Design of a Rich Interface using WPF.
WPF is a very powerful language and allows you to do everything you want. The only problem is that Microsoft didnt release yet a rich toolkit with all the controls we need and the XAML is not easy to learn.
Before starting to build a UI, usually, I follow these 3 fundamental steps.
1. Main layout of my application (MDI, Tab, Ribbon )
2. Style of my application (Custom, Office style, Vista style)
3. Resources available for free (Icons, themes, controls)
After I have everything in my hands I can start to design the UI and match all the pieces of the puzzle. For example I can build the main environment (shell) and then create the single components (search control, navigation bar and so on).
Sketch the UI with Microsoft Blend.
At this address, you can find an evaluation version of Microsoft Blend, a nice product for WPF designer that fully integrates with Visual Studio 2008/2010. Inside this amazing product, there a tool called Sketchflow designer. You saw this tool in action in my previous post or at the MIX09.
Why we should use a sketchflow designer instead of designing directly the UI? Because when you build an enterprise application that will be used by hundreds of users, its fundamental to reflect the UI to what the users want. If they already know the Office 2007 UI and the ribbon concept, it wont be difficult for them to move inside your new WPF application. If they work with a MDI application, you will need to think about it and redesign your idea of RIA. Remember that the user is the person that will use, buy, advertise you product. Its the most important part of your software development process. So try to satisfy it before your ego
Anyway, I will leave you the pleasure of discovering the Sketchflow world. Here I just want to show you how our application will be designed and why.
First of all the application will be divided in 3 main regions: the ribbon, the navigation and the content region. Like outlook 2007.