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Review: Free Components for ASP.NET 1.1
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by Jason N. Gaylord
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Overview

How many times have you looked for that one component that would complete your project? Of those times, how many times have you found a component that was extremely affordable (free)? Hopefully, you found those components. If not, maybe I'll have a component listed just for you.

In this article you will find lots of components that can be used with ASP.NET to assist with better design and better code. I've tried to separate the components into categories and explain what each component contains.

Category 1: Architecture
Data Access Application Block (Microsoft ASP.NET Team)

The Data Access application block uses the SQL and XML namespaces and classes built into the .NET framework. The block exposes common SQL and XML functions necessary for data access. The code has been written to follow Microsoft's Best Patterns and Practices. For instance, the block checks for specific exceptions and raises the exceptions with more detailed event information. It also ensures that open connections are closed. Finally, the amount of code you write for data access should be cut down to only a few lines if, not only one!
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnpag2/html/daab.asp

Exception Management Application Block (Microsoft ASP.NET Team)

The Exception Management application block allows developers to create powerful exception handlers for their applications. The block includes functionality to publish event information to an email message, a database, or the Windows Event Log. You can also add to this list and send events to different locations by extending the block.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnpag2/html/ehab.asp

Utility Belt (LearnASP.com)

The Utility Belt component can read database queries with one call, switch between Access and SQL without changing code, cache database or page results with one line of code, send email faster and more efficiently, grab web pages with one call, fetch product details from Amazon, simplify data tables, and simplify website navigation.
http://www.learnasp.com/freebook/learn/?caller=utilitybelt┬žion=Utility+Belt+-+FREE+Reusable+Library

ssData (Sheer Vision Technologies)

ssData is a SQL Server wrapper that includes support methods for working with databases. ssData has useful methods that allow you to clean data before inserting; convert a .NET DateTime object to a SQL Server universal date time format; perform Boolean to SQL Server Bit conversion; deal with DataSets and SqlDataReaders; and other methods that will help speed up your development time.
http://www.sweetsuite.net/shopping/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=6

ssException (Sheer Vision Technologies)

ssException is a robust error handling component for ASP.NET projects. This component will help you track issues in your projects with the information you need to troubleshoot. It provides many details about the exception, such as when the exception occurred, developer message, class origin, error exception details, browser information, server information, namespace, and more.
http://www.sweetsuite.net/shopping/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=9

Category 2: Control Collections
eWorld UI (Excentrics World)

Excentrics World offers a complete collection of controls including an Accordion Panel, Bread Crumb Trail, Calendar Popup, Collapsable Panel, Empty DataGrid, FAQ Repeater, Masked Textbox, Multi-Text List Controls, Numeric Box, Ordered Listbox, and Time Picker. These controls make is easy to develop a web user interface.
http://www.eworldui.net/

obout Controls (obout)

obout has a control collection that nicely complements the existing ASP.NET controls. They include an ASP TreeView, Slide Menu, Calendar, New Postback, and Splitter control.
http://www.obout.com/

TimothyHumphrey.WebControls (Timothy Humphrey)

The TimothyHumphrey.WebControls collection includes controls such as AntiSpamLink, Frame, and MainMenu. The AntiSpamLink control prevents spambots from obtaining an email address. The Frame control is best explained as the old GroupBox from VB6. The MainMenu control provides a menu driven by XML.
http://timothyhumphrey.name/thwc/

WebToolBox Collection (Salim Naim)

The WebToolBox Collection includes a few components to assist with some tasks. These components include AmountToWords, AnyFieldRequired, CountDown, UpTime, and DatePicker.
http://www.salimnaim.com/

Category 3: Data
SuperDataGrid (Superexpert)

The SuperDataGrid control extends the standard ASP.NET DataGrid control with built-in logic for sorting, paging, editing and caching database records.
http://superexpert.com/default.aspx?id=427

DataForm (Superexpert)

The Superexpert DataForm control enables you to automatically work with database data without writing a single line of SQL code.
http://superexpert.com/default.aspx?id=609

XML Edit Grid (Susan Warren)

This control is a derived version of the standard DataGrid, with baked-in support for editing tabular XML data. Under the hood, the grid uses DataSet.ReadXml() and DataSet.WriteXml() to read and write the XML file.
http://www.asp.net/ControlGallery/ControlDetail.aspx?Control=12&tabindex=2

Fluent.ListTransfer (Fluent Consulting)

The ListTransfer control simplifies the transfer of ListItems between two ListControls. With this control you can easily create double list boxes or use several in combination.
http://www.fluentconsulting.com/components/Fluent.ListTransfer/

Fluent.DataGridAdapter (Fluent Consulting)

The DataGridAdapter control simplifies the sorting and paging of DataGrid controls with various data sources.
http://www.fluentconsulting.com/components/fluent.datagridadapter/

ASP.NET DB Admin Control (Humayun's Programming)

This is a small Web application that provides basic database functions using ASP.NET, including database driven user authentication and adding, viewing, editing, and deleting records.
http://hm.munirbrothers.net/aspnet-db-admin.asp

DataGrid Edit Control (Andrew Mooney)

The DBVision Grid adds edit, delete, add new, and paging capability to the .NET DataGrid for use with OleDb databases like SQL Server 2000 and Access 2000.
ASPAlliance.com Article 47

TripelASP.TableEditor (TripleASP.NET)

The TableEditor control builds on the standard ASP.NET DataGrid. The key function of the TableEditor control is to allow the user to edit almost any SQL Server table with just one line of code.
http://tripleasp.net/TableEditor.aspx

Category 4: Email
Free SMTP (Quiksoft Corporation)

Free SMTP is a component written in C# that offers progress monitoring, HTML messages with alternative body text, file logging, and message queuing.
http://www.freesmtp.net/

Email Spoofer.NET (advancedIntellect)

The Email Spoofer control is an ASP.NET control that is used to obfuscate email addresses on web pages, to prevent spam bots from harvesting the email addresses.
http://www.emailspoofer.net/

DotNetOpenMail (SourceForge Project)

DotNetOpenMail extends the System.Web.Mail namespace and allows alternate body text and inline graphics.
http://dotnetopenmail.sourceforge.net/

Category 5: MasterPages and Templates
Master Pages (Joel.Net)

Master Pages are an innovative way to use HTML templates within your website. They allow you to create an HTML template and then plug in dynamic content based on the URL. If you are looking to structure your website, you should use Master Pages.
http://www.asp.net/ControlGallery/ControlDetail.aspx?control=385&tabindex=2

ASP.NET HTML Templates (Joel.Net)

Have you ever wanted the ability to create HTML templates for use with your ASP.NET code? If so, this component is for you.
http://joel.net/code/dotnet_templates.aspx

Evolve Master Pages (Evolve Software)

This is a powerful template engine that allows you to merge the contents of your ASP.NET web forms with a Master Page (template). It is very easy to use and provides full designer support.
http://www.evolvesoftware.ch/masterpages/

Category 6: Navigation
skmMenu (Scott Mitchell, et al.)

Do you want to create a dynamic menu that can be driven by XML? If so, skmMenu is for you. skmMenu is a control that can be customized completely using templates. You can then use an XML file to build your menu, or use inline code.
http://skmmenu.com/menu

Dommelen SlideMenu, SlideBar, and TreeMenu (At-Krays)

At-Krays.com offers a few different navigation controls. There is a slide menu, slide bar, and tree menu. These controls give you the option to choose what type of navigation you'd like.
http://at-krays.com/csharp.html

SlidingMenu (Menulab)

Sliding z-piled layers is what SlidingMenu is all about. SlidingMenu is highly configurable, supporting both efficient and creative use of web space at the ease of HTML inline tags alone.
http://www.menulab.com/slidingmenu/index.aspx

Category 7: Polls, Voting, and Rating
NetPolls (NSurvey)

Using NetPolls, you can create an unlimited number of questions, choose your question layout (Radio, CheckBox, or DropDownList), and choose your own URL redirection on poll completion.
http://www.nsurvey.org/netpollsfeatures.aspx

Content Rater (Scott Mitchell)

If you have ever read an article on Microsoft's MSDN Web site, you'll notice that at the bottom of the article there's an interface for the reader to rate the content. If you'd like an easy way to add this type of interface to your website, get Scott Mitchell's Content Rater.
http://aspnet.4guysfromrolla.com/articles/042104-1.aspx

PageComments (Joel.Net)

Joel.Net.PageComments is a UserControl that allows visitors to your website to comment on the pages of your ASP.NET website.
http://joel.net/code/page_comments.aspx

Yak (SloppyCode.net)

Yak is a lightweight ASP.NET control library for adding comments to your web pages, similar to those seen on blogs and news sites.
http://yak.sloppycode.net/

Category 8: Portals
Community Server (Telligent Systems)

Community Server combines forums (formerly ASP.NET forums), blogs (formerly .Text), and photo gallery (formerly nGallery). Together, these three applications form a true community server. Developers can get the application by visiting the CommunityServer.org website.
http://www.communityserver.org

DotNetNuke

DotNetNuke is a web portal solution. The portal has been created using ASP.NET and there are currently hundreds of plug-ins for this portal. If you are looking for a great startup portal, DotNetNuke is what you need.
http://www.dotnetnuke.com

Rainbow Portal (Open Source)

The Rainbow portal is an open source content management system. Rainbow has over 75 plug-in modules for store fronts, XML news feeds, maps, and more.
http://www.rainbowportal.net/

Weblogs (Joel.Net)

Joel.Net.WebLogs is a User Control that allows you to create blogs and news entries on your website. The ASCX control is included to make customization simple.
http://joel.net/code/weblogs.aspx

Category 9: Reporting and Graphs
Crystal Reports for .NET (Business Objects)

Crystal Reports is the reporting tool embedded with Visual Studio .NET. Crystal Reports allows users to generate reports from a data source and format the report header, body, and footer information. The data source can be SQL, Access, XML, or nearly any other ADO or relational data source.
http://www.businessobjects.com/products/reporting/crystalreports/net/default.asp

PdfCreator v1.1 (Serdar Dirican)

Many developers don't like the fact that they have to create a report and then generate a PDF. Well, Serdar Dirican made it much easier. With his sample source code available on GotDotNet, users can create PDF files with ease.
http://www.gotdotnet.com/Community/UserSamples/Details.aspx?SampleGuid=5588085E-3D0B-4DB8-8A88-603EF212D0DB

Dynamic Bar Graph (CodeDoneRight.com)

The Dynamic Bar Graph is a set of classes made in C# using the GDI+ class. This component returns a bitmap that can be used in both Windows Forms and ASP.NET applications. The graph created is truly dynamic. You can set any number of attributes to customize your graph.
http://www.codedoneright.com/DynamicBarGraph.htm

LGX Report (LogiXML)

LGX Report is a free web-based reporting tool from LogiXML that allows developers to publish rich dynamic online reports quickly and easily using one complete reporting system.
http://www.freereporting.com/

Category 10: User Interface
FreeTextBox (FreeTextBox.com)

FreeTextBox is the next generation of the most popular cross-browser HTML editor for ASP.NET. It includes different languages, themes, and styles. You can edit everything from text, to fonts, to colors, and more.
http://www.freetextbox.com/

EasyWebEdit.Net (EasyWebEdit)

EasyWebEdit.net is a WYSIWYG editor for ASP.NET. Some of the features include word processing functionality, table dropdown menu, ability to change cell and table properties, full integration with VS.NET, ability to add images, redo and undo, file manager, themes, print preview, and the ability to toggle between break and paragraph mode.
http://www.easywebedit.net/

Snap Control (ComponentArt)

Many web portals have a drag and drop feature where portlets can be moved, docked, resized, aligned, expanded, and collapsed. Add that functionality to your website using the ComponentArt Snap control
http://www.componentart.com/snap/

Fluent.ControlFocus (fluent Consulting)

One difficulty developers have with ASP.NET controls is setting focus to controls. Well, make your life easier and test the ControlFocus control.
http://www.fluentconsulting.com/components/Fluent.ControlFocus/

ShowHideButton (Gokhan Altinoren)

The ShowHideButton control allows a developer to show or hide content based on a click event. This can be useful for creating your own wizard control or for showing and hiding additional information.
http://altinoren.com/showhidebutton.htm

LocateIP .Net (LocateIP .com)

This control can be very useful if you'd like to track the IP and country of your visitors. This can help prevent fraudulent users from accessing your site, and help determine what address form you need to display.
http://www.locateip.com/

Farside.ProgressBar (Farside Studios)

Have you ever needed a progress bar for client or server activity? If so, the Farside.ProgressBar control can do the trick. There is support for both client and server-side events.
http://www.farsidestudios.com/Products/ProgressBar/

Category 11: Website Statistics
Traffic Monitor (Peter L. Blum)

IIS logging is sometimes limited and doesn't show true statistics. This package helps to overcome that by allowing you to customize what needs to be logged and what does not. It creates a log so that you can use an analysis application like Microsoft Commerce Server or WebTrends to view the logs.
http://www.peterblum.com/TrafficMonitor/TrafficMonitorHome.aspx

AWStats (SourceForge Project)

AWStats is a free, powerful, and feature-rich tool that generates advanced web, streaming, ftp, or mail server statistics, graphically. This log analyzer works as a CGI or from command line and shows you all possible information your log contains, in a few graphical web pages. If you don't want to pay for log analysis, this is the next best thing.
http://awstats.sourceforge.net/

LogFile (Motobit)

LogFile provides high-performance text file logging for ASP.NET applications. The component allows the developer to create daily, weekly, and monthly log files with variable number of logged values and extra timing and performance information.
http://www.motobit.com/help/ScptUtl/cl88.htm

Conclusion
I'd like to thank each of the preceding developers and organizations for providing many fine components at a low cost. It's nice to find a component to "fill the gap" of our application.

This is only a partial list. I'm sure that I've missed many other quality components that are available for free. If you know of one, leave a comment so that others may find it.

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