Get productive with Syncfusion

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I have to say it didn’t come as a total surprise one of my more popular blogs (according to LinkedIn Stats and Google Analytics) was on places where you can pick up some great free e-books because let’s face it, we all like free things. What did come as a surprise however is having the marketing team at Syncfusion reaching out to me and saying they liked my blog and pointing out to me ebooks were not the only thing they offer for free (I was also invited as a guest blogger for their site). As a matter of fact, under the terms of their Community License, everything at Syncfusion is completely free. Free community or developer licence is not new but seldom is it anywhere this generous. I also just happen to be a massive fan of these tools.

So……Boom, Christmas came early and someone just dropped a toy factory on my lap 🙂

In case you weren’t aware and the reason for the excitement, Syncfusion is “the enterprise technology partner of choice for Windows development, delivering a broad range of .NET components and controls coupled with a service-oriented approach throughout the entire application life cycle”. In simple terms, they produce technology (components) that help developers be more productive and deliver a finished product that is more refined, polished and professional. They also provide development and consulting services on just about anything in IT. Some of Syncfusion’s clients includes the worlds largest corporations, institutions as well as software firms.

For the records, I’m still new to Syncfusion though have used similar products from other makers such as Telerik and from this, can say they really, really deliver on all fronts. Solutions gets shipped out at a faster rate and the finish is far superior quality than anything most teams can achieve alone. How this is achieved varies with the product but for application development (web, desktop, mobile, files), it’s generally making use of a combination of templates, themes, scaffolding, libraries and code snippets from the vendor. At present, this is what’s on offer:

Components and Frameworks

  • Web: ASP .Net MVC, ASP.Net Core, ASP.Net Web Forms, JavaScript
  • Mobile: Ionic, Xamarin, UWP, JavaScript
  • Desktop: WPF, UWP, Winforms
  • File Formats (Excel, PDF,Word, PowerPoint)
  • Data Science: Predictive Analytics (R and SPSS Models, deployment via .Net)

Enterprise Solutions

  • Dashboard
  • Reporting
  • Big Data
  • Integration Platforms

Due to time constraints, I didn’t get a chance to try out all their products and only tested those I’m more familiar with from experience with rival Telerik, namely their Web (ASP MVC) and Desktop products/components (WPF). I was very impressed by both. I also toyed around some of the other stuff-exactly what I wanted.

In evaluating products by any component makers, it needs to do a few things-Syncfusion nailed these without issues.

Essential Studio Control Panel
Essential Studio Control Panel: access everything from this simple interface

Firstly, it must be intuitive. Tick. No one, least of all developers, want to spend hours and hours researching and reading up on documentation just to understand how things works. An intuitive API supported by good documentation and working examples your typical developer can follow is critical. It’s sad how often developers have to resort to Stack-Overflow or technical blogs because of poor documentations.

Secondly, the end product must be slick and polished while adding functionality in a timely manner. No point using it if the controls, objects or graphs only looks marginally better than what I spin up or find on Google or if it takes forever to build. Tick. Even the dull (but fast to develop) Winforms looks great. Some components are better than Telerik, others not as good but overall, an extensive set of controls at your disposal.

Thirdly, there needs to be stacks of components as well as examples that inspires and you can learn/adopt from. No problems here, there’s plenty to chose from. What is available and possible is showcased in a clear and simple way via the Control Panels.

Syncfusion Samples
All application samples are easily accessible with supporting code

And finally, support is there should I need it. Well, thumbs up here as I didn’t need it-everything just worked (did read some reviews on Googles for the sake of it-all very positive). Reliability, performance and scalability-these are given and applicable to any software, there’s no compromises here.

Overall, very impressed with the bulk of what they had to offer and will definitely invest more of my time to learn and discover more of their offering when I get the chance. I say invest because as we all know, learning a new framework/product takes time and salute to Syncfusion for the forward thinking with their generous Community Licenses. As a start, it gives us the time to fully understand the product and just as important, assurance the time and effort invested will not be in waste after expiry of the typical ’30 day trial period’ while for the vendors, well, having a large pool of developers familiar with their product never hurts. In any event, it’s free for most people’s private use including personal websites, store apps as well as small businesses with revenues less than $1 million USD/PA.

theme
Don’t like a background colour or theme in your website? Just change themes, it’s a cinch

I didn’t get time to fully test out their BI or Big Data offering but did play around with their Dashboard and Reporting Suite and was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to set this up in the clouds with Azure (runs on Virtual Machines). A reporting platform on Azure can basically become part of the internet and its accessed via a URL like any web site while the report remains basically SSRS (.RDL files). This is great if you have existing investments in SSRS and happy with what it has to offer including the mobile reports in SSRS 2016. It’s also worth a mention Syncfusion won the Gold Award for Big Data Platform in the Visual Studio Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for 2016 for their offering/implementation of Hadoop.

Azure Syncfusion
Was very impressed by the deployment of the Reporting/Dashboard platform to Azure. A couple of clicks and you’re all set up, didn’t have to read any manuals
Syncfusion Report Server
Syncfusion Report Server, a nice alternative to SSRS but still using .RDL files. Hosting on Azure is only a few clicks away as seen here-note Azure URL while browser is local

There you have it, a very compressed overview on some of the offerings at a truly innovative company. Syncfusion may not be for every team or project, but if you’re a developer, desktop or mobile, cloud or on-prem, seasoned or rookie, professional or hobbyist, it’s definitely worth taking another look. It’s has an impressive set of tools that will help you create things which you can be proud of and in the process save you a lot of time.

Only had this been available when I started application development.

Toolbox
There’s over a hundred tools in the toolbox-drag and drop as you would with any WPF control
Expression Blend
Further customisation with Expression Blend
Big Data with Syncfusion
Big Data with Syncfusion: Will definitely take this for a spin
Metro Studio
Metro Studio is a collection of over 7000 icon templates that can be easily customized-I’ve been looking for something like this for years.

MetroStudio2

File Formats
Didn’t really look into this much but if I understood it correctly, the product ‘File Formats’ is a collection of libraries (.DLLs) that helps developers operate and work with files. In any event, it works even in Linqpad (just import DLLs) so versatility is added bonus. Super useful for many situations, screen shot above shows a write/read operation on some PDF files within Linqpad. Other operations/methods can be seen in the web section of the demos

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