More Alternatives to WPF User Interfaces
I spoke to Infragistics today about their upcoming release (Monday, but I got approval to blog something ahead of time) on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) controls. Many of you probably know that Infragistics has somehow been able to make a thriving business out of selling controls for Win32, .NET, Java, and Web. What makes their controls so popular is two things. First of all, they provide significantly more functionality than those out of the box in Visual Studio, especially in the areas of data binding and performance. Second, developers pay a per developer license fee, and no runtime fees. It turns out to be a great deal for developers. These new WPF controls are no exception. They provide ways to abstract the control from its implementation, providing developers with ways to customize controls, and insert controls inside one another. For example, you may want to put a push button in a data grid.
Of course, many developers aren't building for WPF, at least not yet. While my Infragistics contact was primarily focused on the WPF controls, he also acknowledged that Infragistics also had a couple of ways for achieving the Vista Aero look and feel on non-WPF applications. One way was through the use of Microsoft's Crossbow technology (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx? FamilyId=2E1E0AFA-9BD7-4BDF-B43B-BD64F6F622A7&displaylang=en). Another was with a straight WinForms implementation. I didn't get a lot of details on these at this time, but I'll let you know when I do. And, while it wasn't a subject of this call, I also hear tell that Infragistics is also planning on offering straight Win32 controls with the Office 2007 look and feel. If Microsoft can do it (Office 2007 is a Win32 application), then there's no reason why Infragistics can't. And Infragistics has a long reputation for giving developers what they need, not what Microsoft wants them to have.
Posted by Peter Varhol on 04/20/2007