Four or five years ago I was “introduced” to ComponentOne’s Winform controls while working on a fairly large, data-intensive application. I remember being very surprised at how easy their controls were to use compared to others I had worked with.
Based upon my earlier experience with their products, I had pretty high expectations when I started evaluating Studio for Entity Framework. I’m happy to say that the product easily met my expectations and in some areas, moved the bar a bit higher.
Before discussing any product features, I was to point out that ComponentOne’s documentation was top-notch. This is one of the areas that impressed me the most because the help file is 170+ pages with little or no ‘filler content’. It’s comprised of one tutorial after another demonstrating how to use the toolset in specific scenarios, with each ‘lesson’ building on the last.
If you’ve worked with Entity Framework for a while, you know how convoluted things can get when you try to put everything in a single data context or when you’re working with data from multiple back-end data sources. Studio for Entity Framework cleans this mess up by combining a client-side data cache with an abstraction layer that lets you work with multiple data contexts as if they were one.
All of their documentation refers to this as a ‘Unified Data Context’, so I’ll use the same term for consistency.
The client-side cache and Unified Data Context not only simplifies your code, it drastically reduces the amount of code you need to write. The added bonus here is that clean, easy to understand code reduces complexity, maintenance costs, and the risk of bugs creeping into your code.
To work with and manage the client side caching, the team built some pretty sophisticated memory management into the tooling to ensure application performance isn’t affected by the client-side data cache (which saves you the trouble of writing code to monitor\manage it yourself).
Studio for Entity Framework also adds a great deal of functionality that both simplifies and extends data binding. I’ll point out a couple of those here and refer you to their website for a detailed feature list.
If you’re using the MVVM pattern in your application, you should definitely check out Studio for Entity Framework and what ComponentOne calls “Live Views”. Live Views can serve as your ViewModel and are automatically kept in sync with their source.
One of the coolest features from a user perspective is something ComponentOne calls “Virtual Mode”. This allows you to load small portions of a large data set as you need it and give the user a ‘continuous scroll’ type experience rather than paged views of data.
I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of functionality. I encourage you to check out their site and test\evaluate Studio for Entity Framework. It’s a great toolset that can save you a