WebUI Studio.NET 2008 R2
Only Your Creativity Will Limit You
By Anand Narayanaswamy
First published by Visual Studio Magazine in 06/2009 issue - Link to the original article
Intersoft Solutions began by releasing two components for .NET programming way back
in 2003. Today, their range of products includes more than a dozen components that
can be used to develop cutting-edge Windows, web, and Silverlight applications.
I happily found there has been tremendous improvement to WebUI Studio.NET compared
to the previous version (WebUI Studio.NET 2007 R1 review), which
I reviewed for aspnetPRO. In addition to offering upgrades, Intersoft has introduced
in the current build several additional components, both for ASP.NET and Silverlight
The installation package for WebUI Studio.NET 2008 R2 is available for download
from the Intersoft website, but you must complete a simple registration process.
At around 270MB, the file was bigger than the 85MB of the 2007 build.
WebUI Studio.NET 2008 R2 not only ships with the same five products found
in the previous version (WebGrid.NET Enterprise 6.0, WebCombo.NET 4.0, WebInput.NET
3.0, WebDesktop.NET 2.5, and ISDataSource.NET 1.0), but also includes three new
products (WebTreeView.NET 1.0, WebAqua.NET 2.0, and WebScheduler.NET 2.0). An interesting
feature of WebAqua.NET 2.0 is that it ships with two unique products, WebCoverFlow.NET
2.0 and WebFishEye.NET 2.0, which can be used to develop cutting-edge image and
The vendor also has added several new features to the components included with the
previous version of the studio bundle (visit www.intersoftpt.com/2009 for details
on upgrades). This review will focus on the new components and some of the significant
upgrades; refer to my previous review for more in-depth
coverage of WebUI Studio.NET.
Decorate Items in Tree Format
If you’ve installed Visual Studio, you likely are familiar with the Tristate checkboxes,
which allow you to select two or more items from the TreeView list. If you’d like
to include such a feature in your next application, test drive WebTreeView.NET
1.0, which includes such features as load on demand, sophisticated drag
and drop ability, standard keyboard navigation, built-in animation during expanding,
and collapsing the node.
Immerse Your Applications with WebAqua.NET 2.0
With the help of WebAqua.NET 2.0 it is now possible to develop applications
with visually appealing user interfaces. It ships with two unique products, namely
WebCoverFlow.NET 2.0 and WebFishEye.NET 2.0. If you’ve used music players you will
be familiar with the concept of cover flow (see Figure 1). WebCoverFlow.NET 2.0
enables users to scan through the various images and videos in a unique fashion.
has built-in support for Silverlight and ships with
tons of new features, like multiple-focus mode for producing a better web experience.
Moreover, you also can set the border style for the selected item with the help
of the ActiveItemBorder property. WebCoverFlow.NET 2.0 ships with a powerful component
designer that can be activated from the Visual Studio environment.
On the other hand, WebFishEye.NET 2.0
is a powerful docking control that allows
a developer to arrange icons in several ways (see Figures 2 and 3). With the help
of WebFishEye.NET, it is possible to build applications where end users click on
an icon and it automatically enlarges based on several preset modes. For instance,
icons will be rendered in Grid format when a user hovers over them. I think this
control will help developers create user-friendly and clutter-free Web 2.0 .NET
Plan Effectively with WebScheduler.NET 2.0
A key feature of the product is the addition of WebScheduler.NET 2.0, which targets
enterprise-level web applications with features such as timeline view. As the name
suggests, this control mainly is used to record daily activities. It includes highly
extensible editing capabilities not found in other competing products, such as binding
many custom fields on to the editing form with the help of OnTheFlyPostBack architecture.
WebScheduler.NET 2.0 also enables end users to view scheduled events grouped by
resources, thanks to the TrueSplitView mode powered by the TripleLoad mechanism
engine, and enables you to easily export the data either in PDF or iCal format.
All these features will not only help a developer build powerful and rich web applications,
but also will enable end users to use them with minimal effort.
Populate Data Quickly with WebGrid.NET Enterprise 6.0
In addition to the previously mentioned components, the studio bundle ships with
WebGrid.NET, offering more features than in the previous version I reviewed.
A notable feature of the product is that the total value of each group will be updated
automatically, as and when a value is edited, thus reducing the valuable round trip
between client and server. It also supports certain provisions under section 508,
which will be useful for end users with visual disabilities.
An interesting feature of this latest version of WebGrid.NET is the introduction
of keyboard shortcuts. For instance, you can make use of Control or Shift key combinations
to select items from within the Grid. Intersoft has nicely inherited the feature
from the Windows Operating System. WebGrid.NET also supports Buttons with Images
and developers need simply to set the column type to ButtonImage to implement this
functionality. Moreover, all the components included with the suite support the
flagship control, ISDataSource.NET, which likely will help developers build applications
without depending on the standard data binding control included with the .NET Framework.
Build Real Desktop-based Applications
WebDesktop.NET introduces the Shadow mode feature, which allows end users
to easily move and resize the window in a smooth manner. The WebDialogBox control
has been updated to access ContentTemplate from code-behind, which enables developers
to keep the dialog box visible in a scrollable page and customize the background
color of the shadow. With the help of the updated WebMenu control, developers now
can incorporate in to their applications Vista Explorer or Office 2007-style pixel-identical
context menus. Also, Intersoft has added new features, such as better mouse state
interaction, complex images, and dropdown menu support in the WebButton control.
Even though WebDesktop.NET is optimized for better performance on the client side,
I found that it loads slowly and consumes a lot of system resources in Internet
Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1. Intersoft is working with the ASP.NET team at Microsoft
to resolve this problem. That being said, the product works absolutely fine with
Internet Explorer 7, FireFox, Opera, and Safari. It was a smooth experience when
I viewed the output of the product using FireFox. From my point of view, it would
be better if the server is equipped with 64-bit Windows with large memory so developers
can take full advantage of the product.
By the time I finished writing this review, Intersoft had released a preview edition
of their upcoming controls for Silverlight. These new controls ship with an updated
presenter control with advanced data grouping and caching capabilities,
client- and server-side paging, integrated and hybrid data drilling, and an exclusive Silverlight-based data binding
Samples and Documentation
Intersoft has provided live samples for all the components included with the suite;
these can be viewed either from the individual product pages or from the Start menu
under the corresponding product folder. However, the Visual Studio solution included
with the installation package targets .NET Framework 2.0, so I had to convert each
project to run it under .NET Framework 3.5 using Visual Studio 2008. I also found
that the integrated reference documentation (included with each component inside
the product installation folder) doesn’t open, and instead displayed an error dialog
box. I hope Intersoft will investigate these issues and resolve them in the next
release of the product.
Intersoft has provided complete documentation on the web under the developer library
channel in Office 2007 format. I hope this will help them update the material easily,
as and when required. Intersoft also has integrated the help files in Visual Studio,
but when I tried that I was prompted to connect to the web to access the help files.
I would prefer to see an offline version of the documentation for the benefit of
those users who don’t have Internet access all the time. Intersoft provides excellent
support; all my queries were answered within a single working day.
I have examined only a snapshot of the various features included with the product;
there are many more interesting features that are not covered in this review. I
suggest you test drive WebUI Studio.NET 2008 R2 to get a good feel for what it provides.
You now should be in a position to cogently analyze and judge the feasibility of
this product for your upcoming application. As you can see, the possibilities are
immense, and are limited only by the creativity of the developer and user interface
designer. I have no doubt that developers will be able to build applications for
producing a pleasant viewing experience for end users with the help of the product,
as it contains nearly all the components oriented for the development of .NET applications.
Your project will soar to new heights if the components included with WebUI Studio.NET
2008 R2 are employed properly.
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as
an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (http://www.netans.com), which provides Web hosting services
based in Trivandrum, India. Anand also works as a technical editor lead for http://ASPAlliance.com. He runs http://www.Learnxpress.com, http://Dotnetalbum.com, and http://Csharpfaq.com. Anand is the author
of Community Server Quickly (Packt Publishing). You can explore more information
about the book at http://www.communityserverbook.com.
Find out more about him at
http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:email@example.com.