Product Review: Nevron .NET Vision

About the Product
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Website: http://www.nevron.com 
Price: Starts from $989 

Reviewed by Anand Narayanaswamy

Developers are constantly on the lookout for alternative UI products to replace the default set of controls included with .NET Framework. Today many third-party components are available, and it's up to the developer to pick a product according to their project requirements. It also makes sense when programmers make use of two different third-party products in a single project; in such a case, components included with Nevron .NET Vision play an important role.

Nevron .NET Vision includes controls for building charts and diagrams for both ASP.NET and Windows platforms, including a suite for creating graphical UIs exclusively for desktop applications. The installer automatically adds the required components to the Visual Studio Toolbox, but you should add references to the relevant additional libraries in the project as mentioned in the documentation. Although the product includes built-in wizards, developers still need to write code to perform tasks associated with Nevron .NET Vision controls. Thus, it's vital to understand the usage of each control before proceeding to work with it. Here I review two component sets in Nevron .NET Vision, Nevron Chart for .NET and Nevron Diagram for .NET, and give you a feel for how they work.

Nevron Chart for .NET
Nevron Chart for .NET ships with many powerful features that developers can use to present information in various formats (e.g., bar, line, area, pie, point, bubble), including the charting types used for financial applications (Kagi, Renko, Point and Figure, and Three Line Break). The product also includes four surface-based charts and several mathematical-based charting formats and automatically displays a flexible legend. Moreover, developers can use any one of the predefined styles, positions, and layouts to position the charts. Figure 1 below shows a sample Nevron Chart for .NET chart.

A notable feature of the Nevron Chart for .NET components is that they provide support for functions, formulas, watermarks, measurement units, Document Object Model (DOM), and annotation, including an integrated layout manager with the ability to dock and nest panels. Moreover, you can easily export images in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format and create charts with several 3D effects. Another key feature of the product is that it supports AJAX with functionality for click, double-click, move, down, and up mouse events. Additionally, the product generates maps that can display tooltips and also redirect users to the relevant URL upon clicking the relevant spot on the image. Nevron Chart for .NET can directly stream an image to the client browser and renders the response depending on the client browser by using built-in automatic detection. The vendor has implemented charts with 2D and 3D effects and numeric, knob-based gauges in the latest version of the product. (See http://chartexamples.nevron.com.)

As I mentioned earlier, you can design charts by using the built-in wizard, which can be activated from within Visual Studio and which lets you automatically select a chart type and set legend, labels, lights, borders, and axes. An interesting feature of the wizard is that it displays a small preview when a specific chart type is selected, as Figure 2 shows.

The chart component will be useful for developers who are willing to write some amount of code. I noticed that the data-binding wizard included with the product doesn't work properly and throws several exceptions. Although the wizard properly connects to the database and returns the results from the relevant table, the generated code will not be executed by Visual Studio. However, the product works as expected if the required code is supplied manually. I hope the vendor will pay more attention to quality control and will release an updated patch to fix the problem in the near future.

Nevron Diagram for .NET
Nevron Diagram for .NET lets you create powerful diagrams using either the built-in designer or code. I found it easy to create diagrams using the designer tool, as you can drag and drop the shapes to the work area. You can create diagrams using a 2D shape, which represents boxes and text, or a 1D shape, which interconnects two different shapes like those used in flowcharts and organizational hierarchies. Figure 3 shows some examples of shapes you could include in a diagram.

Although Nevron Diagram for .NET comes with a wide range of predefined shapes, developers can also create new custom shapes and integrate them into their applications. Moreover, the visual appearance of all diagram elements is controlled with the help of inheritable styles, which I feel will greatly reduce the time required to create diagrams. The product also includes support for advanced visual effects, graphs, trees, maps, and AJAX (see http://diagramexamples.nevron.com). Nevron is scheduled to release a new batch of controls for the Silverlight platform in the near future based on the vendor's flagship OpenVision architecture.

An Advanced Set of Controls
Nevron .NET Vision includes detailed documentation with complete source code and getting-started guides for all the components included with the suite. I found it very easy to follow the content but noticed a few minor naming-related problems, which I hope will be rectified in the next build. I'd like to see the vendor host interactive video tutorials in addition to providing the knowledge base, documentation, and discussion forum on the Nevron support page, to help beginners quickly learn how to use the product. Additionally, I'd prefer to have a set of components for creating GUIs for ASP.NET in addition to chart and diagram controls and hope that vendor will provide them in future releases of the suite.

Nevron .NET Vision offers immense possibilities because it includes many advanced features for building next-generation charts and diagrams. I feel that developers will realize the product's full potential only after mastering the functionality of each component; once you've done so, you'll be able to create rich and powerful web applications in a minimum amount of time.

 

Reviewed by Anand Narayanaswamy ([email protected]), a Microsoft MVP who works as an independent consultant based in Trivandrum, India, and runs http://www.learnxpress.com.

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