Windows System Color Theme for Silverlight

Accessibility is important to consider when designing applications. Not only do those with visual, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities benefit from software that is accessible, but those without these disabilities benefit as well. Silverlight makes it possible to create applications that address accessibility needs, and some colleagues of mine and I decided to explore some of the possibilities by creating a control and navigation template theme that maps to Windows system colors (this will allow the application to seamlessly respond to Windows high contrast mode color changes).

At this time, we have the Navigation template and the core controls themed. We plan to continue our explorations and theme the SDK and Toolkit controls as well. Please tell us what you think of our work to date…

  • What do you think of the visual appearance of the theme?

  • Will you be able to apply it to your Silverlight applications without extensive redesign, and if not why not?

  • Does the theme meet the needs of your core scenarios, and if not why not?

  • What is missing?


Utilizing the Theme

In order to use the theme, you will need to include the styles, “CoreControlStyles.xaml” and “Styles.xaml”, and two code files in your project. The first code file,” SysColors.cs”, maps the system colors to brushes, and the second code file, “SetterValueBindingHelper.cs” courtesy of Delay's Blog, enables data binding of the system color brushes in property setters (we utilized this in a few places).


Screen Shots

What follows are screen shots of the theme in the various Windows default and high contrast modes...



Corrina, Tsitsi, Vidya, and Susan


Comments (2)
  1. Broomeister says:

    I think what you’re doing here is awesome and it looks great too.  I think theming for the SDK and the Toolkit is pretty much a "must do" so I’m looking forward to seeing that too.  Excellent work!

  2. NickHarewood says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how a blog post will always turn up just when you need it 🙂

    I’ve been looking into the possibility of a System Color theme for our (education oriented) apps recently, as a part of moving towards ensuring a decent level of accessibility.

    I’m looking forward to having a play with the theme, but on my first impression – I would say we could go further.  I think greater contrast on the controls – stronger borders and less greadient on the checkboxes, scrollbars etc… may be seen as an unnecessary nicety in a theme like this…  as nice as they look.

    Anyway – thanks!

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