I'm one of those developers that likes to build things myself mainly because the challenge is fun. However, lately I've been taking time to look at some of the 3rd party controls out there mainly because some of the things I've needed to do are already done (and done well) and I'd save time and money by using them. I'm not against re-inventing the wheel if I think I can do it better, but that's impossible for many things especially when companies are throwing multiple developers at a single control or framework. So, here are a few of the 3rd party controls and/or sample applications that I've come across recently that were interesting.
Speedy Grid Controls
Tonight I came across a nice set of controls from DevExpress that support a "server mode" so that only the data used by a grid is loaded into it as opposed to loading all of the records that may need to be paged and then filtering them on the Web server. They provide a nice option to bind to any LINQ provider which makes it really cool. You can of course write this type of thing yourself (with some effort), but with their solution you can get the "server mode" feature out of the box with no coding on your part. They have two screencasts available including one for ASP.NET and one for Windows Forms if you're interested in more details.
Awhile back I blogged about Peter Blum's nice suite of validator and security controls and how they could be used to secure Web forms and validate data entered by end users. They're definitely something you'll want to check out if you want to ensure your pages are locked down as much as possible and that data is getting thoroughly scrubbed and validated before going into your database.
Silverlight 2 Demos
Infragistics released a really nice Silverlight 2 demo called FaceOut that leverages many of the new features in Silverlight 2. All of the source code is available for free and it's a great way to learn from experts like J. Ambrose Little who does this cool stuff everyday (in between naps of course :-)).
OK...I'll admit that this one is a shameless plug for my Smart Web Controls company (I could pretend I'm not associated with it but too many of my buddies know what I'm up to and would call me out :-)). If you're interested in displaying OrgCharts, product hierarchies, site maps, etc. check out the SmartChartLite and SmartChartPro controls for ASP.NET.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.....
Adam Kinney recently twittered about some videos that Don Burnett linked to on his blog from Mix 08 for Silverlight Mobile that are really cool. Silverlight 2 has some great features and I think the mobile offering (once released) will really simplify the process of building mobile applications. Cool stuff!
Update: Additional videos that demonstrate Silverlight Mobile in action can be viewed at http://blogs.msdn.com/Giorgio/. Giorgio Sardo owns the blog and let me know that several more videos will be released as well. His blog is the place to visit if you're interested in staying in touch with Silverlight Mobile announcements and videos.
My good buddy Tim Heuer is currently on the road with Rob Bagby (another cool guy) and Jason Mauer (haven't had a chance to get to know him yet but I'm guessing he's cool too :-)) doing the "Code Trip" bus tour around the western United states. They've visited user groups and code camps all over the place including Utah, Boise, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Colorado and will be heading to New Mexico, Arizona and California soon attending or sponsoring various events.
Code Trip Phoenix Spring Training Event
On March 24th they'll be in Phoenix and are taking developers to a Rangers/Cubs spring training baseball game that day in Mesa. Get more information about the event at http://thecodetrip.com/1/spring-training. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis so to be safe I'd get there early.
I'm looking forward to the event and seeing how well Tim and Rob are holding up with all of the travel they've been doing over the past few weeks. They're on the tour bus until the MVP Summit on April 15th so by the time they get done I figure they'll look like the guys from Motley Crue or something with all the touring they've been doing. :-)
I was catching up with some of the people I follow on Twitter tonight (as a side note, I used to think Twitter was a waste of time but I'm actually finding it useful now days) and noticed that Scott Cate listed a link to a free tool called LINQPad. Wow...I wish I would've known about this tool a few months back when I was working on different LINQ queries for an application. It really simplifies building queries and also happens to be a great way to learn the LINQ syntax as well. It was created by Joseph Albahari for the C# 3.0 in a Nutshell book.
If you're looking to get up-to-speed on the latest and greatest technologies being released by Microsoft look no further than the AZGroups.com event (a FREE event...you simply need to register) on March 11th featuring Microsoft's Scott Guthrie. If you've never heard Scott speak before then you've missed out. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable, but he's also a lot of fun to listen to and watch since he does demo after demo and doesn't PowerPoint you to death.