FlyGrid.Net 1.0 Professional Edition
Easy to Use, Affordable Windows.Forms Grid and Tree View Control
By Mike Riley
Grid controls are one of the most popular .NET components. As such, they have also been one of the most frequent types of components I ve reviewed. Obviously, the grid control that Microsoft shipped with Visual Studio.NET was inadequate for all but the simplest of data display. This deficiency has been duly noted by enterprising component vendors seeking to build a better alternative, of which there are plenty. As such, grid controls range from free and open source to enterprise carrier class costing US$1,000. Not to be excluded, component developer 9Rays.Net has crafted their implementation of an easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and lightweight grid and tree view control replacement.
Figure 1: FlyGrid.Net Professional ships with a well designed demonstration with source code showing the most interesting and useful features that the component has to offer.
FlyGrid.Net is a Windows.Forms-based .NET data-aware control that allows for the usual embedded grid elements, including buttons (check, option, and plus/minus), dropdown columns, headers with sort, node filtering, tool-tip pop-ups, and five UI styles ranging from flat to Office XP. However, in addition to the usual capabilities expected in a commercial grid component, FlyGrid.Net also implements some interesting and unique features. Column summary is a feature that is perfect for displaying numeric column totals, formula results, and other meaningful tabular results. Nested grids are also supported in both bound and unbound modes for rapid client response time and sophisticated data relationship associations. The control can also be instructed to be segmented into several horizontal and vertical views for further flexibility.
Figure 2: The vertical grid view allows embedded custom editors, such as this dropdown image listbox example.
Additionally, FlyGrid.Net supports drag/drop cell block, column, and row moves, shift/control key multi-element select, and an auto-data type detection feature that can facilitate the formatting and functioning of view types such as the vertical grid. There s also a nifty print preview and print output engine that saves time by not having to implement custom printing routines. The component is also fully compatible with 1.x and 2.0 versions of the .NET Framework.
While putting the control through its paces, I was struck by just how fast it seemed to display its results. According to the company, FlyGrid.Net can add 100,000 nodes in 0.2 seconds. Naturally, this statistic is processor and memory dependent, but it is nevertheless tuned for high-performance output.
Figure 3: Check out this statistic generated using a lowly Pentium III 1 GHz test PC with 512 MB RAM. Yep, that s 1 million new rows added in 7.8 seconds.
Although some developers might be put off by the lack of bells and whistles found on other, more expensive grid controls, FlyGrid.Net met the 80/20 rule, with the control encapsulating 80% of the most often utilized functionality when seeking an adequate grid control. However, a downside to any standalone component versus those found in a suite is that its programming model and UI are by their independent nature disjointed from other controls on a page. This is where component suites that include grid replacements are a better choice, especially when maintaining such code and user interface consistency are paramount.
Although 9Rays.Net has begun to amass component libraries of its own, they have a long way to go before offering a full data-aware UI replacement suite that can compete against other vendors that have aggregated dozens of controls into a single, albeit considerably more expensive, package. Yet those developers seeking a fast, standalone, inexpensive, and easy to use Windows.Forms grid and tree view control should definitely download the free evaluation version of FlyGrid.Net from the company s Web site and give it a try. It s an application enhancement that data hungry users with high client-side expectations will most certainly appreciate.
Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. Readers may contact Mike at mailto:[email protected].
Price: US$287.95; Annual Subscription with support available for US$1,299.95