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Thinking Out of the Box

Desktop Modern UI

Jonas Stallmeister

Microsoft’s Modern UI design language has arrived in many applications with varying success. By now, almost everybody has seen Modern UI (formerly known as Metro), and Microsoft seems committed. Developers of Windows software have to think about the fact that a lot of established interfaces look out of place in a Modern UI environment. It needs to be adapted to the current state of interface design, even more with Apple similarly moving iOS 7 to a flat UI style. Working on such updates, we have collected a set of 10 design principles we call, for the sake of simplicity, “Desktop Modern UI”, and we want to share them with you. read more…

From windows to tiles: Contrasting WinRT´s UI framework with WPF – Another case study

A while back, we have published a small case study illustrating our experiences gained in the course of porting an existing WP7-based application to WinRT. As we are continuously growing our competencies regarding WinRT development, we were able to identify a bunch of further differences between WinRT XAML and WPF XAML (as well as Silverlight or Windows Phone 7.X). In this blog post, we want to introduce you to some further prominent differences as well as important characteristics of the WinRT UI Framework that differentiate this API from WPF. Specifically, we will have a look at Bindings, Commands and DependencyProperties.
read more…

From windows to tiles: Leveraging reflection to inspect and contrast WPF with WinRT XAML

To begin with, our primal, simple aim was contrasting several concepts as applied in good old WPF with the way they have been implemented in WinRT . To actually enable a both exhaustive and reasonable comparison between both UI frameworks, we pragmatically decided to unleash some reflection functionality on the respectively affected assemblies. read more…

“Form Follows Function” – An unclear design principle

Introduction

“Form Follows Function (FFF)” – You can think for hours about these three words and for their explanation quite some words are necessary, for it is a frequently misunderstood design principle. read more…

From windows to tiles: WinRT sensors – Overview and C# sample

Sensors are one of the most defining features that distinguish mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones from common PCs. This being the case, we have been enormously enthusiastic to play around with these components when our brand-new Surface RT tablet arrived recently. And by the way, this device feels like a charm.

Eventually, we decided to share our experiences in this regard in terms of a blog post giving an overview on the entire sensor landscape being available on the current Surface RT tablet running WinRT – the ARM chips targeting brother of Windows 8 – as an operating system.

read more…

From windows to tiles: A tutorial on live tiles & badges

Philip Schäfer
October 30th, 2012

This blog post seeks to demonstrate the capabilities of Windows 8 “live tiles” and “badges” as initially introduced in Microsoft´s design language Modern UI (also referred to as Metro UI). Being one of the most defining UI elements in Modern UI style, the concept of (live) tiles should be worth looking at a bit closer.
read more…

From windows to tiles: Porting a Windows Phone 7 app to Windows Runtime – A small case study

I. Setting

To begin with, the application we intended to port as a first get-in-touch with Windows RT (also referred to as Windows Runtime, WinRT) is a small, Windows Phone 7 based soccer game leveraging the mightiness of Silverlight as a subset of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Therefore, the game´s entire frontend had been designed exclusively using Silverlight XAML and related concepts. Furthermore, the applied architecture strongly follows MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) principles targeting a strict separation of user interface and application logic. read more…

From windows to tiles: Towards the development of Windows Store applications

Philip Schäfer
October 30th, 2012

Launching their new operating system Windows 8, Microsoft establishes an entire set of novel technologies and concepts. The familiar desktop will be supplemented with an additional Start screen in “Modern UI” style (formerly known as “Metro UI” style); in addition to that, Microsoft introduces a new application type called “Windows Store App” (also referred to as Windows RT application or Modern UI application). Especially this new application type is the subject of controversial discussions in the community and thus requires to be focused on in particular. read more…

Touching the desktop – Modern micro-interaction and burdens of the past

They are considered intuitive and their handling easy to learn – Touchscreens. To humans it feels far more natural to touch an object of interest with the finger on screen instead of using the mouse. Apart from the clearly easier hand-eye-coordination, touchscreens create an elegant and user friendly experience through merging input and output actions into one device.

But even despite of all these advantages, they can create a lot of frustration and anger, which probably every one of us has realized at some point. For example: If you accidently call someone although you only tried to scroll down the address list, if you have to type in a word five times, because you hit the wrong letter, or the alignment of “Ok” and “Cancel” is so narrow that you are afraid to click the wrong one. It would be too good to be true, if touchscreens did not raise new usability problems. Especially the usage of desktop operating systems like Windows 7 or OS X with touch devices creates a bunch of problems. read more…

Introducing WPF – Experiences of a former Windows Forms developer

Have you ever thought about switching from Windows Forms (WinForms) to WPF seriously? Try something new and stop to develop along the old well known patterns? To be honest until a few months ago, I haven’t had any thoughts about making a transition. I was very familiar with Windows Forms and WPF would have been something I would have to learn from scratch. So it was only a test project and my applications remained Windows Forms applications. So, when I joined Centigrade earlier this year, after working as a developer for nearly 15 years in the financial industry, Centigrade made the transition to WPF long ago. Just take a look at related blog articles on our website! My colleagues in the field of design engineering are working for several years with WPF. Especially younger designers and design engineers only knew Windows Forms from their study – if at all. They never worked with it in practice. Many companies already use WPF, but despite the fact that already the fourth version of the technology is out lot of them are still in the evaluation phase. From my own experience, I can only report – it can even be worse. Especially, in the financial sector applications with a rather boring look and feel are created until today. Yet, things could be so much more appealing…

So a new chapter started in my programming career. With a healthy dose of skepticism, I joined my first WPF Project. I was hooked immediately. I have collected some of my experiences and summarized them within this article. read more…

Everyday User Interface Annoyances

Jenny Gemmell

In April I blogged about metro style pictograms being the new sliced bread in icon design. Remember? The article was, of course, highly interesting, incredibly important and not to mention terribly knowledgeable – and naturally it was in no respect longwinded. Well. Let’s just say it was rather formal and academic. Today, dear reader, I am going to be emotional. And pretty much so. Why? Because bad user interface design can drive you up the wall.
read more…

User Interface Architectures – Four Things Architecture and Interface Design Have in Common

Jonas Stallmeister

When I started working at Centigrade, I wondered what the “User Interface Architectures” tagline in the company name is about. New terms are common in our line of work; the terminology is still young and changing all the time, many people try to influence it with their own terms and definitions. Still, I thought “why architecture” – maybe you, as a reader, did too?

The short, upfront answer: drawing attention. Readers are supposed to be teased by that line. So, of course it is supposed to stick out, elicit associations and set Centigrade apart.

Still, “User Interface Architectures” is not just another empty cliché buzz term, which brings us to the long, more profound answer. These words sum our work up for newcomers quite precisely and descriptively. We always have to expect that customers, users and external designers or developers may not have a clear understanding of our work. By comparing our services to the field of traditional building architecture, we offer a way to approach it.

Of course, we and other interface designers are familiar with the typical tasks, processes and results of our field. If, however, we get lost in our own work, the comparison to traditional architecture and to traditional architect’s way of working can bring about new ideas and give us new drive. Internally, “User Interface Architecture” forces us to re-evaluate our way of work and view it in a broader context. We want to present four things architecture has in common with user interface design to show how the comparison works internally and externally. read more…

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