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Plans for 2009, Silverlight 2.0 and 3.0, and Machine for Expression

April 21, 2009 11:42


  2009 Plan

The Nukeation Team has been working on our plans for the immediate future and beyond, and we wanted to share them with you. As April comes to an end, we are getting ready to launch some exciting new products and starting work on the next generation.

In March, we launched Machine 1.0 for Visual Studio 2008, as well as the Reuxables Second Generation.

Reuxables + Silverlight + WPF Toolkit Support

Near the end of this month, we will release WPF Toolkit support for all our WPF themes (yes, you will all get to style your DataGrid now!), along with Silverlight 2.0 versions of our core themes (Candy, Fusion, Frog, Glass, Metal, Paper). All themes will cover the SL 2.0 Toolkit, and we will provide updates with each revision of the Toolkit as they become available.

In May, we will release Silverlight versions of the remainder of our themes, and betas of the themes Slick, Nostalgia, and Paper II will be made available to the Subscribers.

All our Silverlight versions will be available at the same prices as the WPF versions. Combined purchases will also be available at massive discounts. Existing same-theme customers can pay the difference to purchase a SL version of the theme (and vice-versa).

Subscribers will get the SL versions at no additional cost.

MultiTouch + Reuxables

In Q3 2009, we will publish our unique Multi-Touch and NUX oriented Reuxables aimed at the Windows 7 generation and multi-touch environments. These Reuxables will not be mere themes but complete UX Kits with custom controls, augmented standard controls, and unique User Experiences that can be operated with tactile hand movement.

Machine 1.5 and 2.0

In Q2 2009, Machine will be moved up to Version 1.5 featuring new powerful features:

Organize UI Bits into categories
UI Bits are now organized into Common, Input, Business, Miscellaneous, Imported and Personal categories. Categories can be redefined and reorganized, and additional categories added.

Favorite UI Bits management
Mark favorite UI Bits across all categories and be able to quickly select from an exclusive Favorites list.

Expandable Family Structure
UI Bits with additional or extended variations are now grouped into families and visible only when explicitly selected. For example, the UI Bits Border1Thickness , Border2Thickness, Border3Thickness, and so on would be grouped into a single Border1Thickness UI Bit. If click the Expand icon next to the UI Bit list entry, you get a pop-out with the additional variations of the same family.

Faster search
The search system was rebuilt from the ground up for faster performance on both x86 and x64 platforms.

Full X/D/HTML Support
The ASP.net portion now fully supports HTML in Visual Studio.

Network Sharing for team based development
With a special module for the Ultimate Edition, teams working on a network environment can share UI Bits across the entire team using a central Machine Repository. When a network repository is not available, the library reverts to the local offline cache, allowing individuals to work while disconnected.

Individual UI Bits Import/Export
Single UI Bits can be exported as self-contained .uib files, and shared with other nukeationMachine users.

In Q3/Q4 2009, the third generation Machine (2.0) will be released for Visual Studio 2010, Expression Blend 2.0 and 3.0*, and Expression Web 2.0 and higher*. The Expression editions of Machine will feature unprecedented designer tools for making a UI more quickly and efficiently. We intend to release a working public beta in the next couple of months!

* Machine release dates and features for currently unreleased versions of Expression products is only estimated.

Lastly: Discounts in April, May, and June!

If you are a MSDN Magazine reader, pick up your copy and find our ad. You will find a nice little discount code. :) Enjoy!


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nukeationMachine for Blend

August 20, 2008 02:27


Blender1

As promised, we have started working on nukeationMachine add-in for Blend. As of yesterday, we have successfully ported our Machine add-in from Visual Studio 2008 to Blend 1.0 and 2.0.

While further features are still being determined, here are the confirmed features:

  • The entire WPF feature set and content library for nukeationMachine for VS2008 will be ported to the Blend version
  • Additional 350 pieces of UI Bits will be developed specifically for designers
  • A completely redesigned UX
  • Complete integration with both Microsoft Expression Blend 1.0 and 2.0
  • Cross-compatibility between nukeationMachine for VS2008
  • UI Bits sharing and community features
  • Designer-friendly convenience features
  • Special support for Reuxables themes

Our current goal is to have nukeationMachine for Blend be released alongside the VS2008 edition in late September, with an early-adoption program in early September.

Stay tuned as we post more information over the coming week.


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Looking for beta testers for <WTF/>

March 27, 2008 00:22


We're almost done with WTF. But we need YOUR help. We have a need for a few beta testers. To apply, please use the contact form on this blog. All beta testers will get free copies of WTF and a discount coupon for our Reuxables products.

I'll be posting more info this weekend about some more new features we ended up adding to WTF:TransitionContainers, and our roadmap for WTF 2.0.

EDIT: Sorry, all available slots are now filled. Thanks to everyone for the great response.


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The Designer Role - Part 2 (Official Expression Newsletter)

February 25, 2008 23:13


The Microsoft Expression Newsletter's Feb issue just got published today. You can read Part 2 of my article here.

The previous part can be found here.


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Examples of Differentiated UX

February 7, 2008 01:31


With the undersea cable problems and my average net speed being about 15k/sec, I am presented with ample time to think and write about UX. Something I haven't been able to do for quite some time.

Last night, I had a short exchange in the private MVP discussion list about Differentiated UX. And more specifically, actual examples of differentiated UX's and the reasoning behind them. Below are some modified excerpts from my emails:

It is very easy to go overboard when creating a super cool UI. But to have a good UX and a differentiated UX, we don’t have to go recreating the wheel. We just need to identify as many areas of our own applications that can benefit from an enhanced UX. Not think of universal UX concepts that would benefit every application. That is what component vendors do and that ends up creating only a mediocre UX.

Think of this in terms of a website. Using a CMS like DotNetNuke is so easy and it lets you quickly get things done, but there is only so much customization possible because to benefit the most number of users, the creators must stick to a one-size-fits-all template. A custom CMS, while much harder to create in comparison would be built specifically for the site in question and therefore would have more originality and flexibility.

One aspect of DUX I’m messing with is windows. Mainly modal windows. If we compare more recent applications to something from the Windows 98 or 2000 era, the number of modal dialogs has gone down. SysTray popups have removed the need for so many message boxes and other modal dialog based notifications.  Often modal dialogs are not really needed. In many cases where files will be stored in only one place, the Open/Save dialogs can be removed completely. Windows Live Writer does a good job with that.

HardFocus

Taking again the Open/Save dialog example, see the image above. This is an in-page implementation of an open/save dialog. The design consideration here was to quickly identify the “slot” you want to save or open. Filenames were not a user-relevant element, so we did away with it completely. Extra info would be provided by a large Super Tooltip. We also use physical focus by blurring everything else so as to give this “dialog” total focus.

One thing I specifically mentioned was that blind usage of 3rd party components is more or less putting the UI and the UX in a box and limits creative UI. Take the DataGrid for example. In certain business scenarios, it makes perfect sense. But developers often become too eager to just slap a grid on the window and bind it to the data source. It’s so easy. But it is often unproductive for the end-user (even if they themselves don’t know it).

Valkyrie02

In this project, we were given an existing medical application front end and were asked to “idiot-proof” it. The app used DataGrids for a list of visits of the patient. No way would an inexperienced user – especially under stress or in emergency situations – be able to quickly navigate a grid and understand the data. So we implemented a customized DataBound template of the WPF ListBox (not even ListView).

This is a simple List, but look at the DUX/features:

  • Big icons (with totally different colors for each state) quickly relay the status of each item without needing textual data.
  • Large easy to click items.
  • Column Name is repeated in each item, so if the user is looking at an item at the bottom of the list, the eye doesn’t have to travel all the way up and see which column it is. It may seem like a very minor time saver, but when a single app is used all day it ends up saving a lot of time.

It was still just as easy to bind to the DataSource.

LogiDineUX3MainWindow

One last example: LogiDine. This is a restaurant reservation system app we did for ASPSOFT. And do note, this is Windows Forms (in .NET 2.0) not WPF! Just about everything uses OwnerDraw code. But the main DUX feature here are:

  • In-page “Add Customer” dialog, avoiding the modal dialog. Especially since this would be needed frequently.
  • A NumericUpDown control is nasty for quick input. So we added preset buttons next to them. Clicking a preset would quickly input the value in the spinner.

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