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Discussions, news and rants from the CTO of DevExpress, Julian M Bucknall

DevExpress Universal for Dummies (part 1)

(Julian writes: A week or so ago I was chatting with an old customer and friend and raconteur, Joe Hendricks, about the inestimable work he does for non-profit organizations. Specifically, I wondered if he was up to writing about using DevExpress Universal from the viewpoint of an amateur developer (his words!) who helps non-profits improve their web presence. Before he jumps all over me, I hasten to add that “old” there refers to his time as a customer of ours, not his age. Which is young. Well, OK, a young middle-aged. There, I’m sure that sorted that out. So… before I continue shooting myself in the foot, I’m handing it over to Joe.)

Joe working on The Mustard Seed Project’s website.

Joe working on The Mustard Seed Project’s website (an outreach for impoverished senior citizens) in their lobby.

Hi! I am Joe Hendricks, a 61yr retired healthcare marketing manager, incurable punster, avid mountain climber/hiker and more importantly - amateur C#/ASP.NET programmer and volunteer webmaster for 20+ anti-poverty nonprofits. My limited database and programming skills did help my career a lot.

The purpose of this series of posts is to share my experience (especially my mistakes) in using Developer Express’s Universal Subscription product to help those nonprofits.

Project Background

Since 2007, my wife and I have provided the graphic layout, content, CMS access and web hosting for nonprofits on our collocated Windows 2008 Webserver running ASP.NET/Internet Information Services(IIS). The nonprofits include a wide range of antipoverty services: retired policemen helping Darfur genocide refugee camp guards protect the refugees from raiders, a free medical clinic in Honduras, senior services here in my small town, an orphanage in Africa, education for the poor in the Dominican Republic, etc.

We used the ASP.NET open source library called “My Web PagesStarter Kit” at Codeplex, mainly for these reasons:

  • Easy to use CMS for nonprofit staff
  • Text storage instead of database
  • Easy deployment (drag and drop onto server via Remote Desktop)
  • Basic features needed by small nonprofits (text with embedded images, photo gallery, contact form, login, search button, image and file uploading)
  • Works fine with Google Analytics, a PayPal Donate button and AddThis social media buttons
  • Some extensibility

Although it’s worked well for several years, it is now becoming insufficient for these reasons:

  • Boxy CSS layout is becoming increasingly out of date
  • Cannot easily handle multimedia or scheduling/calendar
  • Suboptimal display on mobile devices
  • Too time consuming (my beloved wife lost her cancer battle and so now I have to do all the work for the websites)
  • Decreasing open source community interest and updates

Because I had used some of the DevExpress Universal features at work before retirement, I have no doubt I will find more than what I need in their products. Why not just select their ASP.NET subscription? Well, Coderush and XPO/XAF, doh!

The Project

I plan to slowly switch over the nonprofits needing new functionality for their website visitors from the open source framework to DevExpress by the end of 2014. By the end of 2015, I hope to have full CMS functionality added. I can only apply 20 volunteer hours/week to this which must include my own training, continued webserver management and continued support for the current websites. I’m sure I’ll be “seeing” a lot of Oliver, Mehul and Amanda via their online DevExpress webinars and training - fun! (Thank heavens he didn’t mention me – Ed.)

So the next blog update on this project will be after I finish installing Visual Studio 2013 Pro (due here next Monday) and finish going through the DevExpress demos that seem to apply to the project (including deployment, XPO setup, and each DevExpress ASP.NET control). I will also be using the new online training for ASP.NET to further improve my web skills. Hopefully by my discussing my path to ASP.NET enlightenment, you’ll find something to learn from my inevitable mistakes.

PUNishing Summary

If your project suffers from open sores like mine, dev in and grab control(s)!

Published Jan 10 2014, 12:50 PM by
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Comments

Zachary Burns

A couple of comments...

First I've seen the new online training - neat, however, I think if you're a Universal subscriber that these courses should be free.  Yes there's the online documentation, but seeing is believing and access to these for longtime customers without an additional fee would be nice.

I too, help non-profits, but with the explosion of LAMP stacks - I try to move them to a Linux based system with Mono framework.  It works, but not too well with DevExpress dlls.  Would be nice - even if it wasn't supported.

January 13, 2014 11:58 AM

RMR964

+1 for Free Access to the on-line tutorial for existing subscribers

January 13, 2014 6:26 PM

Gosha

FOR XAF PLEAAAASE

January 14, 2014 3:48 PM

About Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Julian is the Chief Technology Officer at Developer Express. You can reach him directly at julianb@devexpress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter with the ID JMBucknall.
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