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  • HTML5DevConf and DevExpress: we’re there, are you?

    This week is the Spring edition of the HTML5DevConf (they do another in the fall) at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. On Thursday they have a complete set of sessions (the remainder of the week is training) and they also open up an Exhibit Hall for those vendors who want to show off their wares. Since we have some new fun stuff to talk about in the HTML5 space, albeit not quite released, we shall be there with our famous backlit booth panel and demoing the new features (*cough* client-side datagrid *cough*), new enhancements, new everything.

    DevExpress backlit booth

    (Here’s the backlit booth from TechEd; the artwork will be different for HTML5DevConf.)

    Present will be Mehul Harry, Paul Usher, Areg Yeghnazar, and me. If you’re there, do please come along Thursday and say hi. We have UI Superhero T-shirts and laptop stickers to give away, so don’t dawdle.

    As an added bonus, Mehul and I will also be presenting a couple of talks in Pacific N on the same day. Mehul’s is from 10:40am to 11:30am, and his subject is “Write Once, Deploy to Multiple Mobile Platforms”, enough to give you an appetite for lunch. My talk is “Breaking Bad: you CAN make secure fast web pages” from 2:30pm until 3:20pm, and I promise to teach you the vagaries of loading JavaScript asynchronously amongst other things.

    Hope to see you!

  • DevExpress wins Best of TechEd 2014 for Software Development

    So, there was this little conference in Houston this week. The locals (and everyone else, come to that) called it Microsoft TechEd 2014, and it seems that several thousand attendees were there; and, to be honest, I think I shook hands with the majority. Yes, DevExpress was there in the shape of Seth Juarez, Mark Miller, Mehul Harry, Amanda Christensen, Jeff Cosby, and yours truly, and we were showing off our snazzy new backlit booth. Er, I mean our wide-ranging suites of UI controls, frameworks, and libraries for all .NET platforms, as well as our HTML5/JS widgets and libraries. And our charting solutions. And our reporting suites. And our dashboards. All part of our DevExpress Universal product.

    Best of TechEd 2014 WinnerAs you may gather, there’s an awful lot to talk about with Universal. Part of the fun of TechEd is that Microsoft and Penton Media (the publishers of Windows IT Pro) co-sponsor a set of nine awards under various categories that celebrate the very Best of TechEd. We were finalists with DevExpress Universal in the Software Development category, and I drew the short straw to explain it all to the TechEd Award judges in 25 minutes or less. Luckily I can speak quickly when pressed and my slides and demos were pre-loaded for maximum performance. It seems our feature-rich suite, my patter and familiarity with the product (and with the help of several throat lozenges) worked: on Wednesday evening, just before the Exhibit Hall was to close for the day, DevExpress was awarded the Best of TechEd 2014 for the Software Development category.

    Can I tell you how wonderful this is? Only a few weeks ago, Universal won the Jolt Award for Best Programming Library (with quotes like “the Jolt Award winner this year led the field by a sizable margin — a comparatively rare occurrence” and “stunned by the vast amount of functionality delivered in this library packaged with remarkable polish and attention to details”) and now it’s gained the Best of TechEd 2014 Award for Software Development. Brilliant!

    To say we are pleased is an understatement. It certainly could not have been done without our customers – you – holding our feet to the fire and providing feedback, good and bad. Without you pushing, we may not have had the verve and commitment to keep on polishing the code and UI, adding new controls and features, improving the services we offer, and just making it all better and better. (Oh, and I think our development teams may have had something to do with it: thank you ladies and gentlemen!)

    DevExpress wins Best of TechEd 2014

    Just to prove it, here’s Mark, me, Mehul, and Seth whooping it up at the booth with the award!

  • Support for .NET Client Profile being discontinued

    OK, color me surprised: I thought we’d discontinued supporting the .NET Client Profile a while back, but it seems I am wrong. First of all, a little background.

    Way back in .NET 4.0 beta days, Microsoft introduced a “smaller” set of .NET assemblies that contained the major part of the .NET Framework. The idea was that deploying the majority of .NET apps would result in a smaller download should the deployed-to PC not actually have the Framework installed. I wrote about this in October 2009 – “Using the .NET 4 Client Profile” – when we were learning about the proposal (at PDC if I recall correctly). We spent a considerable amount of effort at the time in order to try and support this new initiative from Microsoft – you can get hints from reading between the lines in that old post.

    Given all this, my question to you is, do you use .Net Client Profile when deploy your application? If so, here is some important news.

    Although Microsoft continued to support the .NET Client Profile in .NET Framework 4.0, they discontinued it in 4.5. The reason was simple: the size of complete framework had decreased by about 15% anyway, all it did was introduce headaches for developers and their end-users, and current Windows installations include the Framework by default. Based on this, we have decided to stop supporting .NET Client Profile in 14.1 for some products, and we are going to completely stop supporting it in v14.2. Doing so will allow us to get rid of some unnecessary assemblies; however it will mean a breaking change should you still be using the .NET Client Profile.

    What do you think? Are you still using it? Do you rely on this functionality still? Please let me know your thoughts.

  • RAD Studio XE6 supported with DevExpress VCL

    Just a quick note to let our VCL customers know that the latest minor release of the DevExpress VCL product fully supports Delphi and C++Builder XE6, for both 32-bit and 64-bit.

    And, just as a little teaser for some news about our 14.1 release…

    VCL Map Control using Bing Map provider

    Yes, that is a screenshot from a Delphi app (click on it for the full view), from a native control no less, using Bing as the map provider. But, you didn’t hear it from me, OK? Just remember, if you want the most complete, the widest breadth of user interface controls, and the best user experience for your Delphi and C++Builder apps, look no further.

    Stay tuned for more complete news about 14.1: code freeze is just around the corner. In the meantime, enjoy XE6 the way it was meant to be used: with DevExpress VCL.

  • Netherlands TechDays 2014 recap

    TechDays logo

    Last week, we had the pleasure of attending TechDays 2014 in The Hague in the Netherlands. Present from DevExpress were Mark Miller, Mehul Harry, John F Martin, Don Wibier (our new Dutch hire for the Developer Relations team), myself, and, as a late entrant, my wife Donna who selflessly agreed to help out in the booth rather than go explore the city.

    DevExpress booth

    Talking of the booth, we went for an extremely high tech look with the whole of the backdrop backlit. It was stunning but made for some challenging photography, let me tell you.

    Don demoing in Dutch

    Attendees were very interested in what we had to say and show, especially with Don there to talk Dutch. We had two Surface 2s in display cases, allowing people to play around with the demo apps and see (and experience) at first hand what a touch-centric UI looks like on WinForms, WPF, ASP.NET, and Windows 8.

    Demoing to the ceowd

    We also had the large monitor for demos to groups of more than a few.

    UI Superhero Cushions

    As marketing support we were showing off the UI Superhero character in many guises: T-shirts, mugs, bags, mouse pads, and even cushions…

    Mehul presenting

    Each day we gave out a raffle prize. Day 1 was a free subscription to DXperience, and day 2 a free seat at the next XAF training week in Bad Ems, Germany. Prior to the raffle we did a quick presentation of some feature of our products, with day 1 being Mehul on ASP.NET…

    Mark presenting

    …and day 2 being Mark on CodeRush.

    Julian thinking

    During the sessions, when all was quiet at the booth, some of us found time to be pensive…

    Donna and John organizing

    …whereas Donna and John discussed how to organize the swag giveaways.

    Overflow at Mark's talk

    Both Mark and Mehul had sessions, with Mark reprising a much enhanced talk on The Science of Great UI. This turned out to be so popular that the room filled up and the audience overflowed into the corridor.

    We would like to thank all of the attendees who came to the booth. Considering we didn’t know any Dutch whatsoever (apart from Don), we were thankful that so many people understood and could talk to us in English. We were humbled to say the least.

  • Den Haag, DevExpress, TechDays… and you?

    Next week, on April 16 and 17, DevExpress in the forms of Mehul Harry, Mark Miller, John Martin, and yours truly will be in Den Haag (or The Hague, or La Haye, depending on your chosen language) for Microsoft TechDays 2014. It’s going to be a blast! It’ll be even better if you’re there too to make it a round 4 out of 4.

    To help set the scene – at least it’s the right country – here’s the view from my Amsterdam hotel window just now. I’m afraid I’ve never been to Den Haag, so don’t have any pictures of that yet.

    View from Amsterdam hotel window

    Not only will we have a booth at the conference, manned 12 hours per day, from 7 until 7, but we’re having a Mixer evening for our customers where we’ll be happy to ply you with your libation of choice in return for some honest feedback on how we’re doing and what you’d like to see from DevExpress in the future. This Mixer is at the Novotel World Forum on April 16 from 8:00 PM till 10:00 PM in the hotel bar and lobby. John has already sent out invitations for this (and has collected a bunch of replies), but if we managed to miss you and you want to be there, come visit us at the booth that first day.

    But there’s more! Both Mark and Mehul have speaking slots during the conference…

    Mark is speaking on Science of Great UI. “Get a big boost on your UI skills. If you believe you’re not an artist, that UI is merely subjective, or that Great UI takes too much effort, then this session is for you. We’ll learn the essence with simple, easy-to-retain guidelines. Regardless of whether you’re building interfaces for watches, phones, tablets, desktops, elevators, automobiles, or interplanetary spaceships; you’ll learn how to reduce visual noise, enhance clarity, lower barriers to entry, and make your interfaces a pleasure to use. It’s all about making customers satisfied, and this entertaining and information-packed session will show you how.” (Scheduled for April 16 at 1:15 PM.)

    Mehul is presenting on PhoneJS: Write Once, Deploy to Multiple Mobile Platforms. “Creating mobile apps is tough enough. Now try supporting a native look and feel for the top mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, and Tizen). This session will show you how HTML5 and JavaScript can create cross-platform and native-style apps using PhoneJS.” (Scheduled for April 17th at 10:50 AM.)

    So, all in all, this visit to the Netherlands is going to be fun. I do hope to see you at the booth!

  • 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.

  • 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)!

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