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Mehul Harry is the DevExpress Web Program Manager. Follow him on twitter: @Mehulharry

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July 2009 - Posts

  • Join Us On Facebook

    I’m happy to report that we’ve just launched the official DevExpress fan page on Facebook.

    Why Facebook?

    Facebook.com has a strong worldwide community of 250 million users which is still growing. This large community allows you to:

    1. Connect with friends
    2. Learn more about your business associates
    3. Discover, join and discuss with other developers in special interest groups like the ASP.NET MVC group or the DevExpress XAF group
    4. Get updates from the facebook news feed
    5. Aggregate your blog, twitter, other streams and easily share this with your friends

    Ready to connect? Great! So how do you ‘post’ information on facebook?

    The Facebook Wall

    One of the great things about facebook is that any facebook user can post on the DevExpress ‘wall’.

    What is the ‘wall’? It’s simply a space on every user's profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see. For example, below is a screenshot of the DevExpress ‘wall’ on facebook. Kevin just posted one of our customer testimonials and Joe Hendricks replied with a very cool comment:

    Join DevExpress On Facebook

    What Do I Post On The DevExpress Wall?

    Share your thoughts, stories, and work with other software professionals by posting on our facebook wall. How?

    Follow these 2 simple steps:

    1. Click here to go to the DevExpress facebook page.
    2. Click the ‘Become Fan’ button at the top.
      You may need to Sign-in to your facebook account if you’re not logged in.
      If you don’t have a facebook account then I recommend creating one. (Need a facebook friend? Just ping me on facebook).

    Now, post anything that is software-oriented and technically relevant that you feel other DevExpress fans would enjoy. We’d love to hear about your positive experiences, stories, and scenarios that you’ve have with our tools. For example, post about:

    • The DevExpress functionality and features that make you look good with your clients, customers and end-users.
    • Screenshots of your applications, websites, or code that you’re proud of.
    • Screencasts that show off what your applications can do. (In fact, upload videos of your INETA application entries to our facebook page).
    • Links to your websites that shows off how you make use of the DevExpress products.
    • Experiences you’ve had at a user group, conference, or an open space (For example, “Just saw a cool demo of CodeRush at my local user group. Even won a free copy!”)

    It’s Not All Business

    Do you have any DevExpress swag that you’ve won in a contest or picked up at a conference? Show others your cool swag by posting it to the wall. Check out these pictures of Martin Praxmarer sporting his DevExpress ‘Eat..Sleep..Code’ T-shirt:

    Facebook DevExpress TShirt

     

    Not A Support Channel

    One thing you won’t see on the DevExpress facebook page are support issues. Why? Well there is a great support center portal website already. In fact, our support center portal isn’t just a website but a system for you log, track, escalate and resolve issues. Unfortunately, facebook just doesn’t have this level of functionality yet. Smile

    Leave A Comment On Facebook

    Join facebook and follow the DevExpress fan page. Then be sure to leave a comment on the DevExpress facebook wall.

  • Custom ASP.NET Themes And The New ASP.NET Themes DLL

    I’ve mentioned before about how the DXperience 2009 volume 2 release packs all the DevExpress ASP.NET Skins into one DLL. This removes the need to copy ALL of the separate CSS and image files that are associated with a DevExpress skin into your AppThemes folder. In fact, the AppThemes folder is not created when you apply one of our ASP.NET themes as an AutoFormat.

    Dilemma: Where did the theme files go?

    The slick and professional DevExpress ASP.NET themes are packed within each DXperience installation. Best of all, you’re free to use the themes with the default settings or customize it by tweaking the colors, fonts, etc.

    The DevExpress ASP.NET themes used to be stored as files in your AppThemes folder. To make them more convenient to manage the themes are now packed in a DLL installed with DXperience. It's convenient and some settings can be changed but what do you do if you want to make major changes or completely new themes?

    Solution

    Use the free ASPxThemeDeployer tool that’s included within each DXperience installation. You can find the tool in the Start menu under the DevExpress folder and also in the installation directory (usually with Program Files/DevExpress/…).

    Getting the theme files into your project is actually pretty easy. Let’s take a look.

    Free Theme Deployer Tool

    The ASPxThemeDeployer tool takes care of most of the heavy lifting of creating a new theme by:

    1. Creating an AppThemes folder in your Visual Studio project
    2. Then creates subfolders for the different themes you selected to import
    3. Finally, copies the selected themes (including CSS and image files) into your project’s AppThemes folders

    ASP.NET Theme Deployer Tool

    Now you have all the necessary files to customize the theme to your heart’s content. To learn more about ASP.NET theme customization, check out these ASP.NET theme posts and screencasts. I recommend watching all videos and be sure to watch the first one which shows how to use the new theme deployment tool:

    AppThemes vs AutoFormat

    If you use our themes across your entire website as an ASP.NET theme then you’ll need the corresponding theme files in the AppThemes folder. An ASP.NET theme uses the web.config to specify an overall theme for the controls rather specifying an individual control’s AutoFormat.

    This need for the AppThemes folder is true anytime you use the ASP.NET theme approach. However, if you selected an ‘AutoFormat’ for our controls without using the ASP.NET theme, then you won’t see the AppThemes folder.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET Themes In DLL: Easy Theme Deployment

    Check out this great new ASP.NET Theme feature in the DevExpress DXperience 2009 volume 2 release:

    Single DLL For ASP.NET Skins/Themes

    Single DLL For Easier Deployment

    DevExpress ASP.NET Controls now provide a single DLL file that has all the themes packaged within it.

    This makes it much easier to deploy our components with the themes. Instead of having to deal with multiple CSS files and images in a hierarchical folder structure (subfolders), all you need now is to copy the DevExpress.Web.ASPxThemes.v9.2.dll file.

    The DevExpress.Web.ASPxThemes.v9.2.dll file can typically be found in the following folder:

    C:\Program Files\DevExpress 2009.2\Components\Sources\DevExpress.DLL\

    New HTTP Handler Benefit

    The new DevExpress HTTP Handler takes care of obtaining all the required resources for the selected ASP.NET control’s theme. In fact, the theme images and CSS are in a compressed state within the single DLL. And all you need to deploy our controls is to move the themes DLL file - images in sub-folders are not needed anymore.

    Where’s AppThemes?

    Because the theme files are now packed in a single DLL file, the ASP.NET AppThemes folder is no longer required by our ASP.NET controls when you choose one of our default themes. For example, here’s a screenshot of the ASPxGridView with the ‘Red Wine’ theme applied:

    Visual Studio 2008: No AppThemes Folder

    Did you notice how there’s no AppThemes folder in the Visual Studio project? Smile 

    [UPDATE] Yes, if you apply a theme to our controls as an ‘AutoFormat’ then the AppThemes folder isn’t necessary. However, if you use our themes as standard ASP.NET themes then you’ll need the files in your AppThemes folder. To learn how to copy them over, check out the follow-up to this post: Custom ASP.NET Themes And The New ASP.NET Skins DLL [/UPDATE]

     

    The DevExpress DXperience 2009 volume 2 release packs a ton of great new stuff to play with. Check out some of the other features included in this release:

     

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET Performance Improvements in DevExpress 2009 volume 2

    DevExpress ASP.NET Performance: Speed with custom HTTP HandlerI'm thrilled to announce the new performance enhancements of the upcoming DevExpress ASP.NET controls. Our ASP.NET controls just got a major performance boost from a few changes -- in fact, several of these were prompted by your requests.

    Read on for more details…

    New HTTP Handler for Resources

    This is the biggest reason for the performance boost. Instead of the using standard HTTP Resource handler provided by ASP.NET, to get resources from the server, we've implemented our own custom HTTP handler which increases performance.

    Basically, the DevExpress HTTP handler changes how the compressed scripts and CSS files are transmitted from the web server to your browser. This makes round-trips to the server much faster. And it also reduces the HTML code size by providing shorter links for the resource URLs!

    Another performance advantage comes from the result of smarter script transmission to the client-side. Previously, script files were batched together and sent to the client even if all the files weren’t necessary. With the new custom HTTP handler:

    1. Our ASP.NET controls can analyze which scripts are necessary for each request
    2. Join those scripts dynamically into a single batch
    3. And send them to the client-side

    Your websites will get an instant boost by using the DXperience ASP.NET 2009 volume 2 release.

    How fast?

    We ran a performance comparison between the 2009 volume 1 and the upcoming 2009 volume 2 releases. Using a customer reported scenario, we created one ASPX test page and added one ASPxGridView, two ASPxButtons, three ASPxComboBoxes  and three ASPxCheckBoxes.

    Here’s the summary of the test results:

    1. The new resource handler compresses script- and CSS-files. Since these are text files, the compression for them is very good (about 5 times, i.e. the compressed size is 20% of the original size). Check out the Fiddler results below for more information.
    2. Because the new resource/ HTTP handler in the 2009 volume 2 release makes resource URLs shorter - it reduced the overall HTML render size of the test page by about 12-13%. Here’s a sample of the difference:

      - 2009 volume 1 (standard handler - long URLs):
      Code Snippet
      1. <head><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/grid91/WebResource.axd?d=6pSNzQ1UD-xbX4brCyMRS5Aety-hEChDGMAZMfvfsvLyvX8p0-PWSTlzWq8GzSpz4hemwcf0CWYmNvrCkeu_3Q2&amp;t=633784297566166839" />
      2. < link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/grid91/WebResource.axd?d=6pSNzQ1UD-xbX4brCyMRS9SgRpCgVZy9dht7IfwJ8wGam6IzSaAyQWZHZi3WhzChkO6yhP_zVSMDMu0nVhHKcKs7-MXEoaluDT3hQ7Ch9Fo1&amp;t=633784297644423039" />
      3. < link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/grid91/WebResource.axd?d=6pSNzQ1UD-xbX4brCyMRS0bFPfhKDiNLdRIXGSYh0yAICuinqxp3lSp2F8u9TT_vta4GuI5olw_Gsex686sFbRsMqUUqUpyNJqrzG7tTpe41&amp;t=633784297596469639" />


      - 2009 vol 2 (our resource handler - short URLs):
      Code Snippet
      1. <head><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/grid92/DXR.axd?r=2_2,3_22,1_69" />


      This feature is optional so to activate it, add the following key to your web.config’s appSetting section (DXEnableResourceMerging):

      Code Snippet
      1.     <appSettings>
      2.         < add key="DXEnableResourceMerging" value="True" />
      3.     </ appSettings>

    3. Another new performance feature is the ‘combine all scripts in one file (from different assemblies) and merge all CSS-files in one file’. This feature helps reduce the number of requests to the server.

      Script-files (and CSS) are compressed by the server before posting to the client. The reduced size is about 20% of original size (i.e., reducing it by 4-5 times the original size).

      To test, we launched the Fiddler2 tool and got the following impressive results:

      2009 volume 1

       
      Request Count: 31
      Bytes Sent: 14,561
      Bytes Received: 788,598
      Sequence (clock) time: 00:00:00.5935258
      text/ Java Script: 644,219
      application/x- Java Script: 20,794
      US West Coast (DSL - 30KB/sec)  
      Round trip cost: 3,10s
      Elapsed Time: 29,10s

       

      2009 volume 2

       
      Request Count: 16
      Bytes Sent: 5,820
      Bytes Received: 220,217
      Sequence (clock) time: 00:00:00.2967629
      text / Java Script: 130,910
      application / x- Java Script: 20,794
      US West Coast (DSL - 30KB/sec)  
      Round trip cost: 1,60s
      Elapsed Time: 8,60s

      Traffic is reduced by about 3.6 times (220,217 KB for 2009 volume 2 VS 788,598 KB for 2009 volume 1).

      Scripts are reduced by about 5 times their original size (130,910 KB for 2009 volume 2 VS 644,219 KB for 2009 volume 1).

    The reduced amount of traffic means faster page loads for your websites (especially for slow connections). These enhancements are part of our dedication to bring you features, quality and performance in the DXperience Subscription.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET Controls Now Support Internet Explorer 8 Standard Mode

    NeonIELogo
    Neon IE Logo by Chris Wilson (IETeam)

    A lot of us web developers don’t use Internet Explorer as our daily surfing web browser. But the fact that it’s still the most dominant browser means that we’ll be supporting it for quite a while.

    In fact, the lastest version is pretty darn cool. Internet Explorer 8 with its performance improvements, accelerators, smarter address bar, and safety features is impressing a lot folks.

    So, in the next DXperience 2009 volume 2 release, we’ve added:

    Support for IE8 Standard Mode

    All our ASP.NET controls are now correctly rendered for use with Internet Explorer 8 (standard mode).

    Yup, all of them. And a special thanks goes to Microsoft for helping with ongoing issues which many of you have reported.

    Have you and/or your organization upgraded to IE8?

  • ASP.NET Scheduler Features: Performance Improvements, Print, Export, And Share Multiple Resources

    Our ASP.NET scheduler has got some major features and enhancements for the DXperience 2009 volume 2 release. Check out how the new features will improve your websites:

    Print and Export With Reports Integration

    The feature most requested by current ASPxScheduler users is support for printing and exporting. We took this request to the next level by integrating the ASPxScheduler with a full reporting product. For more info, check out the ASP.NET Calendar Scheduling…New DevExpress Reporting Integration post.

    ASP.NET Scheduler And Reporting Integration: Report Templates ASP.NET Scheduler And Reporting Integration: Month View

    Resource Sharing With Built-in UI Support

    The appointment editor form now features a multi-select control so your end-users can specify associated resources. And this slick new UI uses the ASPxListBox control’s new multi-selection feature. Check out the preview screenshot below:

    ASP.NET Scheduler Resource Sharing 

    Performance Improvement of Appointment Form

    The Appointment Editor dialogs of the ASPxScheduler can now be displayed on the client side. This gives your website better performance because the callback is still initiated in the background, but it’s used to fetch or submit only appointment data.

    Therefore, the HTML code required to render the appointment form is already on the client and thus not transmitted, which makes these callbacks much faster. The whole operation now looks as if it was completely done on the client side. And the end-user sees the dialog popup within seconds!

    ASP.NET Scheduler: Client side appointment form

    IE Memory Footprint

    Memory performance with Internet Explorer has been improved. Our ASP.NET team has tweaked how the ASPxScheduler manages client-side JavaScript objects within IE’s DOM and thus reducing the amount of memory consumed by the ASPxScheduler’s client-side operations.

    NeonIELogo
    Neon IE Logo by Chris Wilson (IETeam)

    All of the above features are part of the DXperience 2009 volume 2 release.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASPxperience Features in 2009 volume 2 Release

    Check out the ASPxperience Suite features for the 2009 volume 2 release. [The ASPxperience Suite is a great collection of ASP.NET navigation, data layout management and application flow controls that include items such as a menu, tab, cloud, pager, and many others.]

    SEO-Friendly Mode in ASP.NET Pager Control

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for getting more traffic to your website. And if you’re trying to get your website noticed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc, then you’ll dig this feature. The new SEO feature of the ASPxPager control now gives the option of creating hard links that website crawlers can index. However, the ASPxPager control still support callbacks so you’re end-users have that great Ajax experience.

    ASP.NET Pager Control: ASPxPager

    [And, the ASPxGridView already supports SEO mode, check out this online demo.]

    Dropdown Buttons in ASP.NET Menus

    Menu items can now display dropdown buttons next to them. This item type allows you to emulate ‘New’ menu items in Microsoft Office or Microsoft Visual Studio. End-users can click these buttons separately to invoke a menu, where the first choice is the same as a source item. Then the menu displays additional options.

    asp-net-menu-button

    Easier End-User Filtering in ASP.NET Title Index Control

    The ASPxTitleIndex control now searches for text whether it’s in the middle or at the end of the entries. This feature is very useful when you don’t have the exact search string. You simply type a string portion and the control will display all matching items, regardless of the sub-string position.

    asp-title-index-filtering

    New ASP.NET Rating control!

    A new five-star rating control to allow your end-users to click a star to provide their rating. It’s also a fully customizable control:

    • Change the number of elements (stars) in the control.
    • Specify the appearance of elements by providing custom images for normal, hot-tracked and pressed states.
    • Change textual descriptions assigned to each element ("star").

    asp-rating-control

    Customizable element fill mode is a special feature of the rating control. Since floating values are allowed, you can choose between three fill modes - fill entire stars only, use half-star precision or fill stars exactly as specified by the control's value.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET HTML Editor: New Table Cell Split And Merge Feature

    The ASP.NET team has just finished a very important table feature for an HTML editor: cell split and merge. Using either the right context menu or the toolbar button, the ASPxHtmlEditor now has a complete table support.

    Check out these ASPxHTMLEditor table cell split/merge images from the upcoming DXperience 2009 volume 2 release. This image shows the new table toolbar button:

    ASP.NET HTML Editor Table Support

    The new table properties popup menu allows you to easily configure your HTML tables:

    ASP.NET HTML Editor Table Sytling Dialog

    DXperience 2009 volume 2 from DevExpress will be released within a few weeks after the beta is released. If you’re a DXperience subscriber then you’ll have early access to the beta.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET GridView: New Hot-tracked Style for Data Rows

    Check out this neat new style that’s added to the ASPxGridView: Hot-tracking for data rows:

    image

    Hot-tracking means that a grid row is highlighted when the end-user’s mouse moves over the row. Grid rows are much easier for your users when you enable the hot-tracked style.

    To enable, simply specify the desired style settings via grid’s EnableRowHotTrack property (or CSS). This is particularly useful if you provide context menus for a data row or perform other actions in response to row clicks.

    The new ASPxGridView hot-tracked style is part of the DXperience 2009 volume 2 release.

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

  • ASP.NET Calendar Scheduling…New DevExpress Reporting Integration

    ASP.NET Scheduler - Reporting Toolbox The web scheduling suite, ASPxScheduler, now features integration support with the web reporting suite, XtraReports! In the 2009 volume 2 release of DXperience, the two powerful web tools combine forces. This integration means that you can:

    • Easily print web schedules
    • Create nearly endless array of scheduling reports
    • Bind a report to your scheduler control or storage
    • Drop scheduling controls onto a report
    • Use ASP.NET Report Viewer and Report Toolbar to show a print preview on your web page
    • Share a common reporting engine w/WinForms and ASP.NET

    The biggest benefit of printing web schedules in a report is that you and your end users control the look of the report!

    Check out the preview screenshots below:

    reporting-eud-weekly

    Scheduler Report Preview

    Scheduler Report Print Preview 

    DXperience? What's That?

    DXperience is the .NET developer's secret weapon. Get full access to a complete suite of professional components that let you instantly drop in new features, designer styles and fast performance for your applications. Try a fully-functional version of DXperience for free now: http://www.devexpress.com/Downloads/NET/

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