Thursday, November 30, 2006

telerik officially licenses Office 2007 UI

A little more than a week has passed since Microsoft announced that it would be making the Office 2007 UI available to application developers via a perpetual, royalty free, no charge license and today telerik announced that they would be an early participant in the license program. The program makes the new Office UI freely available to any developer interested in building applications or components that implement the (love it or hate it) Office 2007 UI. The only catch is that you cannot use the license to build applications that compete with Microsoft Office (seems fair enough).

What makes the telerik announcement significant, though, is that all participants in the license program must agree to strictly adhere to the 120+ page Office 2007 UI Guidelines. The guidelines in this document come in three flavors- required ("MUST"), optional ("SHOULD"), and Best Practice- and they aim to ensure all implementations of the Office UI are done consistently and correctly. The guidelines are illustrated, detailed and very thorough, so little is left to the imagination regarding the correct implementation of Office UI components (like Ribbon, Quick Access Toolbar, etc.).

For example, in a preview of the full Guidelines document (available here [PDF]) we learn that implementations of the Ribbon MUST do the following:

  • Resizing the width of the window must re-size the Ribbon and change the layout of the controls
  • Layout changes must be real time and must not wait for the left mouse button to released
  • Ribbon Groups must have at least two variants: "Large" and "Collapsed"
  • Clicking a collapsed Group must display the largest variant bellow the Ribbon
  • The width of each Group must be determined by the controls and must not be determined by the Group label
  • Scroll state must be remembered per Tab and must be preserved when navigating between tabs

And that's just a few of the many required guidelines for Ribbon alone! Clearly, any component that implements the UI Guidelines to a Best Practice level will be a very full featured and powerful UI component. Telerik's announcement is exciting because we know that future versions of their Office 2007 controls (for the Web and Windows) will fully implement the features outlined in these Guidelines. Notice that I said Web and Windows. The official Guidelines FAQ makes it clear that web components must fully implement all required UI features, just like their Windows brethren.

It looks like 2007 is going to be a fun year for UI development!