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SandRibbon Designer Support
We make maximum use of the powerful designer integration architecture within Visual Studio 2010 to bring you great productivity enhancements when designing a SandRibbon user interface. We'll talk about some of them here to give you an outline of the many time-saving features you'll use, but the best way to learn about them is to download an evaluation copy and try them for yourself.
Our philosophy is not to make our customers learn new ways to edit controls, but instead to leverage and extend the existing designer features such as the propertygrid with editors that are located where you expect them to be and function intuitively.
When you install SandRibbon a template is added to Visual Studio to make creating ribbon windows easy. All you have to do is right-click on your project, select Add New Item and pick Ribbon Window. The designer opens and your ribbon window is ready to design, complete with embedded ribbon and status bar.
Intuitive Control Placement
Because ribbon controls are (for the most part) automatically sized and positioned according to the properties you set, there is very little scope for absolute positioning. For instance, a button within a button group is laid out according to its index within the group, not according to any position properties. We therefore developed tools to help with moving controls around at design time which make it as simple as drag-and-drop.
You can drag a button from one button group to another, drag button groups between ribbon groups, drag ribbon groups to change their order, and pretty much drag any ribbon control anywhere else on the ribbon - intuitively.
WYSIWYG SuperTooltip Editor
Super Tooltips are the extended tooltips that support a description as well as standard text, and also imagery and help text. We grouped all these properties together and provided a visual editor embedded right inside the property grid that shows a preview of your tooltip as you create it.
The tooltip dynamically adjusts to the properties as you set them, so if you don't specify help text or a description, you get a standard, small tooltip. As you can see, our image editor is put to good use when selecting images for tooltips.
No matter what SandRibbon control you're editing, you'll probably be able to accomplish something useful with it by choosing one of the options from its design-time context menu. Right-clicking on the ribbon will give you the option to add a new tab. Right-clicking on a ribbon tab will give you the option to add a new group or edit the dynamic sizing variations. Right-clicking on a group will allow you to quickly and easily add several commonly-used controls or groups of controls.
As an example, at design time you can right-click on a button, menu item or ribbon gallery and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar, just like you can at runtime. A shortcut is then added to the control on the quick access toolbar with the appropriate bindings all set.
Dynamic Ribbon Resizing
Perhaps the toughest aspect of configuring a rich ribbon user interface is getting the dynamic resizing right. SandRibbon fully supports dynamic resizing with a few properties and collections, and the designer support helps make it easier. For instance, if you are dealing with a LinePanel we offer a visual editor to change the order of the children graphically, rather than having to create an Int32Collection representing a new child order.
Once your buttons have been created and their dynamic resizing properties set, any LinePanel or CollapsiblePanel instances created and populated, the final step is to define in what order which groups shrink, and by how much. We provide an easy editor for this that shows your groups and their size variations visually, making it easy to add them to a priority-ordered list of applied variations. When you right-click on a ribbon tab or group you can choose Edit Size Variations to show this editor.