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Is it legal to use the MFC FluentUI in commercial applications?

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  • User profile image
    IDWMaster

    My company is developing a new P2P remote desktop solution. We have created most of the core libraries necessary to run the application, and the next step is the user interface; which I am in charge of designing. I have considered the possibility of using the MFC template in Visual Studio 2010, but am not sure which elements of the sample code I would be allowed to ship with my application; if any. The code would obviously be modified to suit the purpose of the application. If this is not legally possible; we can design the user interface of the application from scratch. I just thought it would be nice to use MFC with the FluentUI and Ribbon controls. I would prefer it if someone affiliated with Microsoft could respond to this post.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    http://10rem.net/blog/2010/08/02/announcing-microsoft-ribbon-for-wpf-rtw

     

    Read the comments (the MFC ribbon and WPF share the same assets - check the channel 9 ribbon videos with Yochay.)

  • User profile image
    IDWMaster

    vesuvius said:

    http://10rem.net/blog/2010/08/02/announcing-microsoft-ribbon-for-wpf-rtw

     

    Read the comments (the MFC ribbon and WPF share the same assets - check the channel 9 ribbon videos with Yochay.)

    EDIT: The ribbon is out of the question if it doesn't work on XP anyways. Therefore; we will have to use a different interface. Thanks for your reply.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    IDWMaster said:
    vesuvius said:
    *snip*

    EDIT: The ribbon is out of the question if it doesn't work on XP anyways. Therefore; we will have to use a different interface. Thanks for your reply.

    Read the comments

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    I'm going to say "don't" to anyone who suggests using the ribbon in their UIs, it just doesn't make sense for most applications. Here is what UI I think is appropriate given a program:

     

    1-6 commands: only a menubar

    6-10 commands: only a toolbar

    11-20 commands: menubar plus toolbar

    20-100 commands: menubar plus context-sensitive toolbars (e.g. Office 2003)

    100+ commands: ribbon

     

    The premise of your program seems simple, I just don't think using the Ribbon (regardless of actual implementation) is a good idea. You'll see Microsoft's horrendous attempt at shoehorning it into WordPad and Paint in Windows 7, and both are now usability nightmares (for bonus horror, check out Windows 7 Ink Journal as a fine example of how not to do toolbars too).

     

    As for licensing: sample code and code provided in MFC etc can be freely used by anyone for any purpose unless explicited stated otherwise.

     

    Note that Microsoft does hold patents on the Ribbon (how that's possible, I've no idea) and grants gratis, royalty-free patent licenses to anyone using the ribbon except if they're being used in applications that are potential competitors to any of the Microsoft Office products.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    W3bbo said:

    I'm going to say "don't" to anyone who suggests using the ribbon in their UIs, it just doesn't make sense for most applications. Here is what UI I think is appropriate given a program:

     

    1-6 commands: only a menubar

    6-10 commands: only a toolbar

    11-20 commands: menubar plus toolbar

    20-100 commands: menubar plus context-sensitive toolbars (e.g. Office 2003)

    100+ commands: ribbon

     

    The premise of your program seems simple, I just don't think using the Ribbon (regardless of actual implementation) is a good idea. You'll see Microsoft's horrendous attempt at shoehorning it into WordPad and Paint in Windows 7, and both are now usability nightmares (for bonus horror, check out Windows 7 Ink Journal as a fine example of how not to do toolbars too).

     

    As for licensing: sample code and code provided in MFC etc can be freely used by anyone for any purpose unless explicited stated otherwise.

     

    Note that Microsoft does hold patents on the Ribbon (how that's possible, I've no idea) and grants gratis, royalty-free patent licenses to anyone using the ribbon except if they're being used in applications that are potential competitors to any of the Microsoft Office products.

    Whats worse is people that don't read the office UI guidelines. I know even Microsoft ignore them as well), but I have seen applications that use a ribbon so poorly it beggars belief.

     

    The ribbon is built on telemetry, insofar as the most used commands. Remember that a typical business application starts off small and gets bigger so using a Ribbon allows you you add commands without end up rewriting the application once it gets bigger. A typical application will end up with 100+ commands so it is a good starting point. The windows live applications (Mail/Writers and so on) are also good examples, and they look modern compared with notepad, and that is why they updated wordpad and paint, but I use paint.net and notepad++

     

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    vesuvius said:
    W3bbo said:
    *snip*

    Whats worse is people that don't read the office UI guidelines. I know even Microsoft ignore them as well), but I have seen applications that use a ribbon so poorly it beggars belief.

     

    The ribbon is built on telemetry, insofar as the most used commands. Remember that a typical business application starts off small and gets bigger so using a Ribbon allows you you add commands without end up rewriting the application once it gets bigger. A typical application will end up with 100+ commands so it is a good starting point. The windows live applications (Mail/Writers and so on) are also good examples, and they look modern compared with notepad, and that is why they updated wordpad and paint, but I use paint.net and notepad++

     

    I wonder how many people blindly use those pre-built ribbon components from UI vendors and hope it makes their application look "cool" or somehow "consistent" with Office, when in reality it shows them to be unimaginative, unoriginal, and generally clueless when it comes to UI design.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    W3bbo said:
    vesuvius said:
    *snip*

    I wonder how many people blindly use those pre-built ribbon components from UI vendors and hope it makes their application look "cool" or somehow "consistent" with Office, when in reality it shows them to be unimaginative, unoriginal, and generally clueless when it comes to UI design.

    I have and am working on projects where people are making the most callamitous sins against their users and the ocular using WPF.

     

    You have it exactly right, in them thinking it 'makes it look cool', and then go on to make the ribbon behave like a context menu. I somethimes think that winforms makes for a more consistent UI, because it is harder to force controls to behave in ways they were not designed to.

     

    Fo the most part every single WPF application I have worked on has been exceedingly disappointing from the point of people completely ruining their users experience by making very poor choices.

     

    Creating good UI is an artform. I am not saying I am the best, but I have a good eye for detail, as much as your good determination that a typical P2P application does and never will need a ribbon control.

     

     

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    vesuvius said:
    W3bbo said:
    *snip*

    I have and am working on projects where people are making the most callamitous sins against their users and the ocular using WPF.

     

    You have it exactly right, in them thinking it 'makes it look cool', and then go on to make the ribbon behave like a context menu. I somethimes think that winforms makes for a more consistent UI, because it is harder to force controls to behave in ways they were not designed to.

     

    Fo the most part every single WPF application I have worked on has been exceedingly disappointing from the point of people completely ruining their users experience by making very poor choices.

     

    Creating good UI is an artform. I am not saying I am the best, but I have a good eye for detail, as much as your good determination that a typical P2P application does and never will need a ribbon control.

     

     

    If I were in Microsoft's developer division, I'd form a team to create a new "fluent" UI: it wouldn't just be a ribbon library, but a range of implementations for differing UI needs, all with a consistent appearance that inherits the current system theme and scheme settings. It would include a 'context-sensitive toolbar' system suitable for smaller applications that need context-sensitive UI, but without needing the ribbon.

     

    Anyway, enough preaching to the choir. What happend to the MFC ribbon control that came with VS2008? It comes with various colour schemes and isn't too ugly, actually.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    W3bbo said:
    vesuvius said:
    *snip*

    If I were in Microsoft's developer division, I'd form a team to create a new "fluent" UI: it wouldn't just be a ribbon library, but a range of implementations for differing UI needs, all with a consistent appearance that inherits the current system theme and scheme settings. It would include a 'context-sensitive toolbar' system suitable for smaller applications that need context-sensitive UI, but without needing the ribbon.

     

    Anyway, enough preaching to the choir. What happend to the MFC ribbon control that came with VS2008? It comes with various colour schemes and isn't too ugly, actually.

    That was licensed from BCG Soft

     

    It may well be that in Visual Studio 2010 they decided against that one, and use their own implementation, but that should still be available for all OS platforms

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