As Q1 2010 is approaching we thought it would be a good idea to tell you where we are currently with our new Visual Style Builder (VSB) for Windows Forms. After several months of hard work we are almost done with an application, which may be easily described as Expression Blend, but for Windows Forms.

The most important aspect of the new VSB is that it will decrease the amount of time needed to create or tweak themes from days to hours, and even minutes! We have considerably simplified the work flow to allow you to focus on more important things, such as functionality, but you will still be able to create excellent looking themes, just a lot faster!

This new application has completely revamped design and theme semantic, based mainly on Theme Repository, Visual States and extended element selectors such as the Parent-Child one. Here is a snapshot of our new VSB:


Besides the exciting new design (Visual Studio 2010 theme for RadDock included), this tool comes with loads of User Experience goodies such as:

  • Each Telerik WinForms control is described through a metadata. The entire metadata list is loaded initially in the VSB and grants the ability to edit all controls simultaneously:

  • The Repository list allows visual styles to be reused among all elements of the same type. For example all fill primitives may use a repository item, defined as a 4-color gradient based on shades of Gray:

  • Drag-and-drop among repository items and visual states by defining a repository item and dragging it to the desired control state. This will let you theme your controls practically in minutes!
  • Automatic style updates - if you update a repository item's design, it will be applied to all states that use it automatically!
  • List of all visual states, defined per visual element. This eliminates the considerable amount of time needed to define conditions in our previous VSB. What is more, a non-technical person (such as a designer) can also use the VSB:

  • Design View with grid snapping and selection handle lets you resize your control and see how it looks in different sizes:

  • Extended Save Theme Dialog gives you new advanced options when saving themes:

  • Merge Repository Dialog lets you use different repositories in one theme:

  • The Add Visual StateDialog allows you to choose a visual state that is not defined as “default” -- for example the GridDataCell element will expose several states as default, but may have much more. The following screen demonstrates this dialog, where the selected state is GridDataCellElement.MouseDown.IsCurrent.IsPinned.IsSorted.IsReadOnly.IsOddRow:

  • Advanced Edit view of each element gives you full control over different property filters to speed-up the altering of settings:

  • Create Repository Item editor for creating different types of repository items – for example Fill, Border, Image, Text, etc.:


And this is just a quick summary of all the features this application comes with. There are many other tweaks in the works as well as tons of predefined themes to be used out-of-the-box, or as templates for your own custom ones.

Well, that's all for now. Once we release the new VSB, we will cover each major part of it in-depth so that you can easily get familiar and become an experienced Telerik Visual Style Builder without learning anything new!

UPDATE: The new Visual Style Builder is available for download from your accounts - look for the Q1 2010 Beta version available link under RadControls for WinForms. We will expect your feedback through the RadControls for WinForms Beta Forum!

About the Author

Nikolay Diyanov

Diyanov is the Product Manager of the Native Mobile UI division at Progress. Delivering outstanding solutions that make developers' lives easier is his passion and the biggest reward in his work. In his spare time, Nikolay enjoys travelling around the world, hiking, sun-bathing and kite-surfing.

Find him on Twitter @n_diyanov or on LinkedIn.

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