Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.
Developing software for Windows Vista
Published on September 11, 2005 By Frogboy In

The preliminary Windows Vista user interface guide is out!  Microsoft is trying to encourage developers to create more consistent UIs. Here are some of the highlights:

#1: Use the new system font "Segoe"

#2 Use the built in controls instead of designing your own:

Editorial: If you really want to have your own client area look, check out DirectSkin.

#3 Don't try to mess with the non-client area (the frame of the window).

And try to support the base resolution of Vista -- 800x600 in your apps

Editorial: Again, if your app needs to have its own unique frames, use DirectSkin.

#4 Use icons that are consistent with the new Windows Vista style:

Windows Vista icons go from 16x16 to 256x256.  So make sure your icons look decent in those resolutions. PNG is the new icon format. 

Editorial: One of the best places to get PNG images is the ObjectDock gallery on WinCustomize.com

 

#5 Use the new dialog APIs to create dialogs that are easier to understand:

#6 Use the Aero Wizards instead of Wizards '97. Specifically, don't have the first page of a wizard be a welcome, have it be functional from the start. Avoid congratulation pages.

#7 Use Explorer style interfaces with a back button.

Have your UI try to be consistent with what people see the most on Windows and that's the Windows Vista Explorer interface.

#8 Use the new Windows Vista search

This means supporting the new "Find as you type" feature and don't use labels but rather put "Type to search" in the edit field.

#9 Use the Windows Vista tone in all UI text.  That means make your text clear, natural and concise. Use every day words.

#10 Keep your UI clean!

That means keep your commands task oriented and in a hierarchy.  Make sure commands are accessible from the keyboard. Put effort into having only the most commonly used commands be top level (visible) with infrequent commands put at a lower level. A good UI shouldn't display every possible feature command at once.

# 11 Use the notification feature of the system tray sparingly.

#12 Save time for the fit and finish.  Don't look at making your program polished as a minor detail. Make it a priority.


Comments
on Sep 11, 2005

I have to admit that I do like this new "look".

on Sep 11, 2005
I think this looks a lot like Mac OS X.

Do customers expect that now?
on Sep 11, 2005
I'm really happy that MS tries to be more consistent and asks developers too but i think it's not enough.
I would describe only two inconsistent areas now:
- I like the Vista look and i think it's much prettier than the boring Aqua theme of OS X but again: it's not consistent. Translucent windows (or windowframes) can't be consistent because they are disturbing even if they have this genious blur effect. No offense: they look awesome but i hope it won't be the default look of Vista.
- The dialogs remain the same old Yes/No/Cancel.. It's not consistent. Why should anybody force the users to read all dialogs again and again and again... ? I don't like Mac OS but those dialogs are more consistent, those have small phrases (Delete/Don't delete, etc) instead of Yes/No buttons.
on Sep 11, 2005
"I like the Vista look and i think it's much prettier than the boring Aqua theme of OS X"

That's what they said about Luna.
on Sep 11, 2005
PNG is the new icon format.

What does that mean? Vista uses png files as icons, or the icons save the various subicons in png format?

but those dialogs are more consistent, those have small phrases (Delete/Don't delete, etc)

I like them the best as well. I find Mac and Linux to be better at that area. OpenOffice use that method as well. I like that.


Thanks for this overview Brad.
on Sep 11, 2005
on Sep 11, 2005
"I like the Vista look and i think it's much prettier than the boring Aqua theme of OS X"

That's what they said about Luna.


They did? Who are they?
on Sep 12, 2005
Thanx. PNG probably technically better. Takes weeks and months to convert that or reaccumulate png equivalents for all of my icons, all of this seems late. Could not have done this faster or better myself of course, tee hee. Who are they?, good question of TarkusĀ“. Curious of course how applicable which Stardock tools n skins will stay in their current versions. We will see.
on Sep 12, 2005
As far as PNG icons being the standard.... I *thought* we were supposed to get Vector support? PNG isn't vector so far as I know ...

Also - what tips are there to developers of *current* applications to get them Vista-Ready? Is there a full release of Visual Studio yet that supports these new interfaces? I admit I don't check often... don't do a LOT of programming, so I'm using VS 2003 still... haven't even considered upgrading.
on Sep 13, 2005
Smells to me like these "PNG icons" will simply mean an excuse to have only 1 icon size per icon, as opposed to special viewing-optimized versions for 16x16, 32x32, and 48x48. Aside from this major disadvantage, there are *NO* advantages to using PNG. The windows icon format already has support for full alpha since XP, and the picture sizes are too small to require compression.
on Sep 13, 2005
*thought* we were supposed to get Vector support?

Same here...


Is there a full release of Visual Studio yet that supports these new interfaces?

Have you checked the Beta version that's availible? I haven't had time to play around with it yet. Nor do I have Vista...
on Sep 13, 2005
"They did? Who are they?"

Microsoft.

But actually, I don't think most people like non-boring user interfaces that much. It is most distracting.

I have always found that I am most happy with Solaris/CDE. I can barely accept Aqua and for a long time used its grey mode (as opposed to mostly blue with red buttons etc.).
on Sep 22, 2005
Hehehe...
I can think of the 12 comandments of Vista UI design.

1)Thou shalt useth thy new system font "Segoe".

2)Thou shalt use thy built in controls.

3)Thou shalt not mess with thy window frame.

4)Thou shalt use Vista style icons.

5)Thou shalt use dialog API.

6)Thou shalt use Vista Wizards.

7)Thou shalt use Explorer style interfaces.

8)Thou shalt support Vista search.

9)Thou shalt use Vista tone in all thy text.

10)Thou shalt keep thy UI clean.

11)Thou shalt use tray notification sparingly.

12)Thou shalt make UI designing a priorty.

(Sorry if my "Olde English" isn't up to snuff)
on Oct 06, 2005
I find it interesting how they said not to rely on taskbar notification, when that was a new feature they were touting in XP
on Oct 06, 2005
Keep in mind the UI guidelines are NOT FINAL.
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