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The Anatomy of a Great Windows UI Toolkit

The Anatomy of a Great Windows UI Toolkit

The broad popularity of Agile Software Development, DevOps, and continuous delivery pipelines puts more pressure on developers to build and deploy high-quality applications faster. With technology now underlying almost every aspect of daily commerce, as well as our business and private lives, fast and efficient software development is critical to maintaining developer competitiveness and success.

Moreover, user experience continues to be a very dynamic and still evolving area which grows alongside, and in-step with, the technological advances in hardware. This evolution sets up users and product owners alike with the expectation that to keep ahead of the game your product’s look and feel need to keep pace with the market dynamics of functionality and visual design, all of which translates into meeting customer expectations becoming increasingly complex and demanding. This raises the question of how to scale developer productivity to become more agile and flexible. For this reason, developers are constantly incorporating tools that’ll boost productivity and efficiency. One such tool is choosing a great Windows UI toolkit which combines the best in user interface and experience design with robustness and longevity without compromising the development process or speed to market deployment. 

Why is a Windows UI toolkit an important element of an app’s success?

Building a user interface with modern functionalities, good usability, and the ability to present a consistent brand identity is crucial for successful professional application development. However, it can get very tedious and time-consuming without the right tools. Fortunately, with some time taken to select a great Windows UI toolkit, you can build high-quality user interfaces which deliver an outstanding user experience while also ensuring brand consistency in your mobile, desktop native, and web applications. A UI toolkit is a collection of assets containing a set of controls or components that display content or enable interaction. Whether you’re building an entirely new application or installing a new user interface, knowing what a great Windows UI toolkit is made of is an excellent foundation on which to build out your great ideas into a product that users will find not only useful but pleasant and easy to use – both of which translate into setting yourself up for commercial success. Build it quickly, build it efficiently, make it look good, make it do what the user needs, don’t be quirky, don’t be weird (adhere to familiar user interface paradigms) – this is the formula for going from a good idea to a great product.

The Anatomy of a Great Windows UI Toolkit

What makes a great Windows UI toolkit?

To answer this question, let’s look at a model UI toolkit – The Delphi VCL and FMX frameworks. These frameworks have dozens of powerful built-in controls included for free, ranging from various simple buttons to powerful data components like the list view grid view – all of them ready to use in your apps with a simple drag and drop. The form designer and the LiveBindings designer in RAD Studio provide a great environment to create a bold, scalable UI that looks great on all devices and screen sizes. I can’t emphasize enough how easy these are to use – just a few clicks and everything just works with little or no code. RAD Studio Delphi can fairly claim to be one of the original low code platforms where the system does most of the hard work for you. Why write more code than you absolutely need to?

Delphi’s RAD Studio IDE offers a WYSIWYG design experience with drag-and-drop components for visual GUI design. Suppose you choose the FireMonkey (FMX) framework for building GUI apps? In that case, you can view the designed GUI using native Android, iOS, Windows, macOS styling, or custom styles and can preview app appearances right on your Windows PC to see what it would look like on mobile devices of varying screen sizes. With FireMonkey FMX you don’t have to choose to focus on one operating systema device platform, you can easily write apps which will work on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android. An iPhone, iPad can be your destination device but if you find your customers prefer the latest new whizzy Samsung phone running Android then you don’t have to do anything other than pick Android as a deployment target in the RAD Studio IDE and make a couple of clicks. It really IS that easy.

Why do some programs crash when Windows is updated to a new version?

If Microsoft Windows is where you expect to meet your app’s users, then the Visual Component Library (VCL) creates native Windows-based applications with direct access to the hardware. Your apps, and as a result, the users, can benefit from pure native device hardware performance without any form of interpretation layer or intervening runtime that are part of the baggage which drags along behind other solutions. With VCL it’s all raw unfiltered power, all the time. That native performance is uncompromising too – Delphi apps have legendary stability with many thousands of apps deployed which run for years without ever needing updates or patches even when the entire operating system changes beneath them. With no inherent dependencies or runtime libraries required the user doesn’t experience the so-called “dll hell” where a tiny update to Windows suddenly means programs written in more fragile programming languages unexpectedly break, often with hard-to-diagnose cryptic error messages. Your Delphi apps will not do that – it’s just not in the DNA of the Delphi way of doing things.

Delphi’s VCL has been in active development for more than two and a half decades. At least one application in your Windows device is built with Delphi and Visual Component Library. For instance, KMPlayer, WinRAR, MySQL Admin Tools, AIMP, BurnAware, Dev-C++, EarMaster, FL Studio, Nero Burning Rom, Ultra ISO, and many more applications.

Applications built with Delphi VCL give an authentic, native experience with high performance. The VCL includes a robust OpenTools API and component model, making it easy for others to extend the IDE and build reusable components and libraries. That’s why you can see a massive pool of 3rd party component markets. This creates a robust environment for developers to make any application.

What Makes Up a Great Windows UI Toolkit?

Can I write Delphi apps which use the latest Windows UI?

Microsoft Windows has several design systems that you can follow to create GUI apps. For example, Windows Classic Design, Luna and Aero designs, Microsoft Metro, and the latest and most loved one is the Microsoft Fluent Design System. Fluent Design is used as a guideline for all Windows 10/11 devices, and transition to Fluent is a gradual long-term project. The Fluent Design System preserves the clean look and feels with blurred translucency. With Delphi VCL, you can turn your Windows Classic applications into Fluent Design using styles. Furthermore, it can alter any part of the UI element to something unique.

Unlike other technologies such as XAML or HTML-based frameworks where the user interface is expressed as lines of program code Delphi user interfaces, Delphi screens are laid out with a full WYSIWYG designer. You drag ready-made user interface elements on to a form (a screen) where the screen designer shows you exactly what it will look like. In the latest versions of RAD Studio Delphi you can also preview custom styles – ready-made professionally designed graphic ‘skins’ which give an instant professional look and feel to your apps – right at design time so you can experiment with the array of gorgeous ready-made designs to find the one (or ones, you can style controls and forms each with their own style now) until you find one which is the perfect look you’re striving for.

VCL and FMX components aren’t fixed, they can also be resized and have their properties adjusted in the Object Inspector without touching code, allowing rapid prototyping through visual development. With the styles and components available you can make your app look like you had hideously expensive graphic designers working hard on the look and feel without ever spending a single cent.

Combined with the glorious selection of third-party vendors who produce more specialized controls at very cost-effective prices – or even free – you have the ability to present all the trappings of a top-end blue-chip software development house without the eye-watering investment budget, snarky shareholders and fickle financiers to please.

Are you ready to build better UIs easier and faster?

Developer productivity is all about building efficient software faster. That means only writing code that’s necessary and eliminating software bloat. It is many developers and designers dream to produce efficient applications/UIs as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality and usability. A great Windows UI toolkit should help you achieve this goal. Delphi’s VCL and FMX frameworks offer all that’s necessary to help you achieve your application development goals, as seen in this article. With these frameworks, you can access the best rapid UI development with hundreds of visual and non-visual components.

For firsthand knowledge on how productive you can become, try RAD Studio Delphi


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