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  • DevExpress Roadmap for 2018

    Back at the end of 2017, we held a series of four webinars over four days to describe the features and enhancements we were considering for our products in 2018. As a part of that, we sent out a survey to selected users so that they could review those plans and vote on them. This way, we can ascertain what aspects of our roadmap for 2018 our customers are most interested in and thereby direct and focus our development efforts to fulfill those needs.

    RateItOur official 2018 roadmap is now live on DevExpress.com for all active customers. You will need to login to our site, and then you can use the links below to review our plans for this year's two major release cycles and tell us what you think of the features we have planned for each platform.

    Before I list the platforms and the links though, I must stress the following:

    This roadmap is for informational purposes only. You should not rely upon it for major purchase or product planning decisions/commitments. Just like all software development projects, products/features in this roadmap are subject to change or delay, with or without notice. The development or release of a specific feature or product listed on this roadmap is at the sole discretion of Developer Express Inc.

    I would strongly encourage you to vote on the features we describe in the roadmap for the platforms you are interested in. If you don’t, we won’t know what you want us to focus on! (And the teams will go off and do something else – a ToDo List control anyone?)

    Of course, if you have feedback about the roadmap and would rather contact me directly, I would be delighted to hear from you. My email address is below.

  • Fun times at Microsoft Tech Summit, Frankfurt

    Last week, on Wednesday and Thursday, was the Microsoft Tech Summit (MTS) at the Messe Frankfurt. Hall 3 to be precise. And you had to be precise: although the Messe is a sprawling convention center with six halls, let alone the concert hall (pictured), due to security concerns you had to enter by one gate and one gate only.

    Messe Concert hall

    With me was Przemysław Włodarczak, our whizz CodeRush developer from Poland, so you can imagine that the CodeRush demos he did in the booth were something to be experienced. Me, on the other hand, I had my hands full in demoing our WPF controls, as well as DevExtreme, especially for ASP.NET Core and Angular. We met existing customers (including a couple who were weaning themselves off their Silverlight apps!) and touched base with some possible new customers. Let’s hope we were able to sway them with our demos, if not the DevExpress Eat-Sleep-Code t-shirts we were giving away.

    DX booth

    The surreal thing about this MTS event was the layout in the hall. To emphasize the themes of Cloud, Cloud management and development, the sessions were all held in eleven “Cloud” tents inside the Hall. These were inflatable white tents with rows of seating inside. An imaginative solution, to be sure, although I was told the really popular sessions meant that things got a little warm inside.

    DX booth showing clouds

    Inside session cloud tent

    For us, with our hotel and the BASTA! event half a mile away, we got very used to the freezing cold winds funneled by the Messeturm as we walked back and forth to the hotel. Back in the day, when I worked for a certain bank in Frankfurt, this tower was known as the Pencil, for obvious reasons. It was the tallest building in Europe until 1997, when the Commerzbank Tower (also in Frankfurt) was completed.

    Messe Turm

  • Spoiled for choice in Frankfurt

    Just a quick note to say that the DevExpress team are in Frankfurt this week to support two events: BASTA! and Microsoft Tech Summit. Luckily the events are right next door to each other: the first at the Frankfurt Marriott Hotel and the second, over the street, in hall 3 of the Frankfurt Messe.

    Frankfurt Alte Oper

    At BASTA! there’s our DevExpress booth with John Martin, Don Wibier, and Oliver Sturm, with the latter two also presenting various sessions and workshops. At Microsoft Tech Summit, we have another DevExpress booth with Przemysław Włodarczak and yours truly. Yes, two booths at two events in the same city at the same time: I think this is the first time we’ve done this!

    If you’re here at either event (or both), first of all my congratulations since they’re both sold out, and second, please do come over to either one and say hi. We’ll be glad to talk about and show off what we’re doing at DevExpress and to investigate how we can help you in your development efforts this year. See you soon!

  • Windows 7 support for DirectX in WinForms

    Three weeks ago, at the start of our beta period for v17.2, I described a fascinating new feature for our data grid in WinForms: sidestepping GDI+ and going straight to DirectX for way faster rendering. At the time I mentioned that, unfortunately, it was limited to apps running under Windows 8 or later.

    Well, no more. I am delighted to announce that this new direct-to-DirectX support is now available for grids in apps that run on Windows 7 as well. It’s there in the current version, no need to wait for the next minor.

    Enjoy!

  • DevExpress Universal v17.2 released

    I am pleased to announce that we have just released DevExpress Universal v17.2. This includes our suites for WinForms, ASP.NET, WPF, as well as DevExtreme. CodeRush Ultimate has also been updated.

    For what’s new in this release, please go to this page and read all about the new features and enhancements.

    This page shows the Resolved Issues introduced in this release. There are a great number, let me tell you, so apologies if it takes a little while to load the page…

    For every major release, no matter how hard we try and minimize the impact, some new features and enhancements are bound to cause a few breaking changes. You can read about the v17.2 breaking changes here.

    We are extremely grateful to everyone who provided feedback on our products, who used and tested the beta and provided information on the issues they found, and, of course, to all our customers who use our products every day. It’s simple: we would never be able to produce such robust and full-featured controls without this invaluable help. We are of the opinion that the new enhancements and features in v17.2 will validate your trust in our products.

    (PS: worry not, VCL Subscription customers, the new release of that is coming…)

  • Unified criteria-based filtering in WinForms grids (coming soon in v17.2)

    In the v17.2 release of DevExpress WinForms, we’re adding a valuable new feature across our full range of grid-based controls (Data Grid, Property Grid, Pivot Grid and Vertical Grid): a criteria-based filtering system. This filtering system is common across all the grid controls (hence, unified) and uses a criteria-based language to define filters.

    // Set active filter for Chart
    chartControl.SeriesTemplate.FilterString =
        "[Year]>=2015 And [Company]='DevAV Center' And [Sales]>50000";

    The legacy methods in these controls to filter data still work (and you can still use them), but we recommend switching to this new criteria-based filtering. After all, doing so will help your users immeasurably: they only have to learn one way of filtering.

    The filtering engine itself receives a few moderate enhancements:

    • a new “Blanks” item in filtering pop-ups;
    • HTML-formatting for filter and data items;
    • new PrepareTemplate, CustomizeTemplate and QueryFilterCriteria events that provide the ability to modify filtering UI templates and criteria expressions.

    With v17.2, you can expect one filtering UI enhancement implemented in, say, the Data Grid to be automatically expanded to the rest of the supported data-aware controls, since all of them now share a unified filter editor set.

    As an example, the image below illustrates the HTML-formatting applied to a Data Grid pop-up and an editor set generated by the Filtering UI Context component.


    Speaking of the Filtering UI Context component, it has been refined as well. The most important enhancement is that it no longer requires you to build a filtering Model anymore. Instead, you associate a target control (e.g., a Grid View) with the component with a couple of clicks at design time and thereby instantly generate all the filtering UI editors required.

    Other improvements include:

    • An ability to change editor types and settings directly at design-time
       

    • Automatic two-way binding: any filtering operation a user performs in the generated UI reflects within the data-aware control’s UI, and vice versa.

    • New filtering editor templates.

  • Major speed enhancements in WinForms grid (coming soon in v17.2)

    Now that we’ve published the beta for v17.2, it’s time to reveal a major new enhancement for our WinForms grid. After reading this, I’m going to bet you’ll be downloading the installer and trying it out for yourself. Let us know your results!

    WinForms. It’s been around since the very first days of .NET. Our first control for the run-time, released before .NET had even come out of beta (2002!), was XtraGrid, and we’ve released numerous other controls and suites for the platform since then. And after 15 years, Microsoft has pretty much frozen new development for WinForms. It’s got that taint of “legacy”.

    And yet… People are still writing new thick-client apps for Windows. They have existing successful business apps in daily use that need maintaining and enhancing. Indeed, in every major release we provide new functionality and even new controls for WinForms. It is not going away.

    MicrosoftDirectXOne big issue is that, compared to 15 years ago, the monitors and display adapters we use for Windows have become faster and have much higher resolution and WinForms has not kept up. We are now talking about and using 4K screens, so called because they are roughly 4,000 pixels horizontally (the main standard is 3840×2160, which is twice the resolution horizontally and vertically of the 1080p standard, or 4 times the number of pixels). Not only that, but the standard for drawing graphics on the screen has changed: it used to be GDI+ but is now DirectX. One of the big differences between the two is DirectX renders graphics through hardware acceleration, whereas the older GDI+ does not; simply put, DirectX is faster. Poor old WinForms still uses GDI+ under the hood.

    Given all this, our WinForms team at DevExpress decided to do an experiment, or a spike in development-speak: could they take one of our more complicated WinForms controls—oh, let’s say that original control we wrote, the good old data grid – and change its rendering code to use DirectX and hardware acceleration instead of the “built-in” WinForms GDI+? Would anyone notice the purported speed improvements?

    […time passes, lots of work is done…]

    Well? The result? Wow. To be blunt: this is going to revolutionize WinForms.

    A big example: one of the most intensive rendering tasks we can do with the data grid is to scroll the rows in the grid pixel-by-pixel. On one of our hi-res test machines, with GDI+ we get about 22 frames per second. In other words, what’s happening in crude terms is for each frame the code is scrolling the data rows by a pixel and then adding another single row of pixels. Every second on the test machine, we can do that 22 times with GDI+. Just about flicker free. With DirectX? 72 FPS, over three times faster. That’s just butter smooth. Our competition, for the same task, is way behind (which also goes to show how well we’d optimized the grid up to now).

    With a scroll by page example (where each frame is a new page), we used to get 25 FPS. With DirectX, 35 FPS.

    But that’s not all. In essence, all of this work is done way down in the depths of the grid. The DirectX grid is totally compatible with the old GDI+ grid: all that needs to be done is to set a single option. So, you already have an app with our grid but want that extra rendering speed? Recompile with v17.2, set the option, and you’re away. Get on your users’ Christmas card lists again.

    There are some limitations that you should be aware of with this new functionality. The biggest one is that it does not work under Windows versions that are older than 8, with Windows 7 being the biggest example. I’d have to say that, given that the end of extended support for Windows 7 is only 2 years away, is not that big of an issue. For these older operating system versions, if you set the DirectX hardware-acceleration option, it’s simply ignored and you automatically just get standard GDI+ speeds. (Ditto, if there’s some issue with DirectX rendering, there’s an auto-fallback to GDI+).

    UPDATE 20-Nov-2017: Windows 7 is now supported!

    Next, if you are doing any of your own drawing in the grid by using the window handle for example, it’ll be ignored, but then again it’s bad practice. If, however, you do have some custom draw handlers that use e.Graphics , you must now use the e.Cache.* methods instead. We plan to introduce some special tools and/or modes to catch potential problems with custom draw later.

    In v17.2, the only control that will have this enhanced DirectX support will be the aforementioned data grid, XtraGrid. We have plans to upgrade our other major controls in future versions (v18.1, v18.2, and so on). Note that we have our ideas on the order to enhance them (tree list, pivot grid, and so on), but we’d love to hear from you what would be most important to you in your WinForms apps.

  • DevExpress v17.2 beta has just been released!

    Just a quick note to say that the beta for DevExpress v17.2 has just been published. Be the first kid on the block that downloads it and tries it out. Usual caveats: it is a beta, so beware. Things work, sure, but there may be some issues that are still undiscovered or still being worked on. Me, personally, I’d advise to not use it in production yet. We would love to hear from you if you do test it out, via our usual support channels.

    For information on What’s New in this beta please check out this page. To download the actual install, log in to the Download Center and have at it!

    We shall now kick off the publication of blog posts that discuss the new features and enhancements in this release. so stay tuned.

  • We’re here at Techorama in Antwerp, are you?

    Techorama2017

    Just a quick note to say we – John, Don, and I – will be manning our booth at Techorama at the Kinepolis Antwerpen tomorrow and Wednesday, so if you are here, please make sure that you pop over and say hello, discuss your experiences with our products, and get some swag. We are certainly looking forward to meeting you, saying hi to the attendees who don’t know us yet, and having some fun.

    And yes, I’m talking about the booth that we’re about to go and set up, which is why I don’t have a picture of it or us yet. Stay tuned!

  • DevExpress Universal v17.1 released

    As usual this close to a release, our Community Site recently has been filled with posts labeled “Coming Soon in v17.1”. Even with the beta being available, I’m sure you’ve been anticipating our first major release of the year, getting ready to crack on with updating your apps and using the new enhancements. Well, wait no more: the teams have completed their testing of the build and it was published to the Download Center around lunchtime, my time. If you have an active subscription, you can go now to our Download Center, log in, and download the latest and greatest.

    For what’s new in this release, please go to this page and read all about the enhancements we’ve provided.

    This page shows the Resolved Issues introduced in this release. There are a great number, let me tell you, so apologies if it takes a little while to load the page…

    For every major release, no matter how hard we try and minimize the impact, the new features and enhancements are bound to cause a few breaking changes. You can read about the v17.1 breaking changes here.

    As with every release, we are extremely grateful to everyone who provided feedback on our products, who used and tested the beta and provided information on the issues they found, and, of course, to all our customers who use our products every day. We hope that what we have in v17.1 is going to validate that trust in and appeal of our products.

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