A Quick Note About “It’s So, Uh, Gray”

For the past few years, most of my Visual FoxPro development has been geared toward “shrink-wrap” software for the consumer market.

As such, I find myself spending a great deal of time with the overall look and feel of the UI. In fact, a lot of my “main” forms are simply top-level forms which host the Microsoft Web Browser Control – which means virtually the entire UI (except for the occasional secondary FoxPro form) is driven by HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Some of the tips and tricks you see in this session are geared toward apps that are designed to be compiled as EXE files (namely, the DPI-Aware section and discussions of application icons).

Some tips are simply little tricks I use for classes (properties and methods) that help the overall UI experience.

Other tips (creating custom UI controls) are geared towards stepping back from the usual way of doing things in Visual FoxPro, in order to find new ways of presenting information to the user.

I use the word ugly a lot in this session. I am not suggesting that VFP apps are “ugly” or “wrong”. This session is simply an exercise in improving the overall look and feel of apps created with Visual FoxPro. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what is ugly to one person may be beautiful to another – and during the course of preparing this session my opinion of “ugly” shifted from an app perspective to a Windows guidelines perspective.

A lot of the content in this session is based on the Microsoft User Experience Guidelines. It is available online at:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa511258.aspx

A PDF version of the guide is available for download at:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=2695

Finally, all of my FoxPro work is done in Visual FoxPro 9.0 Service Pack 2. If you are not yet using VFP9 SP2, some of the tips may need to be modified in order to work correctly.