Syncfusion Essential Studio


VB.NET Forum Admin
Jun 3, 2004
Programming Experience

This month we have a challenging review to write - the Syncfusion Essential Studio has to be one of the largest suites of developer components second to Visual Studio itself that I have ever seen! Quite frankly, we've had this review on our to-do list far longer than I care to admit, but this suite is so huge it's hard to do it justice!

I've personally been a customer of Syncfusion several years. Although admittedly I don't use much of their stuff, it was quite eye opening to revisit this suite of controls I've had for a long time! I started by opening the ASP.NET Samples Browser, which you can view as well with their online demos by clicking here. I have typically focused on their Winforms controls, but I was quite amazed at what I had been missing in the ASP.NET world.

For Syncfusions ASP.NET components, which fully support ASP.NET 2.0, they focus heavily on their AJAX implementations and have one of the widest range of AJAX enabled controls I've seen. However, to list some of the controls that are part of this huge suite which focus on the ASP.NET side of things, here is what is included, and source code is standard by the way:
  • Essential Grid - Their web based grid control
  • Essential XlsIO - Microsoft Excel document system (Excel is NOT required)
  • Essential Chart
  • Essential Diagram
  • Essential DocIO - Microsoft Word document system (MS Word is not required)
  • Essential Grouping - a powerful data grouping engine
  • Essential Calculate - extensive calculation support for business object
  • Essential PDF - A great toolset for web based PDF creation
  • Essential Tools which include items such as a Treelist control, Group Bar, Tab Strip, Popup Container Control, Menus & Toolbars, Snap, RichTextEditor, and even a Spell Checker!
Syncfusion spares no effort in the education department. Their control samplers, divided into two separate applications, one for ASP.NET and the other for Winforms, provides you tremendous detail and friendly exposure to how easy it is to use the Syncfusion object model in this suite. Sample code in both C# and VB.NET as well as brochures on each element are included for your educational benefit.

The Winforms side of the house contains a tremendous number of controls, again all included in this suite with full source code! Elements of the Winforms suite include items listed below plus much more:
  • Essential Tools with all types of UI controls including Outlook style components, with Office 2007 support, Docking panels, Menus, CommandBars, Tabbed MDI controls, Treelists, Editors, Notification controls such as splash panels, status bars, progress bars, SuperToolTips, Tabs, Navigation, and even a Wizard control
  • Essential Grid
  • Essential Chart
  • Essential Diagram
  • Essential Edit
  • Essential Grouping
  • Essential XlsIO
  • Essential Calculate
  • Essential PDF
  • Essential HTMLUI - a neat control I use for our internal management systems which parses HTML for use in Winforms!
  • Essential DocIO
  • A nice assortment of shared controls which they use in their own development that they have extended for your use, such as: AppState Serialization, Mouse Controller, Record Navigation, Scroll Control, Splitter control, TabBar Splitter, etc.
Do you get the point yet at how large this suite of controls is? It is amazing at what you get. Although a bit pricey as compared to other suites, you certainly get a lot for your money including source code. One thing that I find refreshing about this suite is uniqueness. It is hard to pick components some times as so many vendors have the same controls; the grid, menus & toolbars, tabs, boring! Syncfusion shows their talent with unique controls such as the XlsIO, DocIO, HTMLUI control, Grouping, Calculate, etc. However, the downfall of a package this size is obviously going to be quality. Although in the brief time to review the demos to write this review I did not have any issues, however, in the past I did have problems with their Wizard control package to the point where updates were too infrequent causing me to move to another Wizard control system. It is also a bit concerning to see some of the controls share too much in common with other vendors, such as the web controls were all too similar, even in name, to ComponentArt's suite of controls. I would suggest at least naming the controls a bit more uniquely as well as make the samples more unique. I would like to see more focus not just on "quantity" of the controls in this suite but more of the quality and implementation of the UI's. The menu and toolbar system does not appear to be an accurate representation of Office, for example. The Office 2007 style menu system has the "new look" but it is a poor implementation. There is certainly a lot of talent in the development and features, but powerful elements such as even the grid fall short in the "elegant" department, in my opinion.

In conclusion, this is certainly a "very" comprehensive toolset for any developer. The licensing is friendly, allowing a developer to install on multiple machines, realizing that we often have a main dev station and a laptop computer. I would like to see better customer notification of updates and a better upgrade system. Every update I have had to make a round-trip with customer service as either my new license code wasn't on the web site or it just didn't work! I don't particularly care for their web based communications such as the DirecTrack support system or their forum system. I feel customer and developer communications could be improved.

I invite you download an evaluation of their controls and spend a little time browsing their demo samples, both for ASP.NET and Winforms. Their web site is loaded with information, beyond comprehension, or contact their staff for a timely response to assist you in any way.
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