Bridging tomorrow. Today.

11 June 2012

Every time we release a new version of our flagship DXperience product, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come in the .NET world and, paradoxically, how much further we have to go. I feel as if we’re in a station on the Tube in London, the train has just come in, the speakers are blaring “mind the gap, mind the gap”, and we have watch out for the gap between platform and carriage or we may have an accident.

Mind the gapBy now, we’re all pretty familiar with what we may call the traditional platforms: WinForms, ASP.NET, WPF, and Silverlight. Some of us can develop apps for these platforms in our sleep almost, we’re so well versed in them. And yet, there are technologies out there that we can’t easily reach and use without help. Sure, Windows 8 is just around the corner (but, being Windows 8, the corner is fairly sweeping and will take a long time to get round) and it will help with some of these technologies, but we are in the here and now. We need something to bridge that gap between the platform we’re on and that Metro train.

I’ve talked about this before, but we’re moving away from developer-centric UI design (dragging controls one by one onto the surface) to a more designer-oriented process. Your existing applications now must be extended to run on an array of mobile devices, like iPads, slates and mobile phones. Building such applications requires more focus than ever on great design principles. With 12.1, you can use elegant Office-inspired or Metro-inspired templates to incorporate new projects to your solutions so your users can view, manipulate, and analyze data in more insightful and compelling ways. For ASP.NET solutions, we’ve created a sophisticated project wizard to help you configure your application more easily (authentication, compression, resource merging, and localization, to name a few), a much better themeing engine, and, for the tablet world, 12.1 includes a new tablet project template with a built-in iOS theme. And of course our sample applications, created in partnership with the DevExpress team of professional designers, are like having your own design agency in the box.

It goes without saying that we’re fully on board with touch-enabled applications. But we don’t want you to wait until Windows 8 and Metro tablets reach a critical mass, we want you to be able to use touch right now in your applications you’re writing at this very moment, on the platforms you are so thoroughly experienced in. Of course we have improved the tile controls we introduced in 11.2, including headers, extra animations, and larger tiles, as well as a template for creating a Metro-inspired UI, but with 12.1 we’ve added some new touch-supported docking panels. With these sophisticated touch-enabled controls, you can build solutions that will, quite honestly, delight your users.

Reading between the lines, you can see that productivity is not taking a back seat in 12.1. New templates, beautiful themes (and better theme control), project wizards, all these enhancements improve your ability to get your job done and get it done quickly. In talking about productivity, though, I should mention CodeRush, the most productive of IDE productivity tools. Last time we incorporated Code Duplication Detection and Consolidation (aka, finding and fixing copy/paste code issues) into CodeRush. We’re cementing our lead on this by improving the detection algorithms and making it much easier to consolidate the code into the class you need. There’s a new FrictionFree mode that gives you the benefits of CodeRush under the hood without altering your Visual Studio environment too much, as well as a myriad other enhancements that will help you write, navigate and test your code more efficiently than ever before. Talking of testing, 12.1 includes complete Microsoft CodedUI testing support across our entire WinForms line (with aggregated action support): you can now incorporate automated user interface testing of complex forms more easily than ever before.

As is usual, there are many other enhancements across the board in 12.1: a rewritten charting engine for even speedier chart drawing, a WPF report designer, floating objects in the rich text editor, a scheduler for ASP.NET MVC, to name but a very few. I would check out our complete What’s New list for a full run down.

All in all, DXperience 12.1 is a solid release aimed at helping you produce beautiful and functional applications on the platforms you know and are experienced in, incorporating the latest technologies easily, and bridging the gap between today and tomorrow. Let’s see what develops!

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