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BOOK: ASP.NET 2.0 Website Programming Problem Design Solution ISBN: 978-0-7645-8464-0
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Old August 8th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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I am almost ashamed to mention such a minor matter as buttons but I have begun enhancing my education site with true three state buttons.

I find it remarkable that Microsoft with its new ASP.NET 2.0 that has dozens of new controls still has lousy buttons. I also use the high end 3rd party .NET controls from telerik but they too don't have a decent button.

All I want is a button control in the toolbox that contains properties for a rollover, a down state, a click, drop shadows on text, and client and server side events. I can make my buttons do these things with CSS and JavaScript but I shouldn't have to. And I certainly don't want no stinking Flash animation.

Look at the Send button on my contact page.

http://www.boyleed.com/Misc/Contact.aspx

Except for the lack of a click this is what I want, but it shouldn't be so hard.

Pat

http://weboperahouse.com
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Old August 9th, 2007, 10:26 PM
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Have you checked into Silverlight yet? They've got all the plumbing you need to design awesome buttons. I'm impressed by how easy it is to track the mouse movement. You can just hook up a code-behind handler to service a mouse-up/mouse-down event in XAML.

You can even animate the button being pressed - a nice linear shading of the button is possible as it goes down. This is also easy. You set up a small animation and key it to the mouse down event. Then it will play automatically. Same for mouse up. Expression Blend can make this XAML for you.

I was thinking the 3rd edition of this book should focus on AJAX, and it likely will, but now I'm thinking we need at least one chapter on Silverlight. Maybe it deserves more than one chapter.

A word of advice for anyone who hasn't tried Silverlight yet: go straight to version 1.1. Don't bother with 1.0. Version 1.1 has real .NET assemblies that get downloaded to be browser and executed by a platform-specific plugin (Mac/Linux/Firefox can all play the game).

I'm just learning the Expression tools now. This stuff is very cool but it takes some effort to learn it. There are some books coming soon but none that I'm involved with.

The best book on WPF so far is the one by Nathan. Nathan's book is in color and is one of the best written books I've read in a long time. I don't know of any released books on Silverlight or Expression Design/Blend yet. But I can tell you that this is the hottest growth area right now any many people are losing a lot of sleep as they slave away working on this!

Eric

 
Old August 10th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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Eric,

Thanks for the suggestion. I looked at Siverlight a while ago and decided to wait. I just looked again, and again I will wait.

I don't want animated buttons. If I did I could always use Flash. However I abandonned Flash a couple years ago - not because I wanted more but because I wanted less.

A large proportion of the sites on http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/ are Flash powered sites. Flash effects on a web page are generally annoying. To the extent that Silverlight is a just an improved paradigm for Flash type effects, to that that extent Silverlight is a mistake. The world needs fewer Flash effects not more. A rollover should be subtle, almost subliminal. You don't want little movies on each page element distracting the user.

My point was that a basic button should be easy and routine. A basic button should:
  • Look like a physical button - that is to say it should have a bit of trompe d'oeil verisimilitude
  • It should have a rollover - a button is an active element. A subtle rollover effect helps the user identify the function
  • I should have a down reaction when pushed
  • I should have a click

ASP.NET creates HTML/JavaScript/CSS buttons in the running code from three new controls:
  • The Button
  • The Link Button
  • The Image Button

The ASP.NET Button is the closest to what I defined as a basic button. It is easy to make a graphical template button and use a little CSS with the standard button. Then the Text property of a button instance is all that has to be changed for each new button.

Alas the standard ASP.NET Button has no built in rollover. Some developers use the ASP.NET LinkButton with a lot of CSS to implement rollovers. Others use the ASP.NET ImageButton with JavaScript attributes for rollovers.

With the ImageButton and JavaScript you can get everything you need, but then you need to paint three separate graphics for each button. So on a site with 20 buttons if you use the standard Button you will need only one graphic image but with ImageButtons you will need 60.

With separate graphic images it is possible to use better graphical text. This allows you to have drop shadows. Drop shadows usually improve readability. Still this is a lot of extra work.

Microsoft has a technology that allows drop shadows as a text decoration. As I remember it only renders in IE - but who cares?

All I asked for was that the standard ASP.NET button support rollovers and drop shadowed text as simple object properties. This would solve 99% of all button issues. For the other 1% - let them use Flash or Silverlight.

Pat




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Old August 11th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Hi Eric,

I'm looking forward to the 3rd edition :)
I will appreciate the use of Silverlight in the project.
Ajax is an absolute must I think, Silverlight a nice extra.

However, I disagree a bit on skipping Silverlight 1.0 and go to 1.1 immediatly.

I think 1.0 pushes you to "understand" the concepts of silverlight (json calls, javascripting, ...) which allows you to trigger more activity in the browser/silverlight client engine).

1.1 is actually really cool and is the way to go for .net developers, but I think a basic understanding of 1.0 is a must for a more advanced developer, not ?

just my 2 cnts

koen



 
Old August 12th, 2007, 12:36 AM
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There's nothing wrong with starting at 1.0 but that requires you to be more proficient in JavaScript. A lot of us are mostly into server-side coding and version 1.1 allows us to work with C# on the client. There's still some glue JavaScript needed, and we'll still need to use JavaScript in the page in various places, but I like the idea of sticking C# code in the browser.

AJAX also requires JavaScript if you go beyond the simple UpdatePanel, so we really need to become experts on JavaScript anyway. I have been avoiding it because I really don't like self-modifying code and you really can't escape that if you go very far with JavaScript. JavaScript requires you to break all the rules we've grown to like (strong typing, OOP, etc). But the AJAX client library is a structured way to code JavaScript and I recommend people to look into that further. AJAX will be all over before long. Almost every page I make now uses it.

Eric






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