NetAdvantage for .NET Supports Windows 7 UI Styles and Visual Studio 2010

Windows Forms development is still strong, according to Infragistics, Inc., as developers wait for the tooling to catch up with modern user-interface (UI) frameworks. With Visual Studio 2010 expected later this month, Infragistics is releasing the 2010 version of its development tools, which take advantage of functionality in the new IDE.

Infragistics is shipping the latest releases of its flagship NetAdvantage for .NET UI controls for Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, ASP.NET and Silverlight. The combined toolset, NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1, adds Windows 7 style UI controls and support for new Visual Studio tooling such as the Silverlight designer and the .NET 4 Client Profile build target.

NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1 supports Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1. Infragistics also offers "committed support" for the later builds, VS2010 Beta 2 and the VS2010 Release Candidate. The company plans to ship NetAdvantage Volume 2 in May, and Volume 3 later this year. It is not clear, which version will include full support for the Visual Studio 2010 RTM, which is expected on April 12.

In Volume 1, Infragistics has updated NetAdvantage for Windows Forms to give developers the tools to update their apps with a modern UI look and feel. This release adds support for the Windows 7 scenic ribbon style toolbar, which is the follow on to the Office 7 fluent ribbon. A rich text framework called WinMessageBoxManager supports customization of dialog boxes. A WinActivityIndicator control gives feedback to end users about long running processes. WinSplitter is designed as a step beyond Microsoft's System.Windows.Forms.Splitter, giving developers a tool to split up a screen into different segments. WinGanttView is a task-based scheduling control that enables Gantt charts that are similar to the bar charts found in Microsoft Project.

"A lot of the messaging or just general feeling from the developer space is that Microsoft isn't investing in [Windows Forms] anymore," said Jason Beres, director of product management at Infragistics. "Yet, a very, very large percentage --not 100 percent but close -- of applications written today are based on Windows Forms and those applications have to be maintained and improved."

In addition to new controls for WinForms, Infragistics, one of the early supporters of Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation, has added two new WPF-based container layout controls. A xamTilesControl supports interactive, collapsible content tiles in a layout panel of rows and columns. The xamDataCards control enables developers to work with data records in a card layout similar to Microsoft Outlook's contacts feature. UI automation hooks are also available for WPF and Silverlight.

NetAdvantage for Net 2010 Volume 1 for WPF is built on the .NET CLR 3.0, according to Beres. "With the May 10 release, which is really slated for .NET 4, we will be adding features for CLR 4. A lot of that has to do with making sure that we work at design time with data window capabilities. There are some improvements in LINQ that we might take advantage of," he said.

Two years ago, Infragistics introduced the Aikido Framework, which is a set of tools based on ASP.NET AJAX extensions. All of Infragistics' ASP.NET controls are now based on Aikido. NetAdvantage for ASP.NET 2010 Volume 1 adds an AJAX-enabled WebTab control that supports multiple styles, including animation and multi-row tabs. A new WebExplorerBar control allows developers to create Windows Vista-like toolbar functionality, which supports navigation that is similar to a treeview. Infragistics has also enhanced its WebHierarchicalDataGrid with support for an Outlook-like Group By feature for hierarchical or flat data. New AJAX compression is designed to improve performance, by compressing resource files on the server, and decompressing the files on the client to update the UI. NetAdvantage for ASP.NET supports .NET CLR 3.5 and 2.0.

NetAdvantage for Silverlight Line of Business Controls, which supports Silverlight 3, enhances the data grid and adds new controls. The xamWebRibbon control enables a Windows 7 Scenic Ribbon in Silverlight. A Silverlight Web Context Menu control, xamWebContext supports lists of items and commands to form context-sensitive menus. A new Control Persistence Framework works with any control or dependency object—even elements not from Infragistics—to save and reload elements or layouts. A new Zip Compression Library works within Silverlight apps, and is setting the stage for future support of Office 2007 documents in the Zip format.

"With Visual Studio 2010, we'll see people start to use Silverlight or start experimenting with Silverlight as prototypes because the tooling is now catching up to the frameworks," said Beres. "But most people that we are seeing today if they are building brand new applications--unless they have gone through some type of training--once they dig into Visual Studio 2008, they have to know XAML really well and there is no WYSIWYG experience.

"Everyone is in a tough situation because they know they should be using modern platforms, and the tooling isn't quite there yet and they are wondering if their investment in something like Windows Forms is still solid," he said, "So we are seeing across the board that Windows Forms development is still taking place and, at the same time, there is an uptick in demand for WPF and Silverlight."

NetAdvantage for .NET, which includes all four platforms, is $1,195 (U.S.) per developer seat. Licensing information for NetAdvantage and pricing for individual platforms, subscription renewals or group licensing is available on the company's Web site.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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