Fluent Design System (codenamed "Project Neon"), officially unveiled as Microsoft Fluent Design System, is a design language developed in 2017 by Microsoft. Fluent Design is a revamp of Microsoft Design Language (popularly known as "Metro") that includes guidelines for the designs and interactions used within software designed for all Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices and platforms. The system is based on five key components: light, depth, motion, material, and scale. The new design language includes more prominent use of motion, depth, and translucency effects.
The transition to Fluent is a long-term project; aspects of the design started appearing in Windows 10 beginning with the "Fall Creators Update" released in October 2017, as well as an update to the Xbox One system software released alongside it. It was later revealed to be designed in conjunction with Windows 10X, in addition to Windows 11 which has a similar design.
Fluent's key principles, or "blocks" (Light, Depth, Motion, Material, and Scale), turn away from the flat concept Metro had defined, and while preserving the clean look and feel Metro introduced, Fluent renews the visuals of Aero, a design approach that was introduced in Windows Vista and Windows 7, including blurred translucency, parallax animated patterns, drop shadows, highlight effects following mouse pointer or input gesture movements, and "faux materials" Metro once discarded.
The purpose of light is to draw attention and illuminate information. Therefore, light establishes a relationship between the UI and the cursor or pointer.
With WinUI 2.6, Microsoft has discontinued reveal highlight to match their web and mobile offerings, which do not offer reveal highlight. Furthermore, with the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has slowly been removing its use of light effects in general, instead providing intractability though animations.
Depth is added to content through layering in the z-axis. Depth is presented via drop shadows and Z-depth layering. This is especially apparent in the redesigned Office app in 2019. In Windows 11, the use of depth is expanded by overlapping different surfaces with different opacities of the Mica material.
Motion establishes a relationship between UI elements and provides a continuity in the experience.
Materials are visual effects applied to UX surfaces. In fluent design there are two main kinds of materials: occluding and transparent. Occluding materials, such as acrylic and mica, form the base layers under interactive UI elements. Transparent materials like smoke are used to emphasize immersive surfaces:
Both Acrylic and Mica are disabled in a specific window when the app is no longer selected. Furthermore, both are disabled system-wide when transparency is disabled, when battery saver mode is enabled, or on low-end hardware. Background Acrylic is disabled when a window is deselected or in Windows 10 Mobile, HoloLens, or tablet mode.
Apps scale across different form factors, display sizes, and 0D to 3D. Elements adapt to their screen size and are available across multiple dimensions. Conscious controls are also categorized within Scale (e.g. scrollbars and inputs that adapt to different methods of invocation)
New icons with acrylic materials have been created for Microsoft programs, starting with the Office apps and the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Preliminary versions of the final icons were spotted in the "Meet the New Icons for Office 365" video, before more were spotted when Windows 10X was unveiled, prior to being officially revealed on December 12, 2019. These icons started appearing through Microsoft Store updates to those apps, beginning with Mail and Calendar.
Segoe Fluent Icons is a set of icons designed by Microsoft for use in its products and services alongside the redesign of the Segoe UI font (Segoe UI Variable). The icons are rounded departing from the angular and straight Segoe MDL2 icons which were predominant during the "Metro" era.
On July 15, 2021 Microsoft announced a complete redesign of its emoji library in order to align with its Fluent Design. With the efforts of making Windows as consistent and accessible as possible, on August 10, 2022 Microsoft made over 1,500 emoji open source. These new emojis depart from the flat and outlined style of the previous emoji library used in Windows 10, instead embrace a 3d Play-Doh feel. Furthermore, Microsoft has stated their plans to animate most of them. While the 3d animated ones can be seen in apps such as Microsoft Teams and Skype, Windows 11 uses a flat variant.
Fluent design guidelines are cross-platform and can be implemented with different frameworks. Fluent UI React is a set of React components that implement Microsoft’s Fluent Design System. It provides a set of pre-built components that can be used to build applications for Windows, iOS, Android, macOS and the web. Furthermore, WinUI is a native user interface framework for building Windows apps. It is built on top of Fluent Design System and provides a set of pre-built controls.
|WinUI 2||WinUI 3||Fluent UI React v9||Web Components|
|WinUI 2 is a library of controls and styles for building modern Windows apps. It is available for use in any UWP app and offers exciting, flexible, modern controls such as NavigationView and TeachingTip.||WinUI 3 is the next generation of the WinUI framework. It ships with the Windows App SDK. WinUI 3 expands WinUI into a full UX framework and provides a unified set of APIs and tools.||Fluent UI React v9 is the latest stable release of Fluent UI React and offers a collection of utilities, React components, and web components for building web applications. Fluent UI React v9 tries to streamline itself to its WinUI counterpart.||Web components are a set of web platform APIs that allow you to create new custom, reusable, encapsulated HTML tags to use in web pages and web apps.|
UI Elements using WinUI
UI Elements using Fluent UI React v9'
UI Elements using web components
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