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ComponentOne Studio Enterprise Doc Edition 2007 v2

ComponentOne Studio Enterprise Doc Edition is the company's premier development product for any kind of Windows software. Whether you're building mobile, desktop, Web, or COM-based applications, you'll find a dizzying array of components and tools to make your apps highly functional with brilliant user interfaces (see Figure 1).

The Doc edition of the product simply ships two products together: Studio Enterprise 2007 v2 and Doc-to-Help 2007 Enterprise. There isn't any special integration between the two products; however, anyone developing software is likely to be writing documentation to go along with it, so it's a logical bundling, and both products are among the best and most comprehensive available in their categories.

The enhancements to Studio Enterprise in this release are mostly increased flexibility through additional properties on components. Several of the components now include visual styles that mimic those in Microsoft Office 2007, so you can take advantage of the hip new ribbon interface. The one brand new tool added in the latest release was the WebDialog for ASP.NET, a special dialog window for creating flexible and interactive windows to display information and receive input.

One of the nicest additions to Doc-to-Help is the Text and Rich Content variables, which let you save either unformatted or rich content text in variables for reuse throughout your documentation. This makes it easy to propagate changes to text throughout a project and use HTML variables to add HTML elements to Word docs.

Besides incremental enhancements, the driving force behind Studio Enterprise and similar products these days is to incorporate the latest technologies from Microsoft. For example, Doc-to-Help now includes a Microsoft Sandcastle plug-in for creating MSDN-style formatted code documentation. And Studio Enterprise has featured built-in AJAX support for several versions.

For years, I've watched the feature list in Studio Enterprise and Doc-to-Help grow to almost incomprehensible complexity. You're likely to find every feature you need to create sophisticated applications and documentation. But the cost is that it can be a nightmare to wade through all the features and property lists to find what you need and how to use it. The product architects continue to devise clever ways to manage the complexity, however, and the documentation is just about as good as it gets. The new online ComponentOne HelpCentral has lots of great information. You should also plan to spend some time in the community forums to get up to speed on the issues other developers are facing.

Because of their complexity, don't expect to install these products and be instantly productive. You'll have to spend some time learning to do things the ComponentOne way, but once you do you will also be able to build some amazing applications. The suite of tools remains as good as or better than anything else you can find in the areas it covers.

At A Glance
ComponentOne Studio Enterprise Doc Edition 2007 v2
ComponentOne LLC
Web:
www.componentone.com
Phone: 800-858-2739
Price: $1,399.99
Quick Facts: A comprehensive set of components and tools for building sophisticated, modern applications and flashy documentation to go with them.
Pros: Almost every UI widget you can imagine and support for application infrastructure; support for most documentation formats across platforms; great online HelpCentral.
Cons: Mind boggling scope that will take some time to explore and learn how to use effectively; some rough edges that are constantly being refined and improved.

About the Author

Don Kiely is a senior technology consultant in Fairbanks, Alaska. When he isn't writing software, he's writing about it, speaking about it at conferences, and training developers in it. Reach him at donkiely@computer.org.

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