Perry (my boss... a developer/manager... he codes and manages) and I have been having a recurring conversation lately. One that keeps bringing to my mind a product that I knew about when I worked for ZAC Catalogs (way back in the day). I would daresay that none of you had even heard of it (although we did pick it up as a result of Xtras carrying it, so maybe a few of you knew about it). I believe it was a called "MFC DataGrid Wizard" or something like that. Anyway what it did was build a custom DataGrid component for you based on selections in a wizard. You selected what features you needed and then it would take it’s full-featured Grid source code (which came with the component) and would dynamically generate a full blown component for you with just the features you needed.
There are two reasons this has become a topic for discussion for me. The first is that we are currently struggling with a set of third party components that a prior developer/manager pushed all over our main site. The components are ones that you have probably heard great things about them and they are pretty cool. The problem is when you shove these components everywhere! We are having ViewState issues among other things... One of the components is a full-featured Grid control (client-side) that while nice we usually only use as a glorified listbox (we use it for selecting an item). As a result I built a specialized DataGrid for our company (one that I’ll be doing a walkthrough on its codebase at the first TUX user group meeting next month)
The other reason is this post from Bertrand LeRoy where he talks about a simple grid for ASP.NET. Here’s my problem with Bertrand’s post. The grid he talks about as being simple really doesn’t sound all that simple to my ears. Let me list a couple features:
- Column drag/drop
- Different column types
- Data Sorting/Paging
- Inline editing
Now mind you these are awesome features if you need them all then you would want to use something like this, but a lot of times what we need is something simpler. You could use the aforementioned grid for this, but the grid will probably still use ViewState (because it needs it maintain state for the paging, sorting, and editing features). It might need several more scripts or <shudder /> it’s script might be 500-1000 lines longer because of the added features.
A Better Way
I have been thinking about a better way to "do" script components. We really need to have a wizard that asks us what we will be needing in the components and then the main script file can be customized (as can the server side code) to remove certain things. It could be done really easy with templates for the script. You need a template for the main file, and additional includes based on features. The server side would work pretty much the same way. I know that no company really wants to give away their source, but even if they were able to do this for script code that would make our lives a lot easier.
| posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 8:04 AM