DevExpress Universal support for Visual Studio 2015 released

VisualStudio logo

I’m sure that you can’t but helped to have noticed that Microsoft released the latest version of Visual Studio this morning. After completing its fairly lengthy beta, Visual Studio 2015 is now ready for download. There are three versions: Community (which is free for use, but with some licensing and other restrictions), Pro, and Enterprise. There’s lots of new functionality in there, especially dealing with mobile development and the like with UWP (Universal Windows Platform), and of course all of the familiar support for Windows Forms, ASP.NET, and WPF is still there.

Now, I’m sure in being a DevExpress customer, you are at the forefront of technology and raring to go but there’s just one warning niggle at the back of your mind: can I install DevExpress Universal in it? The answer is of course yes, providing that you have downloaded the very latest versions. We released two new versions of DevExpress Universal this morning coinciding with Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2015 launch: v14.2.9 for those customers who are still using the v14.2 series, and v15.1.5 for those who have already upgraded to the v15.1 series. Both of these new versions (or later) will install into Visual Studio 2015 just fine.

For those who are looking for our UWP controls, please be patient just a little while longer. Windows 10 for the desktop is due for launch on Wednesday, July 29 and Microsoft’s sudden withdrawal of the ability to install the betas on new machines has left us a bit in the lurch. Nevertheless, Paul Usher and I will be presenting a webinar this Thursday, 23 July on the new UWP controls, so do take a moment to register to reserve your place.

Silverlight and DevExpress Universal v15.1

You may have noticed something peculiar once you’d installed v15.1: no Silverlight controls came as a part of the product and hence were no longer present on your machine. Wait, what?

Back in December 2014, at the time of the v14.2 release, I announced that we were no longer going to update and enhance the Silverlight controls (Silverlight’s future at DevExpress). I’ll quote the relevant summary:

…we made the decision to put our Silverlight controls into maintenance mode as well – in fact, we have already forked the code. We will not be providing any new functionality for our Silverlight controls but will provide maintenance updates to fix any issues as and when necessary. We have already stopped selling DevExpress Silverlight as a separate product (either as a new subscription or as a maintenance subscription) and it is now only available as part of DXperience or Universal.

However, we then made a pretty big faux pas: we removed the controls completely from our products in v15.1, despite our promise to keep it available with DXperience and Universal subscriptions, and despite the fact that we made no announcement of such an action being contemplated, let alone made. The decision was made internally, but the fact that it was a breaking change and an action that required an announcement escaped everyone.

Without further ado, I apologize to our Silverlight customers on behalf of DevExpress for this uncharacteristic oversight. We deeply regret this failure in communication.

So what’s going to happen at DevExpress with regard to Silverlight now?

  1. If you have one or more Silverlight apps using our controls that you are maintaining, you will have to remain on v14.2. Possibly this might mean a separate development machine or VM. We do not plan to add the Silverlight suite back to v15.1.
  2. We shall continue to provide support and minor updates to our Silverlight controls until next June, when we release v16.1. In fact, let me be a little more precise: we will continue to update DevExpress Silverlight v14.2 with minor releases as and when needed, up to and including 30 June 2016. In essence, if you are an active customer, you will receive support and any updates we publish until that date.
  3. After that, that’s it. No more Silverlight. Now, should Microsoft subsequently make some breaking change to Silverlight (which, admittedly, is very unlikely – they’ve just done very minor updates for the last three plus years and the API can be considered as frozen), we shall revisit this policy, perhaps by making a hotfix available to repair whatever issue was brought up by Microsoft’s change. I will not, however, guarantee this.

My recommendation, then? You should strongly consider moving or porting your Silverlight projects to another platform well before the next twelve months are up.

By the way, I shall be making some efforts to ensure that such a situation does not occur again; that you, our customers, are informed well in advance of major changes like this that will affect your development and projects. Your loyalty and satisfaction are of great importance to us.

DevExpress VCL v15.1: the old spreadsheet has gone

My chair in the officeOne of the breaking changes we neglected to mention with the release of DevExpress VCL v15.1 yesterday is that the old spreadsheet control, deprecated when we released the new spreadsheet control a year ago, has been completely removed from the install. If you still are using that control, you will have to reinstall v14.2 and continue to use that until you migrate your apps to use the new control.

Our assumption was that since the new control was vastly superior to the old – there’s really no contest – our customers needing a spreadsheet would have spent some time over the past year to migrate to the better one. It seems that we were overly optimistic in that regard, so I apologize on behalf of the team and the company to all those customers who installed v15.1 only to be surprised by the sudden disappearance. Of course, I was positive I had mentioned it in a previous blog post, but alas it appears I was wrong there too (for proof, see the picture of my chair): I can find no mention of our timetable to remove the older control after a year of being deprecated. Again, please accept my apologies. We let you down badly.

My takeout from this is that we have to become a lot better at revealing such large breaking changes well in advance, so that you, our customers, are inconvenienced as little as possible, or at least have enough time to lay down some plans for the inevitable change. Stay tuned to my section here on the DevExpress Community site: I’ll be talking to the team about any such major changes planned for the next 12 months and I will be reporting back in a future blog post.

Enhanced User Experience for VCL apps (coming in v15.1)

In this installment of what’s new in DevExpress VCL v15.1, I’m going to look at what’s been enhanced with regard to the user experience.

Map Control

This one sounds simple (and is anything but to code) the map control now supports inertial scrolling. You should know what this is: you’re swiping with the mouse (or finger) to scroll the map and when you release, the map gently comes to a halt.

In addition, users can now scroll the map using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

Layout Control

We’ve added a couple of enhancements for the layout control. (Of course, whenever I mention the layout control, I feel bound to say: use it and save yourself aggravation in laying out dialogs, setting sheets, and what have you. Seriously, it’s great.)

Unified Indicator for Drag-and-Drop Operations

The VCL Layout Control now provides a unified indicator for drag-and-drop operations. This new indicator replaces the earlier styles ("classic" and "hot zone") with more intuitive suggestions on potential drop positions.

Alignment Customization Toolbar

Dropping a layout element in quick customization mode now displays a toolbar that offers options for customizing the element's alignment. The toolbar is automatically hidden once the mouse pointer moves away from the drop position.

Both of these features are shown here:

VCL-Layout-Control-DragDrop-Improvements-15-1

Data Editors and Controls

  • First up, we have added a modern drop-down calendar. This features things like mouse wheel support and animation to give your users a fast and intuitive way to select a date.
    VCL-Editors-Library-Modern-Style-Calendar-15-1
  • Next, our Image Editor now supports animated GIF images. (This would have been handy for this post, let me tell you.)
  • You can now align an error icon to the right-edge of an editor that has failed validation. This gives your users a clear indication of where to fix problems in their input.
  • The Toggle Switch now allows you to use an image or descriptive text to indicate whether it’s on or off. Here’s some examples:
    VCL-Editors-Library-Toggle-Switch-Editor-State-Indication-15-1
  • Finally, we’ve added support for our universal image format to gallery items.

Tomorrow, in our final installment, we’ll look at some other visual design changes to v15.1.

VCL Gauges – new capabilities in v15.1

Back in v14.2 of DevExpress VCL we introduced a set of gauges that would help you be more visually expressive with pertinent and important information in your apps and in your dashboards. Well, it should come as no surprise that we’ve expanded on that foundation for v15.1.

New Gauge Styles

Our designer had a spare few hours and went overboard: we’ve added six new gauge styles for v15.1. They are called Clever, Cosmic, Eco, Red, Shining Dark, and Silver Blur, and of those six, my personal favorite would have to be Eco:

VCL Gauge Control: Eco Style v15.1

The things I really like about this style are the subtle off-white gradient background and the light green needles. A very eco-friendly style, indeed.

Tickmarks on Circular Gauges

Here’s a subtle enhancement for you here: we’ve added the ability to customize the orientation of the tickmark labels. Along with this change we’ve improved the algorithm that positions tickmarks with long labels.

VCL Gauge Control: Customizable Label Orientation in v15-1

In this case a picture is definitely worth a thousand words, since even we had the hardest problem coming up with one/two-word descriptions of these for the enumeration...

Digital Scale Enhancements

For the digital scales for v15.1, we’ve added a couple of new display modes (8x14 and 5x8 segment matrices) and the ability to adjust the spacing between characters.

VCL Gauge Control: Digital Scale at 8x14 in v15-1

This image shows off the 8x14 character matrix.

Other Enhancements

1. You now have the option of animating the indicator or needle.

VCL-Gauge-Control-Value-Indicator-Animation-15-1

2. There is a new three-quarter circular gauge.

VCL-Gauge-Control-Circular-Three-Fourth-Scales-15-1

3. We’ve added the Wide Circular type.

VCL-Gauge-Control-Circular-Wide-Scales-15-1

4. Gauges can now have a logarithmic scale. Hey, this take me back: it’s just like a slide rule!

VCL-Gauge-Control-Logarithmic-Scale-15-1

5. You can now define and display your own custom scale captions.

VCL-Gauge-Control-Custom-Scale-Captions-15-1

6. There is now a container control for gauges. This not only allows you to group a set of gauges together, but also gives you the opportunity to simultaneously resize them as you resize the container.

VCL-Gauge-Control-Scale-Container-15-1

Design-time Enhancements

We’ve added a couple of enhancements to help designing with gauges:

  • Ability to create nested scales using the scale's on-form context menu
  • Ability to copy and resize scales using drag and drop
  • On-form selectors for range bars

 

And with that long list of enhancements, I’m sure you’ll find even better ways for your app or dashboard to display significant information, and allow your users to understand it at a glance.

More Posts