Common Sense Software Engineering: Windows Developers Should Follow the Stable Infrastructure and Development Environments of the Java Community and Forget the Hype

n-tieredarchitecture

Overview

In the 1990s when Java began to appear on the developer scene it met its competition from Microsoft head-on in that it struggled to gain an acceptable place within the international development community.  However, over the years Java appears to have arrived at more stable set of infrastructure and development standards than Microsoft appears to offer now.  This is the result of both communities taking maturation trajectories that were in a very real sense diametrically opposites of each other.  Microsoft, at the time, was offering maturing technologies while Java was the “new kid on the block”.  Both communities also offered completely different viewpoints towards their product developments.  Microsoft offered products with “ease of use” as the underlying factor allowing developers to quickly create both desktop and web applications far more quickly than competing solutions.  This was especially true when compared against the new Java tools.  However, Java had its founding basis in the academic and scientific arenas.

One could see this easily with the many Java articles that took apart various interface controls that we in the Microsoft Community took for granted with the exception of third-party control developers.

The Java Community did have a difficult time to get its place as an accepted form of development until it presented an alternative to Microsoft products in the large enterprise development area, which was Microsoft’s weak spot since Microsoft products at the time were targeting division and department level applications.  Once Java tools became more usable for developers, the large enterprise arena saw the advantages of Java development with its better suited enterprise offerings (ie: J2EE, and later, the Spring Framework).

Today, we find a Java Community that appears to be far more stable than that of the Microsoft Community though one would not know it with the subdued reporting around it.  Years ago such reporting was quite different as the two communities fought each other for developer supremacy  Reading online magazines such as jaxEnter.com today, most of the articles appear to concentrate on existing technologies along with their refinements.  The opposite appears to be true for Microsoft, which seemingly approaches product refinement the way the US Pentagon approaches new weapons procurement; both throw out perfectly fine technologies and start over with brand new and completely untested concepts.

In this author’s opinion, and as one who has worked with Microsoft technologies his entire career since leaving the mainframe world around 1989, Microsoft has made some serious mistakes with not only the products they are offering but how their style of developing applications has changed over the years.  This appears to have happened most egregiously with the latest CEO of Microsoft, Satya Narayana Nadella, while under Steve Ballmer; Microsoft appeared to be more stable in this regard despite his terrible reputation.

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A Simple Way to Make a Custom WPF Message Box

custommessageboxheaderimage

Overview

In my last piece (“A Simple Way to Make a WPF Chromeless Window”) I demonstrated how one could easily create a chromeless window using Microsoft’s “Windows Foundation Framework”, more commonly known as WPF.  This time around I will show you how to make a customized WPF message box.

The reason for this is that the WPF default message box uses the same chrome that the default WPF window does.  As a result, if you are going to develop a custom window you will also have to do the same with your message boxes or the contrasts between the two will not look symmetrical.

And being deficient in the graphic arts like many software engineers I found this out the hard way when my own commercial product was well reviewed except for the interface.  Hence, my recent work to refine the interface to something much more aesthetically pleasing.

Limitations With Your Own Message Box We Can Work With

The first thing to realize is that developing your own message box will constrain you to a certain extent as to what you can provide with it as the default WPF message box comes with a number of configurable options that you can select to produce certain results.  The only problem is that you cannot change how the default message box is displayed since it is reliant on the Win API.

Essentially, a message box will request a user to do one of two things, read the provided information and move on, or ask a questions, which is in practically all cases a “yes” or “no” question.

Luckily, with the WPF modal dialogue, which is the type of window we will use for our message box, we can easily return a “true” or “false” value allowing us to handle the second scenario noted previously.

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