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Q&A with Julian Bucknall Part 2

Julian M. Bucknall, CTO at DevExpress continues our discussion on the Visual Studio/.NET toolspace, this time looking at DevExpress' users and process for extending the package.

Peter Vogel: Are there differences between creating a suite for ASP.NET developers and other developer groups (e.g. WinForms/Silverlight/WPF/whatever)? I.e. what do these target markets share and where (if anywhere) do they look different?

Julian M. Bucknall: Apart from the basic differences of platforms, yes, there are differences. For example, ASP.NET customers expect to see live demos on the website whereas WinForms developers are happy to download demos and install them to view the functionality. What we also try and do (sometimes more successfully than others) is to abstract out the non-platform-specific code into code codebases and to build on those for each platform UI. Data binding tends to be different across platforms as well, so we have to be cognizant of those differences.

PV: How does DevExpress decide what to add to the suite? What to enhance next it the suite?

JMB: It depends. Generally it's feedback from customers: they're using X in their apps, but it would be great if feature Y were available. The more feedback we get for a particular feature or control, the more likely it is we'll add it. (We essentially allow people to track particular suggestions: the more trackers for a feature, the higher the "vote". We're working on making this more transparent by implementing a Facebook Like button or a Stack Overflow vote up/down button.)

Oftentimes it's because we are tracking what popular applications are doing with their UI, Microsoft Office being the canonical example. So if you see something in the new Outlook/Word, you'll see us support the same look-and-feel pretty quickly. The same goes for Windows itself, of course. And then we monitor what websites are doing so that if there's some particular UI metaphor we should be following, we'll notice and support it for our customers.

Finally, it's the developers themselves who will decide that they need such-and-such a feature. We use our own controls in our internal applications so we as a company will notice issues and problems with our controls and request features to make our lives easier -- and of course we know where the developers live. ;)

Posted by Peter Vogel on 02/03/2011

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