Over the past year I have been evaluating numerous third-party web controls. There are two companies at the top of the list: ComponentArt and Telerik. I have never been a big fan of using third-party controls in commercial software. However, if you look at some of the controls offered by these two companies it's hard to resist. We are just about to release our new product called Active CRMTM. Active CRM is a web application with a very unique UI. Initially, we had incorporated almost every web control offered by ComponentArt, but now we are down to using only two of their controls: CallBack and NavBar.
I have to say that the ComponentArt Callback control has to be the best Ajax tool that we have used. Why? Because it gives you precise control of what you need in a very simple feature set. Yes, I have looked at ASP.NET AJAX and many other Ajax libraries. The problem I see with most of these other implementations is that it gives a programmer to easily add Ajax to an application without regard for performance or overhead, but I will save that for another blog post.
Another very nice control is the ComponentArt Grid. This is a very powerful grid that works in Client, Callback and PostBack modes, but comes with a price. For example, the total payload for a ComponentArt Grid with 25 rows and 7 columns (about 5k of actual data) is over 120k! That's ridiculous for a web app. Also, it doesn't matter which features you have enabled or not, it's same results. Up until last week, we were using the ComponentArt Grid in 12 locations for our app. Performance testing over an average DSL connection revealed that the ComponentArt Grid was not going to work for us. We ended up creating our own AJAX enabled grid control with paging, sorting, filtering and search. All of the same features we required from the CompenentArt Grid. Our grid has a total payload of less than 10k. That is a huge difference and now our application will not have any issues loading even over a dial-up connection.