Tag Archives: asp.net

Tech News Summary for May 3rd, 2013.

ASP.NET Components List

I was recently looking for ASP.NET components and figured I’d share some of the resources I came across. I’ve attempted to only include some of the big name / best out there. Hope these are helpful!

  • Obout – Offers a large variety of controls, several for free. They also offer free licenses to students. A few of their controls are: Grid, TreeView, HTML Editor, Spell Checker, Calendar, Easy Menu, AJAX Page, and Splitter.
  • ComponentArt – Offers a large variety of controls for ASP.NET AJAX, MVC, Silverlight, WPF, etc. A few of their controls are: Calendar, Chart, Editor, DataGrid, Snap, and Splitter.
  • Karamasoft – Offers a large variety of controls for ASP.NET including UltimateAJAX, UltimateCalendar, UltimateEditor, UltimateEmail, and UltimateTabstrip.
  • Telerik – A huge variety of controls for ASP.NET AJAX, MVC, Silverlight, WinForms, and WPF. Also have a number of other productivity tools for development. Some of their controls include Calendar, Captcha, Compression, Editor, FileExplorer, Grid, SkinManager, and StyleSheetManager.
  • DevExpress – Offers a set of sixty controls for free. Has a large variety of premium controls available for ASP.NET, WinForms, WPF, and Silverlight. Some of their controls include Charting, Grid, Data Editors, Calendar / Scheduler, Gauges / Dashboards, and Utility Components.
  • ComponentOne – Large variety of controls and tools. Includes calendar, expander, formdecorator, gridview, headercontent, splitter, superpanel, and tooltip amongst others.
  • (Added: 5/21/10) Infragistics – Large variety of controls.
  • (Added: 5/21/10) GrapeCity.

Microsoft’s Free Development Tools.

Image representing Microsoft
Image via CrunchBase

I remember as a teenager programming for years in QBASIC – a free, lite version of QuickBasic Microsoftbundled with DOS and early versions of Windows. It was great fun – but I yearned to get my hands on the full QuickBasic so I could compile my applications and give them to others without giving away all my source code (okay, OSS was barely known back then).

Later I would save for months to purchase Visual Basic 5. $100+ is a lot of money for a teenager – but I wanted to program so bad that I scraped and saved.

After that there was the ASP.NET Web Matrix – a predecessor to the great tools Microsoft now offers for free. Unfortunately, its development was abandoned and for a long period of time I was left in a painful lurch….but then Microsoft started the trend that has made me extremely happy – free lite development tools.

These development tools include Visual Basic 2008 (for desktop applications), Visual C# 2008 (also for desktop applications, but in C#), Visual C++ (just like the last two), and Visual Web Developer (for web applications) – all in the Express line. Additionally they’ve thrown out there SQL Server Express (database back-end) and SQL Server Studio Management Studio Express (for writing SQL and managing databases).

While these applications are noted as “express” that doesn’t suggest that they are majorly crippled – rather they are extremely full functioning applications which can be used to create many impressive applications. For the new, hobbyist, or small business developer many times the Express Editions will be all that you ever need.

This was a smart move on Microsoft’s part – it gets people hooked on Microsoft development young – and it works great for us as well – because we get free development tools. By the time Microsoft expects us to shell out cash – well, we are probably making some from our now decent development skills. Go grab yourself some free development applications: http://www.microsoft.com/express/.

Leaving DotNetNuke (DNN)…

DotNetNuke (DNN) is a popular open source content management system written in ASP.NET with Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end. I’ve been using it for a number of years on sites of mine like davemackey.net. I’ve been a fan of DNN for a number of years for a few reasons.:

  • Open Source – I’m always a fan of open source projects, not just b/c I like a free lunch as much as the next guy but also because it allows for the project to continue on beyond the lifespan of a given individual or company.
  • ASP.NET – Its only been within the last several years I’ve really begun messing around with LAMP, and for the longest time I loved ASP and then ASP.NET. Now I’ve been swung to the dark side recently, though I still find Microsoft‘s development tools to be leagues beyond the open source competition (for speed of development) and still prefer developing in a VB.NET-like syntax to C#, PHP, etc. But, this habit must die…b/c everyone else is going LAMP.
  • Simplicity – Compared to Joomla or Drupal, DNN is a breeze. Within minutes of installing the application you can have a full featured site up and running.

That said, I’m now leaving the DNN community (I’ll get to what I’m moving to in a few moments). Here are the simple reasons why:

  • Cost – While DNN itself is open source, the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole is much more oriented around cost-based. This especially holds true for the DNN third-party ecosystem of modules and skins. Both of these would have some commercial items in a similar LAMP based project, but there would be loads of free modules/skins. Not so of the DNN ecosystem.
  • Development – Feature development in DNN seems to go at a much slower pace than equivalent open source projects (though this may change with the venture capital infusion DNN recently received). One significant example is the forums module which has been without an update for well over a year and has several show-stopping bugs in the current production version.
  • Openness – While DNN is an OSS project, the sharing of news about what is happening internally as far as development as well as the ability to get the latest snapshot download to run on the bleeding edge is extremely limited.

So what am I moving to? Good question. Its not Drupal or Joomla. I find both of these overly convoluted (here come the haters). Instead I’m moving to WordPress. WordPress while initially designed as a blogging platform has extended itself significantly to include most functionality that a user could want from a CMS in the core install. Thousands of free extensions make up for whatever WordPress lacks at its core. The development pace is rapid and even minor versions include massive updates (e.g. 2.7 is awesome!). The skins/modules are free, free, free and if one module isn’t receiving development there are dozens others that are.

That said, I’m not abandoning DNN completely just yet. It works well enough for davemackey.net, ocddave.com, and a few other sites. At this juncture the cost to move them over to WordPress (in time and energy) is greater than the lost features (since these are essentially static content sites, they aren’t missing out on much). I plan to in the future – as the need arises.