Sunday, October 22, 2006

Choosing a GUI library for ASP.NET

You can get an exhaustive list of .NET components at http://www.componentsource.com/ but if you want a GUI library for ASP.NET, your choice is really between:
I would not recommend the other vendors for any of the following reasons:
  • Framework is not sufficiently exhaustive to cover 99% of the requirements;
  • Vendor has not been around for a sufficiently long time;
  • Updates are not sufficiently frequent to follow the pace of new developments like Ajax;
  • Developer license is not royalty-free and/or price is unaffordable;
Infragistics, Telerik and ComponentArt have very similar features, pricing and support when you do not dig into the details of each framework. See the Infoworld comparative article.

I generally find Infragistics to be a richer framework than Telerik and ComponentArt, with two drawbacks: (1) more complex to use and (2) fatter Javascript library to load on the client.

On the mid-term, ComponentArt may have taken a competitive edge by rewriting its components on top of the Microsoft Ajax framework (code-named Atlas).

On the long-term, it is difficult to predict the impact of WPF on web interfaces. On one hand, there is a need for richer interfaces that are easier to develop and Microsoft is committed to deliver the technology (WPF/E) and tools to achieve just that. On the other hand, WPF is really nothing more than Flash the Microsoft way, and very few web sites are developed with Flash yet although the Flash plug-in is available on 90% of internet PCs.

I have personally used Sheridan and now Infragistics controls for years, so I stick with them but if I had to make a new choice now, I would definitely opt for the rewritten ComponentArt controls.

1 comment:

Eric Bates said...

I have been using Telerik controls for quite some time now and have been amazed by their powerful functionality and most important by their great customer support. They are really quick to offer solutions to any implementation question you have. Also worth mentioning is the speed with which they come up with new updates. There are new controls and new versions coming out every 1-2 months. Make sure you check them out while looking for asp.net UI components.