Review: Silverlight Navigator

Integrate animated real-time charts into your Silverlight apps

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Website: www.dotnetcharting.com
Price: $395

Gone are days when static charts were merely displayed on the websites. Today web developers use dynamic charts, especially Silverlight-based charts, for presenting data. But creating such charts from scratch takes time and effort, so developers rely upon controls such as Corporate Web Solutions' Silverlight Navigator, which is a part of .netCHARTING product suite.

The product is available as a separate download for both ASP.NET and Windows-based applications. The installer automatically places the required controls into the Visual Studio 2010 Toolbox, as Figure 1 shows, so that you can work with the product quickly.

Figure 1: Automatic addition of the control to Visual Studio Toolbox
Figure 1: Automatic addition of the control to Visual Studio Toolbox

Silverlight Navigator is capable of animating numerous data points, since it provides support for multicore processors. The product also enables you to build charts with ChartArea legend, mouse tracking, navigation bar, history buttons, range selectors, and quick zoom buttons. Using Silverlight Navigator, developers can create applications that can track values at mouse position and can work with any scale data type.

After you add the Silverlight Navigator control to the design editor, you'll need to add code manually in order to create advanced charts with database access. I'd like to see the vendor add an option to connect to the database and populate records from within the Visual Studio environment, a feature that would reduce development time.

Silverlight Navigator allows a developer to create an interactive real-time Silverlight chart automatically from an ASP.NET chart. Moreover, developers can specify custom interval values for quick zoom and control chart movement through JavaScript API.

Silverlight Navigator includes basic documentation, but the documentation doesn't cover all the steps required to create Silverlight-based charts. Although the documentation contains several code examples, it should additionally explain the steps required to create charts with database access. Without such guidance, I feel that beginners will find it difficult to get started with the product.
 
However, Silverlight Navigator ships with many samples, and the vendor provides excellent email support. You can view a live demo of different types of charts, including a video demonstration, here.

As mentioned, the Silverlight Navigator is bundled with the .netCHARTING suite, so you need to pay for the entire package even if you will use only Silverlight Navigator. I suggest that the vendor provide a standalone version of Silverlight Navigator for a lower price, so that developers on a tight budget can easily buy and take advantage of the features included with the product.

I believe that Silverlight Navigator will be useful for advanced .NET developers who want to integrate animated real time charts into their applications.

Anand Narayanaswamy ([email protected]) is an ASPInsider and Microsoft MVP who works as an independent consultant based in Trivandrum, India. He is the author of Community Server Quickly (Packt Publishing) and runs www.learnxpress.com and www.dotnetalbum.com.

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