Review of DevExpress DXperience Control Suite

Enter EggHeadCafe's free drawing to win a free license of DevExpress DXperience Suite. The latest version provides controls and frameworks for Winforms, WPF, ASP.NET and Siverlight.

DevExpress offers it’s DXperience suite for .NET Developers. The DXperience unified installer includes the following Visual Studio technologies. All of the items I have listed below have a link that will take you directly to the feature page of that control.

WPF Controls
Silverlight Controls
WinForms Controls
ORM and Frameworks
IDE Productivity Tools

DXperience Subscriptions allow you to purchase DevExpress products at significant discounts versus buying them individually. DXperience Subscriptions are available by platform (e.g. ASP.NET) starting at $799.99.

In addition to the ASP.NET UI controls, the DevExpress ASP.NET Controls includes a library for printing support, a reporting tool, a charting suite, and a library for mapping objects to relational data structures.

DXperience also ships with a copy of CodeRush - a powerful Visual Studio® .NET add-on that enhances the developer experience by accelerating developer and team productivity via an integrated suite of technologies.

One of the nicest features of the DXperience suite is that they make it very easy to evaluate the suite and determine if it is right for you. Not only can you install a fully featured evaluation version, it comes with a “Demo Center” app that essentially lets you see everything in action from a central UI. There are many “Active Demos” that actually run through an animated, scripted demonstration of the many features of the controls.

When you see this kind of introductory “stuff” it becomes obvious that the DevExpress people have put a lot of thought into making it easy for developers to both learn about and to use their controls.

If you are a WinForms developer, the Grid and Data Editors combined with the sophisticated ribbon, Calendar, Wizard, Charting and other controls will make it easy for you to turn out polished, professional application with features that users will be delighted with.

For ASP.NET Developers, the suite of charting, Grid and data-editing, Calendar, Navigation and other controls have the same polished look and functionality as their WinForms brothers and sisters.

And of course, for WPF developers there are 11 different controls and control managers. Multi-cell selection in the Grid, and sophisticated chart templates and layouts (the candlestick stock chart is something else) are just a few of the features available here.

Finally, for Silverlight developers, a full suite of controls including grids, toolbar / menu /layout, Rich Text and Data Editors, Navigation, Spell Checker and even a Book control make developing rich line of business Silverlight applications a snap. The AgCore group provides a full suite of needed controls to create highly functional and appealing Silverlight applications (Nancy Davolio sure looks good on that Book Control!).

Every DXperience control in the Demo application comes with at least one tutorial that takes you through each feature of the control and shows you exactly how it is used – so getting up to speed in the use of any of the controls, whether they be WinForms, ASP.NET, AJAX, WPF or Silverlight – is easy and productive. I have never seen this kind of “Active Help” system in any other control vendor’s product.

eXpressApp Framework

The eXpressApp Framwork, or "XAF", is a framework that enables you to build business applications quickly and easily. It provides a standardized look much like Microsoft Outlook, but also has the flexibility to control the styling. Through the use of a strong modular architecture it allows for platform-independent domain-specific extensions. Currently you can create business applications that can support both WinForms and the ASP.NET 2.0 platform.

You can create your own business application from scratch, which requires a lot of time and coding, or you can use one of the third party "app platforms". EXpressApp Framework is designed to be a cross between these two types of approaches. You still have to write code, but instead of using someone else's concepts of the application design, you create your own application by leveraging the use of libraries to shorten the development time.
XAF provides the structure, forms, the datasets, grids, and more, freeing you up to concentrate of the business logic.

Here is a "quickie" snapshot of a fully - built XAF Application in the ASP.NET modality:

The app featues navigation, display controls, and editing -- all created by the Framework, saving the developer a huge investment of time in not having to t do all the "grunt" work.

Using the XAF you don't have to create a database, customize tables, or create fields; you won't have to use low-level ADO.NET constructs to access data- the built-in Object-Relational Mapping System and the eXpress Persistent Objects (XPO) library allow you to describe your data structure, describe your relationships, and the XPO will handle the creation of your data stores as well as all of the details for adding, deleting, displaying and modifying of your records.

eXpress Persistent Objects (XPO)

XPO is an ORM Layer that lets you build true business objects without having to deal with the tasks of mapping them to database tables. It completely abstracts the database layer from the developer, leaving you fully in the object-oriented realm. You can use XPO to build apps that are compatible with multiple database systems without making any changes to your code. If you compare the features of XPO to some of the other ORM offerings, both commercial and open source, it offers as many or more advanced features than any of them. XPO can be used with Winforms, ASP.NET, WPF and Silverlight, making it a compelling ORM tool for any developer.


Many developers say that the XtraReports suite is way better than any other reporting platforms. It has more features than Crystal Reports and yet it is much easier to use. With full Visual Studio integration, a simple class structure, and runtime data binding, it allows you to build stunning, advanced reports in a visual way. Here's a quickie snap of the ribbon demo:

There are reporting tools listed above for every platform - WinForms, ASP.NET, WPF and Silverlight.

CodeRush and Refactor! Pro

DevExpress CodeRush includes the Refactor! Pro tools.

CodeRush adds new navigation features to Visual Studio, some of which you may use often. A favorite feature is the "next issue" function, which lets you cycle through problem areas in your code with two keystrokes. Another popular feature is CodeRush's ability to complete "if" statements for me. I type in the If keyword, enter a test, and finish the statement by hitting the Enter key. CodeRush not only finishes the statement, it moves the mouse to the inside of the new "if" block.

CodeRush lets you look at your code in new ways. Structure highlighting displays a set of brackets that shows where each code block begins and ends, as well as how the blocks are nested. CodeRush arrows appear beside any continue, break or Exit statement. Click one and it takes you to the code to which the statement transfers control.

CodeRush will even generate code for you. The template feature allows you to enter an abbreviation for example-and have CodeRush write out the code you need for a particular construct. When you enter the name of a class, CodeRush will add the using or Imports statement for the namespace that class belongs to.

If you don't find value in a particular CodeRush feature, you can turn it off or customize it. Refactor! Pro provides over 150 refactorings with a simple keystroke. You can view the list along with other features here.

Awards and Recognition

The DevExpress Analytics libraries were awarded the Best of TechEd award for Business Intelligence in 2009
Also in 2009, DXperience was voted by the attendees as the Overall Pick.

CodeRush and Refactor won the CodeRush™ for Visual Studio - Breakthrough Product Winner at TechEd 2008

DXperience is the #1 selling product on the world's largest component reseller site and has been for 2 years.

You can see more about DevExpress awards and recognition here.

There is much more to to the DXperience suite -- far to much to put in a single review. I've used a number of these control suites, and have reviewed several vendors' offerings. For value, ease of use, easy learning curve and professional quality, DXperience from DevExpress ranks at the top of my list.

** Update.  Bernard Gille has won the free license giveaway.

By Peter Bromberg   Popularity  (12383 Views)