In my last tip, I took a quick tour of Component One's database display tools, replete with grids, charts, and various other bells and whistles. This time, instead of looking at ways to show program data to users, we'll take a look at a different tool build around a grid model that's designed to capture input from users (or data entry staff). DBI Technologies' Grid Tools 2.0 is a recent (2005) update to this company's well known set of data entry tools. It's implemented in the form of an OCX control named ctGrid.
This tool offers a flexible grid based metaphor for defining tabular layouts for capturing, editing, and displaying program data. It also permits users to make individual columns (related data fields) visible or invisible through checkboxes that determine what's displayed and what's not. It also lets them drag and drop fields from one place to another, dynamically re-arranging how they show on screen.
Where data values should belong to a scalar set, Grid Tools, makes it easy for developers to define the members of that set. After that, a pull-down list appears when the user highlights the field, and they must choose an element from the set to populate the field (it's also possible to define defaults to be automatically supplied, where that makes sense). Where outright data entry (rather than value selection) is needed, Grid Tools supports the following data types:
Grid Tools also has a lot to manage the way the data entry/edit facility appears within a frame inside an application or on a Web page (see the demo for a pretty good example). Built-in facilities include the following:
There's a lot more going on inside this excellent toolset than I can cover in this brief capsule summary, but suffice it to say that most developers seeking a powerful, capable, good-looking data entry toolset will find Grid Tools to be eminently satisfactory.
This toolset offers a great mix of layout and style management capabilities, along with a comprehensive and powerful set of data entry, validation, and grid navigation aids. It costs $299 for a single developer, $1,195 for a five-developer license, and ten-developer or site licenses may be negotiated upon request. To take Grid Tools 2.0 for a spin yourself, grab an eval version from DBI Technologies' Web site.
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at email@example.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.