At its Build developer conference yesterday, Microsoft showcased what’s coming for its Fluent Design overhaul of Windows and its applications, and there’s definitely a lot of good news for people who like Fluent Design, developers, and yes, even power users.
Microsoft will be adding Z-depth, dynamic shadows, and more to Fluent Design to further reduce the flatness of the user interface, using these to create a visual hierarchy inside applications. Developers will also get access to a new and improved way of managing colours inside their applications; instead of having to manually colour each control, developers now have access to more global colour control. Microsoft is also adding blurry transparency, shadows, and Z-depth to context menus.
A new contextual command bar flyout – similar to how Office applications will show various formatting options after selecting text – can be populated by developers with various contextual controls that make sense for the content in questions. Microsoft claims that it has designed this contextual bar so that it will work with either a few options, or lots and lots, making it useful even for very complex applications.
The biggest new feature, however, is one that will be welcomed by many. As it currently stands, Fluent Design is clearly a very touch-oriented interface, with large controls and lots of whitespace, making it challenging to build and design very complex applications with lots of options, buttons, and controls. Therefore, Microsoft is adding two denser layouts to Fluent Design – medium and compact. With the compact layout you can design applications that are just as dense as classic Win32 applications. You can already try the new, denser layouts in Windows Mail, which was updated today to add these new options.
The whole Fluent Design talk at Build is an interesting watch, as it also hints at the further Fluent Design-ification of Windows, including showing off file manager context menus.