Review: XtraBars

XtraBars V2
$299 ($399 with source code)
Developer Express
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 262-0609

Need toolbars for a .NET application? With the Office XP style, perhaps? Or how about a customizable status bar? Docking windows? For a rich set of UI components, take a look at the XtraBars suite, a wide array of native C# controls with a dizzying array of properties that you can tweak to your heart's content.

There are lots of nice little touches here. For example, working with toolbars and menus at design time is just about as easy as runtime customization, using extended versions of the runtime dialog boxes; no need to do everything by writing code or setting properties. And you can host most anything on a toolbar. XtraBars includes a whole suite of editor controls that you can put on toolbars, from simple combo boxes to date pickers and beyond.

There are also other useful bits in the library. These include a popup menu (that's also customizable by the end user), a numbered list (ideal for building MRU lists) and a link container that you can programmatically add links to (think of the IE Favorites menu). A popup container control lets you put any Windows forms control into a popup window.

As always, Developer Express does the work to make it easy for you to get started. There are demos and tutorials in both VB and C#, along with source code to work from. There's also an excellent help file to teach you how to use all the various controls.

I had a few design-time visual anomalies when using the controls, but that may just be because my test system is overdue for a rebuild. At runtime, everything performed flawlessly. There are certainly other UI libraries out there for .NET, but few that pack this many features into a single package.

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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