Intent of tool, suggested rethinking, and a few small issues.

8 posts, 0 answers
  1. Aaron Lewis
    Aaron Lewis avatar
    22 posts
    Member since:
    Jan 2003

    Posted 28 May 2009 Link to this post

    Hello there, Telerik!

    Glad to see something like this come along.  It was inevitable, especially given a certain other UI framework that Microsoft is getting -- perhaps uncomfortably -- close to by adopting their core library.

    Anyway, my requirements for components we purchase are probably a little different than the majority of your clients.  We need nearly everything we put into the guild sites people create from our site to be dynamically styled, based upon settings the user makes in their control panel (if you're interested in where we're going with the controls you already offer, go make a site, click Control Panel, and look at the link under the "In Beta" accordion section).  

    So, that being said, I was a little excited to see the words Telerik, Visual, Style, and Builder all together!  My question is: what are your plans for the tool?  If they are to keep it on your site as a way for people to generate skins, download a ZIP, and extract it to their site, then it will be a fantastic tool for intranet and public-facing sites that don't require personalization at the user level.

    But jQuery UI does that with their tools, and it's free.

    Might I suggest the following?  Please forgive me if they're already in your plans:

    1. Release it as an ASP.Net control.  Keep the requirement for Silverlight if you absolutely must, but release it so we can use it to let our users customize their sites, which, incidentally, would feature far more of your controls if skinning/styling could be handed over to the user more easily.
    2. Provide access to the output in a non-ZIP format.  .GetCss() would be the bare minimum, but it would be much better if we could have strongly-typed access to the elements they've set vaues for, and the values they've set for those elements.  That way, we can run it through some logical processing (say, if the user's on a mobile device) instead of parsing text.  Helps even more for persisting the preferences in our database, too.
    3. (see 2): If you do it the OO way, of course, the same settings could be applied to XAML for silverlight versions of the controls.
    4. Whack the whole Hue/Saturation thing and get back to color pickers.  Did you guys lock the human interactions guy in the closet while you did that?  ;)  

    It would be great if this tool could grow to further establish Telerik amongst ASP.Net developers, who are looking around at alternative, free frameworks.  So far, yours does almost what the jQuery UI Theme Builder does, with Silverlight (and I'm not sure requiring Silverlight is considered a feature to end-users just yet -- certainly to bored developers!).  

    One last thing.  I went through the Style Builder with the Mac.  Do you folks there plan on testing with the Mac?  If not, I'd be glad to list the current problems.  But if you already know about them, I'll save my fingers for coding.  =)

    Oh and, one final note: if you can't release the source for this but you are willing to release it as a control, please, for the love of all that is holy, allow us to specify custom UI objects and what types of styling (text, background, etc.) can be applied to them.  Then take those objects and runtime and dynamically include them and return the user-selected results to the developer.  Sounds complicated -- probably better going the source route.  =D
  2. Ivo
    Ivo avatar
    689 posts

    Posted 29 May 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Aaron,

    Thank you for the extended feedback. It is much appreciated.

    We do not yet have plans to make the Visual Style Builder into an ASP.NET control. Our goal has been to provide a tool for the community to easily modify the default skins or create custom skins.

    We are open to any suggestions and will consider them in our future plans.

    Please, do not hesitate to report any Mac-related problems you have experienced. Please, specify which browser are you using and what version.

    the Telerik team

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  3. Doug
    Doug avatar
    7 posts
    Member since:
    Mar 2009

    Posted 22 Jun 2009 Link to this post

    I'll throw in my two cents and echo some of the concerns/suggestions listed here.

    1.  Hue/Saturation?  We're not all Photoshop people...hue and saturation mean nothing in a web design environment.  I think in hex colors, RGB, etc.  Hue/saturation is OK when I'm in a graphics editor, but not for skinning.  Hex/RGB is an absolute must.

    2.  No preview on some of the controls?  This goes back to my first point.  If I can't get a preview on screen of what the hue/saturation does (so I can use something like Colorzilla to match things up) and I'm stuck with hue/saturation, then I'm very limited.  It would be great for new sites where there is nothing pre-existing, but it is VERY cumbersome to integrate with a site that has existing styles when I don't have exact control over the coloration of the theme.

    3.  I'll second the motion for a built-in control.  When I first saw this preview I thought it would be great until I realized it was locked on your servers.  I suppose I was thinking/hoping for something more along the lines of AppStylist in the Infragistics suite where it has a built-in skin designer application with the ability to call and load those skins dynamically.  Like Aaron below, skinning to us isn't just a matter of generating CSS, it's about customizing user experience on the fly.

    4.  Custom CSS attributes?  What good does it do me as a developer to use this tool only to have to dig into the CSS files to specify anything custom that I need?  If I have to learn and dig into the stylesheets anyway to customize them beyond the style builder and I can't preview the hue/saturation, then it's just as easy to throw up a test site where I dig myself through the customizations.  It's faster and more productive since the style builder only provides stylesheets and doesn't abstract them.

    5.  Abstraction?  I would think this product should be tooled in such a way that it would give your UI people some abstraction in their work.  Having some sort of application to allow us to change things down to the smallest detail (using "human" terms) would allow you to change your stylesheets at will without it breaking us.  We would simply call some OO-based methods to load/change style elements, and this app would do all the work under the hood.  Of course, this probably isn't even close to what the StyleBuilder is trying to be, but it's what it CAN be.

    For me, personally, this tool doesn't offer the right things...yet.  That's not to say it isn't a good tool and it isn't helpful, but, given how our apps work, it would create more work for me than less.  I still have to get the right colors (which is cumbersome to do right now); I still have to write my own "instrumentation" to change skins on the fly; I still have to specify custom UI CSS which forces me to learn the CSS schema anyway; I still have to keep track of any changes you make.  Again, I might be too spoiled by my use of AppStylist.  We switched to your controls because they are absolutely better than Infragistics (in my opinion), but I do miss AppStylist and would love to see your company use the StyleBuilder to take that part of Infragistics to the mat.

    I realize I'm not the type of developer you are marketing this tool around, but it does open up the pandora's box of ideas!
  4. Alex Gyoshev
    Alex Gyoshev avatar
    2513 posts

    Posted 22 Jun 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Doug,

    1. Sure! Hex/RGB is the next step. There is a difference between the two modes: Hue/Saturation changes all colors by a given offset; the Hex/RGB will override all colors' hue - therefore, the control will have only one color in it, with different saturation/brightness. This has been requested a lot of times, bear with us - it's on the "critical" features list.

    2. This is a CTP / beta release. The preview functionality will be available for all controls, once the VSB is released officially. Or, said backwards, the VSB will be released officially once all controls have preview available. Anyway, we're working on this, too - and regularly add more controls.

    3. We'll take your up-vote into account. This is a more long-term goal - I'll publish a blog post once there are more details on what we're planning to do - and your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    4. Previously proposed. We have it in mind.

    5. Good one! I have an idea of introducing "styling tasks" for each control - for example "Increase RadComboBox height" - which is currently possible only by modifying images in Photoshop. If you have ideas about such abstractions, I'd love to hear them.

    Most certainly, there are huge piles of ideas around this tool. I hope that with time, we'll cover all aspects that you described, and provide you with the tools you need. Voicing your requests will push us in the direction that you want, so - bring it on!

    All the best,
    the Telerik team

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  5. Jim Archie
    Jim Archie avatar
    1 posts
    Member since:
    May 2007

    Posted 23 Jun 2009 Link to this post


    I'd like to second the suggestion to make the Visual Style Builder into an ASP.NET control.  I have an immediate requirement to allow our admin-level users to modify the styles of the controls.  Is this in the long-term plan, or should I not hold my breath?  Its too bad that I won't be able to take advantage of all the hard work you have already put into this tool.  I'm sure the tool I'm going to have to write will be nowhere near as good as what I see in the demo! 

  6. Alex Gyoshev
    Alex Gyoshev avatar
    2513 posts

    Posted 24 Jun 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Jim,

    As Ivo already said, we do not yet have plans to make the Visual Style Builder into an ASP.NET control. We are sorry that it doesn't suit your requirements; we need, however, to complete the application before taking the idea to the next level, and we are not sure what this "next level" will be. I'm sorry that I cannot provide any other details - there simply are none.

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  7. Hugo Augusto
    Hugo Augusto avatar
    55 posts
    Member since:
    Jul 2004

    Posted 26 Jun 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Telerik,

    I must say, that this tool puts your controls even further at the top for existing and new customers. Congratulations. I just would like to make two suggestions. I think that a Contrast Option should also be present because using only Hue and Saturation does not cover all the possible colors. The other suggestion is related to previewing changes. it would be nice to be able to see selected changes in real time or at least, after clicking some kind of preview button before downloading.

    Good Work!
  8. Alex Gyoshev
    Alex Gyoshev avatar
    2513 posts

    Posted 30 Jun 2009 Link to this post

    Hello Hugo,

    We have the idea about a contrast option - nothing is clear about the implementation yet, and I hope that we'll soon get to this.

    Regarding the preview of the hue/saturation changes - clicking the "Apply changes" button shows a preview of the control. Some of the controls do not support this yet, but you can try it out with the Grid/PanelBar/Window and see what the future of the other controls is.

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