How to create Web desktop?

By : |May 22, 2007 0

Anadi Misra

ASP.NET component libraries are in abundance for developers to choose from. However, not all of them truly deliver something innovative and different. So, this time when we came around this library of components from WebDesktop.NET for enabling desktop functionality and responsiveness in ASP.NET web applications, we checked it out according to the aspects mentioned above.

You can initially download a trial version for playing around and initial evaluation before you buy a licensed version. Or still better read on to find out what we feel about the components provided in WebDesktop.NET to even eliminate this hassle.

Direct Hit!
Price: Rs 30,365 (Single Developer License), Rs 3,03,659 (Site-wide License)
Meant For: .NET developers
Key Specs: Stand alone & integration mode, global style synchronizer
Pros: Fully customizable, Ajax enabled, one click theme deployment
Cons: None
Contact: Intersoftpt, Jakarta, Indonesia, Tel: 5204711,
SMS Buy 130501 to 6677

The components
The components in WebDesktop. NET are designed to provide a rich application interface on Web that follows desktop-concept user interface. To start with, the components very well reflect this design philosophy as you will find many desktop like components here such as the ‘WebExplorerPane’ which, in fact is like a Windows explorer for your Web application. Other such features are hybrid menus, in-built taskbar etc.

The most impressive of the lot is the ‘WebDesktopManager’ component, which gives a rich desktop on the fly. It has a navigation system, shortcut icons, keyboard navigation, taskbar configurations that are customizable, and many other similar options. So once you draw this component to your page, all you need to do most of the time is play around with configurable properties to get your work done.

The other one that caught our attention was ‘WebNotification’. Quite easily one of the first of this kind. WebNotification is closely integrated with WebDesktopManager to enable you to develop a shell-level notification system right into your Web applications.

WebNotification allows specific server code to be invoked asynchronously at specified interval and upon success condition, it will display the assigned data and actions available in the context. With it, you could develop extremely rich and responsive applications similar to Outlook 2003 or MSN Messenger.

Interface and responsiveness
Well, there is one feature that really gets these components going, extensive AJAX capabilities built-in to them. As for better responsiveness you can even put some logic down to the client side. And as we found out it is not rocket science either. In general, the first step is to place the control in a container of your choice, for example, the ‘WebPaneManager’ control. You then configure the containing component to enable the specific client side functionality you are looking for and then add Java-script code for implementing this functionality on the client side. For example, to enable a splitter with Collapse trigger on the client side, the code snippet enclosed in script tag is as follows.

function Collapse_onclick()
var paneManager = ISGetObject("WebPaneManager1");
var pane = paneManager.GetPaneByName("Pane0");
var pairPane = paneManager.GetPaneByName("Pane01");

The logic for the Expand trigger looks as:

function Expand_onclick()
var paneManager = ISGetObject("WebPaneManager1");
var pane = paneManager.GetPaneByName("Pane0");
var pairPane = paneManager.GetPaneByName("Pane01");

Overall, an impressive lot of components worth buying if you want a web-based desktop-like interface.

Source: PCQuest

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