Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Better Looking PowerBuilder Applications, Part 1

I've been working with PowerBuilder for close to a decade now. In that time I've seen PB developers create some screens that, while they functioned properly, could have been ….. a little nicer looking. 

In this blog post I briefly go over a few things that, IMHO, can help you create better looking PowerBuilder apps. I plan on writing a series of blog posts that expand on each of these items. I'll update this post with links to the other posts as they become available. 

Standard disclaimer: I'm not a graphics designer nor do I play one on TV. Take what I say with a grain of salt. 


Probably the simplest thing you can do to make a PowerBuilder application look better is to add a bit of color. Just don't overdo it. You want to make the screen visually appealing without it becoming a distraction. 


The second thing you can do to make your PB apps look better is to add some icons. Although PowerBuilder comes with several built in, I generally prefer to use some of the ones freely available on the Internet. Smashing Magazine is a good place to find these. Just be sure to check that the license allows commercial usage.


Much like the use of color, gradients can add a subtle improvement to your PowerBuilder application. But (as with color) you have to be careful not to overdo it and end up with something that distracts from the application's usefulness. Think Goldilocks here: 


Grouping may seem out of place in a post with Gradients, Colors and Icons. But it's still a visual way to make it easier to digest the information your application is conveying.

Alternating Row Colors

I almost didn't mention this one because I figured most PB developers already know about it. 

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