Size Matters with Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET: Windows Client Suite
The suite continues to deliver tons of controls that Windows Forms developers want to use -- but organization could be improved.
There are almost 100 controls in the NetAdvantage for .NET: Windows Client suite from Infragistics. In addition to the usual controls (enhanced grids, listboxes, buttons and so on), you'll find controls from a reporting dashboard (the UltraGauge) to a project management solution (UltraGanttView).
Lots of little things in the controls show attention to what matters to developers. For instance, you can quickly set the appearance of a control using its DisplayStyle property. The options on that control reflect the typical display styles a Windows developer would want, including presets that mimic every version of Office from XP to 2010.
Like any useful set of controls, the Infragistics controls reduce your need to write code for common tasks. To control data entry, for instance, you have an advanced masked edit control, but also dedicated controls for checking dates, numbers and currency. A validation control allows you to centralize error checking.
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|Don't undervalue the suite because it has only a single gauge control. The control can switch between digital, linear and radial presets, which you can then customize.|
Some controls have no equivalent in the standard toolbox. The UltraCalcManager allows you to define a formula that takes its inputs from other controls on the form. When those controls change value, the UltraCalcManager recomputes the formula, putting the result in other controls. Because the UltraCalcManager is a control extender, you can use it with the basic controls that come with the Microsoft .NET Framework. The manager takes care of handling null/invalid entries and catching events, letting you concentrate on what matters: getting the formula right.
One drawback is organization. There are nearly 100 controls here, yet all of them are housed in a single tab. What's worse, almost all the controls have names that begin with the same five letters -- "Ultra" -- which makes finding the control you want difficult.
NetAdvantage for .NET: Windows Client
Price: $995 (standard support), $1,995 (priority support)
Quick Facts: An enormous collection of Windows forms controls that go far beyond the default controls
Pros: Almost 100 controls, including controls for project management, reporting dashboards and scheduling that reduce coding for developers
Cons: No organization of the controls in the toolbox; finding the control you want (or if the control even exists) is a challenge
Peter Vogel is a system architect and principal in PH&V Information Services. PH&V provides full-stack consulting from UX design through object modeling to database design. Peter tweets about his VSM columns with the hashtag #vogelarticles. His blog posts on user experience design can be found at http://blog.learningtree.com/tag/ui/.