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Exploring New WinForm Controls in VS .NET Whidbey

Catering to the strength of the third-party .NET component market and the power of the .NET Framework itself, Microsoft includes several powerful new WinForm controls in the Base Class Libraries for Windows application development.

he WinForm controls provided by the .NET Framework 1.1 are extremely useful, and the framework for developing new custom controls provided in 1.1 is very strong, but sometimes the development community expects more out-of-the box. Many needs of the development community are satisfied by the basic collection of WinForm controls while some developers have voiced their need for more functionality. Microsoft appears ready to rise to the occasion with the inclusion of many new WinForm controls.

The set of user controls that are an integral part of Microsoft's development environments provide the baseline for rapid application development (RAD). Every release of the IDE brings new controls to accelerate the development of user-friendly GUIs. Microsoft has seemed content with providing a strong set of base controls, and a framework allowing the development community and third-party Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to tackle the really heavy lifting in developing complex controls.

Microsoft is starting to break with that strategy with Visual Studio .NET and really follows through with the new controls that appear in the Toolbox of the alpha build of Whidbey. The new controls include everything from data-centric, to layout-oriented containers, to significantly improved versions of existing controls. A few new controls plug up holes in the existing user control line-up.

It is probable that many new or improved WinForm controls covered in this article will change, perhaps dramatically, as Whidbey progresses from alpha through beta to the final release, and new controls could surface. What you can expect for sure is that the quality, ease-of-use, and RAD characteristics of the new WinForm controls will continue to increase beyond the already impressive alpha.

Simplifying Common Tasks

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