided to push forward with this change. I have already written a related blog post, when the Q1 2009 BETA was released a couple of weeks ago - you can read it here
Firstly, I wish to comment on some of the posted information, as some of the things we did have not been noticed or have been incorrectly interpreted.
The Appearance examples have indeed been removed. This is a part of our effort for this quarter to rework and improve the Telerik RadControls Quick Start
framework. Literally hundreds of examples got thoroughly reworked or improved. Does this mean that we have removed the ability to examine a skin? No. In fact we have taken the experience to a qualitatively new level. Instead of having only one Skinning example per product, now you can change the skin for any example - thanks to the new SkinChooser dropdown that has been added in the title bar. Here is what the SkinChooser looks like:
In addition to the huge number of reworked examples and the addition of the SkinChooser, there has been another important improvement in the Quick Start
demos - the Search box. Now it uses "suggest-as-you-type" approach and is searching through the examples names, keywords and descriptions to return relevant suggestions to help you quickly located needed functionality.
These improvements, as well as the skin changes are aimed at increased productivity for the developer, appeal for the end user, and greater consistency across the products. These are not PR words. Here is exactly how the new release (and the next one) delivers and eases both your work and improve the user experience::
- Skin chooser (see above)
. This control, released recently allows your users to change the look and feel of the application in an instant (it is featured in both the QuickStart and the WebMail).
- this control, unique to Telerik, which styles browser controls and elements has been further enhanced to provide smoother decoration and even more decoration features. Adding it to the page will take care more or less of everything that was not skinned - such as buttons, radiobuttons, checkboxes, textareas, textboxes and page background (for selected skins).
- Skin improvements
(the 'problem' being discussed here) - the changes made ensure consistent sizes and consistent look of common elements across controls. This is a must if end-users are to be given the option to change the skin of their application.
application (under development, will be released next Q)
The SkinBuilder application was already mentioned in my blog post. Here are two additional screenshots - the first one features a RadFormDecorator demo
, and the second features the Web Mail
demo application's main page.
Hopefully it is now becoming clearer how the RadSkinManager
, skin improvements
are coming together and form a greater vision. It is this vision that has brought about the changes to the skins. Changes in the CSS naming conventions were necessary for the unification of all products so that in the future their skins can be made more easily or with a visual tool (such as the StyleBuilder). Failing to do go through this process now - at the time when the skins themselves were changed - would spell more trouble in the future. Same argument applies to changing sizes of certain control's inner elements - one could argue whether an older skin looked better than its 'updated' counterpart, but one thing is clear - prior to this release it was practically impossible to "just" change the skin of the application. Different sizes in different skins would cause all kinds of visual problems - such as broken layout and lots of scrollbars. This won't be the case anymore - and the WebMail demo is the proof. Furthermore, failing to address the issue on cross-control UI consistency would prevent (or produce less than optimal) results when building complex UI interfaces.
To summarize, the current enhancements and out-of-the-box improvements are meant to further streamline the development process and allow you, the developer, to produce great-looking skinnable applications with minimum efforts - and certainly with less effort compared to now.
There was a similar discussion when Telerik RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX
came out. While this new suite delivered huge benefits over the Classic suite - such as a single DLL, no external RadControls
folder, more features, better performance - there was a good deal of frustrated people because of the breaking changes (of the new APIs following the MS AJAX conventions). Custom code stopped working, upgrade was less-than-trivial, and other problems emerged as well. What are the results now? It is not just that this new suite was better in any respect. We do not know of a single person who prefers the older control versions to the newer ones. For similar reasons - those that I listed above, we came to a hard, but in our opinion right decision - and it was to make the changes.
I wish to assure you that we are doing our best to make the transition to you as smooth as possible and you should not feel left on your own. I stated this in the blog post, and I will repeat it here: Telerik will update your custom made skins for you. All you need to do is send us a working application with those older skins. Also, right now we are in the process of producing SkyBlue
and old Default
(Black) versions following the new conventions. Those will be uploaded on our website within a couple of days, so people who wish to use them would be able to use them as external skins. We are also updating the documentation and compiling a list of resources related to skinning the controls, which will shortly be made public as well.
On a side note, another novelty in the new release that might have gone unnoticed at this moment in this the new RadCompression
control. The RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX already features two out-of-the-box controls that optimize your page performance - the RadScriptManager
(which can merge all script files into one and thus greatly reduce the number of client requests), and the RadStyleSheetManager
(does the same for CSS files). Now this new control will do a similar type of optimization for your ViewState.
Tervel Peykov, MCSD
ASP.NET Team Leader