Modern Look and Feel Changes Coming to Windows

Posted on 2023-05-03


Simply Fortran 3.30 is currently wrapping up development, and we're introducing some changes to how the development environment looks on the Windows platform. Because our development environment is written mostly in pure C and natively accesses the Windows API, the environment continues to be performant on both low-end machines while still being able to exploit modern multi-core CPUs. Additionally, our backwards compatibility with Windows releases from 20 years ago introduces some challenges to keeping the user interface up to modern standards.

One change in relatively recent times is using the title bar of windows for additional user interface controls. Historically custom title bars on Windows have been possible, but they were never well-supported by Microsoft. Recent Windows API additions, however, have almost encouraged drawing custom title bars. For our implementation, when the development environment menus are set to "Themed" (the default), the menu will now draw in the title bar on Windows 10 or higher. Previously wasted space is now being used a bit more efficiently. When the window is sized to a point where the menu is no longer completely visible, the menu will collapse to a "hamburger" menu in order to retain maximum functionality.

Another challenge with Simply Fortran is the drawing of certain controls when the development environment is using a dark theme. Specifically, the scrollbars would regularly jump out as eyesores. Although Microsoft has slowly added a dark mode theme to Windows Explorer over the years, the Windows API has not exposed the necessary calls to apply the theme easily to applications relying on the Windows API alone. However, we've finally implemented some generally accepted workarounds that should be safe to include as the Windows ecosystem progresses.

In the included screenshot, users will see that the scrollbars now appear to be black with gray arrows and sliders. This change should allow the use of Simply Fortran's dark themes without the stark contrast of light gray sliders everywhere. There are some locations where the changes will not be seen, but those areas are mostly due to the limitations of the Windows API.

Hopefully these changes make Simply Fortran slightly more pleasant for everyday use on Windows. Version 3.30 should emerge soon after some additional macOS improvements and new features for AppGraphics are tested.

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