Pieter van der Westhuizen

WPF Controls for Office development smackdown

We saw some interesting results with 3rd party UI control vendor products and Microsoft Office in my last article: Windows Forms controls for MS Office smack down. In today’s article we’ll see how the same vendors’ Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) controls suites look like in Microsoft Office.

We’ll build a standard WPF UI as our baseline project. The UI will include 2 data grids, a combo box and 3 buttons.

The contenders

In this article, we’ll test the WPF components of the following vendors:

  • ComponentOne
  • DevExpress
  • Infragistics
  • SyncFusion
  • Telerik
  • Xceed

Standard WPF

The standard WPF controls available in Visual Studio 2010 looks very similar to their Windows Forms counter parts. It doesn’t look great in Microsoft Office, but it gets the job done : )

Task pane with standard WPF controls

Standard WPF combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 1.23 seconds
Office Look and Feel Score:


I’ve used the trial version of Developer Express v2011 vol 2 which has a ThemeManager that supports 4 Microsoft Office style themes:

  • Office 2007 Black
  • Office 2007 Blue
  • Office 2007 Silver and
  • Office 2010 Black

The DevExpress WPF controls are very nice and extremely easy to style to look like MS Office with their built in support for it. Their grid has incredible functionality and some very nice animations when dragging and dropping column headings.

The buttons has a distinct glow when it has focus and supports the MS Office hover and click effects. Overall, it is a very nice WPF UI toolset for MS Office.

Task pane with DevExpress WPF controls

DevExpress combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 2.69
Office Look and Feel Score: 3


The Infragistics NetAdvantage 2011.2 WPF controls also support 4 templates for styling your WPF application to resemble MS Office:

  • Office 2010 Blue
  • Office 2007 Black
  • Office 2007 Blue and
  • Office 2007 Silver

Interestingly, the Infragistics tools support an Office 2010 Blue theme, whereas the DevExpress toolset supports an Office 2010 Black colour theme. The grid supports some very nice hover effect, although it lacks the cool column dragging and dropping animation.

Unfortunately the buttons did not theme well as with DevExpress, but it is still a very nice toolset.

Task pane with Infragistics WPF controls

Infragistics combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 2.28
Office Look and Feel Score:


SyncFusions’ Essential Studio WPF control set contains 6 MS Office themes:

  • Office 2007 Blue
  • Office 2007 Black
  • Office 2007 Silver
  • Office 2010 Blue
  • Office 2010 Black and
  • Office 2010 Silver

I’ve set the style to Office2010Black and for some reason the item template of the grid sets the text colour to white, giving the appearance that the grid is empty. However, when selecting a record in the grid, the style looks very nice, although it does not have the MS Office Hover effect.

Task pane with SyncFusion WPF controls

SyncFusion combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 2.94
Office Look and Feel Score: 2


I’ve only used the Xceed Datagrid for WPF v4.3 as it appeared that they do not have WPF tab, combo box or button controls, which was a little bit disappointing. Their data grid did, however, support the 3 colours of Microsoft Office with the following theme names:

  • Office 2007 Black Theme
  • Office 2007 Blue Theme and
  • Office 2007 Silver Theme

It took some doing to be able to use the themes; I had to add a reference to a ThemePack assembly after which the themes became available. A bit of an unnecessary inconvenience in comparison to most of the other component suites that supports the MS Office themes out of the box.

The Xceed control set also did not have any WPF specific button or combo box controls.

Task pane with Xceed WPF controls

Xceed combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 1.90
Office Look and Feel Score: 2


The Tekerik WPF controls did not disappoint. Although, it did lack some of the more flashy elements like drag and drop animations, its Black MS Office theme did fit in nicely with the standard MS Office UI. Their grid and buttons supported the Office hover effect and in general the toolset was very easy to theme.

Task pane with Telerik WPF controls

Telerik combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 3.28
Office Look and Feel Score: 3


ComponentOne frustrated me a little bit. Their controls do not provide clear properties for setting themes and almost all the links to their help pages I found via Google, return an error 404. It also appears that their Data Grid control did support themes for Office in the past, but not anymore.

Their default theme colour looked similar to the blue Office theme, so I will judge them based on that. Unfortunately, ComponentOne does not provide any WPF buttons, overall this was the control set I liked the least.

Working with it was tedious in comparison with the other available 3rd party controls, and finding proper documentation on how to use their control set was also a challenge.

Task pane with ComponentOne WPF controls

ComponentOne combo box and buttons

Average Load Time: 2.39
Office Look and Feel Score: 1

The final results

The final results

Vendor Average Load Time with data(seconds) Average Load Time without Data (seconds) Look and Feel Score
Standard WPF 1.65 1.23 1
Xceed 2.36 1.90 2
Infragistics 2.51 2.28 2
ComponentOne 2.96 2.39 1
SyncFusion 3.22 2.94 2
DevExpress 3.41 2.69 3
Telerik 3.65 3.28 3

Tests were performed in Office 2010 32-bit on a Windows 7 64-bit PC, with an Intel Core 2 Quad 2.50GHz processor and 4GB RAM.

A photo finish

Almost all the controls did very well in the tests but once again DevExpress and Telerik rose above the rest with their overall ease of use and ability to style to mimic the Microsoft Office UI.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, keep coding!

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