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Tab Happy: DevExpress DXperience ASP.NET Controls

I'm of two minds about how much an installation should do. Obviously, the installer should put all the software on my hard disk. But, after that, how much should be done?

For instance, when I install a new set of controls for Visual Studio, I expect those tools to turn up in a tab on my Toolbox the next time that I open the appropriate kind of file in Design view. In fact, if there's more than a few controls, I expect the controls to appear in several different tabs, organized in some useful way. (I recently complained about Infragistics' WinClient bundle for dumping -- a harsh term, I know -- all of their multitudinous controls into a single tab.)

What got me thinking about this was my recent installation of DevExpress' DXperience bundle for ASP.NET. This time none of the controls turned up in the Toolbox. I recognize that this may not be your experience. I've installed/uninstalled/reinstalled so many toolsets on this particular Virtual Machine that the DXPerience installer may just have thrown up its metaphorical hands and given up in disgust. In my case, I had to add a tab and use the Choose Items dialog to add the controls.

I'm not sure that this is a good or bad thing. Like many developers, I'm very protective of my Visual Studio configuration. I move around enough to various client sites that I stick to a pretty vanilla configuration so that I don't look like a complete dork by not being able to find something while a client is looking on.

Is letting me install the controls where and how I want a better strategy than inflicting the vendor's preferences on me? This may be especially true of a bundle as large as the DevExpress collection, because I probably don't want to use all of the controls, at least not right away. Not installing the controls in the Toolbox may indicate a level of respect for the developer on the part of the vendor: We won't impose our will on you.

In the end, though, I think that I'd prefer that the installer create a set of tabs and install the controls (let's recognize that I have no idea how easy/hard it is for an installer to do that). The reason is that the way that the controls appear in the Toolbox helps me understand what the controls do.

For instance, installing all the controls that make up the DXperience scheduling solution into a separate tab would make understanding and using them (or not) a little bit easier. The other benefit of organizing the controls into tabs is that it's so much easier to get rid of the ones you don't think you'll be using: right-mouse click on a tab, pick "Delete Tab", and it's gone.

Yep, I've thought about it and I like it.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 01/19/2011 at 1:16 PM


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