Review: DotNetBar Suite

DotNetBar Suite 4.5
Farmington Hills, Michigan
(248) 875-9581

Visual Studio .NET is a great development environment, but some of its controls are a little, well, pedestrian. DotNetBar offers a set of controls in more modern styles, including:

  • Menus and Toolbars
  • Tabbed/Dockable/AutoHide windows
  • Outlook 2003 Navigation bars
  • Balloons/Alerts
  • Explorer Bars
  • Tab Stripes

All of these come with full visual support at both design and runtime, so it's easy to see what you're building. They also support the very latest styles; in this release, you get everything from Office 2000 to Windows XP to OneNote to Visual Studio 2005 styles.

The design experience is well thought-out. Menus and toolbars can get to be a pain to design with some products, but there's a separate DotNetBar Designer that you fire up to take care of that here. A set of menus and windows in the Designer make it easy to see what's contained by what, and to adjust your hierarchy and other properties.

Overall, the feature set here is nice (including some of the latest innovations like indicators to show you when and where a dockable window will dock), and in playing around I didn't trip over any bugs. And the price is reasonable if you're going to build a user interface of substantial spiffiness. You can download a trial copy (full functional, but with nag screens) if you want to check it out for yourself.

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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