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Joel on Software

Anyone using .NET for 'professional' looking GUIs?

I'm currently working as a java programmer, you know,  doing all those buzzword compliant things like j2ee etc. etc.  However I have a few ideas about some simple little windows applications that I want to write.  Just small utilities that I think some people will find useful and might pay me some money for.

Now, I'd program the tools in java but they won't feel right,  Swing is ugly (even with the relevant LookNFeels) and SWT, while cool, requires manual memory management so is not worth the effort.  What I'd like is to build GUIs that 'fit in',  you know, have the funky tool bars, professional looking menus, systray entries etc. etc.  I'd like to use .NET because the APIs look awesome and the C# language is, lets face it, a *whole* lot like java.

I realise that requiring the .net framework will restrict potential users, but I'm not too worried about that right now.  My real concern is the look and feel of the apps.

Is it possible (and not *too* fiddly) to write GUI applications with Windows.Forms and have them look 'proper'?  Do people have any links to applications they think could be a good example?

Michael Koziarski
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Don't know what you mean by cool, but .NET lets me do a heck of a lot more than I ever did with Java ala Swing or Win32 ala Visual Basic. Microsoft's .NET libraries are comprehensive and fast. So far, I have yet to "go native" (which is quite easy with Interop).

What your question got me thinking about was the lack of  demand for comprehensive fat client UI's. Almost every business wants their new application to be web-based even when HTML cannot do the job right! While .NET offers an impressive solution to this problem, that's not well known and the question remains.

Despite the current demise of clever & comprehensive GUI's I'm betting they will make a big comeback!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Windows Forms have all the standard boring MS controls, but none of the flashy stuff like XP panels or Office-style toolbars. But there are add-ons, ranging from free to terribly expensive, that can supply all of those things. is one freebie that might give you some idea of what's possible.

Mike Gunderloy
Thursday, September 25, 2003

DotNetMagic is no longer free.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Yeah, you can develop very nice, professional looking GUI apps with .NET- and very simply as well.

Zak Umanoff
Thursday, September 25, 2003

I'm a *very* satisfied and happy user of DotNetBAr from DevComponents ( I"ve been using it for all of my apps since v1 (now on 3.2) and it's been rock solid stable. Take a look at it, is that the kind of interface you meant?


Friday, September 26, 2003

Thanks for the suggestions guys, both DotNetBar and dotnetmagic look like exactly what I'm after.  Now it's just a matter of actually trying them out and seeing what they're like.  Now all I need is enough diskspace in my XP installation to actually install visual studio and/or C#Builder.



Michael Koziarski
Friday, September 26, 2003

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