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  • .NET Spreadsheet Control (Coming soon in v14.1)

    Back in my younger days, I was a Lotus 1-2-3 buff. There was nothing I couldn’t do with the ‘/’ menu system and 1-2-3’s formulas. I’d take raw spreadsheets that the bank’s traders had made to price options and other derivatives and convert them to better, more secure, less error-prone DOS apps. So last year I was heartened to find that we were releasing spreadsheet controls for our major platforms: WinForms, ASP.NET (as a preview), and WPF. It’s now been a while and it’s time to see what our spreadsheet dev team have been up to for DevExpress Universal 14.1.

    WinForms and WPF

    The spreadsheet controls we built for WinForms and WPF (for Windows applications) were the most full-featured of the spreadsheet controls we released last year, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t room for some expansion.

    Password Protection for Worksheet and Workbook Elements

    From 14.1, you can protect worksheet data or workbook elements to make them “read-only” so that you prevent your users from modifying them. As part of this data protection feature, you can specify a password that users must enter to edit protected worksheets, to change the structure of a workbook, and even to set the size and position of worksheet windows. In addition, you can extend permissions to users in order to edit certain ranges in a protected worksheet.

    Here’s the dialog to set password protection in WinForms:


    Chart Object Model and API

    The Charting and DrawingML object models are now available via a public API. You can create all chart types in code, specify the layout and position of chart elements, and customize series markers and labels.

    Formula Builder

    With this release, we've added Insert Function and Function Arguments dialogs in order to assist end-users when creating formulas containing functions.

    Text Search

    No more manual scanning of data in your workbook: the spreadsheet control now allows you to find and replace text in a range, worksheet, or in the entire document.

    Name Manager

    Names make your formulas much easier to find, understand, and maintain. The Name Manager allows you to add, edit or delete names in a workbook.

    New Worksheet Functions

    Always the fun part... What's new with the available functions? Student’s t-test anyone?

    • Real-Time Data Function - retrieves real-time data (RTD) from a COM server. If the server continually updates its data, RTD formulas are automatically recalculated to reflect changes.
    • Compatibility Functions - CHIDIST, CHIINV, CHITEST, GAMMAINV, TTEST.

    Miscellaneous Improvements

    Among these major improvements, there are several minor, yet still important, improvements. 

    • Export to HTML.
    • A Formula Engine that provides access to formula elements.            
    • Ability to programmatically sort data in worksheets.
    • Ability to manually paint a line that separates frozen panes on a worksheet.
    • Ability to specify the width of row headers and height of column headers, in pixels.

    ASP.NET WebForms

    We released the DevExpress ASP.NET Spreadsheet control as a community preview back in December, 2013. The feedback from our customers has been very beneficial to us in targeting issues and improvements; so with this update, we are officially releasing the product. It hasn’t just been bug fixes over the past half-year though, we have added the following new features for the official release:

    • Built-in file management menu items (create, open and save).
    • Ability to use an external ribbon control.
    • Built-in mail merge capabilities.
    • Touch and Theme support.
    • Support for hidden columns and hidden rows.
    • Support for the standard ASP.NET localization capabilites.
    • Dialog window design improvements.
    • Optional grid lines.
    • Additional client-side events and API.


    Alongside the official release of the DevExpress ASP.NET WebForms spreadsheet control comes the new MVC spreadsheet extension. Everything you liked about the WebForms version is now available with ASP.NET MVC. Specifically it ships with the following features:

    • Auto-Generated UI
    • Automated Formula Calculation Engine
    • Built-in Spreadsheet Functions
    • Cell References and Formatting
    • Cell and Cell Ranges
    • Rows and Columns
    • Charting, Pictures
    • Worksheet Management
    • Built-in Menus (Create, Open and Save)
    • Mail Merge
    • Touch and Theme Support

    Let me know what you think!

    • DevExpress source server: some musings

      In between all the hoopla on getting 14.1 tidied up and released, some of our devs have been mulling over the possibility of us providing a debug server. Yes, I know, right? When do they have the time for that? But, hold on, a debug server?

      Tin can phoneWay back when (OK, it was last year), I talked about us providing PDB debugging files for our products. The theory went like this: you would download the PDB files for the DevExpress version you have (you also need the source code, by the way), do some non-trivial configuration, and bingo you would be able to debug into our code in your app. All well and good, but the “non-trivial” bit was catching people out.

      So, our devs are proposing a better solution. We could introduce a new debugging service for our customers. If the customer has a license to a package that includes source, the installer could configure Visual Studio to add our debug source server (much as Microsoft suggest people do for .NET). As a result, a customer who licenses our source code will be able to ‘F11’ as they are debugging in Visual Studio to step into a method, including our source code. This way, customers will get a better understanding of how our controls are made and how they work. No longer will they just be that Old DevExpress Magic; which, in a way, is a bit of a pity…

      On today’s morning coffee break, the devs positing this service have finished their spike to show that it is feasible. They set up a sample internal source server and an authorization module, and used it for debugging in Visual Studio. In other words, we have shown that we can technically do this.

      Now the big question: should we? What do you think? Have you been thwarted by the PDB solution? Have you used the Microsoft source server for debugging into the .NET source code and wish you could do it for other products? Feedback is welcome.

    • 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!)

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