The Microsoft user interface development environment has changed a lot in recent years as WPF and ASP.NET Ajax extensions joined WinForms and other methods for building front ends. A bigger change came about last year with Silverlight, Microsoft's answer to the Adobe Flash Rich Internet Application (RIA) interface.
Many developers have tried out Silverlight, but they have had to re-create a lot of useful visual components from scratch. But presentation-layer tool and components makers such as Infragistics are beginning to fill the void.
The company recently released chart and gauge components for Microsoft Silverlight beta 2. The chart control is said to include 28 chart types for forecasting, reporting and the like. The gauges are said to enable a class of dashboard-style applications where data is displayed in intuitive ways. Microsoft released the Silverlight 2 beta 2 CTP earlier this month.
Do developers really need to get so ''flashy?'' Lombardo and others say highly interactive user interfaces have a lot of potential.
"Silverlight is about taking the user experience to the next level," said Lombardo. It also may find use as other Web methods droop under the strains of highly interactive application requirements. For his part, Lombardo says Silverlight may come into play in some places where Ajax is 'maxing out.'
Still, Infragistics is moving on that and other UI fronts too. At TechEd this month it unveiled wizard and preset Web Slider and Web Hierarchical Data Source controls for ASP.NET Ajax, and WindowsForms TreeMap and WinGrid component enhancements that save time required to write validation logic. The Infragistics Sliders are especially interesting because they allow end-users to adjust the parameters of a search (e.g., a request for a flight reservation based on price or departure time) without having to re-input data by hand.