Smooth, Silky, Sleek, Sweet? Meet DXGrid for WPF.

22 May 2008

You may think that being a CTO of a successful UI controls vendor like Developer Express means that you run the risk of becoming jaded with the new controls, products, and functionality that R&D produce. Does it have that Wow factor? Can they surpass themselves this time? Is it a leap ahead? Heigh ho, let me watch the paint dry.

Well, let me tell you: absolutely not. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to be in this position at such a time in DevExpress' history. Some of the things we're producing right now has me completely jazzed and amazed. Our developers are simply at the top of their form. I've run out of forehead for my eyebrows to rise any higher. My lower jaw has dented the desk.

You may now be asking what I've just seen to make me feel this way. Well, lots, but this post is specifically about DXGrid for WPF. I finally had to wrestle the CD out of Ray's hands and dash down the hallway to install it so I could run the demo. (He wrote Go Lakers! with a permanent marker on it. Sheesh.)

You know, I love our grids' look and feel in WinForms and ASP.NET but this DXGrid for WPF just feels so ultra smooth and silky, it almost purrs. It feels like the clunk of a Mercedes car door versus that of an Ford. It's the quality and heft of an Apple iPod versus a no-name MP3 player. You just want to touch it and experience it. The subtle animations we've added just add to the overall quality feel; they're not jarring or out of place.

Mere static images cannot do it justice, but, hey, OK, I'll give it a try.

First off, some bald facts. Tabular list of records, check. Sorting by clicking on a column, check. Grouping by one of more columns by drag and drop, check. Card view, check (with data on both sides, sweet!). Resizing, moving columns by use of the mouse, check. Filtering support, check. Summaries by group or overall, check. Unbound columns, check. Run-time control over column layout, check. Navigate the grid by row or cell, check. Row templates, card templates, check.

Enough of that. Let's see some images. (Note: click on them to see them full-size.)

Here's what you might call a standard view. There's a tabular list of records, sorted in ascending order by Last name. The current data row is shown in more detail in the panel at the bottom.

What the static image cannot show you is the sleek transition of the image and data in the bottom panel as you navigate the rows, or the subtle smooth highlighting as you move the mouse cursor over the column headings.

Let's go one step further: grouping. For a change, I'll display the grid with the Green theme. Here we're showing the data grouped by Country and then City. I've expanded Canada and then Montreal.

Here again, the static image doesn't do it justice. Expanding a group slides the rows underneath down and collapsing it again slides the rows up. It's a smooth animation, one that is best experienced as you navigate the focused row up and down using the arrow keys (right and left expand and collapse respectively).

You can switch into card view easily. Here's the same data in a card view.

Here's another shot showing the filtering support you can build into the column headers. First a selection of possible values. As you uncheck countries the grid updates underneath automatically.

Then filtering by quantity. This is fun: drag the slider across and the grid filters and refreshes automatically as you go. Love it.

A quick shot showing some group summaries. I've switched to the dark lilac theme.

Notice how this theme styles the groups and the list of records in each group with rounded corners on the top row (and the bottom row, which isn't shown) and on the cell.

Here's an image showing the cards layout again. I've collapsed some of the cards and I've dropped down the column chooser so show it off: you can drag a column to the group panel to group by that column, or just click on the column to sort.

Again, it's difficult to appreciate without the animation, but the column chooser in this theme slips down and then slides open when you click on the button. Neat and effective.

Finally, let's look at the row templates. Here's an image showing the current row expanded into a panel within the grid.

The animation here is smooth too: as you navigate up and down you get the feeling of using a sophisticated rolodex with the current record seemingly lifting out of the other records.

Enough's enough. I do hope I've whetted your appetite for our new grid control for WPF. As you may have gathered, I'm delighted with it, gobsmacked as they say in England. The team that produced this are astonishing. But, don't take my word for it, come up to me in the booth at TechEd and I will show it off in its full glory.

Editing, I hear you ask? Later on, this post is way long enough aready.

And the beta? A couple of weeks after TechEd is what I'm told. Be patient, now!

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