ASP.NET Ajax Control Toolkit

I’m embarrassed to say, I hadn’t visited the AJAX control toolkit suite for a while… with the advent of MVC and the abolition of Postbacks/session state (or so I thought), I was putting all that stuff in my rear view mirror. But, suffice to say, there are still times when you’re going to be using WebForms.

 

So, here’s some of my favorite controls from this suite – and why:

  • Accordion – panels collapse/expand.
  • Animation – such as for a popup modal window
  • Auto Complete – auto complete text in a textbox
  • Balloon Popup – great for Help on individual controls.
  • Calendar – for any date data entry
  • Cascading Dropdowns – amazing how many bogus examples there are of exactly this functionality on the web that will lead you down the wrong path.
  • ComboBox – think a dropdownlist with some basic extensions, like autocomplete. Not clear here if this really gives that much of an advantage but it does allow data entry into a ddl.
  • DragPanel – for drag and drop controls.
  • FilteredTextBox – to constrain user entry. (Note this isn’t foolproof! Javascript can be disabled client side so don’t trust this for all data entry client-side.)
  • Gravatar – avatars for user entry
  • HoverMenu – hover over a row to display edit/update commands for example
  • HTMLEditorExtender – allows uploading images, rich text entry
  • NoBot – provides captcha-like bot/spam detection and prevention. Watches for number of requests per IP address per unit of time, forces a delay between request/response, or disabling JS in the browser (“most relevant where 100% effectiveness is not required… for low traffic sites.”) Eeeeeesh.
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And there’s others – MultiHandleSlider (slider controls), NumericUpDown (up/down controls for month, integers), PasswordStrength(tests password strength), Rating (with star displays), ReorderList (drag and drop order of steps), TabContainer for tabs to organize contents – I’m not a fan of this one, should be separate pages to keep code neat).

The whole Webforms/SmartUI pattern – it’s more of an antipattern – is very dated and I’m running against the constraints of the model every day. But there are times when it’s called for… I’ll post on that later. If you are working in that space, I do love using these controls over paid-for heavyweight suites (looking at you, Telerik/infragistics/etc).

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