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March 2014 - Posts

  • DevExpress will be at Build 2014, will you?

    We’re in the last stages of preparing for Microsoft’s Build 2014 conference, which, should you have been off skiing in the Rockies for the past month (lucky you!), is next week from Wednesday April 2 to Friday April 4. It’s in beautiful downtown San Francisco at the Moscone Center, and I really hope you’ve already registered because they’ve been sold out for quite a while. From all accounts, this particular Build should be a very interesting one to attend: there’s lots of rumors about sneak-peeking the next version of Windows, of Windows Phone, of Office on iOS, and so on. (News about a Xamarin acquisition, anybody?) In essence, if you’re working in the Windows space or the mobile space, you have to be there.

    San Francisco tram DevExpress will be exhibiting of course – can’t have a Build conference without us! – and present at our booth (we’re #315 on the third floor) will be Seth demoing everything related to analytics and reporting, Mehul ready and waiting to show off developing for the web, Azret talking about WinForms and WPF, and Emil discussing the enterprise. Our videographer Jeff will be in the background videoing anything and everything, and we’ll be doing some interviews. If you are a customer, make sure you pop along and say hi, we’d love to get feedback about how we’re doing, to discuss your plans for the future and how we might help. Make your voice heard! We’ll have our UI Superhero swag to give away, including T-shirts.

    Not only that, but we are co-sponsoring the BUILD Blogger Bash along with TechSmith and Intel. This event is being held at Southside Spirit House located near the Moscone Center, on Thursday April 3 from 7pm to 10pm. Many blogging luminaries will be there, including Mary Jo Foley, Ed Bott, Peter Bright, and Alex Wilhelm, as well as DevExpress’ bloggers, Seth and Mehul. (The rest of the crew will be there too, including Amy, who will be flying down just for this occasion.) Space is very limited (250 people maximum) and the event is already sold out, so if you don’t have tickets yet then you are probably out of luck. We’ll have a few complementary ones at the booth – very few, unfortunately – so if you want a chance at attending , come and see us very early on Wednesday at the booth. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

    We’ll definitely be blogging about the conference next week, about what we learn and what it means for us and you, our customers. Stay tuned!

  • DevExpress Universal for Dummies (part 2)

    (Julian writes: Joe Hendricks was kind enough to promise to write an occasional blog series about his experience in using our Universal subscription for creating web apps for non-profits. Part 1 was an introduction, and now Joe follows the thread by jumping into the fray with our training options. Over to you, Joe!)

    Hello again!

    Joe training in the forest in the Pacific Northwest

    Joe training in the forest in the Pacific Northwest. DevExpress training, that is.

    Sorry for the delay in getting this blog entry out. My Oncologist decided to take two pounds of flesh out of me four weeks ago and I think he used barbed wire instead of sutures to close me up! But thankfully both my cancers are in remission, so I don't foresee any more medical interruptions in the project.

    As a recap, I am a retired biz consultant with just enough C#/ASP.NET programming skill to be dangerous to the rest of the internet. I do volunteer work part-time for anti-poverty nonprofits, both hosting and designing/updating their websites on my colocated server. The goal for this project is to migrate these websites from a CodePlex open source CMS software to Developer Express's more feature-rich ASP.NET library and eventually manage it all via Developer Express's XAF/XPO toolset. By the end of this year I hope to have the nonprofits switched over to the new ASPx system and by the end of 2015 have it all running via XAF/XPO.

    The progress I have made since the last blog entry is all about my experience with the vast training options DevExpress offers. Similar to my experience with Photoshop, one needs to focus carefully on only the project needs or too many fun features end up distracting and causing unwanted 'feature creep.' For example, MVC might be fun to learn, but my limited time for the project would make that learning curve a crazy choice. One should be guided ultimately by the customer, and what they want. So what do the non-profit managers I serve want? Mainly a WYSIWYG approach to text and images. That is 90% of the project. 

    Demo Center Main Menu showing the link for ASP.NET demos

    My training strategy then was to watch the product overviews to know what is available and where to focus, including both the ASPx Suite public ones on the DevExpress website (above) and the ASPx Suite overviews in their subscription training.

    The link to the HTMLEditor documentation in the installed docs

    Browsing the online documentation reassured me that the HTML Editor was definitely where to focus.

    The specific help for the HTML Editor control

    To find the specific training for this component, the Demo Center that is installed with the product has a great menu, including links to YouTube tutorials for the HTML Editor and also installed Demo Projects. By ignoring the MVC-specific HTML Editor videos, I only needed to watch about half of them.

    The Training Videos on the DevExpress YouTube page

    For very specific questions, I searched the DevExpress website for answers already given to others. If that failed, sending an email to the support team at DevExpress will get you an answer within a business days, sometimes within hours! Their email response usually includes some sample code if applicable.

    After this approach to training myself on the HTML Editor, I am really comfortable and pleased with the many ways to adapt it. For example, I find that some non-profit managers use underlining a lot in their work applying for grants, writing policies, etc. But when they use underlining on a web page, the site visitor gets confused expected underlining to signify a link. The HTML Editor makes it a breeze to simply hide that button, but for an advanced user I can always make it visible. Another example is the ability to modify all the dialogs. This means I can rewrite messages in simpler, less technical form, since many of these non-profits are in other countries where English is the manager's second or third language (but they usually want the website in English to increase donations).

    Joe's first try at using the HTML Editor in an web page

    So what's next on my agenda?

    I need to learn how to load and save changes made in the Editor, whether to xml files or a database. I also need to sort out deployment and authentication roles using the ASPx Suite. I'll report how those are going in the next blog entry.

    Being an avid hiker and mountain climber, I sometimes enjoy doing the training and volunteer work outdoors. In the first photo above you can see what a great classroom our Pacific Northwest Forests make for webinars! (Either that or I’m Skyping Amanda!)

  • What’s New in 13.2.8 for the DevExpress Spreadsheet Control

    We’re still some time away from publishing our first major release of the year, 14.1, but there have been some great new features added to our controls. Rather than forcing you to wait a few more months, we thought you’d benefit more by getting them early – say halfway – in one of our minor updates. Version 13.2.8 is this minor update: it will be a bigger minor release than usual, so let’s call it a Major-Minor release.

    I’m here to tell you some of the nifty new enhancements to our “thick client” spreadsheet controls (that is, WinForms and WPF).

    1. Improvements to the API for working with cell editors. You can now programmatically close the cell editor and specify whether the value entered by the user should by committed to an active cell, all selected cells, an array formula, or should be rolled back.

    2. Extensions to Custom Draw. (WinForms Spreadsheet only) You can now custom paint not only the cell content and background, but also any column and row header content and background.

    Example of custom drawing column and row headers

    You should review the E5044 example, as it demonstrates how to use the new SpreadsheetControl’s CustomDraw* events.

    3. Display custom warning dialogs. This feature was actually introduced in 13.2.7. Essentially you use the IMessageBox service.

    Example of displaying a custom message box for the spreadsheet

    Review the E5052 example for sample code that uses this technique.

    4. Cell background patterns. Background patterns can now be displayed in worksheet cells.

    Background patterns in cells

    5. Diagonal borders. Diagonal borders can now be displayed in cells.

    CellDiagonalBorders

    6. Custom hyperlink click events. You can now handle hyperlink clicks (the new SpreadsheetControl.HyperlinkClick event) to invoke custom forms and perform custom actions.

    7. Printing specific worksheets. You can now specify which specific worksheet in a spreadsheet gets printed, by handling the new SpreadsheetControl.BeforePrintSheet event. This fires before a spreadsheet is printed and it enables you to define the name and index of a worksheet to be used.

    8. Replace custom functions with values. You can now replace custom function definitions with the calculated values when exporting a document. This helps prevent custom functions from being displayed as #NAME? when sharing with other spreadsheet applications.

    9. The Cell.Tag property. This allows you to store some data that is closely associated with a worksheet cell. This property value is cached depending on the cell reference, and the cache is automatically re-calculated if a cell has been moved, copied, or removed.

    10. Improvements to the cell selection API.  You can now programmatically select multiple non-adjacent cell ranges or shapes in a worksheet simultaneously.

    11. Formula editing: selecting cell ranges. The SpreadsheetControl allows you to interactively select cell ranges while editing a formula in a cell.

    Selecting cells and ranges when editing a formula

    12. End-user restrictions on actions with images/shapes. You can now restrict certain operations on images and shapes in your document. You can prevent the end-user from performing moves, resizes, changes in Z-order, or rotations. 

    13. Storing documents in a database. The SaveDocument and LoadDocument methods are available to store a spreadsheet in an external database and load it back from a database. See the E5132 example.

    14. MVVM support. Dependency properties that allow binding SpreadsheetControl options using an MVVM pattern have been implemented.

    15. Turning the Fill Handle on/off. (WinForms only) The Fill Handle (the indicator in the bottom right of a selected cell or range) can now be disabled if needed.

    Controlling the use of the Fill Handle

    16. Control the type of print preview.  (WinForms Spreadsheet only) Using the new SpreadsheetControl.Options.Print.RibbonPreview option, you can control whether the Print Preview is shown with a modern Ribbon UI or a traditional bar UI when called with the ShowRibbonPrintPreview() method.

    The spreadsheet's Ribbon Print Preview

    17. Rendering with GDI or GDI+. (WinForms only) You can now specify if you want the spreadsheet rendered with GDI or GDI+.

    18. Added Auto and MinMax threshold values for conditional formatting rules. (WinForms only) Use the MinMax value to set the minimum or maximum threshold of a two-color scale, three-color scale, or data bar conditional formatting rule to the lowest or highest value in the cell range to which the rule is applied. Use the Auto enumeration value to determine a scale for a data bar conditional formatting rule making 0 the minimum threshold and using the highest value in the cell range as the maximum. If the range to which the rule is applied contains negative values, the lowest value in the range becomes the minimum.

    As always, we’d love to hear your feedback about these changes and whether you like getting new features as and when they are ready, rather than waiting for the next major release.

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