GUI Development:Case Study #1

A New Project

Imagine you have been given the job of working on the GUI for an old piece of software. This hypothetical project is a windows application, written in MFC on Visual Studio 98, in order to control some hardware, lets say a really cool robot which includes some input sensors. Your job is to bring the project kicking and screaming into the 22nd century. As this is an old project it displays the controls in a tired and out of date style, even when ran on Windows 7. Originally it was treated as an after thought, by the engineers creating the robot and was thrown together by one of the engineers as a necessary evil (as that is how hardware guys think of software.). But now they have serious customers who need to use this software and so they have realised it needs a more professional job to make the software user friendly.

With this article I am going to take you through how I would improve, enhance and style the GUI of that theoretical application. On the way I will show you how to tidy up a form, improve on the look and feel of an application's controls and how to separate the painting from the controls functionality.

Your first shock is the example application. Here it is:

Not a pretty sight is it?

There are four levels to improving the GUI on this application: