DevExpress Universal for Dummies (part 2)

19 March 2014

(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!)

6 comment(s)
Matthias Schlegel

   Hello Team Devexpess and hello Julian,

   what are your plans for VCL? Is there any roadmap?

   In .net you have many nice things like PDF Viewer, Map Control or Gauge Controls.

   Do you plan to port this things to VCL ?

   Thank's for Info's

   Matthias Schlegel

20 March, 2014
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Matthias

We decided not to publish a roadmap this year since we shall experiment with a different release schedule and be more responsive to changes in the market. For VCL, you can infer a couple of things: firstly that we will be supporting new versions of RAD Studio as they appear (go see Embarcadero's site for information about these), secondly that we will continue to migrate our .NET WinForms controls and functionality to VCL, and thirdly that we continue to monitor the FireMonkey market. More detail than that I cannot provide at this time.

Cheers, Julian

20 March, 2014
Hans Nieuwenhuis

Hi Joe,

Keep up the good work and I hope you will recover from your operation fast!

21 March, 2014
Tahir Riaz

Should we expect any major updates to the dashboard framework?

18 April, 2014
Jonatas Hudler

@Julian: Is there any perspective about releasing "intermediate" new features releases still this year?

Taking your sentence into account "...we shall experiment with a different release schedule and be more responsive to changes in the market.", I could not realize what changed in the release schedule.

As an anxious costumer/fan of Devexpress I am, I already feel curious about what's coming next... :)

6 November, 2014
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Jonatas: Time got away from us this half of the year and we didn't release any intermediate version. Instead we've been concentrating on the next major release for December. We shall be starting to blog about the new features Any Day Now...

Cheers, Julian

6 November, 2014

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