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ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit

Create menus and panel bars for your ASP.NET pages.



ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit

Create menus and panel bars for your ASP.NET pages.


By Glenn E. Mitchell II


ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit from Coalesys combines two server controls - WebMenu 2.0 for ASP.NET and PanelBar for ASP.NET - for rendering rich visual navigation controls using DHTML. WebMenu for ASP.NET creates hierarchical pop-up menus, and PanelBar for ASP.NET creates panel bars with a sliding group of icons that give your ASP.NET pages a Microsoft Outlook appearance.


Both components are written in C# and support the ASP.NET PostBack event model. They also integrate smoothly with Visual Studio .NET's WebForm designer for easy drag-and-drop operation.


The controls also include standalone visual modeling applications you can use to learn about the component object models, do your prototyping, or implement and maintain pop-up menus and panel bars. You can save the binary state in a file that can be loaded by the .NET assemblies.


The Toolkit has cross-browser support for Internet Explorer (versions 4.0 and later) and Netscape (version 4.0 and later) with both controls. Each control saves network bandwidth by sending only the specific DHTML for the connected browser. They also generate fall-back HTML 3.2 code, so down-level browsers can still navigate your site easily. So there's no need for browser plug-ins, client-side code branching, or applets. All that's required of the client is JavaScript support and a scriptable Document Object Model (DOM).


Adding an instance of WebMenu for ASP.NET or PanelBar for ASP.NET to your project is easy. You have three choices: You can use the WebForm designer in Visual Studio .NET; a server-side script block or CodeBehind file with the .NET language of your choice; or the standalone visual modeling tools that come with the components.


WebMenu for ASP.NET generates DHTML hierarchical menus (see Figure 1). You can customize colors, sizes, borders, and fonts, allowing you to integrate your menus visually with any ASP.NET project. You also can add custom images for added visual pizzazz. You can position menu groups relative to another HTML element, or you can place them at an absolute position on the page. They detect the edge of the window automatically and reposition themselves, keeping your menu visible at all times. When a user clicks on a menu item, custom JavaScript functions at the browser can be invoked. Both server components include lots of examples that are loaded straight to their installation directories.


Figure 1. Use WebMenu for ASP.NET to build customizable, hierarchical menus for ASP.NET pages.


You use PanelBar for ASP.NET to generate a collapsible navigator with a 3-D appearance. The user interface should be familiar to Windows application users, especially those who use Microsoft Outlook or Windows XP. Sliding groups of icons let you pack a lot of navigation into a small amount of page real estate.


The server control renders an advanced DHTML navigator that can expose groups of items without making return trips to the server, and it displays scroll buttons automatically when the need arises. The navigator panel can have a predetermined size, or it can resize itself dynamically to fit a framed or non-framed area.


ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit's server controls are highly professional. It's quick and easy to install, and the performance of the server components won't disappoint because they're designed for high throughput.


At press time, a new release of WebMenu was imminent. I tested the current version (1.2) and the 2.0 release candidate; the upgrade is free for registered 1.2 users. If you want to add professional navigation features to your ASP.NET site, I strongly recommend the tools in Coalesys' ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit.



Glenn Mitchell is president of .Com Consulting Group, a consulting firm in Tallahassee, FL specializing in Microsoft enterprise solutions. In addition to consulting, he speaks and writes about enterprise application development. He can be reached at mailto:[email protected].



ASP.NET Navigation Toolkit

Coalesys Inc.

P.O. Box 466

Northport, N.Y. 11768



Phone: (631) 269-6820

Web Site:

Price: US$478 for the full suite; US$299 for WebMenu and PanelBar individually.


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