Any project manager knows the organizational value and timeline visualization that Gantt charts offer. However, these useful displays are rarely rendered as effectively outside of the native applications that originated them. For those fortunate to afford expensive project management systems, such Gantt charts are part of the web-enabled presentation. However, for organizations that are constrained by budgets or prefer to keep project management systems simple enough to be used by a broad range of users, less-expensive web-based component alternatives exist. Most of these follow the more traditional route of less dynamic but more browser-neutral ASP.NET controls. However, for those who have made Silverlight a mandatory part of their enterprise solution, programmers can step up to create an improved user experience. Using RadiantQ's Silverlight Gantt Controls Package, developers can offer Microsoft Project–like Gantt views on Project XML read/write data, giving tremendous flexibility for project managers and users alike.
Programming the control is straightforward, thanks to its excellent Silverlight 4 support. In addition to the Project-like presentation, the control also offers the ability to print out Gantt charts, zoom in for details, expand/collapse tasks, and visually represent the percentage of a task's completion and more. Using Visual Studio 2010's built-in Silverlight support makes embedding and wiring up either the Project Gantt or Resource Gantt control a breeze.
RadiantQ Silverlight Gantt project chart
The controls also offer a wide variety of customization options, including multi-column tree lists and views, template-based task bars, rows, and sub-rows. Best of all, the controls can declaratively bind in XAML and ADO.NET data from a variety of sources. This makes the control especially powerful for those organizations using the web interface as their primary means of project data entry and manipulation.
What makes the control really attractive is the near-flawless emulation of the Gantt and resource charts found in the rich Microsoft Project client application. Users who have any experience with Project will intuitively know how to interact with the control. They will also appreciate RadiantQ's inclusion of event-driven scheduling, resource leveling, progress tracking, and support for critical paths. Considering the cost of a Microsoft Project license compounded by the fact that it resides typically on a single user's computer, building a rich, web-enabled project management front end using RadiantQ's Silverlight controls could prove to be a very effective and budget-conscious decision.
RadiantQ's product documentation and support are also more than adequate. In addition to direct email support, RadiantQ also hosts an active online forum with support staff responses arriving hours (and sometimes even minutes) after a support query has been posted.
Rating: Four out of five stars
Price: $799 per developer license; $639 per developer for 2–5 licenses
Mike Riley ( [email protected]) is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He is also a contributing editor for DevProConnections. Follow Mike on Twitter @mriley.