Note: This blog post is edited from time to time to keep it up to date.
Microsoft has completed development of a basic WPF grid. It isn’t distributed as part of any RTM runtime of WPF, but is included in the .NET / WPF 4.0 beta. Many people are already trying it out.
Meanwhile, Xceed has released v3.2 of our entry-level datagrid for WPF called Xceed DataGrid for WPF Standard Edition, improving the feature set and supporting the latest .NET capabilities, such as Entity Framework, which even Microsoft's own datagrid doesn't have built-in support for. Xceed DataGrid for WPF version 1.0 was released about 2.5 years ago on the same day as Windows Vista and .NET 3.0 were released. We clocked 11000 hours of R&D to bring that initial version to market. I suspect we've quadrupled that effort for the latest version and for the additional features in the Professional Edition. These are, by far, the most mature products for WPF available.
We've priced the Standard Edition at an affordable $299.95 per developer. We think the return on investment will come back to you many times over. Here's why:
10 reasons why you should pass on using the basic Microsoft grid, and adopt Xceed’s Standard Edition instead.
1. Greater reliability
Even though the new grid has Microsoft’s signature on it, the product is still raw, unproven, and has its share of bugs. Xceed on the other hand has released 9 major updates, 26 total updates to our datagrid, tweaked hundreds of items to satisfy developers, and has brought the product to a highly stable state. Stable enough to be used by Microsoft in Visual Studio Team System 2010, and by IBM in SystemBuilder, for example.
2. More features
Xceed’s Standard Edition not only provides the capabilities the basic Microsoft grid does, but packs a total of over 100 built-in features, so you have more to work with. You’ll spend less time hunting in forums and blog posts, or experimenting to achieve your goals. Features such as grouping with UI virtualization and group-by row, masked textbox and other cell editors, fixed headers and footers, support for XML data sources, scroll tips, input validation and additional themes.
3. Instant upgrade path / Don’t paint yourself into a corner
If you use the basic Microsoft grid, and find you need one or more capabilities that it does not provide, you are effectively stuck. You must either attempt to develop them yourself (which may be very costly or perhaps not even feasible if the datagrid was not designed with that scenario in mind) or lose all your development investment to replace the control with a more suitable one. With Xceed’s Standard Edition, the impressive set of advanced features from the Professional Edition of the product are already built-in, tested, and ready to be immediately activated with a new license key if needed.
4. Less hacks
Developers are already spending time and money attempting to make the basic Microsoft grid do things it is not designed to do out of the box. This often results in workarounds with mediocre results. For example, attempting to achieve a Master/Detail view by placing a second grid instance in a row’s “Row Detail” area. This will, at best, provide a confusing scrollbar-within-scrollbar scenario with a poor user experience.
5. Frequent updates
If you encounter an issue with the Microsoft grid, do not expect a speedy update. Need support for the new Entity Framework but it doesn’t support it yet? It could be a long wait. Once a Microsoft control is finally released inside a platform as opposed to being released on Codeplex, it typically receives little attention until the next major platform release, historically a year or more later. On the other hand, Xceed DataGrid for WPF Standard Edition is updated often, providing timely updates that address the wide variety of new needs customers have.
6. Increased productivity
Becoming productive with Xceed’s datagrid is easy because it comes with extensive documentation and a wide variety of sample applications. At present, Microsoft grid includes little, if any documentation. There’s also an easier installation experience and a much better design-time experience thanks to a design-time configuration window that lets you set up most features quickly and easily.
7. Wow factor
Why make the switch to WPF if nobody can tell the difference? The Microsoft grid looks and feels like a typical Windows Forms datagrid. There’s nothing WPF-like about it, it doesn’t include any themes and there are no subtle animation cues anywhere. While it can be styled by a designer, and is a true WPF control, out of the box it doesn’t bring any new UI goodness to the table, and doesn’t raise the bar. In contrast, Xceed has developed and offers a variety of themes that have wowed developers over the past two years. Xceed is proactive as well, having already demonstrated the upcoming smooth scrolling feature (easy for WPF to handle thanks to offloading the task to the GPU), touch gestures and sticky group headers. This isn’t your father’s WPF.
8. New interface styles
Commercial components typically incorporate support for new interface styles much sooner than Microsoft does. For example, Microsoft’s own components only started supporting the Office 2003 style in 2005. If Microsoft introduces yet another style (and this is sure to be the case), you’ll either have to wait for Microsoft or someone else to style and code it for the Microsoft grid, or do it yourself. With Xceed’s datagrid, you can be sure a theme for the new style will promptly be available. In the case of the basic Microsoft grid for WPF, even the Office 2007 themes aren’t available. They are available as an upgrade to Xceed’s Standard Edition.
9. Better support to help you get to the finish line.
The technical support offered with Xceed’s components is far more targeted and can make all the difference on the road to completing your project on time and on budget. If you use the free Microsoft datagrid, there is currently no consistent source of help, only forums. With Xceed, it is in our best interest to ensure everyone gets help. If you want priority support, it is also available, without breaking the bank. To enlist guaranteed help from Microsoft can be prohibitively expensive, and may not be available yet for the WPF grid.
10. Built to last
Remember the improved Microsoft datagrid for Windows Forms 2.0? It was a complete redesign, with a new API that you had to learn. You could not swap out the previous version, make a few minor changes, and recompile. Microsoft’s free new WPF datagrid also has the potential to follow the same path. Xceed datagrids, on the other hand, are designed with a wide variety of future features in mind. The products are architectured to evolve without causing you to make major changes or to restart with new controls.
Xceed’s user interface division exists solely to produce datagrids. As a result, the entire development team focuses on datagrids and what they need to be first in their class. Microsoft, on the other hand, does not seem to aim to build the best controls, but rather to provide basic implementations with enough extensibility to enable common development scenarios. Xceed products give you the best return for your time and money.