Nevron .NET Vision Enterprise
A Flexible and Sharp-looking Component Bundle
By Mike Riley
.NET component suites have proved a boon to commercial software companies and their customers. In component suites, vendors maximize their development investment by ensuring that customers have access to the best of collection that the seller has to offer. Customers realize the savings of bundled pricing and the incentive to more deeply explore components that they otherwise would have sought elsewhere or not at all. There s also meeting the objective of design consistency, with component compilations often guaranteeing a standardized look and feel, as well as code naming conventions and even documentation formats.
Joining this market recently (relatively speaking, compared to its competitors) is Nevron, a company that initially made its mark with a well received chart component (refer to my review of Nevron s earlier chart component). As a result of that success, the company expanded its offerings and combined its inventory into their .NET Vision suite. The suite is comprised of three component libraries: Chart for .NET, Diagram for .NET, and User Interface Suite.
Nevron Chart for .NET
Please refer to my earlier review for more comprehensive opinions of the base features that Nevron s Chart component delivers. Several improvements have been added to the Q1 2006 release, including full support for the Visual Studio 2005 IDE. Furthermore, the Enterprise edition offers additional charts, such as polar, radar, and XYZ Scatter formats, bringing the total number of chart variants to well over a hundred variations. Each of these can be further edited and refined with line and fill color, weights, labels, etc. Nearly every type of chart I could imagine using in past and present projects has been encapsulated in this substantial component.
Figure 1: The Nevron Chart Web demo shows off the flexibility and power of this component.
Thanks to the intuitive Chart Wizard available at design time, selecting the ideal chart and tweaking its numerous parameters is a designer s dream. I initially encountered a landmine of a bug within the VS2005 IDE (the crash to the desktop without warning kind) when selecting the Polar Line with Markers choice from the wizard. I did a quick scan in Nevron s support forum (http://www.nevron.com/Forum.htm), but didn t come across anything recent regarding this problem. Fortunately for Nevron, they followed up with me on the progress of this review and exterminated this nasty glitch before this review was published. I would expect that Nevron is just as responsive toward its paying customers as it is with humble product reviewers like me.
Nevron Diagram for .NET
Nevron s Diagram component library is unquestionably in a class by itself. When I first saw the control, I skeptically wondered how I could use such technology in a Web application. After seeing the example program highlighting its use (Nevron certainly knows how to showcase its products with its demos), the wheels stared spinning. Practically any visualized structure of data, ideally from dynamically generated sources, would make a perfect fit with Diagram. Think of Diagram as a slimmed down, componentized version of Visio. Like Chart, Diagram works as both an ASP.NET and a Windows Forms control, further extending its usage scenarios. Diagram is built on top of the Nevron DOM, which supplies designers with granular control over stylesheets, layers, protected areas, and more. The geometric shapes comprising the illustrated aspects of a diagram are in the form of graphic primitives, 1D and 2D aggregate models. Additional shape factories supply brainstorm (attention, note, smileys, etc.), flowchart (data, decision, document, etc.), network (computer, hub, server, etc.), traffic (speed limit, stop, etc.), and 17 generic symbols.
Figure 2: Nevron s Diagram for .NET component library is the best in its class.
The Enterprise edition of Diagram for .NET extends the selection of variations available to the interface designer. These include additional layouts (Animation, Tree, Force Directed, and Table), additional shape factories, and templates (Elliptical, Family/Generic tree, rectangle, and triangle grid).
The real power of Diagram is realized when these shape libraries are combined with data sources that can dynamically assemble them in real-time, meaningful data visualizations. Imagine a flowchart that dynamically updates with line color and thickness changing based on the real-time system feedback of a process workflow or a network map that shows the equipment status based on the shape s color for administrators or customers. Nevron should follow up with case studies on the interesting scenarios its customers have entrusted Diagram with visualizing.
Nevron User Interface Suite
While it s unfortunate that the current version of the User Interface Suite is exclusively for Windows Forms developers, ASP.NET programmers can hopefully have a glimpse of what might be expanded to a Web UI. Granted, many of the cool effects in the UI Interface are strictly rich-client material, but several of the libraries could be redesigned as AJAX representations, bringing Nevron s UI richness to a cross-platform Web 2.0 crowd. In the meantime, Windows Forms developers will no doubt find the healthy selection of various widgets a welcome addition to an already copious component package. The demo showcases the UI variations possible, as well as exemplifies the ease of including rich Vista-like graphic states to their applications.
Figure 3: The User Interface Suite is a collection of Web 2.0-inspired Windows Forms widgets.
Unlike the other two components, Nevron does not offer an Enterprise version of the User Interface Suite; hence, there are no additional enhancements in this bundle of components versus the standalone offering.
For those existing customers already satisfied with the UI design and feature-rich flexibility that Nevron supplies, .NET Vision Enterprise delivers an impressive array of technology at a reasonable price. ASP.NET developers may find the lack of Web-enabled support for the User Interface Suite an unnecessary expense to an otherwise solid and unique component collection. Perhaps in a future version Nevron can convert many of these rich UIs into slick AJAX components that perform identically inside a Windows Form or within a Firefox browser. Regardless, the Chart and Diagram components are feature laden, intuitive, and quick to implement.
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$1,589; US$2,829 with Subscription and Premium Support. Volume discounts available.
Attractive, flexible, and easy to use, yet comprehensive, component design.
Dynamic diagramming component is best in its class.
User Interface Suite is only for use with Windows Forms.
Demo applications superbly showcase nearly all aspects of the Nevron suite.