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


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