Review: PowerWEB LiveControls for ASP.NET
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Published: 26 May 2005
Unedited - Community Contributed
PowerWEB LiveControls for ASP.NET provides suite of controls that allow a web page to access server-side processes without the need to reload the page. Learn how these controls use callback technology to improve the performance of mission-critical ASP.NET applications.
by Anand Narayanaswamy
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Most ASP.NET applications requires round trip to the server for achieving common tasks involved with web development. This process sometimes takes enormous time and ultimately slows down the speed of the application. In order to reduce these drawbacks, Dart Communications Inc has developed a product called PowerWEB LiveControls for ASP.NET, which is a suite of 21 powerful controls. As its name suggests, the product can be used with an ASP.NET application that requires live interaction with the user.

A notable feature of this product is that information can be updated without requiring that the page be refreshed. It achieves this with powerful WebControls that raise server-side ASP.NET events using callback technology, and by making use of a technology they’ve defined as Asynchronous Remotely Generated Script (ARGS). ARGS dynamically updates client-side objects by generating JavaScript that executes client-side.

The controls included with the product are LiveButton, LiveCallback, LiveCheckBox, LiveCheckBoxList, LiveDataGrid, LiveDropDownList, LiveHyperlink, LiveImage, LiveImageButton, LiveLabel, LiveLinkButton, LiveListBox, LiveMessageBox, LivePanel, LivePlaceHolder, LiveRadioButton, LiveRadio, ButtonList, LiveSound, LiveTextBox, LiveTimer, and LiveWrapper.

To use the product, the first step is to add the required controls to the toolbox by creating an ASP.NET Web Application project. The required components can be added by right-clicking and selecting Add/Remove Items. You can add them to any of the existing tabs or by creating your own tab. I created my own tab labeled DART. The easiest way to locate the controls inside the component selection dialog is to hit the L key. Once you added the controls, the next step is to decorate them with the appropriate code. I would suggest you explore the documentation for some of the sample code that you can use for each one of the above controls.

I tested the LiveLabel and LiveButton controls by simply following the instructions provided in the documentation. Actually, you need not have to refer to the documentation if you are an advanced ASP.NET developer, as these controls are simply an extension to the built-in Web Form controls.

One of the interesting features of the product that I noticed is the extended event interface. You can make use of certain additional events apart from the standard ones that come with this product.

PowerWEB LiveControls for ASP.NET can be used in a variety of real-world applications. For instance, if you are developing a currency conversion application, you can display the exchange rates of various currencies instantly so that users need not have to refresh the page for updates. As you can appreciate, a great amount of time is reduced as a result of this callback functionality. In the same manner, a sports application can update cricket and baseball scores without user interaction or page refreshes. If you are planning to develop an ecommerce application, you should check out LiveControls as shopping cart entries and prices can be updated without refreshing the page each time. This will reduce the amount of time that users must spend on the website before proceeding to the checkout process. You can view the total amount as soon as you enter an amount in the respective item fields, without refreshing the page each time. With little effort you can implement these kinds of functions within your own application. Previously, you have to write a great deal of JavaScript to achieve this functionality. There is a wide range of possibilities with this product, and it is up to you to decide when and where to make use of this powerful product.

The product comes with samples in both Visual Basic .NET and C# to help you get started. A disappointing point to note is that the samples shipped with the product were developed using Visual Studio 2002. This will cause difficulties for developers using Visual Studio .NET 2003 and above. The vendor should provide a separate download section on their website for 2003 samples.

I must say that the documentation is very comprehensive, with concepts explained in a step-by-step manner. Moreover, the documentation seamlessly integrates with Visual Studio Help, and hence the relevant help will be available with the click of a button. I received answers to all my queries from the support team immediately on the same day. They are very helpful and will guide you nicely if you face any difficulties with the product

The product is available with a range of licensing options, such as single and multi-server. A single server license is priced at USD $499. I feel that the price of PowerWeb LiveControls is comparatively high but worth it if you consider the powerful controls included with the product.

About the Product

PowerWEB LiveControls for ASP.NET
Dart Communications Inc
Tel: (866) 383-3278

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