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Dig In to Drag-once Data Binding

Visual Studio 2005 offers productivity features that will reduce the tedium of building forms. Learn how the Data Sources Window will help you build forms faster.


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evelopers want easier ways to create their forms. There are many approaches including UI frameworks that aim to simplify forms creation. Typically each approach makes assumptions about how the UI may be formatted, or they require interfaces or base classes. While these frameworks would allow developers to quickly create forms based on some schema of objects, it can be difficult to customize the layout. Building a great application isn't just about how fast you can complete the application. A great application includes developer productivity and intuitive use by its end users. In order to create great UI, developers need precise layout for each control on the form. Using the new Data Sources Window in Visual Studio 2005, developers can now drag columns of their typed DataSets or properties of their own business objects directly to their form.

Visual Studio 2005 will create, name, and label controls for each bound property. For those that prefer to lay out the forms with the toolbox, developers can use "Connect the Dots Databinding" to drag and drop from the Data Sources Window onto their existing controls. If we look at the goals for enabling RAD form development we find some basic requirements:

  • Easily create controls based on some schema
  • Precise layout for each control
  • Mapping data types to specific controls
  • Ability to vary the default control for a particular column/property
  • Ability to add custom controls to the list of available controls
  • Creating a label for each databound control
  • Establish databinding for each control
  • Naming each control something more meaningful than TextBox1, Label1, etc.
Enter Visual Studio 2005 and the Data Sources Window
Visual Studio 2005 introduces a new, simple, yet very powerful model for building forms. The Data Sources Window is a new tool window that displays selected objects within your project that you can use to create data bound forms. The Data Sources Window can display several different types of data sources including typed DataSets, user defined objects (business objects), and Web services. Developers may drag items to their form and Visual Studio will create databound controls, labels for the controls, and name the controls based on their bound properties.


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