Morning Dew Lightning Review – Syncfusion Essential Studio for WPF

It has been a hectic fourth quarter of 2013 for me, but I want to write up my thoughts on the Syncfusion Essential Studio for WPF before the holidays are upon us. I have been trying different WPF controls throughout the year and all of them provide great value to the modern desktop and enterprise app developers.

What’s New

I have been using Studio 2013v3 for the past several weeks, but 2013v4 was just released, so I will just quickly touch on what’s new in the latest release first. Here’s a rundown of the latest features for WPF:

  • 3D Charts
  • Localization Support in Report Viewer and Report Designer
  • Customized Fast Bitmap Lines Series & Some New Types of Trend Lines in Charts

Most of my WPF apps focus more on data capture, so I won’t be touching these new features in my day-to-day work.

GridData Control

I have been spending much of my time working with the GridData control. It is a powerful control with extensive support for binding, filtering/grouping/sorting, import/export and working with unbound data. The performance on filtering and sorting is great. Under the covers it is using PLINQ to optimize the performance with multiple CPUs/cores. The grid designer provides a simple way to create a great looking grid that does exactly what you need for your data.

Docking Manager

I also worked with the Docking Manager for WPF in Essential Studio. If there is anything in Visual Studio’s UI that you wish you could build into your app, the Docking Manager can probably help you get it done. It supports docked panels, floating panels, auto-hiding/pinning and docked tabs. The tabbed document UI that Visual Studio uses can also be created with Docking Manager via an MDI Child Mode.

To style the docked panels, there is support for 10 different themes or you can customize any of them to create your own to match existing application standards in your company.

Rich-Text Box and Ribbon

The best summary of what the Rich Text control can do is on Syncfusion’s site:

The RichTextBox control is a Microsoft Word-like word processor control that lets users view and edit rich content like formatted text, images, lists, and tables. It can also import and export .doc, .docx, HTML, XAML, and .txt file formats.

It’s like having Word in your app without the Office runtime dependency. Combine it with the ribbon control and you can create your very own word processing experience with all of these features:

  • Text formatting
  • Paragraph alignment and indentation features
  • Insert an image or any UIElement
  • Tables support
  • Page layout
  • Import and export to .doc, .docx, HTML, XAML, .txt
  • Printing and zooming
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Undo and redo support
  • Command support
  • Clipboard support
  • Read only mode


The WPF tools are really easy learn and are easy to customize and extend with styles and templates. The design experience is equally rich in Visual Studio and Blend (I was using VS 2013).

Go check them out, and happy coding!

Morning Dew Quick Review – Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop

Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop from Balsamic Studios LLC is a simple, easy to use tool for creating UI mockups with a hand-drawn look to them. Balsamiq is a Micro ISV founded by Giacomo Guilizzoni, formerly a Senior Software Engineering Lead for Adobe. Mockups for Desktop is an Adobe AIR application with a small footprint. It includes over 60 UI element template that users can tweak to meet their layout needs. Resulting drawings convey the designer’s vision without being tied to the look-and-feel of a particular application platform or OS. Designs can be exported to PNG to share/review your mockups with colleagues. At $79 for a single user license, it is also a very affordable design tool.

Here is a basic Outlook-style UI created in only a few minutes with Mockups for Desktop.

Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop