VSTO & .NET & Excel

September 9, 2009

Goodbye Radio Buttons!

Filed under: .NET & Excel, COM Add-ins, UI Design, VSTO & Excel — Tags: — Dennis M Wallentin @ 12:20 pm

For years I have been using the Radio Button control in many of my solutions (where it has been appropriated). When using the control it was usually together with the Group Box control. The following screen shot shows a common approach when using these two controls together and where users are supposed to select one of the three options. Typically one of the Radio Buttons is also pre-checked when the Windows Form is loaded.

RadioButtons

When designing the UI and consider to use Radio Buttons the question we should raise is; when is the number of items relevant to the end users? My answer is when the users are about to make a selection, not before and not after that decision point. After the decision has been made the selected item should be viewed. 

This lead to a new standpoint, at least to me, when designing UI; instead of a group of Radio Button controls we replace them with a Combo Box control as the following screen shot show:

Comboboxes

When the Windows Form is loaded we have the same option as with Radio Buttons; to have one (or more) item(s) selected or to have no no item pre-selected. When the users have made their decisions the selected item is showed in the control. Consequently,  the UI gets cleaner and the Windows form may even be down sized. Of course, the same discussion can be applied to the List Box control.

All in all, for all my future projects I will simple drop the Radion Button control and instead use the Combo Box control. Do You agree?

Kind regards,
Dennis

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September 2, 2009

Microsoft Chart Control for .NET

Filed under: .NET & Excel, Charts components, VSTO & Excel — Dennis M Wallentin @ 10:39 am

In 2007 Microsoft aquired Dundas Data Visualization but Dundas still remains as a standalone company. What matters is that by acquiring Dundas Microsoft got access to all the Dundas .NET controls. Last year Microsoft made the Chart control available for free. Originally the Chart control comes from Dundas but  Microsoft has done an update of its code base so it fits better with Visual Studio.

So far Microsoft have only provided some basic controls in Visual Studio and has let other providers to provide more advanced commercial controls. But with the Chart control they make an exception and provide an excellent control for free. Perhaps we will see more of that in the future?

I find the Chart control to be a great companion into my solutions where it requires some data presentation in terms of charts. Due to this I believe it deserves to be more highlighted within the Excel and .NET developing communities.

 Initially I planned to create a sample and discuss it in more detail however because MSFT has made over 200 samples available there are no reasons why I just should repeat some of these samples here. Actually, the sample collection is very nice and all the code samples can be viewed in both C# and VB.NET as the below screen shot shows.

Samples

What should be noted is that we cannot place the control on worksheets when creating document centric VSTO solutions. But on the other hand we don’t need to use it like that as we have access to Excel’s nice built-in chart control.

 For more information and to download please see the following links:

A great blog about the Chart control is Alex Gorev’s Weblog.

Kind regards,
Dennis

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