UltimateCalendar 1.0 for ASP.NET 2.0
Take Control of Your Calendar
By Anand Narayanaswamy
The calendar plays an important role in many applications. It used to be used mainly with Windows-based applications for date selection, but nowadays it is widely used with Web-based applications, as well. The .NET Framework itself provides us with a simple ASP.NET Calendar Web control, but it doesn t include many advanced functionalities. Many third-party vendors have developed an extension for this built-in control; one such product is UltimateCalendar 1.0 from Karamasoft (http://www.karamasoft.com). It ships with many advanced functionalities, which can be used in a variety of applications for performing date-related manipulations.
UltimateCalendar is a set of ASP.NET server controls used to provide calendar and date picker functionality. The product ships with a set of two controls, UltimateCalendar and UltimateDatePicker. You ll find both these controls in the Visual Studio Toolbox after the installation. While UltimateCalendar is the core part of the product, UltimateDatePicker enables you to select a date. You can make use of either UltimateCalendar or a combination of UltimateCalendar and UltimateDatePicker in your applications. You can also hide the calendar control from the screen with the UltimateDatePicker control. This will not only save space, but will also enable a user to pick a date when it is required.
One of the main features of the product is that you can create a scheduler by defining a set of special dates, starting and ending on specific dates, and also jump into any month and year without navigating through each month. You can also display week numbers at the head of every week. The product shows multiple months in different layouts and will enable you to select and deselect multiple days by clicking a single day, day header selector, week selector, or month selector. You can also customize the header and footer of the control with your own backgrounds and texts (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: UltimateCalendar 1.0 with header and footer enabled.
You can also display any combination of HTML and ASP.NET server controls at the top and bottom of the product. You can easily internationalize the product with various languages with the help of cultures (see Figure 2). UltimateCalendar also separately displays a set of disabled days or a range of enabled days. The core feature of the product is that the user can select a date or navigate through months without doing any postback to the server. This will surely reduce the processing time at the server side, because the page doesn t refresh which also provides a better user experience.
Figure 2: UltimateCalendar 1.0 in Hindi (the official language of India).
The product is fully compatible with Windows 2000, 2003, and XP Professional operating systems. A readme file will be added to the desktop immediately after the installation. This file contains important information regarding the product and also includes a FAQ, which briefly demonstrates how to work with the product. I managed to work with the product within minutes after its installation. I found that the product displays meaningful error messages when there is an error.
I recommend you go through the FAQ provided by the vendor; it will help you reduce some of the initial difficulties associated with the product. The vendor has provided the FAQ meant for ASP.NET 1.x version; as such, some of the entries will be out of scope for the product. I also found that the naming nomenclature has been not followed correctly, as it is given as VS.NET instead of VS 2005 in many places. I hope the vendor will fix these issues during the release of the next version of the product.
You can make use of filter and transition effects using scripting to further tweak the usage of the product. One of the main features of the product that I liked is that you can embed the control into other ASP.NET Web controls, such as GridView. Moreover, you can change the style of the calendar based on your design requirements. The product currently supports Internet Explorer 5.x, 6.x; FireFox 1.0x; Mozilla 1.0x; and Opera 7.5x. The product is fully compliant with XHTML 1.0 Transitional. You can also integrate the product with IBuySpy Portal Framework.
You can view a live demo of the product at http://www.karamasoft.com/UltimateCalendar/Samples.aspx. The vendor provides with the demos a short description about the properties used to achieve each specific functionality. The product comes with complete source code for the demo applications in both C# and Visual Basic 2005, both which can be accessed from the Start menu. I found the vendor has used the samples meant for ASP.NET 1.1 along with the product. They should update the DataGrid example included with the live demo with the GridView control.
You can further explore all the features of the product by playing with the various properties of the control. The vendor has provided the API reference for both server- and client-side usage, which can be accessed from the readme file. The vendor provides quick support via e-mail for all the issues posted. The vendor also maintains a support forum at http://www.karamasoft.com/Forums/. This will help customers get faster response directly from the product team at Karamasoft.
The vendor would be well advised to provide in HTML Help format detailed documentation for the product by including getting started tutorials along with code samples in both C# and Visual Basic 2005. The vendor should also integrate the documentation with the Visual Studio 2005 help system so developers can easily access them as and when it is required while developing applications. Sadly, they do neither; at present the product lacks good documentation.
UltimateCalendar 1.0 is available in two editions: Developer and Enterprise. The Developer edition grants a license for the use of a single developer; the Enterprise edition can be used by unlimited developers. You can find out more about the licensing policies of the product at http://www.karamasoft.com/License.aspx.
Finally, I must say that the product is robust and powerful and can be used along with any ASP.NET application that requires moderate to heavy usage of dates and associated activities. The next time you step in to develop an ASP.NET 2.0 application, be sure to check out UltimateCalendar 1.0, which I am sure will increase your productivity and save valuable time for implementing various advanced functionalities.
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (http://www.netans.com) which provides Web hosting services based in Trivandrum, India. Anand also works as a technical editor lead for ASPAlliance.com. Find out more about him at http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.karamasoft.com
Price: Developer License, US$249; Enterprise License, US$899