From the very beginning here at Developer Express, pixel-perfect design has been one of our main objectives. If your application used our UI components, you didn't have to worry about the visual elements which comprised your application. All the little things that previously haunted Delphi and C++Builder developers such as proper offsets, fonts, alignments, and borders were always properly configured and drawn so that you as the developer never had to write a single line of code to deliver applications that looked as professional as those released by Microsoft®.
Every control that we've released since ExpressGrid v1 in 1998, has had multiple integrated paint styles that emulated Microsoft® Office® versions 97 through 2003. When Windows® XP was released, we implemented native painting support across all of our VCL components as well.
But in our industry, nothing stands still, and with the release of Microsoft Office 2007, it became obvious that we could no longer rely on simple painting routines. It was impossible to emulate the Office 2007 style by painting pixels, lines and frames. There had to be a higher-level abstraction that would allow us to paint custom-shaped elements with complex backgrounds and highlighting. This level of abstraction required a new product – the ExpressSkins Library – one that uses bitmap-based painting. The ExpressSkins Library was inspired by technology found in Windows XP Themes, but it has a significant advantage compared to painting via operating system methods. Your application clients don't need to have Windows XP installed on their machines to experience the same freedom in look and feel customization.
The following features are available to you when using the ExpressSkins Library:
- Microsoft® Office® 2007 Skins
With the ExpressSkins Library, you can apply Office 2007 paint styles to shipping Developer Express controls. All three color schemes - Blue, Black and Silver - are fully supported. In addition to these basic skin types, you have access to slightly modified variants. Since similar elements can be painted differently from one Office application to another, we decided to provide two skins for each color scheme. As such, you can choose the paint style you like the most or allow your end-users decide what works for them. (See Specifications for screenshots)
- Custom Skins
In addition to Microsoft Office 2007 skins, you get multiple unique look and feel options that were designed by Developer Express. (See Specifications for screenshots)
- Centralized Control
The ExpressSkins Library includes the TdxSkinController component that allows you to specify the paint style of all components on a form at once.
- Form Skinning Support
When you apply skinning using the TdxSkinController component, standard forms also get skinned so that their borders and title bars are visually consistent with other controls.
- Skin Editor Application
The ExpressSkins Library includes an application that enables you to edit built-in skins, as well as construct custom look and feel options.
- Look and Feel Technology Extension
The skinning engine integrates into the Look and Feel technology supported by most Developer Express components. You can apply skinning to an individual control using the control's LookAndFeel property. If centralized management is required, you can use the TcxLookAndFeelController component. For more information on the advantages available to you when using our Look and Feel Technology, please review this page.
- Skin Maintenance
With the release of new controls or with the introduction of new elements in existing controls, we will update all shipping skins accordingly.
The following components are fully supported by the ExpressSkins Library:
Supported DevExpress Components
Supported Standard VCL Components