Sneak peek: WinForms Alert Window gains great new features (coming in v2011.1)

26 March 2011

We’ve implemented a couple of great new features for the WinForms AlertControl (a.k.a. – at least as far as I’m concerned – the “toaster” control) for v2011 vol.1, which will help make your apps pop.

1) Animation effects for showing the alert window

In previous versions the alert window used fade-in/fade-out effects to show or hide the alert window. In v2011.1, we’ve added a few more animations to show/hide the alert window: MoveVertical, MoveHorizontal, SlideVertical, SlideHorizontal. Instead of trying to describing them I’ll enjoin you to just watch them in this YouTube video.

I start off with the current fade animation and then I show the move animations and then the slide animations (the slide ones are supposed to be smoother animations, but it’s hard to show off in a video).

2) Ability to limit the number of simultaneously visible alert windows

We’ve added a new property (FormMaxCount) that will help with this. Note: you can create more alert windows than FormMaxCount would seem to allow, however it’s the number of visible windows that is limited by this property. Other alert windows you create are regarded as “postponed”. Once a visible window gets hidden, one of postponed windows is promoted to be displayed in its place.

34 comment(s)
CESAR F. QüEB

Nice features for this control, but.. could you share the video using the DevExpress Channel?...I can't check the video for restrictions with watch guard.

TIA

25 March, 2011
T Schoute

Is this really what DevExpress is working on? What about the Gantt view for the scheduler control that was on your 2008 roadmap but until now never has been shipped? And you are asking us to vote on features we like to see in new releases, get real!

26 March, 2011
Crono

I gotta say I kinda agree with TShoute. I am aware that just the both of us cannot speak on behalf of all other DX's customers, but I as well feels like something is wrong with the way you priorize development of some features over others, and I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones.

This feeling can't help but grow stronger when I see things such as the skin gallery, MDI document selector and now animations for toast window control being added to the suite before the VERY basic ability to exclude a grid's column from being printed, or having it display a single vertical scroll bar for master/detail displays.

Both these features are in the support center's "Accepted - release TBD" list for quite a while and discussed of in the forum. Again, this is just me saying, but I think that these are much, much more important things to have.

... like many other "accepted" features in that list.

Now to be fair, even up to recently there has been many features that were added which I find very useful (shrinked pivot grid is awesome!). But still, I believe there's room for improvement in how you communicate with your customers to figure out what they truly expect from you.

To conclude, please keep in mind that this is all meant in good faith. I still think DX provides great components, and will do their best to make their customers happy.

26 March, 2011
Andrew Watts

Is also agree.  When your release cycle was 4 a year we could accept these little improvements, but now it's only two relases a year we're expecting to hear and see bigger things.  

26 March, 2011
Roger Areia

I must say I agree with the points made here.  I would like to know who is prioritizing winforms feature implementation.

26 March, 2011
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

T Shoute: No, this is not what "DevExpress is working on", which to me implies that we're all working on one thing at one time. We do have several development teams spread across all four platforms with several members in each team. This particular feature was something that one of the guys had implemented for v2011.1 because of customer feedback and it was worth bringing to our customers' attention. I'm sorry that the feature wasn't interesting for you, but then again not every feature will be. Heck, not all features we do are interesting to me either.

The Gantt view for the scheduler is being worked on.

Chrono: this is wacky. We have devs who live, breathe, eat and drink grids. And so they're working on grids. We have other devs who love doing the schedulers. And so that's what they do.  We have other devs who just work on other stuff. Should we be "prioritizing" this third group of devs to work on grids just because? No, of course not. There's the learning curve to being able to write efficient underlying grid code just for a kick-off. Much better to get them to implement other customer suggestions. Writing software is not about pleasing all customers all the time.

Andrew: we never attained the goal of 4 major releases a year. When I joined 5 years ago and we switched to the DXperience subscription, we had great intentions of reaching the magic four, but only managed three.

Paul. I am, along with the rest of management and the WinForms development team leads.

Cheers, Julian

26 March, 2011
Crono

Julian, I have no doubts that DX's devs are working hard. If I had, I would have cancelled my subscription a long time ago. :)

I also am fully aware that you can't possibly satisfy every single feature demand, that some of these implies important code reengineering you simply can't risk yourself to do, and, as you said, that it's worth having devs first satisfy demands that best suits their expertise and availability.

Also, as I already mentionned, it's not like nothing satisfying came out of most recent releases. I especially enjoy the new compact layout for pivot grid and the fact that hidden grid columns are written in italics font in the designer. And while I do not use the vertical grid, I find the frozen rows idea pretty neat. :)

However, while I'm more than willing to try looking at things from your angle, I'd like to help you to do as much from ours: there's a whole lot of "TBD" suggestions in support center, and - let's face it - not that much feedback from you guys on those. And when I say feedback, I don't necessarily mean an implementation; I just mean... well, feedback! A quick word, something that actually tells us a suggestion is still being considered... or not, at worse.

Seeing a suggestion marked as "accepted" for YEARS without a single status update, nor any answers to people on the forum asking what's up with it... well I'm sorry, but you must admit that it's pretty easy to think that you just aren't giving any interest to it anymore. Not even enough to set it's status to "rejected". As customers, from our perspective, it just looks like it's not given the consideration we - rightfully or not - strongly believe it deserves.

Granted, some people are never pleased with anything they have. But here, it's no wonder that some are having doubts - or even, are frustrated - about how priorities are set. I think some of us would feel a lot better if there was just half as much clues on what's happening with long-awaited requested features than there's sneak peeks for upcoming features, no matter how big / useful / eye-candy they are.

This is not me criticizing, this is me humbly trying to help us understand each other. Since English isn't my main language, I hope it's clear that I mean all of this in due respect. If it's not, please believe it's not intentional, and accept my apologies.

26 March, 2011
Sigurd Decroos

I follow Crono on this one.

DX: I have an idea... Post the top 25 'Accepted - Release TBD' on your site and let us vote. Implement the top 10 for 11.1 and the rest for 11.2. Do the same thing next year, this way, most important stuff that your customers want will be implemented. Now, we have no clue which item has most followers.

What do you think Julian?

26 March, 2011
Richard Choroszewski

I was about to post something similar but Sigurd beat me to it

TBDs should be given greater priority and better methodology for keeping track of outstanding TBDs and some interplay between us and you to ensure that TBDs progress is tracked  or deprecated in a format that is open to all to comment and interact on

27 March, 2011
Bert Stomphorst

With Sigurd and Rigard...

Just to add a small thing: sometimes it's just pretty to know that a feature won't be implemented within, say, a year. We developers have to decide how to implement things, and can anticipate on expected features. When I know a feature won't come within a year, I can think about another way to achieve my goal.

The top x issues should maybe be separated by the several teams (grid/chart/xpo/xaf/winforms/aspx?)

28 March, 2011
Pietro Allegretti

+1!

After 4 years of a satisfactory use of DX components and support, I've learned that TBD's are not on the top priorities of DX and if a specific funcionality is in TBD I've not to think that will be developed nor in the next future nor in the remote future. Simply DX does not have that funcionality and maybe, but no one should rely on, sometime will be developed. At the same time probably won't be developed ever! I've accepted that until a very usefull functionality will be missed (TBD's or not) and i'll be forced to evaluete some other products (or, I hope, a different suite in DX changing the UI tecnology!).

Please DX let's know, or let us vote on TBD's to put in your top priority  list.

Thanks

28 March, 2011
Holger Kammerer

Like Pietro said and with all others: "Please DX let's know, or let us vote on TBD's to put in your top priority list"

28 March, 2011
Martijn van IJperen

Nice feature!!!

Little typo "Slide veritcal" instead of "Slide vertical". ;)

28 March, 2011
Simon Smith

I agree with the other posts on here. I think the DevEx products are great and always welcome new enhancements, but my heart always sinks when I see 'Accepted - Release TBD' on the suggestions, especially when the last update was years ago. I always make sure I follow them to get the 'vote count' up, but I sometimes wonder if I'm alone and backing something that will never happen. I definitely think that this area needs to be enhanced to provide more feedback to the customer.

In response to the new features - the FormMaxCount will be very useful to me!

Cheers

Simon

28 March, 2011
Scott Wylie

Julian,

This Alerts feature is quite cool but other than the customer that requested it, I would have to assume it would never hit the Top 100 items that the community really wants.

Based on many of the comments on this post, and the fact that you didn't respond to the comments on your post about WinForms and v2011.1 (community.devexpress.com/.../winforms-and-dxperience-v2011.aspx) , I am not sure you really understand your community and how we want to be directly involved in the product that we use every single day.

When your team says a feature request has been accepted and it goes months or years with any update, feedback or implementation, how do you think your community is going to feel when an Alert box gets some cool UI feature.  Sure it may have only taken a dev a day or so to implement it but there are hundreds of other accepted items that more people would want that only take a day or so to build.

With two major releases a year now, and a back log of over 3000 TBD - Accepted WinForms features, I can only assume that most of them will not see the light of day for years, if ever.

And it is this very reason that being much more visible in what features are being worked on, that is critical to keeping your community of users engaged, understanding and dare I say happy.

Put in a voting system for accepted work items, and provide direct and regular feedback on it so you can have more pleased customers more of the time.

28 March, 2011
Holger Kammerer

I am 100% with Scott.

29 March, 2011
Brian Maxim

I’ll echo everything that’s been said, and as per the previous blogs and forum posts the logical way to move this situation forward is to make public the top x TBD’s per component/dev group. The growing lack of resource has really been highlighted over the past year or two with the huge build-up of TBD’s, many of them essential to the enterprise application. With the small resource there appears to be for tackling some of these issues it makes absolute sense to engage the community to help position the priorities accordingly. As a by-product we will also be able to see where some of our individual suggestions lye in the scheme of things so we can make an informed decision as to whether to hold tight for a future release or attempt our own workaround.

29 March, 2011
Marc Gruben

I think it's to easy to say that the WinForms platform is ignored by DevEx. We use a lot of controls in our application and there are still controls which we will implement in the future.

If you look at the XtraRichEdit control for example and it's functionality grow it's quite huge (compare it with there competitors!).

It's strange to read that there are so many TDB's needed for enterprise applications, because GUI components shouldn't be the main concern with this kind of applications.

Of course there are always nice to haves and expanded functionality needed. But the most important thing is that the Win-suite is quite stable and every bug is fixed very fast!

29 March, 2011
George Benecos

Guys, i'm with you on that, but you must be super naive even to think that DevExpress will do this! And the reasons are:

1). We don't know how much effort is required for each of these TBD requests to be fulfilled! As far as i know, most of them, should require a partial or even complete redesign and refactoring of a control. Or else, it should be very easy for them to just implement it. Do you really think that they will do this no matter how many our votes are? no way! And i don't believe that they designed everything perfect from the start (and don't expect them to), in order for everything to get easily fixed without a form of refactoring. They would never endanger the good functionality of a control with a large or even small scale refactoring. The long lasting TBDs for me just mean "ok, it's nice. If we ever refactor the code of this control, we will take this one in mind".

2). They established a large group of customers (us) that embrace the general quality of their controls for years and they won't get away just because TBDs are not fulfilled (be real, this is hardly a reason for us to change control vendor). They know it. They need to focus their attention to new customers. And new customers are attracted by features and nothing more! They will never get to the point of a seasoned user, they will never get to a point to search the knowledge base for TBDs during a demo installation! For them, the new Alert window features are added value to a prospect buy, the ability to exclude a grid column from printing is something that will not get to until they buy it and play with it for months! So, it's not there!

29 March, 2011
Sigurd Decroos

@George: I understand you, but I'm sure hundreds of TBDs are easily fixed without redesign or refactoring (like RowDoubleClickEvent or RowDeleting).

About no 2... Don't be so sure this switch can't be done. I've switched from Janus Systems to Infragistics and now to DevExpress and I have a very large ERP app.

I seriously hope DX is reading all this and taking us serious.

29 March, 2011
Scott Wylie

@George:  As for point 1, there are over 3000 TBD's, not every single one will require the level of rework and testing that you are implying.  I am sure many do but if you hit up several hundred of the small items you would be surprised how many people would be happy.  I have a TBD that I personally requested over 18 months ago, that is built in to MS standard controls that really should not require the level of effort you imply.

As for Point 2: If you have done your design right (wrapping all 3rd party controls) switching is not 'as' hard.  For me not having support for QTP or Coded UI Tests is a huge cost in manual testing and in the long run it is cheaper to switch.  So far DevExpress has the Code UI Tests item as TBD with no update what so ever.  If I was provided with any communication at all on the subject, I would at least know what I am dealing with.  So far nothing has been provided so I feel forced to start looking at changing.

29 March, 2011
Linton

+1 on Suggestion Progress Transparency

+1 on Suggestion Priority via Voting (give 1 vote per license). Obviously, user suggestion would have lower priority than DevEx (manager/team) features but at least, we could see whats popular with licensed users and have some glimmer of hope should our suggestions get to the top-10 list.

29 March, 2011
Pietro Allegretti

Is DX really listening us?

30 March, 2011
George Benecos

@Sigurd and @Scott. I am not implying anything about the complexity of the work required for them to fix TBDs. The passive reaction of DevExpress to our TBDs imply it! Because, if you really believe that the largest number of TBDs are easy to get fixed and still they don't, and that new features should not be of top priority for them and still are, then what the hell are we doing with them??? You imply that they don't give a *** about us, that the TBD label is just a trick in order for us to stop nagging them and they have their own issue priority. So, what is the point of asking them about votes on issues it you think that not even the easiest of them are not fulfilled by them?

30 March, 2011
Dave Hesketh

Wow, where are all the negative comments coming from? I think this is a cool and useful feature. It's this kind of subtle detail that makes our customers look at our software and go "cool!" and then hand over the money.

What's more important, the Gantt View or the ability to change themes? For T Schoute, this might be a more important feature. For me, it's not.

DevExpress has an amazing team including highly skilled developers, amazing support staff, excellent management, and amazing marketing.

To put it nicely, if you don't like something - write it yourself....

30 March, 2011
Sigurd Decroos

@Dave: if they accept somethin and put it as 'release to be done', it means they will do it. So, no point to write it ourselves then, right? That is however, if they really release it within a reasonable time. And this is whole the problem here. In another blog DX posted that we didn't send any requests to them regarding WinForms and that's the reason almost nothing new is in the roadmap for 2011 (regarding WinForms). So, all the negative comments are coming from this.

@George: I never said DX is giving *** about us and I don't want to imply it. I just asked for a possible solution with the top x voting system. That way, it would be clear for everybody what is to be done first (if at all possible within reasonable time limit).

30 March, 2011
George Benecos

@Sigurd. Sorry for the possible misunderstanding, i don't say that you imply anything. The situation leads us to imply it. Let me be clear by describing the situation that all of us, seasoned users, are well aware of. Most of our requests are discarded as "By Design" issues. Few of them get to the RTBD status. There is no voting system, just a simple "Follow" request. We don't know how many people are interested in each issue or if they are registered users or not. There is not a single hint as to how important DX finds the issue or what possible priority it gets or a possible date of completion. And this story is the same for YEARS now and never changes! This is not the first time that the same discussion is raised! Many times before, in various threads and for various obvious (or not, as this now is the case!) reasons, people are asking about the TBDs. And still, there are people that propose a voting system that is so easy to get implemented, that we must be super naive to think that DX could not just do it, years before! The obvious short answer, is that they don't want to! And they only reasons for that, is what i said before in this thread.

30 March, 2011
Brian Maxim

George, I agree with you on your original 1st point as im sure there are many TBD’s that would require big changes and go “beyond the scope” of what DX would like to do with their controls. In which case this would take us back to Crono’s point about the need for DX to update these issues with some feedback so dev’s can decide what route to take next. I’ve occasionally looked at some and thought get off your back side and code it yourself- if they catered for everything, many dev’s would be out of the job!

Many DX posts in the support centre and the forum tell us to “track” the suggestion as the more popular the suggestion, the more likely it is to get implemented. Some of them even let the word “vote” slip, maybe they shouldn’t have?! The system is there. It may well have been this way for a number of years but times have changed. With decreased resources and a new level of increased technologies to support, the need for a more accountable, transparent system is greater then ever.

30 March, 2011
Scott Wylie

First off, let me say that the product I work on, is a success due to some of the great features of DevExpress.  Would it be a bigger success with at least of the features that are TBD....with out question.

There is a vague tracking system in place but there is no external visibility so it is almost like a black hole.

In my company, when a feature is requested, we review it, we estimate it and we put it in our release schedule based on priority, need, and resources.  However, the first thing we do is if the feature is SO big to ever get done or complicated we flat out reject it.  This does not give false hope to our users that some day they might see it, perhaps years from now.

If you have no intention of implementing the requested feature by the user, don't accept it.  By accepting you give false hope, which may just be worse than just not answering the original request.

30 March, 2011
Sigurd Decroos

@George: thanks for the further explanation of your point of view. It makes some things really clear to me (and hopefully others). No vendor out there provides everything out of the box. And I have come to accept that many years ago. But when a supplier agrees and tells its customers they will release it, they should. If DX isn't listening (again) to its customers, then I'll have to search greener grass elsewhere. Unfortunately, I've seen most grass and after some time, it get's dirty everywhere.

30 March, 2011
Crono

@Dave: You are lucky to still have such rare customers in an era where smooth, rich, multitouch-enabled software barely gets a "meh" anymore.

But even so, how long does the "wow" effect really last? Seriously, did you ever heard a single MS Outlook user saying "I could use more efficient worktime tracking, but I don't care because I SO LOVE how the toast windows slides above each other"?

Sure, I could "code features myself" as you suggest. And as a matter of fact, I do. For lots of things. Even things you'd expect would be built-in but aren't, such as row dragging and dropping support and conditionaly enabled/visible buttons per data row (XtraGrid).

But here's the thing: I'm buying 3rd party components specifically to NOT have to code it myself. And I'm up to the point where I find I'm doing more than my part of the deal.

And even so, I'm not asking for miracles, and as far as this thread goes, nobody is. The message that comes out crystal clear by now is that we want to be kept in the loop.

Our success depends on DX's, and DX's success depends on ours. There is absolutely NO reason why we shouldn't try to improve the way we communicate with each other.

30 March, 2011
Andrew Watts

I believe this might be getting out of hand.  It's unfortunate that this innocent article has triggered the above responses, obviously sooo many of us are thinking the same thing.  Some very constructive views, some negative, but it’s a good thing that DX now know how their existing customers feel.  If we didn’t care for their products we wouldn’t be monitoring these blogs providing this feedback and would have gone elsewhere by now.

I agree with @scott, DevExpress has an amazing team including highly skilled developers, amazing support staff, excellent management, and amazing marketing.  And I’m of the same opinion that my products would not be as good if it was not for the DX libraries I’m using.   Like my customers, I like to receive feedback so we know where we stand with out queries, requests etc...   I can also accept a feature will not be developed if I’m told of the reason, it’s not possible because it’s too complicated, required too much refactoring of code, or what ever rather than a Rejected status.  

I would like to think DX have taken onboard our thoughts and would now like to hear from them.

31 March, 2011
T Schoute

This indeed is getting a bit out of hand, but hopefully DevExpress can learn from it.

@Julian Bucknall (DevExpress):

Can you please verify why you claim that the Gantt view for the scheduler is being worked on? We are tracking the following:

www.devexpress.com/.../A1194.aspx and that has the status "Processed (Accepted - release TBD) by DevExpress Team" since 12/20/2005 3:12:40 PM

1 April, 2011
Crono

I was hoping that Julian (or anybody at DX's) would comment on what's been said here since his last intervention... :(

13 April, 2011

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