Some time ago the best way to deal with screen rotation in your mobile application was to detect it programmatically and re-layout the screen at runtime, moving and resizing the controls and even changing their content manually, or directly showing a different view with a completely different layout according to the new orientation. An easier option was to use anchoring and docking, which could be good enough in a few cases, but not in most of them. This challenge was not easy at all, and that was the reason because many developers decided to directly forget screen rotation and delivery applications that are almost unusable when the screen is rotated.
What about applications which should run on devices with different form factors? Once again, anchoring and docking are not enough. Remember that in a mobile application you should design your UI thinking from the scratch in order to take full advantage of the screen and maximize the user experience.
One of the main advantages of using Visual Studio 2005/2008 and the .Net Compact Framework is the design-time experience which is great for a single form-factor / orientation, but it's almost useless when you need to design a solution thinking on a really outstanding mobile user experience.
When we worked on the Microsoft Patterns & Practices Mobile Client Software Factory, this challenge was part of our focus, and the need for a design-time experience in order to support rotation and multiple form factors was the goal. The former Orientation Aware Control was the first approach towards this goal. It's indeed part of the Mobile Client Software Factory, and by extending the Localization feature of the Visual Studio designer it provides a design-time approach for supporting screen rotation and multiple form-factors for Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC and Visual Studio 2005. It is, in fact, one of the most popular application blocks of the MCSF, and it has changed the way in what .Net Compact Framework developers should deal with screen rotation and multiple form factors support.
Last year, Clarius Consulting released a new and improved Orientation Aware Control including support for Pocket PC 2003 and Windows CE 5.0. It was developed by the same people who worked on the MCSF Orientation Aware Control lead by Daniel Cazzulino. Unfortunately, this version was released before Orcas, and it didn't include any support for Visual Studio 2008, which was one of the most required features for the next version.
I'm glad to announce that we've just published the Orientation Aware Control June 2008 RC Trial Edition!! This is a new preview of the June Release Candidate, fully functional with a trial message at runtime. This version does include Visual Studio 2008 design-time support! and several bug fixes and improvements. It's good to know that this version works with both VS2005 and VS2008, and it includes support for .Net Compact Framework 2.0 and 3.5!
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and download it! Your feedback will be very appreciated!