Infragistics' Windows 8 UI Tools Get a Running Start

NetAdvantage for Windows UI offers XAML and HTML/jQuery controls to Windows 8 developers.

Components vendor Infragistics unveiled its Windows 8 user interface controls for XAML WinRT at Build 2012 in late October, and expects to have the HTML WinJS controls available for preview in the coming weeks.

NetAdvantage for Windows UI, which targets PCs and tablets, features data visualization controls based on the enterprise-level tooling that the company offers for building front-ends on other Microsoft platforms.

"The familiar APIs and coding model will enable developer customers to reuse their knowledge and a lot of their code," says Dean Guida, Infragistics' president and chief executive officer.

The company is porting 80 of its XAML UI controls to Windows 8 (Windows Runtime or WinRT) and doing improvements around touch. The HTML5 controls are being ported to Windows 8 (Windows Library for JavaScript or WinJS) from the Ignite UI toolkit (formerly called NetAdvantage for jQuery). Both platforms (XAML/C# and HTML/JavaScript) will be included in NetAdvantage for Windows UI.

A preview of NetAdvantage for Windows UI was demonstrated at Build using a Windows Store reference app called Running Total, which was created in XAML and C#. The reference app visually shows mileage totals by month, for example, and data on individual runs based on a RunKeeper account (which is not a requirement because the data is locally stored). It demonstrates how to visually display and synchronize data in a Windows 8 dashboard. The reference app was built using editor, grid, map and chart controls. It supports panning and zooming as well as tapping on different runs (or data points) to drill down into more information such as the actual route for a particular run.

The powerful Map control is based on longstanding technology at the company, according to Guida. It allows developers to choose from different data sources such as Bing Maps, Google Maps and OpenStreetMap and then use that data—geography, country, city and street—as background or as a part of the visualization. Similarly, the charting engine, which is also used in the company's XAML/Silverlight and WPF products, is a robust, enterprise-level component. "It can chart millions of data points in a second," says Guida.

The Running Total reference app is available as part of the free NetAdvantage for Windows UI beta subscription. The company expects to have the final version of NetAdvantage for Windows UI ship with its 2013 Volume 1 release next April. In the interim, Infragistics will continue to roll out Windows 8 controls and tools to NetAdvantage for Windows UI beta subscribers.

There's a lot of benefit to the Windows 8 user experience, asserts Guida. "The live tiles are really productive instead of having static icons and a static desktop," he says, pointing to the innovative People hub as a good example of the way that apps can now interact to aggregate information and social media to make users more productive.

The biggest challenge for Windows 8 developers is time to market. "Everyone has to take the time to learn coding on WinRT APIs and to leverage their existing code and experience," says Guida. To that end, Infragistics is continuing roll out information on its Web site that's designed to help developers understand user experience and take advantage of it to build compelling Windows 8 applications.

The company has also broadened its mobile portfolio beyond Microsoft dev tools in acknowledgement of the Bring Your Own Device trend that many organizations now support. In addition to the HTML5 toolkit, Ignite UI, which targets jQuery supported browsers and platforms; Infragistics is introducing native mobile controls for iOS and Android. The NucliOS toolkit for iOS and the free Iguana UItoolset for Android are both available for download. Infragistics also supports Windows Phone development with NetAdvantage for Windows Phone, which supports Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, according to the company. The mobile toolkits are sold separately, or available in Infragistics MobileAdvantage Suite.

About the Author

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

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