Those who have ever used a Windows Mobile device know that many of the apps available for the OS are, how should I put this… “less than attractive”, so the people over at devslide have created their own bunch of UI elements to help us spruce up our apps.
SlideUI Mobile Controls are a bunch of buttons, text boxes & other similar controls which people are used to seeing on their Windows Phone device daily, but the huge difference is they look so much more attractive. Here is a bit about my experience using SlideUI Mobile Controls in my apps.
Included is a nice range of controls for you to use & you will already recognize most of them from the basic Windows Mobile SDKs (software development kits) provided by Microsoft, but as I’ve already mentioned, they are all a bit nicer to look upon & in many cases easier for those with chunky thumbs like myself. All of the elements provided are very finger friendly which is something I always look for in the interfaces of the apps I use; what’s the point in using an app if you have to spend huge amounts of effort just trying to navigate around it.
Here is the full list of what you get:
- UIList & UIListItem
- Message Box & Message Box Popup
- Sliding Canvas
- Progress Bar
- Check Box
- Group Box
- Radio Button
- Text Box
- Image Button
- Paint Box
Creating programs with these is surprisingly easy because it’s all integrated with Visual Studio. The SlideUI controls appear in the ‘Toolbox tray’ alongside all the other controls & you just click & drag them onto the form. They however do not look as exciting once on the form as you think they should be. This is because many of the visual effects are simply not shown when designing the interface in Visual Studio. Don’t worry though because they show up in their full glory when you run the app on your device or emulator.
Another great thing about these controls is the extra properties & methods they include to make your life better as a programmer. One example of this is when using the Button control, it lets you specify so many extra properties such as if you want it to show a gradient or not. If yes, what colour should start at the top, what should it fade to & what outline colour should be used. Then there is the same set of options for when it’s being pressed. This is but one of the many extra properties added to help you customize & personalize your app.
Many people like to change the ‘theme’ of their apps if they start getting bored. Devslide seem to have realized this as they have included a ColourScheme property to nearly all of their controls which you can easily scroll through. There’s a selection of preset schemes but you can also customize you own to truly change the way your app looks. The ones already included are black, white, red, green, blue & orange. They all look fantastic on my TouchPro2 & would make any app stand out from the average Windows Mobile dullness people are used to.
In this video, I show off what the different controls look like & how they look under different colour schemes. I also show a couple of other example apps to show some small possibilities.
Now I want to tell you about my favorite control. This is the PaintBox which as the name suggests is a control you can draw on. It’s simply a box which can be made any size & having it as a programmer makes life so much easier. I’ve personally wanted to be able to make my own drawing app for ages because the ones I’ve seen already are a bit rubbish in my opinion, but the thought of making such an app is simply too far beyond my coding knowledge. The PaintBox makes it possible in such an easy way. You change the pen size, pen colour & background colour through properties (the pen & background colour can be set to any that Windows Mobile supports) & clearing the slate clean or saving your work of art is as simple as Paint_Box.Clear or Paint_Box.Save(“my documents”, png)!
It’s just one of those things which could be incredibly hard to implement, but it’s been turned into a joy to work with. The video below shows a couple of apps which I’ve made which show how well it works.
Now, I must point out that I am not the world’s best programmer. I may not be the worst either, but I’m still no expert. This leads me onto the the customer service. I don’t think I have ever known a company take care of its customers so well. If you require help with your projects, you can leave them a message & they will email you back shortly. The longest I went before getting a reply was just under 2 days, the shortest was just over a couple of hours. They also have an online chat feature so you can talk to a real life developer on the other end, of course the availability of this feature probably varies on the time of day or who’s in the office etc. All of the help I got from them was incredibly useful & helped me get round a few obstacles which I hadn’t encountered before, both to do with their controls & with general coding problems. This is of course on top of the help files the controls are provided with. These have images showing each control along with an explanation of the properties they have added but sadly this focuses more on the properties & less on the usage of the controls themselves. This is a possible improvement for them to consider.
So, it’s easy to use, it looks fantastic, you get great customer service & it gives you a great amount of flexibility. What’s the catch?
The only downside to these incredibly useful controls is the price. ( prices have been updates , which should make it more accessible to developers)
SlideUI has the following plans:
UPDATE : 22/06/2010 The price was recently updated, the following represents the new price
# Student License: contact for student pricing.
# Single Developer License: $199
# 5 Developers License: $799
# Enterprise License: $1,199
I know these prices may seem a bit steep, but they really do add that extra special something to your apps which makes the difference between the apps which you always whip the stylus out for & the apps that you can breeze through easily with your fingers, the boring apps & the ones which you look at & think “wow”.
For more information on devslide or SlideUI Mobile controls,
go & check out their website www.devslide.com!
If you have any thoughts you would like to share or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
Disclaimer by Saijo George : Devslide are currently a sponsor on the site, and we were given a review copy. Since I am not a developer myself I asked Cris who is a hobbyist developer to give the developer suite a go. The review represents his impression of the Software.