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Review: XtraGrid Suite

XtraGrid Suite 2.0
$399.99
Developer Express
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 262-0609
www.devexpress.com

This is one of those products that is both simple and overwhelming. Simple: it's a grid control for .NET projects. Overwhelming: it's got hundreds of features and properties, as well as an entire suite of specialized editor controls that can be hosted in the grid or used standalone.

What will you find here? Well, here are a few of the capabilities of the core XtraGrid control:

  • Alpha blending
  • ADO.NET data loading, as well as the ability to display unbound data
  • Flexible banding and grouping
  • Data sorting and filtering
  • Custom draw support
  • The ability to share editors among multiple grids (for example, define an editor that displays a combo box with images of credit cards, and use it everywhere)
  • Column dragging
  • Data entry directly through the grid
XtraGrid can be configured in a variety of attractive and powerful ways. (Click on image for larger view)

And on and on it goes. In the editor department, there are over 20 editors that you can use in the active grid cell (and a few other assorted controls besides). For example:

  • CalcEdit shows a calculator
  • ColorEdit calls up the same color dialog you'll find in the VS .NET properties window
  • DateEdit and TimeEdit ensure no bad data goes into date or time fields
  • MemoEdit displays and edits multi-line text
  • MRUEdit implements most-recently used editing

There are also a variety of combo boxes, lists, radio buttons, spin controls, and other familiar user interface widgets here.

Developer Express has worked hard to make all of these features accessible. Certainly there's a learning curve -- the design editor for the grid is almost overwhelmingly complex in its own right with the number of properties that you can adjust. To help you up this learning curve, there are a bunch of small tutorial samples that demonstrate specific features, as well as larger demos that pull together multiple aspects of the grid for some pretty spiffy interfaces. All of the samples are available in both C# and VB .NET, and there's an extensive (and well-written) help file as well. In an unusual move, Developer Express also ships full C# source code for both the controls and their designers. Most users will probably never touch this, but it's a sign of how much the company believes in the quality of their own work. If you don't want the source, you can knock $100 off the price.

Choosing a product like this isn't something to do lightly; if you need such advanced grid capabilities, you're probably going to be dependent on them working right. You can download a trial version to see how this one works for you -- and if the built-in .NET grid won't do it for your application, you definitely should.


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For more reviews and opinions from Mike Gunderloy, click here.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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