A Skin for All Seasons

Thinking Out Loud
03 April 2008

Sometimes, I want to kick myself for not being creative enough with the names we choose for a given feature category. A perfect example of this is Skins. We could have called it something elegant...like the SuperDuper Presentation Styling Blow Your Customers Away Engine. Instead, the best we could come up with was Skins. Argh

Fortunately, most of you guys don't mind that we stink at name selection and based on feedback we receive on a daily basis, you cannot get enough new application/form skins for your next project from DevExpress.

If you read our blogs regularly, you know that one of the more active blog comment threads we've ever had involved the introduction of the Holiday Skin this past December. In that blog post, I briefly described why we created the Holiday Skin. In this post, I want to give you a bit of the history behind this feature.

About 3 1/2 years ago, we were struggling for a killer new feature for the XtraGrid Suite v3. Mike Roz, the lead engineer of our WinForms product line suggested form skinning as the next great thing to deliver to market. Many of us - myself included - told him he was out of his mind. After all we said, what's wrong with the Office 2003 or XP look and feel? As luck (or brilliant thinking) would have it, Mike eventually got his way and in April '05, we released the XtraGrid Suite with skin support. At this stage, I was still unconvinced about the virtues of a form/application skinning engine...stuck on my original hypothesis that people would never deviate from the UI found in products like MS Office.

Things started to change in my mind about a month later at TechEd in Orlando when a very nice individual who works with one of our competitors came up to me and said something to the effect...."Nice Ray - Skinning rocks." Hmmm I thought - we might be onto something. To make a long story short, it was not much after this point that I joined Mike's bandwagon and fell in love with the possibilities that a skinning engine can offer.

Since the release of the XtraGrid with skin support, a few competitors have decided to introduce their own skinning engine.  My mantra these days is Download - Compare - Decide for yourself so if you have not yet compared our products to others, we welcome you download a free evaluation version and see whether our approach and implementation makes sense to you and helps address your business requirements.

With that said, I wanted to share a preview of an upcoming summertime themed skin (still in the works) with you and to let those of you who want to create interesting skins yourself, help is on the way...

Summertime Skin

Finally, you can see a list of skins we've released since v2007 vol 3 here

http://www.devexpress.com/Products/NET/DXperience/WhatsNew2008v1/index.xml#autolist2

17 comment(s)
Neal
Neal

Where is the SUN in that skin?  It's friggin cold out East, I need sunshine!!  I know, you all in Vegas don't like to think of the sun! :)

FWIW, skinning is the first reason I moved to DX.  I am so tired of everyone's application looking the same, it's all OFFICE - blech!  I want to be unique and with the skinning (theming) system in DX, not only can I be unique but I can allow my users to choose the way THEY want the app to look and feel!  A huge touchdown!  Thank YOU DX (Mike!!).

3 April, 2008
Anonymous
Luiz Marques

The sun is on the top right, on the bar...

3 April, 2008
Anonymous
Fredrik

Why isn't there a Vista skin? Even though Vista still isn't as popular as XP, and perhaps never will be, it is still growing in market share, and perhaps is more deserving of a Devexpress skin than Summer... not that the Summer theme isn't a lot of fun, but still... !

3 April, 2008
Crono
Crono

Fredrik there *IS* two Vista-like skins, one is "Black", the other is "Blue".

3 April, 2008
Vincent Cotton
Vincent Cotton

You guys hit a home run by going with skins.  I don't care about the name, but it was the first reason I started looking at your products.

Thanks for everything,

Vince

4 April, 2008
Anonymous
Alan Taylor_1

Skinning is indeed a superb feature.  Whenever I start a job for a new client, I show a prototype with skinning enabled and the client is always blown away.

However, it's main drawback is that it has a proprietary engine.  This means that for those (like me) who don't have the time or inclination to create new skins, we are stuck with the handful of skins provided by DevEx (I'm not complaining - they are all excellent, especially the new McSkin).

If the engine was compatible with one of the mainstream skin engines, say WindowBlinds for instance, then we would have *thousands* of skins at our disposal.

Just my 2p ;o)

4 April, 2008
Andreas Mummenhoff
Andreas Mummenhoff

Skinning is a very! useful feature. One proposal: establish some questionary, where users can propose and vote for new skins - this would be very nice.

Another question: can I pay you for producing a skin after my wishes? If yes, how much would it cost?

4 April, 2008
Scott Woods
Scott Woods

I use the Winter, and soon to be Summer, skins for pre-release or beta software we do.  It adds a nice fun look to our products before we ship the release with a more toned down (but still nice) skin.

4 April, 2008
Juan Betancourt
Juan Betancourt

Alan:

in fact WB skins or whatever, are supported,

setting "XP native" or "XP" (see Demo center).

4 April, 2008
Anonymous
Alan Taylor_1

Hi Juan,

What I meant was, being able to use WB (or other) skins in applications that will run on machines that do not have WB installed.

7 April, 2008
John Harrison
John Harrison

Just looking at your screenshot, looks nice - but what's a vender? :-P

7 April, 2008
Ray Navasarkian (DevExpress)
Ray Navasarkian (DevExpress)

vender is vendor with an e :-)

9 April, 2008
Joe Hendricks
Joe Hendricks

"those of you who want to create interesting skins yourself, help is on the way..."

Me! Me!

:-)

11 April, 2008
Anonymous
A

i want to download black glass skin for aspxgrid view 7.2.2

can you give me the link

27 April, 2008
Anonymous
Thinking Out Loud

First and foremost, if you're using our WinForms (Windows Forms if you prefer) controls already,

2 July, 2008
Anonymous
Big in Japan

先週、CEOのレイが弊社開発のWindowsフォーム専用製品ラインについてブログを書きました。以下がその翻訳ですのでお読みください。 弊社の価値提案 – 弊社製品から得られるものと他社製品との比較

9 July, 2008
Anonymous
Jessica

New skins were fantastic and surely its nice to look at... I haven't try Summer skin but soon i will.. :)

as of now,im  using Valentine as my new skin (i like the heart shape)  and upon opening forms it was blinking (just like a heart beating -could be the suitable description on it) but im wondering if this is effects is included to this skin..

7 August, 2008

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