NetAdvantage impressed us with a wide range of graphical interface elements that we could drop into ASP.Net or Winforms applications. Perhaps more impressive, however, were the facilities included in NetAdvantage for configuring these elements.
Most of the NetAdvantage interface elements are accompanied by designer tools that we could access by right-clicking on the element wed dragged into our form. These element designers organized the large lists of configuration options available for each element into dialogs that we found fairly easy to use.
Even better, all the NetAdvantage Web elements, and the grid element for Winforms applications, included a wizard that walked us through our design options when called on via the right-click context menu.
One annoyance that we discovered upon firing up Visual Studio with NetAdvantage for the first time was that we had to create a Visual Studio toolbox tab for our NetAdvantage elements. Part of the blame appears to belong to Visual Studio. After creating a toolbox tab, we checked off the items we wanted in our tab, but all items present in any tab were checked in the Customize Toolbox dialog, making it confusing to keep track of which items would appear in which tab.
NetAdvantage ships with a nice set of code samples, as well as comprehensive documentation, which we could access from Visual Studio. We downloaded a particularly impressive sample application, called Tracker, that improves on the contact and task handling of Microsofts Outlook and does a good job of showing off how polished an application NetAdvantage can help create.
We used Xamlon Professional 1.0 to build a simple Hello World-type application using a vector graphic described in XAML from one of the sample projects that ship along with the product.
The tools that ship with Xamlon dont include a tool for drawing vector graphics interfaces—at this point, developers must use Illustrator with Xamlons vector graphics import utility to bring the interface images they draw into their XAML projects.
Part of the promise of XAML is that it will allow companies to divide application development tasks between coders and interface designers, with the work of each surfacing in the finished product.
One example of this development model is the Xolitare sample application included with Xamlon. The Xamlon team took a version of solitaire that was written in C# and married it to a deck of cards created in XAML, which could be replaced by another XML-based front end. The result is an application that could be run from the desktop or through a browser, as well as an application that scaled smoothly as we resized its window.
The interface scaling of XAML applications could prove compelling in mobile applications, but that would require XAML run-time engines for mobile platforms, which weve yet to see.
Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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