ASP.NET Design-Time Feature Browser (Shipping in v15.1)

Don Wibier's Blog
10 June 2015

Our UI controls are some of the most feature–rich controls in the market, but enabling or disabling certain features means that you need to dig (deep) in your object inspector and the documentation to find the required ones. And that can take a bit of time.

In v14.2 we added the Designer Dialog, and now, to make life even easier, we've introduced our Feature Browser into that dialog. Those of you also using our WinForms controls will already know what I mean with that, since we introduced this in v14.1 for our WinForms controls.

What is the Feature Browser exactly?

In the Feature Browser we have grouped certain “desired behavior” or appearance features together. This makes it easy to access the properties needed for some functionality since they are put right next to each other.

Not only did we filter the properties per feature, we also embedded context sensitive help on a specific feature (instead of a property) all together in the same dialog. You can even click hyperlinks inside the help to set one or more properties in a single operation!

Where can I find it?

The Feature Browser is available for 2 complex controls: the GridView and HTML Editor. It appears when you click the Task button in the Design Surface, followed by clicking the Designer item inside the task menu.

The first page of the Designer contains the Feature Browser, and this allows you to setup the control in seconds.

The Feature Browser for the GridView control

Since the GridView control is the most complex control in our ASP.NET suite and setting up things like ServerMode, Master-Detail, Sorting, Grouping, Summaries and Totals require you to jump into the documentation (at least for the first time), we have put context sensitive help right into the Feature Browser. There is no longer any need to switch back and forth into the documentation.

Feature Browser for the HTML Editor

Though the HTML Editor ships with tons of features like the Tag Inspector, Place holders, Content Element Filtering and choosing to use a Toolbar or Ribbon Control, it is now simpler to configure. Just like with the GridView, there is no need to jump into the documentation.

For that reason, the Context Sensitive help is not included in the HTML Editor Feature Browser. Instead we have made certain choices more visual. For example, changing the Toolbar mode will show you immediately what the appearance will be, and which items are available in the toolbar or ribbon.

Let me know how much it speeds up your development time, or if you’re missing certain features!

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