UI tools that ease .NET development

Those who read my VS.NET tips know I like to ferret out and play with interesting devtools of all kinds. This week, let me draw your attention to the DotNetBar suite from DevComponents.com. It's a double-handful (10, that is) of interesting user interface tools designed for easy integration and use in the .NET environment. A slew of interesting screen shots available on line give a good idea of what the latest version of this three-year-old product set can do.

Among other things, you'll find easy ways to match VS.NET 2005's color scheme (great for those who build devtools themselves bound for use with Visual Studio), nice matches for Office 2003 looks and feels, navigation panes, side-bar controls, and more. It's a great help in creating UIs that fit seamlessly into MS tools, applications, and environments.

But there's more to like about DotNetBar than just a nice set of themes and color schemes. You also get a worthwhile selection of ready-to-use .NET components that include the following:

  • Balloon/Alert Control makes it easy to construct balloon help, and to generate user alarms and alerts.
  • Explorer Bar Control lets you initialize and use XP-style Explorer bars within your applications for easy visual file system navigation and browsing.
  • Menus and Toolbars with VS.NET 2005, matches recent Office versions (2003, XP, and 2000) with colors, themes, customization controls, and window styles and layouts.
  • Multi-functional Panel Control makes it easy to organize and offer all kinds of user controls through various types of panel displays.
  • Navigation Bar Control makes navbars like those in Office 2003 easy to define, place, and use.
  • Navigation Pane Control makes container controls like those in Office 2003 easy to define, place, and use.
  • Side Bar Control makes it easy to create various types of hierarchical menu schemes and includes two different layouts, five separate styles, numerous predefined color schemes, drag'n'drop support, and so forth.
  • Tab Container Control lets you define tabbed containers using four distinct styles, numerous predefined color schemes, multiple tabs, including a scheme that matches MS One Note, among others.
  • Tabbed Dockable Auto-Hide Windows multiple window display area, with tools to manage window docking, color schemes, use of icons and tabs, all easy to define, place, and use.

In short, there is a lot to like and use when it comes to building standard, friendly UI components for your VS.NET applications in this toolbox. Single developer licenses cost $189 per seat; site licenses $1,399; annual support contracts cost extra. A free trial of this software is also available.

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 etittel@techtarget.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.

This was first published in March 2005

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