Components Vendor Puts Icons on the Menu

nfragistics Inc. is adding icon packs to its UI tools arsenal. The Princeton, N.J.-based components vendor unveiled the first two theme packs in a planned NetAdvantage series this month. Anyone can use the icons, although the company describes them as "a natural complement" to its NetAdvantage product line, which consist of controls, components and tools for various development platforms.

The Office Basics pack offers 10,000 icons to design standard toolbars, improve app navigation and enhance Web sites. The Business and Finance pack, the first of many vertical-themed packs, includes 10,000 icons targeted at the financial sector, such as trading desks, financial brokerage houses and banks.

The icons are available in multiple file formats and support Microsoft (ASP.NET, Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation [WPF] and Silverlight) and Java (Java Server Faces) platforms. Unlike many icon providers, Infragistics is supporting the Windows Icon Library (.ICL) file format.

"We're releasing .PNG -- which is a portable network graphic image -- and we're supporting all of the transparency alpha channels for Windows XP in various operating systems," says Infragistics' Director of Product Management Jason Beres, "so the icons will work and look exactly as advertised no matter the operating system or the application that you're trying to build."

High Fidelity
Icons are readily available today through icon stock Web sites and freeware. However, the quality varies widely and high fidelity at lower resolutions is sometimes an issue. Infragistics is providing eight different sizes of every single icon, ranging from 16x16 to the 256x256 required by Windows Vista.

The company also includes the source file so designers can edit the icon or change colors in Adobe Fireworks or some kind of icon editor, explains Beres.

As developers grapple with a growing spectrum of UI technologies, from Windows Forms and WPF to ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight, tools providers face greater demands to educate their users and offer resources.

"The goal of these icon packs is to get into developers' hands that high-fidelity look that they can add without having that graphics design person or without having to outsource any graphics for what seems to be pretty common in applications but is not always easy to get," says Beres.

One-Time Fee
The Office Basics pack is available for download now at $149. The vertical packs, including Business and Finance, are available now and priced at $199, with discounts for purchases of two ($299) or more. Unlike NetAdvantage components, the pricing is not subscription-based.

The NetAdvantage icon packs are licensed per developer. The icons can be used in commercial products and distributed with an application in its runtime form, according to the company, but they can't be freely distributed to other developers for use in their applications.

The company plans to roll out icon packs over the next several years. Next up on the roadmap is a software- and computing-themed pack, which is expected in November.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards ([email protected]) is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.