WinForms Presentation and Reporting Components - What is it You Get and How Can You Compare (WinForms Edition)

Thinking Out Loud
01 July 2008

First and foremost, if you're using our WinForms (Windows Forms if you prefer) controls already, you may find this post useless since you already know what we offer and what you can deliver to market using our tools...

A couple of days ago, we were sitting around and reviewing our web content and its organization, the scope and breadth of our product line and the value we offer to our users. When it was all said and done, we said to ourselves...we are doing a lousy job describing what people get when they purchase our tools and an even lousier job distinguishing ourselves from our competitors. Between the old content, the tired descriptions, and the lousy structure, a prospective user cannot get a real handle of what we offer.

There were many suggestions...the most succinct of which was "let's just tell people we kick some WinForms butt" (there, I said it guys)

Hyperbole like that though is meaningless. Just telling people we are the best means nothing. Like our motto, one must download our tools, compare them to those available in the market, and then make the appropriate decision for their specific business needs. Our job is to articulate the value proposition in our tools and leave the hot air out.

The purpose of this long post is not to tell you we are the best - but to describe what it is you get when you pay for DevExpress WinForms controls. it goes...

Data Editing

Since data editing is a crucial part of any software application, the XtraEditors Library can be thought of as the head of the component class here at DevExpress. The editors within this library can be used standalone (such as the DateEdit to modify date values) or as cell editors within container controls such as the XtraGrid, the XtraTreeList, the XtraVerticalGrid and soon the XtraPivotGrid.

But please - dont let the name of this package of controls fool's not just about data editing. There is a lot more there than just editors.

From buttons, to tab controls...labels, to splitter controls...this is a very large library of utility visual controls.

To learn more about the controls we ship with the XtraEditors LIbrary, review the following page:

Grid Controls

Alright - we know how important grid controls are for Windows Forms applications. We offer 2 different packages to address your grid component needs (4 if you count the XtraPivotGrid control and the XtraTreeList, but I'll describe them in other sections of this blog post)

The XtraGrid Suite is a multi-purpose grid control. It has way too many features to describe here, but a few are:

  • Grouping
  • Master/Details
  • Card View
  • Carousel View
  • Data Filtering
  • etc etc etc

As I mentioned a moment ago, in-cell editing for the XtraGrid is accomplished via the components included in the XtraEditors Library. The following page describes the controls that ship with the XtraGrid Suite -

Oh - before I forget to mention it, take a look at GridLookupEdit control - something you can use to blow away the limitations of standard combobox controls.

The XtraVerticalGrid is an inverted grid control and like its big brother, allows you to edit cell values with the controls shipped within the XtraEditors Library. To see what's included with this package, visit:

In the past, I've blogged about the ways in which you can radically reduce the number of reports  you need to create by exploiting the power of our presentation controls. I will describe the XtraPrinting Library momentarily, but if you've not read my previous blog post - you can do so here.

Toolbars, Menus, and the Ribbon

The XtraBars Suite is all about toolbars, all about menus, and all about the Ribbon control. It allows you to embed controls we include within the XtraEditors Library...It is part of the XtraReports Suite (for those wanting to use the Ribbon control for the end-user designer)...and oh, it includes a docking control (which I will describe later).

Check out its specs here:

Data Analysis

For this product category, I'm going to only focus on the XtraPivotGrid - though one could argue XtraCharts and XtraReports should be included as well (will cover those in a minute). Not every Windows Forms application is going to require a Pivot Table control, but for $799.99 (that's the cost of DXperience WinForms Edition and includes all of our WinForms controls) you get it included and it'll be there for you whenever the need arises.

The cool thing about this control is that it supports both OLAP and standard data sources. And, with the upcoming v2008 vol 2 release, we've introduced in-cell editing (yes, using the editors within the XtraEditors LIbrary) - Azret blogged about this the other day....

Before we move forward, remember that like the XtraGrid and XtraVertical Grid, rendering the PivotGrid and knocking off dozens of manually generated reports is easy as pie when you use the XtraPrinting Library (see this blog post for more info).


No complete Windows Forms presentation control package would be complete without a charting control and ours is called the XtraCharts Suite.

A complete listing of chart types can be found here:

Need an easy and straightforward way to render your chart to paper? Not a problem...the XtraPrinting Library will do just this (sounds like a broken record having to repeat the great features of the XtraPrinting Library, but I do want to make the point as effectively as I can...the XtraPrinting Library is all about rendering your UI and in so doing, eliminating the tedious process of manual report generation).

Note: When you purchase DXperience WinForms Edition, you receive the ASP.NET version of the XtraCharts Suite free of charge.


If what I've described by now is not sufficient enough to warrant  you spending $800 with us for our Windows Forms component libraries, then perhaps a reporting tool with a full end user report designer will. This blog post is already getting long, and so I don't want to spend too much time describing the XtraReports Suite but do check out the specifications page to see the standard and extended controls it supports out of the box (such as barcodes and our ribbon control).

Like the XtraCharts Suite, if you purchase DXperience WinForms Edition, you receive XtraReports for ASP.NET free of charge.

Treeviews (or Listviews or TreeLists)

I mentioned the XtraTreeList in the Grid section and fact is, this hybrid control can behave much like a traditional grid or a traditional tree or a combination of both. Editing is made possible with the XtraEditors Library and its contents can be rendered to paper with the XtraPrinting Library. The XtraTreeList can be bound to a dataset or can be used in unbound mode.

Scheduling and Calendars

Not every application is going to need a Microsoft Outlook style scheduler control, but for those that do, we ship the XtraScheduler Library. I don't really need to explain the specifics of a scheduling system to any of you and if this is a requirement in your application, the XtraScheduler specification page lists all the different controls you will have available to you once you implement this component.

Did I mention that the XtraPrinting Library allows you to print your scheduling UI instantly? Smile

Navigation Bars

Made famous by Microsoft Outlook, the navigation bar is an integral part of many Windows applications today. The XtraNavBar offers you numerous view styles such as Office 97, 2000, XP, you can decide what makes the most sense for your business and UI needs. We'v got a bunch of images describing the ways in which the product can be displayed to your end users here:


Though not appropriate for all Windows applications, a "dockable" UI is certainly a popular choice among many. Those desiring to build this user interface can do so by using our XtraDocking Library. We don't sell this product on a standalone basis...instead, we include it within the XtraBars Suite (and by definition, DXperience). To see how it looks, check out the following page:

Form Design and Layout

To preface, let me say that the XtraLayout Control is not for everyone. If you love pixel based form layout, this product is not for you. If, however, you want a more refined way in which to build forms, then make sure to check it out. I cannot tell you how many people have approached us at tradeshows singing the praises of this control. At TechEd 2008, one of our users spoke about the importance of this control in his development (see the video here)

And yes, its contents can be rendered to paper via the XtraPrinting Library.

Spell Checker

An itty bitty control library, the XtraSpellChecker does what it's name implies - offer you a spell checking solution.

Printing - Rendering to Paper

Throughout this post, I've repeatedly  mentioned the XtraPrinting Library. I won't bore you with the list of controls it's able to render...for that,  you can read our specifications page here:

Skinning (or Themes)

I love our skinning system (themes sounds much more elegant - but we weren't smart enough to call it that) and from those who post on our forums and comment in our blogs, our application wide skinning engine is what brings everything together. An integral part of all of our presentation controls, the XtraSkinning Library gives you numerous themes out of the box and ships with its own designer so you can create your own as necessary. I've blogged about how and why this product was created here:

Note: We'll be introducing a new skin with DXperience v2008 vol 2 - the Summer Skin.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

With DXperience v2008 vol 2, we will introduce 2 new WinForms controls...adding to our already mind-numbingly large presentation component collection for Windows Forms.

The XtraWizard and XtraGauge Suite

Phew - I Think I've Got All Major WinForms Products Covered

Alright - that's about it...that's our WinForms product line and its definitely a mouthful (or blogful). DXperience WinForms is available for $799.99. It includes everything I've outlined above.

Before I wrap up, I do want to make certain that I've stated the obvious (at least obvious to our existing users) in this blog post. Our product packages or suites all have unique names, but this by no means definitively describes what they include. For instance, in the XtraEditors Library alone, you have access to a wide variety of products - Button, Calendar, Combobox, MaskedEdit, TabStrip, TrackBar, ProgressBar, etc. Yes, you get all the data editors you can possibly use, but you get a boat load of other components that can be used throughout your application.

Download - Compare - Decide

Hopefully this post gives you the information you need to proceed with your evaluation process. The next step is obvious - download our free trial version. Once you've got it installed, make sure to contact our support team ( with any questions or issues. For pricing and general product information, write to us at

Good Luck with the evaluation process and here's hoping you build your best - everyday.

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