RichDatePicker by RicherComponents

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In the last VB.NET Forums review, we looked at an amazing grid control for ASP.NET. There is no question that .NET has taken web “applications” to a new level, blurring the gap between Windows applications and those within our web browser. There are naturally benefits to both, but with ASP.NET solutions, deployment and compatibility among a user base can be greatly simplified with thin client (web) applications.

In this review, we’ll look at yet another remarkable component to take web applications to the extreme. As you know, ASP.NET adds great functionality with many new components making programmatic web design feature rich. One of the new components in the land of .NET is the ASP.NET calendar control. As with many of the included controls, they provide basic functionality, enough to “get by” but we really need better. This is where our great third party developers come in to play, taking existing concepts and “completing” them as they should have been created, or filling the voids with the creativity of these outstanding companies.

RicherComponents is one of those talented third party component vendors that provide a slew of amazing controls for ASP.NET. In this review we’ll take a look at a fantastic calendar control, with great client-side functionality not requiring those painful post-backs of the traditional ASP.NET calendar server control. RicherComponents takes a calendar control to limits beyond belief. Introducing the RicherComponents “RichDatePicker.”

We were developing a series of ASP.NET applications and needed a way to set date filters for our runtime query engine. The ASP.NET calendar control was just too painful to use with several post-backs required to get a starting and ending date set for a query. We additionally needed a control that would allow representation of business days, holidays, selection by week, quarter, financial time periods, you name it! The answer was – the RichDatePicker.

The RichDatePicker control is so easy to use, it just cannot get any easier then this! Drop the assembly (DLL) into your ASP.NET /bin folder, which of course is automatic by referencing the RichDatePicker in VS.NET, and add the scripts (if desired) for optimal performance, and set a few properties and that’s it! Now there are a TON of properties available including styles and localization options available. The effort that went into developing this award winning component is evident.

With the latest release of the RichDatePicker (version 1.6 as of this writing) you can even use the new Time Picker functionality of this fascinating server control. From inline calendars, to popup calendars, drop down calendars, all client side (non-postback) modifications to date/time selections, it’s just eye watering! Take a look at the samples on the RicherComponents web site and investigate this fantastic control yourself! Download a FREE trial and you’ll be hooked (caution, this control can be addicting).

To quote the informational page from the RichDatePicker info page, read the benefits as outlined below:



ASP.NET Developer Benefits<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O /><O:p< O:p< p>
  • Quick and simple to get going – single-file installation<O:p< li>
  • A broad interface for customization, with design-time support<O:p< li>
  • No need to write date validation code or regular expressions<O:p< li>
  • No need to write or understand JavaScript or client-side scripting<O:p< li O:p<>
  • All cultural and locale issues already solved<O:p< li O:p<>
  • An "out of the box" user interface for acquiring a DateTime object<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Simple customization to tailor the user interface<O:p< li O:p<>
  • No need for cross-browser testing<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Straightforward data integration (DataGrids, DataLists, etc)
Business Benefits<O:p< O:p< p>
  • Unique support for financial dates and periods (e.g. Q2 2006, and H2 2007).<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Collect more accurate data from end-users<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Reduce intranet and Internet web application development timescales and costs<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Reduce web application support costs through a self-explanatory user interface<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Rich Windows-like applications within an intranet and Internet site, reducing client-application installation costs<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Increased efficiency of information processing by end-users<O:p< li O:p<>
  • A more friendly user interface for end-users and web site visitors<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Reusable and adaptable across multiple applications, including secure sites<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Resolves all user interface localization issues with dates in different cultures
End-User Benefits<O:p< O:p< p>
  • A consistent and familiar user interface (like Microsoft Outlook®)<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Quick and straightforward date and time selection<O:p< li O:p<>
  • The ability to select dates from context (e.g. holidays, schedules)<O:p< li O:p<>
  • No confusion over the date format (US, European, etc)<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Reduced keyboard-to-mouse hand movement<O:p< li O:p<>
  • A user interface with stylistic consistency with the host web site<O:p< li O:p<>
  • Intelligently adaptable, providing support for all web browsers
As stated previously, the properties available for configuring the control is amazing. See the screen captures below of just some of the configuration capabilities of this outstanding calendar server control for ASP.NET.



Figure 1. Properties (1 of 3)


Figure 2. Properties (2 of 3)


Figure 3. Properties (3 of 3)

Using the control from the end-users aspect is intuitive. The end-user interface is dependant on the properties and configuration of the control, however, a typical usage is as shown below.



Figure 4. Typical Calendar Presentation

The calendar can include arrows at the top of the control (configurable) to rapidly change months or years, all via client-side scripting so no post-backs required. The end-user can select “Today’s” date with ease by clicking the link on the bottom calendar, as well as options to clear the date, etc. Click the top center “Month/Year” link/title to bring up a popup selector as shown in the capture below.



Figure 5. Popup Selection of Month/Year (See Left Calendar Above)



Figure 6. Time Picker with Calendar Popup Button


With popups such as this it makes selecting the month and year simple, as well as options for financial use for selection of time periods such as quarters, halves, years, etc. again, as configured. There is simply no end to the flexibility of this product, including the outstanding Internationalization/Localization capabilities of this component.

In summary, the RichDatePicker is another "must-have" for every ASP.NET developers toolbox. If you are serious about web applications and creating a great user-experience with resulting accurate use of your web applications, the client side functionality and feature rich capabilities of this control leave no room for shortfalls. This is the answer to your calling for a leading, affordable, pleasure to use calendar control.


Useful links:
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