Developer Product Briefs

Hands-On Product Review: WebUI Studio.NET 2007

A close look at Intersoft Solutions Corp.’s WebUI Studio.NET 2007

WebUI Studio.NET 2007
Price: $1,499
Quick Facts: Suite of user interface components for ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005.
Pros: Handles large datasets; excellent use of AJAX, client-side scripting and CSS; grid exports data to many formats; excellent design-time experience.
Cons:Occasional JavaScript errors; documentation grammar mistakes.
WebUI Studio.NET 2007 is a comprehensive suite of user interface and data components for ASP.NET 2.0 using Visual Studio 2005. The vendor, Intersoft Solutions Corp., has AJAX-enabled its previous offerings and bundled 17 items for building rich Internet applications.

The centerpiece of the suite is WebGrid.NET Enterprise, which provides not only a grid, but hierarchical drilldowns, data lists and a treeview. To get a feel for what the grid can do, I started with the examples which it conveniently installs as Visual Studio Web projects in C# and VB. The default "Elegant" style renders a Northwind-driven grid inside an HTML table that's decorated with subtle gradients, background images, rounded corners and drop shadows.

Users like to print and capture data from a grid. By enabling a checkbox in WebGrid's designer, your grid can output data as .HTML, .PDF, .XML, .XLS, .TIFF, .RTF or plain text files. The Export icon resides inconspicuously in WebGrid's status bar at runtime.

But data-driven Web controls -- especially grids -- bog down when force-fed huge amounts of data. An effective technique is to load only the first page of data and then fetch more on demand. Intersoft Solutions implements this "just-in-time" loading approach with its included ISDataSource control. As you scroll or page down, the grid brings in more data. The hierarchical grid loads child rows only when the user clicks the expand button. That said, don't expect miracle performance when sorting hundreds of rows on a busy grid.

Another major part of the WebUI Studio.NET suite is WebDesktop.NET, the client-side toolbox for creating your own version of Outlook Web Access. It's tempting (and feasible) with these tools to replicate the client-side effects used by high-end Web applications such as Live.com. However, some fragility creeps in with the escalating client-side "Wow" factor. For example, on one page that uses several WebDesktop.NET controls, IE7 on my development machine inexplicably threw the runtime error "document.getElementById(...) is null or not an object" on page load.

The suite's documentation isn't quite as polished as the components themselves. There's plenty of useful, well-organized content, but it needs a once-over by a professional editor whose mother tongue is English to brush up the grammar and overall readability.
-- Review Courtesy of Visual Studio Magazine.

About the Author

Ken Cox is a Canadian .NET programming writer and the author of "ASP.NET 3.5 for Dummies" (Wiley).

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