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What’s In Your Toolbox? Deliver Great User Experiences with the Right Tools

, 1 Apr 2010
Your boss says he wants your next app to look like Windows 7, have the work scheduling features of Microsoft Project and display crisp conditionally-formatted, filtered data like Microsoft Excel. You look in your toolbox, and hope it contains Infragistics’ latest NetAdvantage® for .NET 2010 Volume 1

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Your boss says he wants your next app to look like Windows 7, have the work scheduling features of Microsoft Project and display crisp conditionally-formatted, filtered data like Microsoft Excel. You look in your toolbox, and hope it contains Infragistics’ latest NetAdvantage® for .NET 2010 Volume 1.

It was 10 past two o’clock, and your boss was late for your meeting. You know that this can only mean that he has been tied up in the meeting before yours, a meeting with the CEO on your company’s next killer app—the one that decides whether you’re still in business next quarter. You pass the time thinking about this summer’s vacation you plan on taking: someplace sunny, with a beach. After an agonizing wait, your boss comes in to speak with you, wiping the perspiration of his last meeting from a troubled brow.

“Dude,” your boss says to you, as in the casual culture of a laid-back, successful tech start-up in sunny California that your company aspires to be everyone can be called a dude—though this isn’t California, and it’s not sunny outside. “Our competitors are really handing it to us,” he tells you, “I need your team to write us this Killer App, one that looks just like Windows 7 even on older OSes, schedules a bunch of event planning tasks just like Microsoft Project, and shows reams of figures with every whiz-bang feature I can find in Microsoft Excel.”

A mere two hours (and ten minutes) later you leave the meeting with your boss, carrying a boatload of functional requirements back to your team’s workspace, wondering how you will ever pull off this implementation by summer-time. One of your colleagues walks by, and sees you looking glum, so he says, “Dude, what’s wrong?”

After hearing everything that you’re up against: the tight timetable, your bosses’ high expectations, how to make the Windows XP laptops of the luddite event planners of the world look and feel like the latest Windows 7, he clues you in to Infragistics NetAdvantage® for .NET 2010 Vol. 1. “Try this,” he says, explaining how it had saved his team a lot of work writing their last Killer App.

Download your own 30-day free trial of NetAdvantage® for .NET 2010 Vol. 1 from Infragistics now.

Make It Look Like Windows 7

Scenic ribbon user interfaces took the world by storm when Windows 7 came out, and now any app with designs on becoming an industry best-seller simply has to have a scenic ribbon to compete. You’re relieved to see that Infragistics hasn’t provided just an Office 2007 (Fluent) ribbon, but they also give you the Windows 7 (Aero) scenic ribbon as well. Now your users don’t have to upgrade themselves to Windows 7 to see the sights of a scenic ribbon decorating your Killer App.

Figure 1 – With a complete Windows Forms Paint program for a sample using the scenic ribbon, it was easy to add a Windows 7 scenic ribbon into your own app, even if it must run on Windows XP.

Making your app for event planners look and feel like a Windows 7 user experience requires more than just a scenic ribbon, though. That’s where you need full support for Multi Touch default gestures, including innovative features in controls like the combo editor that allows you to multi-select items using checkboxes (a necessity when it comes to building Touch-enabled applications that will last for years to come).

Watch this video showcasing Multi-Touch default gesture support available across different .NET platforms using Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1.

Next comes Application Styling, it’s Infragistics’ answer to achieving a global look and feel that gets applied consistently across your application. With the supplied Windows 7 style library (.ISL) file that’s included (in addition to many professionally-designed style sets), you can instantly apply a Windows 7 style across all Infragistics Windows Forms controls with one line of code.

Figure 2 – Infragistics’ own drop-in successor to MessageBox sports full Application Styling support, plus luxurious amenities such as rich formatted text and hyperlinks.

Learn more about how NetAdvantage Windows Forms controls add extreme functionality, complete stylability and the WOW!-factor to your next application.

Schedule Tasks Like Microsoft Project

One of the most fearsome expectations of your boss was that this application, for use by event planners the world over, needs to have a user interface like Microsoft’s very popular Project software for project planning and administration. Events are one kind of project, and a market your company is moving into, and your boss made it clear that your CEO wants nothing but the best in user experience.

That means a lot of the little things, bazillions of fine functional details that you jotted down on paper until your hand grew sore from writer’s cramp. These included:

  • Synchronized, resizable task grid and Gantt chart views of an event schedule.
  • Tasks nested within other tasks, to no end.
  • Sorting tasks by any field within the task grid.
  • Setting deadlines, and marking overdue tasks in red.
  • Continual dependency-checking to ensure all tasks in the UI meet their constraints.
  • Progress indicators shown within tasks, showing their percentage complete.
  • Pulling any kind of information into the tooltips shown above UIElements™.
  • Automatically adjusting start and end dates as your user drags a task from either end.
  • and much, much, more.

Figure 3 – WinGanttView™ is just one of many scheduling UI controls Infragistics enriched with functionality, in this case delivering a Microsoft Project-like user experience for your app with little to no effort.

You were worried about how you were going to implement all of this until that tip from your colleague tipped you off that Infragistics had already written a fully-featured, Microsoft Project-like Gantt chart for use in Windows Forms (or in WPF, through a WindowsFormsHost).

Learn more about WinGanttView and other WinSchedule™ controls that let you add impressive Microsoft Outlook-style scheduling into your apps in no time at all.

Crystalize Meaningful Data Like Microsoft Excel

You were feeling undaunted because equipped with Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1 your team was able to breeze through requirements for a Windows 7 UI and Microsoft Project-like Gantt chart with little difficulty. You didn’t know anybody at Infragistics, but you had to imagine they were cutting-edge developers like yourself who were uncompromising in putting the greatest user experiences into their controls. As such, you felt completely at ease knowing that their data grid had to be “Excel-lent!”

But before you could kick-off that next sprint, your boss called you into his office again. “Dude,” he said, “we just found out a competitor will debut their own desktop, event planner scheduling killer app at the big trade show keynote in May.” That was only next month, you thought, not liking the direction this conversation was going. “Our CEO was telling me about this hot new technology, Silverlight. Why, with it you can take everything you do on the desktop and move it over on the Web!”

Before you can explain why it isn’t quite that simple (it never is), you’re told to add a Silverlight front-end onto your application that lets event planners manage all kinds of catering functions over their Silverlight-enabled mobile devices. “This will steal their thunder and knock customers dead on the exhibit floor,” your boss blusters with all the zeal of a rampaging General Patton motivating his troops.

Shaken but not stirred by this, you return to your team’s workspace to break the news to them of these new, last-minute requirements.

Penny, one of your best and brightest Web developers from Milwaukee, chipped in with her two cents and immediately elevated everyone’s spirits. “NetAdvantage for .NET includes plenty of Silverlight controls including the scenic ribbon and a data grid that’s every bit as fast and feature-rich as on Win client,” she said with her always-characteristic good cheer, “I’ve been playing with these Silverlight controls in hopes we’d have a chance to use them on a Rich Internet Application, they’re just perfect!”

Figure 4 – Using the Silverlight xamWebGrid™ in NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1 you can offer users high performance data grids with grouping, sorting, column moving, row filtering, conditional formatting (data bars shown here) and much, much more.

She had soon crafted a prototype that amazed the team, showing off the Silverlight data grid’s pervasive conditional formatting engine support of 2- and 3-color scales, data bars, icon sets, and more (in fact, they are extensible). As Penny’s prototype handled the rigors of your team’s test data with ease, all you could think to say was, “I think our event planner will need to order more Gorgonzola.” Everybody laughs.

Learn more about how NetAdvantage Silverlight controls can create scalable, high-performance Line of Business applications with the rich features and functionality your users demand.

Reap the Rewards of Having the Right Tools

Those were 3 sprints to remember, and looking back now, you’re not sure you could have done it without Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Volume 1. They had the right tools for creating a modern, consistent Windows 7-style user interface from the appearance of buttons, editors and dialogs right on through to the Aero scenic ribbon. Then WinGanttView turned out to be the right tool for the user interface showing all of the work scheduling your users had to manage with your app, with data binding and interactive manipulation features you never could have hoped to have time for implementing on your own. Finally, when the chips were stacked against you and your team, xamWebGrid was every bit as Excel-lent as you expected from the folks at Infragistics.

It’s quarter til 5 on a pleasant summer day, and your bags are packed for that vacation flight to someplace sunny, with a beach. Your boss strolls over to your team workspace, but it’s not to give you your team’s next software project (there will be time enough for that later.) “Dude,” and by now you understand that your boss is just terrible with names, “enjoy the vacation, you really earned it for the way you came through for us!”

Be the hero of your own development team by downloading a 30-day free trial of NetAdvantage for .NET 2010 Vol. 1 just released by Infragistics. You will get to try fully-functional versions of the ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight Line of Business, Windows Forms and WPF controls you need to deliver great User Experiences and create your own Killer Apps!

Copyright © 1996-2010 Infragistics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Infragistics, the Infragistics logo and NetAdvantage are registered trademarks of Infragistics, Inc. WinGanttView, WinSchedule and xamWebGrid are trademarks of Infragistics, Inc. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s).

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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J. Ambrose Little
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United States United States
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