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August 2009 - Posts

  • Delphi and C++Builder printing system blog post updated

    Just a quick note to draw your attention to the blog post on the ExpressPrinting System I published last Friday. The VCL team have finalized everything now ready for release, and they were anxious to show off the new user experience and options dialogs mentioned in that post. So they sent me some great images and I updated the post.

    Go take a look!

  • Support for RAD Studio 2010

    If you're involved in the Delphi or C++Builder worlds, and unless you've been hiding at Ice Station Zebra for the last couple of days, you'll know that Embarcadero released RAD Studio 2010 yesterday. It's a great release with some excellent enhancements, and it's marvelous to see how Delphi and C++Builder are progressing. As Richard has been saying in his recent Delphi posts: fully native applications have not gone away in this era of managed code, but are still as important as they ever were.

    Naturally, since you own a license to the VCL subscription and perhaps have just ordered your copy of Delphi 2010, I'm sure you're wondering where we're at with our support for this new Delphi and C++Builder. I'm sure you're all ready to try out some of the new features with your favorite VCL controls.

    Well, like everyone else, we only got our copy of RAD Studio 2010 yesterday. Although we have been using Delphi "Weaver" for a little while, there are changes in the RTM version that we have to take into account and we are working on making sure that everything works and passes our tests. Since we knew when RAD Studio 2010 was going to be released, we decided to hold Build 46 of our VCL subscription until that time so that we could incorporate full support for the new IDE, run-time, and compilers.

    I would estimate that we're merely a couple of days away from release, but, given my recent predictive powers with DXperience v2009.2, I would take that with a pinch of salt. Don't blame me if it's sooner or later Smile. The team is actively working on Build 46, and believe me, the wait is going to be worth it. They are doing an excellent job.

  • Themes for WPF applications

    I really really don't know how this one fell through the "sneak peek" cracks for DXperience v2009.2. We weren't actively trying to hide it, but possibly it's because we were waiting for our graphics artist Mike to complete the design work when suddenly the release was upon us and we all had collective amnesia.

    The news is in two parts. First the good news, and then, in a break with tradition, the even better news.

    The Good News

    DXperience WPF ships with three new visual themes: Office 2007 Blue, Office 2007 Black, and Office 2007 Silver. Here's the blue theme in action in a demo:

    Office 2007 Blue theme for WPF

    The theme is applied to all of DevExpress' WPF controls.

    The Even Better News

    Ready? The new themes work on standard WPF controls as well.

    Please, go back and reread that sentence again until it's sunk in. I'll wait.

    Let's be more specific: With v2009 vol 2, any DevExpress visual theme for WPF can be applied to the standard WPF controls by simply specifying the theme name for a control or for its parent element.

    No longer do you have to apply custom templates to the standard WPF controls (and fiddle around with them) to get the visual consistency you need across the whole application you built with our controls. We did it for you. We support the standard GroupBox, ScrollViewer, Scroll, RadioButton, Button, ListBox, Slider, TabControl, Separator, ToggleButton, RepeatButton, Label, ListBoxItem, TabItem, and ToolTip controls with this theme engine.

    As a brief example, here's the Customization Window for a toolbar shown with a couple of different themes. The controls in this window are standard WPF controls.

    First, in Office 2007 Black:

    Black Customization Window

    And then in Office 2007 Blue:

    Blue Customization Window

    Notice in particular the differences in the form, the tabbed items, and the button.

    So, next time you need visual consistency and support for different themes in your WPF application, it's a one-stop shop: DevExpress and DXperience WPF.

  • DevExpress Newsletter 9: Message from the CTO

    My Message from the CTO for the ninth newsletter:

    It seems there's a new word hitting the streets: heuristics. Well, OK, it's been around for quite a while, but I'm noticing more and more that it's being seen outside the hallowed halls of academe.

    An algorithm is an exact recipe for doing something, usually computational in nature. A heuristic is like an algorithm but it's less exact. If you get an answer you don't like, you get to tweak some assumptions and parameters and try again.

    An example of a heuristic is cutting clothing patterns from cloth. There's a simple algorithm for doing this: just place the pieces one after the other down the cloth. Works every time, but it's very wasteful. So you go back and try again by placing the smaller pieces alongside the larger, and fiddle around.

    We're trying this out with quality. There is no real algorithm that we (or you) can follow that would produce 100% bug-free software. If there were, we'd all be using it -- duh! (Actually I lie, there probably is such an algorithm, but it would be unusable in reality, much like solving an NP-complete problem exactly.) So, instead, we're trying out some heuristics, either on their own or in combination with each other, to improve on our already high standards for quality. Like all problems that are solvable with heuristics, though, it takes time and iterations, but the company as a whole is committed to succeed.

    If we find some practice that works for us, you can be sure we'll let you know. After all, "practice" means trying something over and over, until perfect. Heuristics!

    A cross-pollination between something I've been researching in my spare time (it involves optimization algorithms, another prime area that uses heuristics, a.k.a. WAGs) and our internal discussions about that elusive attribute, quality. It seems that many people view quality as something that's black or white, a step function with a discontinuity: it's either of 100% quality, nothing wrong with it at all, or it's worthless; there is no middle ground. I totally disagree and, since there is no usable algorithm for quality, then it's obvious that achieving higher excellence involves iteration through time and the various shades of grey, from black to white. What the slope of the function looks like though, I have no idea Smile.

  • DXperience v2009.2 released!

    I'm sure that many of you already know about this and have snagged the bandwidth to download before telling all your friends, but we released DXperience v2009.2 this morning (US time). Alongside that, we announced the new subscription package, DXperience WPF, to contain all of our WPF controls, in the same manner that DXperience WinForms and DXperience ASP.NET aggregate their respective controls.

    You can find out what's new — and let me tell you, there is a great deal of What's New — in this particular release by visiting the official page, or by reading the blog posts we wrote as v2009.2 was moving from code freeze through integration and overall functional testing. For those of you who are upgrading from v2009.1 (and remember you can run these major versions side-by-side so you don't have to upgrade your applications immediately), you can see the breaking changes list here.

    I personally feel that this is an excellent release with many new features and some great enhancements. Many of these changes were implemented as a direct result of feedback and suggestions from our customers, either by phone, by email to our support team, by filling out some great reports online, or by snagging us at the conferences we've attended, and almost certainly by ESP. Everyone at DevExpress would like to thank you for this feedback. It is very much appreciated, I can tell you.

    And now, onto v2009.3!

  • Publishing our controls for WPF as separate package

    Over the past couple of months, we've been discussing whether to package the WPF controls that have just been released out of beta in v2009.2 as a separate product. We've certainly been saying all along that the grid, charts, toolbars, navbars, printing, and so on for WPF should be part of DXperience Enterprise and DXperience Universal (which makes those subscriptions enormously valuable), but we were not quite so certain, so resolved, about creating a DXperience WPF. At least, not immediately; later on perhaps.

    Let me explain: there are two camps. First there's the "What Are You Waiting For?" camp who've been saying the WPF controls are hugely beneficial, especially to WinForms developers who want to move to a more modern platform, and that the controls being released are full-featured and by no means cut down or "lite" when compared to their WinForms brethren. And then there's the "What are you smoking?" camp who like to point out that we don't have controls like the pivot grid or the scheduler for WPF yet, so the package as a whole might not be perceived as being value for money.

    Well, given that we are working on the pivot grid and the scheduler for WPF (to be in beta, if not released by v2009.3) and given that you, our customers, have been weighing in on the topic and giving your feedback in no uncertain terms, we've decided to produce a new subscription called DXperience WPF straightaway with v2009.2. It's the direct analogue of DXperience WinForms and DXperience ASP.NET: a price of $799.99 and no source code. It appeared on the website and the order form at the time of the release of v2009.2.

    Big hint: if you already own DXperience WinForms and are thinking of also getting the new DXperience WPF, my advice is DON'T. Upgrade to DXperience Enterprise instead. You'll get the quadruple bonus score if you do: all of our ASP.NET, WinForms, WPF, and Silverlight controls and libraries; all of the source to those controls; CodeRush; and savings of $300 per developer. What's not to like?

    (Preemptive answer to an obvious question: whereas we feel it is time to release the DXperience WPF subscription, we don't feel the same way about a possible DXperience Silverlight. We believe we have to add more documentation, controls, and functionality to our Silverlight toolset and are working on that. We'll be making an announcement about such a subscription much closer to the v2009.3 timeframe (Nov/Dec). However, please note that the Silverlight controls, although they remain in beta within DXperience Enterprise and Universal, do have a GoLive license and so you can use them in production applications if you wish.)

  • Layout control suite for VCL gets even better in beta 3

    Those crazy developers on our VCL team are not only going gangbusters on the new beta for ExpressPrinting System (see here and here), but they've also added yet more functionality for the next beta of v2 of the ExpressLayout Control. And indeed, in answer to your unspoken questions, this double dollop of good news within a week means the next build is getting pretty close.

    Of course, as usual, many of these features are in response to your suggestions and feedback, so thanks to everyone who phoned, emailed, twittered, or filled in the online form. It is very much appreciated and we thank you.

    New in Beta 3

    Multiple Undo/Redo Support. At runtime, end-users can sequentially undo/redo operations by clicking the corresponding buttons within the Customization Form.

    clip_image001

    In code, you can use members of the layout control’s UndoRedoManager property to manage undo/redo operations. The following code snippet demonstrates how to undo all operations:

    while layoutControl.UndoRedoManager.CanUndo do
      layoutControl.UndoRedoManager.Undo;

    Item Caption Image (S31729). You can now provide an image to go along with the text for the item caption. There are two display options:

    • Assign an image via the layout item's CaptionOptions.Glyph property.
    • Provide an image list via the layout control's OptionsImage.Images / OptionsImage.DisabledImages properties and specify an image from the list via the layout item's CaptionOptions.ImageIndex property.

     clip_image001[4]

    You can show or hide the image using the layout item's CaptionOptions.VisibleElements property.

    • The enabled state of layout items and linked controls is now synchronized (S33110).

    • The Customization Form now supports skins and look and feel styles (S132118). This completes the look and feel support that was introduced in Beta 1.

    CustomizationForm 

    Other features in ExpressLayout Control Suite v2

    For information on what else has already been added to v2 of the layout control, please check out Emil's blog post from last June.

  • More info on new printing library for Delphi

    Back last month, Richard published a post on the new version, v4, of ExpressPrinting System for our VCL customers; or at least some sneak peeks for it. I'd quickly check that post out if I were you (his has got better images than mine will have) before reading on.

    We're nearly ready to expose all this as a beta, so I thought I'd quickly list the new features that are coming. Many of these were introduced as a result of end-user feedback, and so I'd like to thank everyone who submitted suggestions to us. (For reference purposes, I’ve included the appropriate Support Center ID in parentheses where necessary.)

    UPDATED August 27, 2009 to show some images of the various dialogs and user interfaces mentioned.

    PDF Export (B34)

    With v4, reports can be exported to PDF files. Users can customize various export, pagination, and document settings via a built-in PDF Export Options form.

    PDF Export options dialog

    To programmatically export a report, you need call one of the following methods:

    • The report link’s ExportToPdf method.
    • The dxPSExportToPdf, dxPSExportToPdfFile, or dxPSExportToPdfStream method as defined in the dxPSPDFExport unit.

    The following code snippet demonstrates how to export to PDF using custom settings:

    var
      ASettings: TdxPSPDFReportExportOptions;
    begin
      ASettings := TdxPSPDFReportExportOptions.Create;
      try
        ASettings.CompressStreams := True;
        ReportLink1.ExportToPdf('C:\output.pdf', False, ASettings);
      finally
        ASettings.Free;
      end;
    end;

    Separate Design-time and Runtime Report Link Packages (B1795)

    We now provide runtime packages for report links. So, you can build your applications using only these packages.

    Easily Select the Print Preview Dialog Style

    Previously, in order to specify the Print Preview dialog style, you had to manually add a corresponding unit to the ‘uses’ clause and then make sure it was in effect by promoting the unit within the unit list. Shall we say it was prone to error. In v45, you merely change a single TdxPSEngineController option to select the Print Preview dialog style:

    • Standard (using standard TToolbar controls).
    • Advanced (using toolbars shipped with the ExpressBars Suite).
    • Ribbon (using Ribbon controls shipped with the ExpressBars Suite v6).

    Ribbon Print Preview Dialog (AS16607)

    As you just saw, in addition to both standard and advanced styles, v4 allows you to use the Ribbon-style Print Preview dialog. This gives you the opportunity to have a consistent UI in your applications that already use our Ribbon controls.

    Ribbon print preview

    Apply Skins and Look and Feel Styles to Built-in Dialogs (S19452)

    All built-in dialogs support skins and look and feel styles. To apply skins or styles, you can use the TdxSkinController, TcxLookAndFeelController, or TdxPSEngineController components.

    Built-in dialogs showing look and feel

    Miscellaneous Enhancements

    Of course, we've also completed a few miscellaneous improvements.

    • You now have the ability to print report footnotes similar to report titles (S19041).

    Report footnotes dialog

    • TcxLabel controls can now be printed as a plain text, ignoring any paint styles and effects (AS2859).
    • You have the capability to custom paint child controls when printing their container (S32857). In v4, printing a report for a container control will automatically fire the OnCustomDraw* events of the report links created for its child controls.
  • Recap of Sneak Peeks for v2009.2

    We're just about to release v2009.2 and it would be a good idea to have an "accumulator" post that gathered together all the sneak peeks of the new stuff for the release. Sure, you could use that Search box up there and type in "v2009.2", but I'm going to save you all that time. See, your friends at DevExpress are always thinking of you. Besides which, Rachel told me to do this, and who am I to disagree?

    In doing this, I was quite amazed at the results: the first sneak peek for the new v2009.2 was way back at the end of May and in the ten weeks since then we've been blogging up a storm. This release is, in every sense of the word, major. At the very least I would grab a drink and some popcorn, click on the final link of all, and watch the videos we've made on the new features you'll be using very soon now.

    Without further ado:

    WPF Controls

    WPF Grid - What's Coming in the DXGrid Suite in v2009 vol 2

    WPF Printing - WYSIWYG User Interface Rendering and Report Generation

    Improving the WPF DataGrid performance

    Silverlight controls

    Silverlight Book Control v2009 vol 2

    Silverlight Layout Control: Build UI with Ease

    Silverlight Data Editors and Mask Edits in 9.2

    Silverlight Windows, Dialogs and more from AgCore

    Silverlight and WinForms Rich Text Editor (RTF) Control

    WinForms and Silverlight Rich Text Editing - the DevExpress RTF Control

    ASP.NET Controls

    Sneak Peek: New ASP.NET Rating Control

    Sneak Peek: ASP.NET HTML Editor Table Support

    Sneak Peek: New ASP.NET Editors’ Features and Demo for 2009 volume 2!

    ASP.NET Calendar Scheduling…New DevExpress Reporting Integration

    ASP.NET GridView: New Hot-tracked Style for Data Rows

    ASP.NET HTML Editor: New Table Cell Split And Merge Feature

    ASPxperience Features in 2009 volume 2 Release

    ASP.NET Scheduler Features: Performance Improvements, Print, Export, And Share Multiple Resources

    ASP.NET Controls Now Support Internet Explorer 8 Standard Mode

    ASP.NET Performance Improvements in DevExpress 2009 volume 2

    ASP.NET Themes In DLL: Easy Theme Deployment

    Custom ASP.NET Themes And The New ASP.NET Themes DLL

    Silverlight Menu Control: Customizing Appearance (v9.2)

    WinForms Controls

    WinForms Grid - Updates Coming to the XtraGrid Suite

    WinForms Expression Editor for DevExpress Grid Controls

    WinForms Pivot Table - Updates Coming to the XtraPivotGrid

    Silverlight and WinForms Rich Text Editor (RTF) Control

    WinForms and Silverlight Rich Text Editing - the DevExpress RTF Control

    Charting

    XtraCharts 2009 Volume 2: New Charts, Hit-Testing, Web Gardens, And More

    Sneak peek: Funnel charts in XtraCharts v2009 vol 2 (ASP.NET / WinForms)

    Sneak peek: Scatter line charts in XtraCharts v2009 vol 2 (ASP.NET / WinForms)

    Sneak peek: Regression lines in XtraCharts v2009 vol 2 (ASP.NET / WinForms)

    Sneak peek: Hit testing in XtraCharts v2009 vol 2 (WinForms charts)

    Sneak peek: Custom draw axis labels in XtraCharts v2009 vol 2 (WinForms and ASP.NET charting)

    Sneak peek EXTRA: Hit testing in ASP.NET charts too

    Sneak peek: Automatic date-time scales for charts (WinForms and ASP.NET)

    Sneak peek: Scale breaks in WinForms and web charts

    Sneak peek: Not only 2D funnel charts but 3D ones too

    eXpressApp Framework (XAF)

    Sneak peek: collection validation in XAF v2009 vol 2 (eXpressApp Framework)

    Sneak peek: navigation tree in XAF v2009 vol 2 (eXpressApp Framework)

    Very sneaky peek: Functional test framework for eXpressApp Framework (XAF)

    More on our new functional test framework: scripting

    CodeRush and Refactor! Pro

    Performance and Memory Milestones in CodeRush and Refactor! Pro - Preview of 9.2

    What's New in CodeRush 9.2

    Miscellaneous

    Application Wide Skins & Themes...More on the Way in DXperience v2009 vol 2

    In Motion: Documenting New and Updated Features in DXperience 9.2

  • Breaking Changes for DXperience v2009.2

    I'm just going to get this under the wire since DXperience v2009.2 is scant days, nay hours, away from being released, but you can peruse the list of Breaking Changes for this release here. The list is automatically updated from our internal support application so you might see some changes in this brief hiatus before the actual release.

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