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Matrix Case Study

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The BCGControlBar Pro library offers a very easy way to rapidly expand MFC's feature set, providing fresh visual styles and extra widgets, without disrupting existing code or functionality.

The company

We are researchers, innovators, developers, manufacturers and curriculum writers. At Matrix, we have developed industrial standard training equipment for education and training providers around the world since 1993. Our solutions cover Science, Engineering, and Technology disciplines from physics to robotics to microcontrollers, electrical installation, automotive and more. Learning is at the heart of everything we do, and the philosophy of all our products is 'learning by doing'. With customers in more than 50 countries, and software in more than 20 languages, we are regarded as a premier global supplier of products for education and development.

Our flagship offering is Flowcode. Flowcode allows you to quickly and easily develop complex electronic and electromechanical systems. This graphical programming tool allows those with little experience to develop systems in minutes.

Flowcode is an advanced integrated development environment (IDE) for electronic and electromechanical system development. Engineers'both professional and academic use Flowcode to develop systems for control and measurement based on microcontrollers or on rugged industrial interfaces using Windows compatible personal computers.

Flowcode is perfect for those programming Arduino or PIC devices including Microchip's 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit range of microcontrollers. It's also an easy and effective solution for programming Atmel AVR and ARM-based devices, including the Raspberry Pi versions 2 and 3.

The challenge

A strong, visually appealing interface with high usability is one of the most important features when it comes to software geared towards teaching and increasing productivity. To remain competitive in today's market, it is critical to take advantage of the ever-increasing power of modern PCs by continuing to add ease-of-use features, such as multi-monitor support, widgets and customizable themes. However, while MFC is a stable and rugged framework, it can often be difficult to customize due to a long history limited by backwards compatibility and a lack of recent feature additions.

The solution

BCGControlBar Pro adds an extra layer of much-needed abstraction, allowing us to easily fine-tune various visual elements of our UI. This makes our software developers' tasks easier, enabling us to respond quickly to user feedback. We now also have the ability to easily create popup windows and modify MFC's document-view functionality. These features are enabled and integrated using only a few lines of code, with the typically associated complexities left to the library.

The result

Flowcode now contains two different visual styles. We have added popup notification windows for software updates, a simple tree-like list view for showing and selecting files, and a progress bar for showing the status of downloads. Document view tabs can now be detached into separate windows at the user's request. The various widgets such as gauges and sliders, included with BCGControlBar Pro, are also planned for integration into future releases of Flowcode.


Screenshots show visual styling (2 different modes), MDI tear-off, popup window (bottom-right corner), tree-like list view and progress bar. Click thumbnail to enlarge:

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