AutoMate 6.2 and Windows Vista Interface Integration

by Dustin Snell, in AutoMate News, posted 2/22/07
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Now that Windows Vista has been released some of you may be wondering "where's the AutoMate support?" AutoMate 6.2 is the Vista compatible release and it will be available to the public in the coming weeks.

In the October 2006 article titled "AutoMate and Windows Vista Security" Scott Robinet outlined the security differences between Windows XP and Windows Vista (such as UAC and Windows Defender) and how they affected AutoMate. Most of these issues have been overcome in our internal build of AutoMate 6.2. But we wanted to accomplish more than simple compatibility with this new operating system. We also wanted to support the new Vista look and feel. Windows Vista advances the state of the art in User Interface design. While we won't be doing anything radical with the interface in this upgrade, we will be supporting some of the new interface technologies that make using Vista a more pleasant experience than prior Windows versions.


New Font

New fonts and sizes in AutoMate 6.2
Throughout Windows Vista a new font called "Segoe UI" is used at 9pt. This font was specially designed for Windows to be the most attractive and usable font for user interfaces in Windows. In Windows XP the system font was Tahoma 8pt. Changing the point size caused a few problems with control positioning throughout the app, but those have been ironed out now and AutoMate will now use the proper system font on either OS. Segoe UI looks great.


High DPI Aware
As resolutions get higher and higher on new larger displays, the text on the screen gets smaller and smaller, making it harder to read. To address this, users can increase the DPI (dots-per-inch) in Windows. In previous versions of Windows, this sometimes caused rendering problems with certain dialog boxes on applications that weren't designed to deal with the new font size. Controls were being pushed out of place and occasionally extended off the edge of dialog boxes. To solve this problem Microsoft introduced the concept of "bitmap-scaling" for applications that do not specifically declare that they are "high DPI Aware". The net affect for AutoMate was that when a higher DPI setting was enabled, AutoMate would be increased in size but all of the application's windows and controls would appear "blurry". This happens because bitmap-scaling works by taking a screenshot of the application at default dpi then expanding that screenshot by the correct proportion. We have all seen that you can only zoom into a bitmap so much before it becomes blurry. We didn't like the way this looked, so we decided to make AutoMate High-DPI Aware. This required reviewing the entire AutoMate interface and making small adjustments to ensure that it was rendering properly even when the system was set to a high DPI.

New Common Dialogs

New Common Dialogs in AM 6.2
The "Open" and "Save As" common dialogs in Windows Vista have been redesigned to improve usability. They now feature a shared "Favorites" pane with Explorer, a collapsible design, and a modern new look. When running on Windows Vista, AutoMate will now use the new common dialogs throughout the application, resulting in a more integrated and cohesive feel with the new operating system.


Conclusion
When running AutoMate 6.2 (and greater) on Windows Vista, the experience will be seamless. It will not feel as though you are running an older application on Windows Vista. Rather, the fonts will be updated, their display size will be appropriately adjusted to your preferred system font size and common dialogs will be updated to match the rest of the system. This will result in a more seamless and accessible experience when using AutoMate in Windows Vista.
AutoMate 6.2 will be available in March 2007.