Application Themes and Skins - It’s Design Time

Blueprint Skin Image “Can you help me with my idea …?”

Auke Teeninga recently posted a request on Julian’s CTO Video Message, Sunk Costs, asking for a skin that projected a “prototype” look-and-feel to applications. Auke is not the only one who has suggested this. Patrick Wolf and Jesse Lay have also brought up the idea of a “blueprint” design in the past.

After our designer played around with the idea, we got to thinking … this could be fun. Hows about a bit of community involvement.

So what’s the skinny … ? (pun completely intended!)

Give me some skin!

Blueprint Theme

We are throwing down the gauntlet to you guys. 

The challenge is this: come up with a design or concept for a brand new DevExpress skin. 

We’re looking for something totally new and fresh. We’ll select our favourite then add the best design to our skinning library and we’ll extend an invitation to its creator to join DevExpress at either DevConnections or TechEd Europe in November 2010.

Imagine that – your design being shipped to thousands of DevExpress customers AND you get to hang out with the team at a first-class conference! Where do I sign up?!



The submission process is wide open. You can do any of the following:Come to TechEd Europe!

  • Reply to this blog with links and ideas
  • Post something on your own blog and send us a link
  • Send me an email with your screenshot(s) and notes (
  • Post something to the DevExpress Facebook page 
  • Tweet your design (remembering to include the #devexpress tag) 

We’ll collect all of the submissions and review them to see if we can find a top-class candidate.

We've set a deadline of 5pm Pacific Time on Friday September 17th 2010 for all skin/theme submissions.

Remember: Let us see what you see

Not all of us are blessed with design skills. I should know, I am one of them. But whatever means of submission you decide to use, bear in mind that a mock-up or a link to an existing image, along with your design ideas will position you very favourably. We want to be able to see what you see. The more images and rough outlines that you can point us to to help explain your idea, the better. Come to DevConnections!

Don’t forget, forward your ideas by 5pm Pacific Time on Friday September 17th 2010.

If you don’t have any plans to submit a design, you can still join in the fun. Post your support for your favourite skin/theme here or on the DevExpress Facebook page.

And with that, I officially declare it design time :-)



13 comment(s)

So simple!  The VS 2010 theme that you use in the DXp 10.x installer.  Duh! :)

27 August, 2010
Brendon Muck [DevExpress MVP]

I'll be damned--I actually have an idea!

27 August, 2010
Eddy Hat

I would like to see a theme like the DX installer AND a VS 2010 theme. They both look really nice, especially the new VS 2010 WPF UI.

And maybe a variant of the office skins to reflect the changes in default Windows 7 apps, like Wordpad, that has a slightly different ribbon style.

27 August, 2010
Auke Teeninga

Nice to see more people had the same idea! Seems like I had the luck to ask the right person. ;-)

Really like the blueprint already and love the napkin style Patrick Wolf mentions (too bad that's not a skin).

They look so great it almost defeats the purpose. I'd almost suggest a old style Delphi skin with win95 icons!

2 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Luke Miller has sent me a suggestion via email:

"Probably not a “sexy” request and I have less than zero talents as a graphics designer but I would like a simple High Contrast, Black and White skin. Something similar to the High Contract Black and High Contrast White themes in Windows 7.

While not “pretty” this would be a big help for many of my older users.  While not visually impared, they would benefit immensely from simply two color High Contrast themes. It would also be helpful for those who are color blind. I am sure that many others would benefit from having this as an option to include in the skins we ship with our apps."

Keep 'em coming ... 9 days to go!

8 September, 2010

I'm with Luke Miller. After helping with some IT support for a non-profit client, Retina South Africa ( ), I was amazed at how cumbersome the UI was on a very low resolution and with a High Contrast Theme.

I think that it would be profitable (And ethical? You know, helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves.) for DX to create High Contrast and Black and White skins - even just as general skins and another bullet point or two for the DX marketing team.

9 September, 2010
Stephen Harrison 1

I'd like to see some themes to match the JQuery UI themes so we can mix your components and JQuery UI components, and if you only do one I'd like to suggest UI lightness ;-)

13 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Another suggestion from Matthew via email:

"I think that a skin with a prototype look can be useful, not only for communicating that an application in the design stage, but also to indicate that an application is connected to a development database. Users will understand that any changes they make aren’t affecting production servers.

The initial blueprint design doesn’t resonate with me as much as a hand-sketched skin.

Both Balsamiq Mockups and Expression SketchFlow use these concepts for skins that communicate an early stage of design work. By creating a similar, but unique skin, I believe you could create a look that would have a range of uses."

4 days to go, keep the ideas flowing!

~ Rachel.

14 September, 2010

I have noticed a couple recommendations for a black and white high contrast theme. For those that are not aware, DevExpress does have a high contrast theme for Windows Forms applications as shown at:

Find additional skins:

14 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Another email suggestion. This time from Maarten Wiltink. I really like this retro suggestion:

"We're in the process of completely redesigning and rebuilding all our existing products on the XAF platform. One of the old platforms is the AS/400 (as many people still know it) and the screens look _quite_ different there. Minimalist. Strictly functional.

We feel that it might immensely help user acceptance if the new product, even though offering all the new functionality of a Windows-style UI, could look more familiar and less daunting to some of our more conservative users. Even aside from those, a simpler look might be a hit with power users who simply don't care for dancing flamingos in their forms.

A large part of the terminal experience is of course the monospaced font and the (mostly) green-on-black lettering - although I'm partial to amber-on-black myself."

3 days to go. We're on the home straight!

~ Rachel

15 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Auke Teeninga has been back again with a whole slew of suggestions ... too many to post here but here are a few of them:

Old Windows style:

•        Like a basic Delphi windows 95application (

•        Oldicons

•        Glitchyhotzones

Under construction:

•        Trafficsigns as buttons

•        Black Yellow / Red White ribbons (

•        Constuctionextra's like bolted plates, H-beams


•        Lego bricks!

Bloc note:

•        Background:preprinted lines or squares, marginline (,

•        Font:Handwritten (Pen/Pencil)

•        Fontcolors: Mainly black/blue

•        Extra's:Highlights with yellow and green (, Folded corners, torn pages

Awesome ideas!

~ Rachel.

15 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Some over active spam filters prevented Luca Centimeri's suggestion getting to my inbox on the 9th Sept, but his vote also goes to the high contrast skin:

"Maybe because I love the dark background on my laptop,

I would like to see a theme like Microsoft Expression Blend 4.

You can see some screenshots here as an example"

Thanks Luca!

~ Rachel.

16 September, 2010
Rachel Hawley (DevExpress)

Mark Rendle has a one word suggestion that says is all: leopard.

Short and sweet ;-)

~ Rachel

17 September, 2010

Please login or register to post comments.