State-of-the Art Appearance with PB?

Started by Theo Gottwald, February 22, 2008, 08:01:27 PM

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Theo Gottwald

Here is a list of controls I'd like to use with Powerbasic.
I doubt any of the actual Visual Designer Makers can compete with such good looking stuff.

Maybe they'd have to make together ONE product (or use a common interface) which would be competitive at the end instead of  "each one baking his own bread" (and reinventing the wheel) ??

If I compare the look and style of these state of the art control, the possibilities of native PB really look a bit old fashioned. What do you think ...?

Edwin Knoppert

Creating good controls is not a simple task.
I ever liked to do it very much but once ready they may appear somewhat obsolete.
Especially after Windows95 controls became different.
For example the 'Software' dialog in Windows where an item is an interactive panel.

There are also people liking the Office Ribbon control, well me ~50%, and therefore not really a goal.

Imo complexity is in Grid's and presentation controls.
Grids need to do much more as before, nearly undoable for a single person to invent and maintain updates.

I also think the future is more in flash-control kind of behaviour.

Btw, it is possible to run .NET controls in PB but they would rely on .NET framework of course.
There are .NET controls PwrDev for example can use, controls like a datanavigator icw a grid is more difficult or currently not working.
Not sure what the reason is since i did not investigate that.
Never tested a custom control.

Paul Squires

I wish that I could spend my time writing custom controls. I can bang them out it 1% of the time it is taking me to write the Visual Designer!  :)  Personally, I find writing custom controls to be relatively easy and I use several of them in the new FireFly.

Seriously though, there does not seem to be a big appeal from PB'ers for custom controls (other than for grids). Am I wrong about this? Not sure. Look at Patrice's work - hell, that guy produces incredibly phenomenal graphic controls but I don't see 10 page posts in the PB forums about it. That's a real shame. SIGrid seems to have disappeared, Elias still has a strong grid product, and James Klutho's grid has potential.

Your idea of banding together multiple visual designer creators to form a 'partnership' sounds good in theory but I wonder how it would work in practice? The thought has crossed my mind a few times especially these days where I just don't seem to be getting as much programming done as I would like! :D The thought of tapping into Edwin's and Dominic's brains is really exciting.

Paul Squires
FireFly Visual Designer SQLitening Database System JellyFish Pro Editor

Edwin Knoppert

>The thought of tapping into Edwin's and Dominic's brains is really exciting.
Stay out of my brain, you'll get damaged!
:) :)

1) I don't think you can make serious sellings by making things for PB users.
Forums like PureBasic confuse(d) me, while the attention is very high, they seem to be even more hobbiest than found on the PB forum.

2) farpoint (spread) wrote activex controls and now .NET controls, i suspect this is (still) the major selling point.
Create something very solid for those techniques and it seems you can make a living from it.
(For some of them at least)

3) PB being better in number crunching and such does not seem to appeal the majority, our mistake that we find it a better tool isn't?

Theo Gottwald

I still think the good thing about PB is that it just does as expected.

I write a SUB to do  Job A.
Te Subroutine does exactly Job A.

This alone is something didn't work for me when i tried Purebasic some years ago (still have the licence).
Now I am looking into the Bugs Forum from time to time, hoping, but not realy sure if a switch would be a good idea in terms of reliability for my programs.

While it is true, that there are a few good ideas out there (Patrice etc.), as said, still all PB Developers (each one of these is very talented in programming) cooks his own soup. And thats not going to make any of them or PB as a System really successfull.

As a result, PB Aps are hard to sell because they just look old fashioned.
Yes I could try to use these .NET Stuff from PB - but I doubt it will be as easy as it would be from VS 2008.

The Pharao knew one thing and that was: "SHARE and WIN".
He knew, ALONE - he was nothing.
He needed to share his wealth with all those people around him to be the big king of egypt.

I expect that the combined power of some of those (YOU?) talented programmers could make something, that would really make a visible difference. And therefore be an argument for buying and using Powerbasic. Getting new customers.

If I actually make a PB Programm with those standard controls, it will be really small and work very reliable.

But then if i GO OUT today and look for distributor, they'll kick me out. Because they take a look on the App and say "Sorry this thing looks like its 5 years old. Did you ever see Windows Vista or even XP?".

So IF I as a programmer cannot easily sell my stuff, I have no big interest in buying the underlying Software. Unless I am doing mostly background stuff like DLL's for example. Maybe these things are the things mostly done in PB.

But then ... most of these Visual Designers don't make themselve a market. Then we need "DLL-Konstruktion Kits", "Tool-Collections" or like this.

I think, PB will need new clothes to be competitive in a future. Of course I'd like to see this without the .NET Framework and without paying >$1000 (the price of those controls I linked before). But IF you want to make really professional software for the actual market, you won't have much success without a competitive "dressed" GUI.

Nobody would apply for a new Job in 5 Year old clothes, but this is what PB Apps do - like they look - on the actual Software market.

Petr Schreiber

Hi Theo,

I think Patrices skinning system rocks, and definitely looks "next-gen" enough.
I am very curious about PB9, if it will be next in row release or some noticeable change.

From my experience most lot of users get scared of not standard controls.

AMD Sempron 3400+ | 1GB RAM @ 533MHz | GeForce 6200 / GeForce 9500GT | 32bit Windows XP SP3

Patrice Terrier

All my commercial applications are written in PowerBASIC and they are all skinned window.

Here is an example of what I have done with PB and my WinLIFT SkinEngine almost 16 years ago!

Thus, i would say the problem is not realy with the capabilities of the language being used, but the capabilities of the programmer using it, and the efforts he puts to learn how Windows itself works.

One of my first invest after buying Charles Petzold 'Windows programming" book, was to buy the MSDN CD-ROM (now DVD-ROM). Without learning how to use the low level API i would haven't been able to write WinLIFT.

The problem i see with PB, is that most programmers do not want to make the effort to learn "real" windows programming, mostly because they have preconcieved opinion about the low level Windows SDK.

And there are several reason for this.
Do you remember the PB slogan about DDT: "DDT kills windows bug dead"...

- Indeed DDT offers just is a limited subset of the core API, because it is an encapsultation of CreateDialog API, that is itself a limited subset of the CreateWindowEx API.
- When you create an application that is built upon DDT, you limit yourself only to the features provided by DDT, that is less than 10% of the core API. And as soon as you want some fancy stuffs you realize that what you have learned using DDT leads you to a dead end, because it is a proprietary syntax that hides you what is realy going on behind the hood.
- PB is years back when compared to other languages that have built-in technologies like COM, OOP, DirectX, etc.

But fortunatly the PowerBASIC languages allows us to use directly the flat API, and thus learn from the MSDN C examples that are realy easy to translate to PB.
And once you learn it, then you learned it for ever what ever the language being used, because the syntax is always the same, and you become able to work arround the limitations of the high level language.

Now for the future of PB, i am confident that the next version will have some of the features found in modern programming languages, but I doubt that PowerBASIC will provide anything that would make the customization of a window something easier.

It is from the resort of third party addon providers to provide such tools, but the audience of PB is currently too small to make a living from that work, and this is the reason why i have ceased myself to promote WinLIFT on the PB's forum.

Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)

Charles Pegge

Patrice, you have stunned us all into silence. :o The designed of good controls obviously requires more than programming. Artistic skills to the fore! But I think the future  GUI for most applications will come to rely on the embedded html driven browser. It does not make sense to duplicate all the capabilities that are so easily available and widely used in web pages. At present there are no built-in standards for vector graphics, 3d or video and while there are some good plugins available to fill these gaps, these should eventually become fully integrated as standard features in the repertoire of browser controls.

Patrice Terrier

Writing a complete "VISUAL STUDIO" requires many qualifications and a dedicated team working aside the compiler's staff, and this means working around the EGO of the impetrant, that is probably the hardest thing to solve... 
Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)

Patrice Terrier

Speaking of the future:

Who has ever heard of WPF here?

Now the design of the graphic interface is not anymore the programmer's responsability, but the prerogative of the design team, just like in the game programming industry.
Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)

Dominic Mitchell

If I compare the look and style of these state of the art control, the possibilities of native
PB really look a bit old fashioned. What do you think ...?
You mean the native windows controls that provide the standard look and feel. Interface guidelines
seem to be falling by the wayside these days.  Why on earth should I have to grab the mouse and move
it over some text just to figure out whether the you know what is a button?  And then have to wonder,
is the thing clickable?
Dominic Mitchell
Phoenix Visual Designer

Theo Gottwald

I have had a real example of such a meeting with marketing people some time ago, that was not a fictive story.
The link to these controls and framework suite was from them. What they said was "Your program is really good, but the way it looks we can't sell it."
Come back when it looks like its expected on the market.

I recommend all who are still in doubt, to take a look on the link here (this is the link they gave me):

And the same things I heared before ever and ever.
If you have an Application on a WEB-Site it must look competitive or better then whats avaialable on the Market.
90% of People first look how it looks. Then they look if it works.

Thats the "woman problem" because every women knows "Men first look how i look, they do not ask how good i cook".

Patrice screenshots look nice, but these things are not actually integrated in any VD for easy usage - are they?
Thats what I would need.

I know that people who do not think marketing oriented may have other opinion and share their opinion with those Network Admins,
who still prefer the commandline even before ANY GUI.

But the real world goes the MAC-Way. Mac developed the mouse - everybody has a mouse tofay.
MAC started Glas, Aero, Silver. And thats what is expected.

And programming is NOT mostly for ourselves, at the end we may want to sell the programs.

And then you have to solve the woman problem. Get a Lift for your programms (WinLinft? :-)). Look good first.
Then at second look, the customers will take a look on functionality.

In our case, help others to look good. Using normal controls - no doubt - your programm will still be very functional.
But to continie with the picture - did you know fat women are often very good in cooking?

Anyway still most men will prefer those slim once - even if they finally find out that they are worse in the kitchen (thats why they are slim :-))?

Back to Patrice. Agin we have several different windows here. And thats typical for what we are doing here. The parts are there, but noone puts them together.
People expect NOT to have 10 windows on the desktop from one program. What they want is a "Framework". One big window, with all windows integrated.
Tabbed, and even they may want to move each window around and customize things.

Example? Take a look at this picture:

I know this program for several years since version 1.
There have not been so much changes in the software itself, but the same program comes now in a framework. No more separate windows.
Because thats what people expect. Some years before it was in several separate windows.

You can move the windows inside the framework around and configure all buttonbars user-specific.
The whole frame is really user canfigurable.

The number of programmer who may be able to do something like this in PB may not be that high.
Whats missing is a tool really - like VS - which helps beginners to get attractive looking programms.

Selling separate DLL's and separate VD shows only that these developer do only cook their own soup each,
but is not an alternative to the actual Software-developement Tools-Market.

State of the art is one tool that is competitive. Which not only would outperform all other "single tree - no wood" Tools, but also get new customers into the market!
What I think of, is a "wood - no more single trees" Tool. One that is integrated and competitive.

A product is competitive or it is not and then it is for a nishe-market only.
Competitiion is not only in a segment, but competitition is always in the overall market.

People must not use PB, they may use other thing too.

PS: If you don't believe me how important good looks is, ask you gf :-).

Patrice Terrier


Want to see a modern looking application, then see it there  ;)

Actually, this couldn't be done with PB, nor with any of the third party addon, i had to resort on a french tool to do it ;D

However i know how it could be done with PB with the help of either Paul and/or Dominic.

Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)

Edwin Knoppert

>Actually, this couldn't be done with PB

Why not?

I can do about anything with PB but it's not worth my time to do so.
At the office i work for it's more internet nowadays, we purchase controls for .NET (devexpress)
I don't use this stuff at home, i would not like to bloath my 'hobby' stuff with this.
Not at this time...

The links found over here to the .NET controls are packages from 100 up to 300MB!

Not that it's required on redist but you can imagne the effort has to be made to these controls.
Do not underrate these controls and their work.

Dominic is also right but will 'lose the battle' against what users really need.
While the mouse might be needed and maybe even parts of these controls do not behave as should, usually the technical part and result brings the benefit (think: cost effective).
You can make the choice not to use 'a wrong control' or have the users benefit of the good part of these controls.
Or stick with standard controls where you won't get the time to realize the same (or better) behaviour as these custom controls offer.

We are the programmers, usually not really the end users.
I don't use the software i create, maybe in just a few occasions.
(I really don't care how it's been used :) )


Patrice Terrier

--Why not?

Because of:
- split bar control.
- RTF with embedded images and paragraph fromating.
- spell checker.
- Full data grid input.
- Multi-user database (including client/server).
- Full skinned interface.
- Multi language support (I mean Arabian, English, Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Hebrew, etc.).
- Voice recognition.
- VISTA support.
- JAVA support.
- Linux support.
- XAML XML support.
- OCX support.
- Win32 support.
- DotNEt and Managed assembly support.
- OOP or procedural style.

Do you want more?  :)
HTML, AJAX, SAP, Windows Mobile, Domotic, CD/DVD burner, Form recognition, TWAIN support, etc.

Patrice Terrier
GDImage (advanced graphic addon)