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Software Review: DXperience, Part II—ASPxperience Suite For ASP.NET From DevExpress

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This is the second of a series of reviews that will cover what is contained in the DevExpress DXperience Universal Edition. This is the most complete of the subscription packages available from DevExpress. The other packages include Enterprise, WinForms, and ASP.NET. For a matrix of what each package contains, check out their edition page. In this review I will examine what is available for working with ASP.NET.

There are two packages that you can get for working with ASP.NET. The first is the ASPxperience Suite which is a collection of Web development tools that are designed to add advanced capabilities to your Web applications. The suite includes lightweight controls that are made to create the least amount of code, to load scripts only when they are needed, to fully optimize style usage, and provide a full client-side API where it is appropriate.

The second is the DXperience ASP.NET subscription. This includes everything in the ASPxperience Suite, plus a number of add-on suites and components that will give you the tools to do just about anything with your Web development.

What are the controls that you get with ASPxperience Suite?

ASPxCallback is a non-visual component that provides for an easy method to implement AJAX callback functionality. It exposes a method that initiates a callback and passes arbitrary data to the server. Once processed, a client-side event is raised so that you can update Web page on the client to finish the cycle. The ASPxCallbackPanel works in the same way as a lightweight replacement for the UpdatePanel from the standard AJAX library.

DXperienceASPxCloudControl will let you organize hyperlinks by automatically arranging them within the specified area, and will highlight their importance by using fonts of different sizes, colors, and weight value display. This will let visitors locate the most important information on your site.

ASPxDataView provides a flexible tool for data presentation. The main purpose of this control is to arrange data record placeholders and provide navigation between them. The control automatically creates a basic template similar to the card format of Outlook, but you can modify it to construct any record layout.

ASPxHeadline gives you the ability to create a flexible representation of a single headline that can consist of image, header text, data, content text, and a tail section which can contain both images and text.

ASPxHiddenField is a component that lets you store and manipulate a set of values which should be available on both the server and client sides. It serves as a dictionary that can maintain an unlimited number of elements represented by key/value pairs. It can also store values of different types.

ASPxLoadingPanel is a control which can be used to display a "Loading…" text and image. It then notifies users that a callback is processing, and is meant to prevent the end user from clicking away before the callback has been completed. It can be displayed in the center of the page or can relate to any container.

DXperienceASPxMenu Suite offers you an elegant way in which to provide Web site navigation options to your end users. This library includes two individual components—ASPxMenu and ASPxPopupMenu—giving you both static navigation capabilities and context-sensitive action lists.

ASPxNavBar gives you the ability to emulate a Windows Style Explorer Bar or an MS Outlook SideBar within your application. In addition to traditional UI presentation elements, this allows you to create customized navigation options with its built-in template support so you can use it anywhere and everywhere you need to display list-oriented information to end users.

ASPxNewsControl will allow you to display news headlines on Web pages. This is actually an ASPxDataView that uses an ASPxHeadling control as a template for items. It supports both data-bound and unbound modes, giving you the ability to supply entries from external sources as well as manually populate the collection.

ASPxObjectContainer gives you the ability to embed flash movies, videos, soundtracks, and image files into your Web pages. In most cases, all you need to do is simply specify the target media file.

ASPxPager is a standalone control that lets you implement custom paging algorithms. This is basically a control that shows the page you are on, the total number of pages, and navigation controls to move through the pages.

ASPxPanel is a container area for other controls. This will let you group a set of controls together and be able to handle them as a group to hide or show them programmatically.

DXperienceASPxTabControl Suite contains two controls. The first, ASPxTabControl which can be used to display tabs. The second is the ASPxPageControl which can be used with the tab control to display a set of tabbed pages and allow their contents to be explicitly specified giving you the functionality of tab-based navigation.

ASPxPopupControl gives you an easy way to display popup windows and hints on your Web pages. All you have to do is drop it on the form, fill it with the content, and choose where to display it.

ASPxRoundPanel provides an easy way to create a panel with rounded corners. It comes with a designer dialog that enables you to specify the corner round radius, panel and border color, header visibility, and color.

ASPxSiteMapControl Suite contains two controls, the ASPxSiteMapControl and ASPxSiteMapDataSource. The first gives you the ability to display information on a Web application's site map within a Web page, and the second is a data source component that extends the standard data source to make it easier to customize the structure of your site map.

ASPxTimer is an easy-to-use server-side or client-side timer component. It exposes complete client-side API so you can stop or start the timer on the client side, change the tick interval, and respond to tick events.

ASPxTitleIndex is a unique Web control that is useful when you need to provide easy access to elements in a lengthy list such as in a catalog. It arranges links into an alphabetically sorted and grouped list by default, but you can group data by any bound field's data.

ASPxUploadControl is a control which can be used in a Web application for saving client files to the server via the browser. It has a number of advanced features like uploading files via AJAX callbacks, built-in validation of the uploaded file against the specified criteria like the file's size, extension, and mime types. It also has an enhanced client-side API.

What are the controls that you get with DXperience ASP.NET Subscription?

ASPxGridView and Editors Suite that will give you a very fast, lightweight, fully optimized grid control. It will give you advanced sorting, grouping, and summary computations whether you have 100 or 1 million records.

DXperienceFilter Control for ASP.NET AJAX will give you the ability to create an easy-to-use filtering UI in situations where you need to retrieve data using complex filtering conditions.

ASPxScheduler Suite gives you all the elements that you need to mimic the calendaring and scheduling that is available in Microsoft Outlook. It ships with a complete set of timeline presentation formats including the horizontal timeline and side-by-side calendar display.

ASPxHtmlEditor Suite will allow you to deliver Web applications with rich text editing capabilities. If you need to build a blog editor, e-mail client, or just need editing for formatting documents to be exchanged. All you do is drop a control on the page and you now have a text editor.

ASPxGauges Suite ships with over 150 built-in presets and is made to be easy to use. If you need to create a dashboard with multiple gauges, this package will let you place multiple gauges into one container very easily. There is the ability for auto-arrangement where the container will determine the best possible arrangement.

ASPxTreeList Suite is a fully featured treeview-grid control that is built from the ground up in C# and optimized for ASP.NET. It is a multi-purpose data visualization system that can display information as a tree, a grid, or a combination of both.

ASPxPivotGrid Suite will give you all the tools you need for data mining and multi-dimensional analysis. Now you can have the full feature pivot table capabilities of a Microsoft Excel product without having to go out of process to get your results. This means that Microsoft Analysis Services (OLAP) data sources are fully supported right within your application.

DXperienceASPxSpellChecker provides to you a straightforward way to add Microsoft Office spell checking capabilities into your ASP.NET applications. It also offers you suggestion forms that replicate the ones found in Outlook integrating easily into your application.

Along with all of this, you can also get XPO, the Reporting/Printing Suites, and Charting Suite, as well giving you all of the tools that you need to create highly dynamic Web-based applications.

All of the controls support style properties so that you can customize the appearance, they are easily populated with data via binding, they expose a set of client-side events and have been developed in such a way to have a small footprint and maximize performance. If you want to try out the controls, there is an online demo that will give you a better feel for how they work.

The bottom line is that ASPxperence Suite is a very rich set of tools for creating Web applications. The controls are very easy to use and have many more features than the ones you get with Visual Studio.

The ASPxperience Suite is available for $249.99 with source code, as part of the DXperience ASP.NET Subscription with reporting, printing, charting, and XPO for $799.99, or as part of Enterprise Subscription with source for $1299.99, or Universal Subscription with source for $1999.99. If you want, you can also download a demo and try it for yourself.

If you are tired of trying to get the standard Web controls to do things that they weren't meant to do, if you want to spend less time doing the mundane tasks and more time focusing in on the parts of your applications that really matter—your business logic—then you need to check out either ASPxperience Suite For ASP.NET, DXperience ASP.NET Subscription, or the whole enchilada, the   DevExpress DXperience Universal Edition. I highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.