OK, so we're crazy

21 November 2006

Today will live on in Developer Express folklore as the day we announced three new products. Of course, that means our download servers are now wimpering on their knees, sweat pouring off their hard drives, and the T1 router is glowing white-hot.

  • DXperience volume 6.3. I've already blogged about this, including saying that it was "only hours away". Well, the 168 hours between my talking about it and it being announced was "only hours". Really. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it :).
  • ExpressQuantumGrid v6. The sine qua non of VCL grids has had a great update. You can read about the changes here.
  • ExpressBars v6 beta. This one is only available to our VCL product subscribers. There are many changes to this product, but of course the main one that everyone has been waiting for is the addition of our VCL Ribbon. Just like our ribbon in our .NET XtraBars product, it's one of the most full-featured ribbons out there with the added benefit that it's for Delphi and the VCL. You too can write full-speed Win32 applications with a state-of-the-art user interface. I've seen a couple of our customers' applications with our VCL ribbon, and they're just awesome.

Although we've described the changes to the products we're shipping on our web site, we don't for the ExpressBars beta. Here's the summary of features introduced in this beta:

Ribbon UI

With the TdxRibbon, TdxCustomRibbonForm, TdxRibbonPopupMenu, and TdxRibbonStatusBar components, you can build ribbon interfaces similar to those found in Microsoft Office® 2007.

In-Place Editors Extension

All in-place editors from the ExpressEditors Library can be used within toolbar items. Use the cxBarEditItem to create this type of item (note the ExpressEditors Library must be purchased separately).

Form Inheritance Enhancements

  • TdxBar is now a TComponent descendant (was a TCollectionItem descendant in the previous versions). This eliminates the problem when changes applied to the base form are not reflected in the changes to inherited forms after modifying a toolbar on an inherited form. Forms with older versions of toolbars are fully supported.
  • Toolbars on both the base and inherited forms can be reset.

Parented Forms and Frames

Parented forms and frames are fully supported. Problems with common keyboard shortcuts, accelerator keys, tab navigation, and hints in parented forms have been addressed.

Improved Support for Images and Image Lists

  • 32-bit icons with alpha blending.
  • Now you can optionally use the TImageList.TransparentColor property to determine the transparent color of an image instead of using its left-bottom pixel.
  • The image mask of a transparent glyph is now taken into account when painting an image from an image list.

Extended Appearance Control

Added the capability to apply custom color and font settings to a toolbar item's caption and in-place editor (via the item's Style and StyleEdit properties).

Runtime Usability Improvements

  • A centralized way to postpone painting and calculation of toolbars has been introduced via a bar manager's BeginUpdate/EndUpdate methods.
  • New specially designed methods to simplify the creation, modification and repositioning of toolbars have been introduced.

Merging Mechanism Improvements

  • More than two toolbars can be merged.
  • You can now merge bar managers.
  • You can use the specially designed MergeKind and MergeIndex properties of a bar item to control merging.

Design-Time Improvements

  • Toolbars can now be selected using the mouse.
  • You can also select multiple items and toolbars by holding down the Shift and Ctrl keys.
  • It's much easier to delete the selected links, items, and toolbars using the Del and Ctrl+Del keys.
  • You can press the Esc key to access the selected object's parent component (for instance, press the Esc key to move to the parent toolbar of a bar item which is currently selected).

Bug Fixes

  • Several bugs related to the position of a toolbar which was not correctly saved/restored after the toolbar was hidden/shown have now been fixed.
  • New items, which are added to a toolbar after storing its settings to the registry, an INI file or stream, will be visible after restoring the settings.

As mentioned previously, this beta is only available to active VCL subscribers. To obtain your beta copy, logon to our Client Center and download our Unified VCL installers.

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