Nevron .NET Vision
Charting & Diagramming for ASP.NET
By Steve C. Orr
A well-designed chart can crystallize mundane data into useful visualizations that lead a company to successes it otherwise may not have obtained. Likewise, a well-designed diagram can uniquely alert leaders to upcoming opportunities or foreboding threats. With Nevron s .NET Vision suite in their toolbox, developers can be empowered to dynamically create such charts and diagrams and potentially become heroes within an organization.
You might argue that it s not terribly difficult for an experienced .NET developer to use the System.Drawing namespace to create a basic bar chart. Indeed, such techniques have been covered in this very magazine. However, if you need easily implemented professional-looking charts and diagrams that go well beyond the basics, Nevron s suite might just be the perfect solution. This well-supported toolset provides maximum value with minimal effort your end users may think you worked weeks to create data visualizations that actually took only minutes to assemble.
Behind the Curtains
Underlying both the chart and the diagram controls is a common framework that handles serialization, formula processing, and other core functionality. This highly efficient document object model was thoughtfully designed in a consistent manner, so you need only to learn one system to be productive with both controls.
This core system is located in the Nevron.System.dll assembly. As with all their assemblies, a simple XCopy deployment is all that s necessary, with no registration or other potentially prohibitive server configurations necessary. If you do choose to register the components in the Global Assembly Cache, a handy MSI merge module is included for simple and convenient integration within your current deployment package(s).
The 160MB freely downloadable evaluation package has a slick installation that (with your permission) automatically adds its controls to your Visual Studio (2005 or 2008) toolbox. It also adds well-organized documentation links and sample projects to your Windows Start menu to help you get started quickly.
Nevron Chart for .NET
The chart control includes support for more than two dozen major chart types, each with multiple sub-chart options that add up to a seemingly infinite array of displayable charts and gauges. At design time, smart tags provide access to a variety of automatic configuration options, useful dialog boxes, and a built-in editor. Without the handy design-time editor shown in Figure 1, a new developer could easily become overwhelmed by all the available chart configuration options.
Figure 1: The design-time tools help developers easily configure the vast array of available charts, gauges, and diagrams.
At design time, charts can be copied to the clipboard, printed, or exported to a variety of file formats such as JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIFF. Once you have a chart configured perfectly, you can save its configuration to a file and load it again later to identically configure another chart.
The chart control supports both GDI+ and OpenGL rendering so you can get the best of both worlds. While static 2D and 3D renderings are certainly possible, more advanced users may be entranced by interactive features like dynamic AJAX data retrieval and the included data grid drilldowns, interactive charts and gauges, tooltips, and more.
Nevron Diagram for .NET
When it comes to charting controls, there are many companies competing for the attention of developers. However, Nevron s diagram control stands alone (see Figure 2). I ve never seen anything quite like it. I was amazed at the stunning variety of unique diagrams that are possible with this control. It may, in fact, be the best reason to buy Nevron .NET Vision. If you have the need to dynamically create diagrams, you might as well have a consistent and familiar charting control to use.
Figure 2: Nearly any kind of diagram imaginable can be dynamically created at run time with Nevron s diagram control.
Virtually any diagram you can imagine is possible: Illustrations, engineering drawings, housing, architecture, maps, city planning, flowcharts, programming models, org charts, supply chain diagrams, network maps, periodic tables, binary trees, triangular grids, family trees, and even origami instructions are just some of the many diagrams Nevron has demonstrated as possible on their Web site.
I strongly encourage you to peruse Nevron s diagram gallery to get your imaginative juices flowing about the kinds of diagrams you could create to help move your company forward.
In addition to their rich aforementioned galleries, Nevron also provides impressive live online demos, comprehensive feature lists, in-depth documentation, and detailed version histories. Nevron continually moves their feature sets forward with sturdy quarterly releases that provide ongoing value without breaking existing functionality or overwhelming developers with enormous new tasks.
Nevron stands behind their products, providing 30 days of free support before you even buy their product! This high-quality support is provided by people who actually helped develop the products, not just some hacks hired after the fact. After your purchase you ll receive an additional 60 days of free support. Furthermore, Nevron s Web site provides a comprehensive knowledge base, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, and online documentation.
Nevron .NET Vision is a powerful toolkit that empowers developers to create visually breathtaking interactive diagrams and charts dynamically at run time. The controls go together well thanks to the common framework underlying them both.
In addition to the ASP.NET support detailed in this review, Windows Forms charting and diagramming needs are also supplied so you can satisfy all sorts of end users. In fact, the full Nevron .NET Vision suite even includes the Nevron User Interface Suite. Because this sub-suite contains only Windows Forms controls, it was not evaluated for this review. However, this suite contains dozens of controls that may be useful to those of you who also do Windows Forms development, and it could be a valuable company asset.
I suggest you download your free evaluation today and try it out.
Steve C. Orr is an ASPInsider, MCSD, Certified ScrumMaster, Microsoft MVP in ASP.NET, and author of Beginning ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX by Wrox. He s been developing software solutions for leading companies in the Seattle area for more than a decade. When he s not busy designing software systems or writing about them, he often can be found loitering at local user groups and habitually lurking in the ASP.NET newsgroup. Find out more about him at http://SteveOrr.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.nevron.com
Pricing: Nevron .NET Vision, starts at US$989; Chart for .NET, starts at US$299; Diagram for .NET, starts at US$589. Various discounts are available for multiple developer licenses, subscriptions, and packages that include extended support.