I decided to put some work into creating an editor that I can later use for building the levels and perhaps even include with my game. XNA gave me a hard time getting it to work inside a Windows.Forms application and I had to rewrite several of the XNA classes until I had a properly working XNA UserControl allowing me to render my game world inside the editor window.
Of course, the editor had to look modern and neat, with dockable panels and color gradients all over the place. As it turned out, there is no built-in solution for docking windows in the .NET Framework, so, given my plans to release the game’s source code, I had to find a solution that was both free and provided a decent user experience.
There’s one such library on SourceForge which looks very promising and provides the same look and feel the Visual Studio 2005 IDE has: DockPanelSuite. I ran into some issues with RC2, so I decided against it for the time being. When 1.0 goes final before my game is shipped, I’ll definitely will go back to this one as its by far the most promising component of this kind.
This brought me to DockingLibrary provided by a kind developer which goes under the name Darwen. It includes full source code, looks still good on Windows Vista and doesn’t even have a license to begin with.
There’s another free docking library: Docking Windows. However, it doesn’t include source code, so I could not assess its quality.