Blog: Posts from September, 2009

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Posts from September, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009PrintSubscribe
Announcing Application Factory Projects

We are announcing two new premium projects, Web Application Factory and Web Site Factory. Both projects are based on Data Aquarium Framework and include automatic generation of web pages with advanced layouts selected at the time of code generation.

The pages of generated projects will feature a new component MenuExtender. The component will provide an advanced menu with unlimited levels, full keyboard support, advanced smart positioning to detect overlapping and screen size limits, and virtually identical rendering in major browsers. The component works with SiteMapDataSource and benefits from the ease of maintenance, security trimming, and navigation system customization features provided by ASP.NET.

All generated applications will be styled to mimic Microsoft SharePoint user interface, including page layouts, to provide a consistent “professional” look and feel out of the box. All styles are based on CSS and can be enhanced or replaced to provide alternative presentation.

A dedicated page will be created for each database table of the project with standard layouts selected by user and consistently applied to all pages. The layouts will include various master-detail options and tabbed presentation.

Both projects are functionally identical and will differ in implementation details. The first premium project will produce a Visual Studio web application project. The second premium project will create a Visual Web Developer web site project.

Designer Support for Site/Application Factory Projects

Code OnTime Designer will include designers to allow full customization of standard Data Aquarium settings and page layouts.

Users will be able to customize layouts of any page, create new pages, and retain customization over subsequent sessions of code generation.

A page is constructed out of containers activated by side bar links, a tab, or visible at all times. A multi-column layout of containers is supported.

Each page also features a collection of views that are pointing to views in Data Aquarium controllers.

A page view may expose the data controller data fields as a summary on the side bar.

A master-detail relationship may be established between page views to allow creation of master-detail pages with unlimited depth.

A page may also list a collection of ASP.NET user controls. Each user control has a name and is bound to a page container. A user control provides a basic unit of customization to create new code without losing ability to design applications visually. The code generator will create a corresponding ASP.NET *.ascx file for each user control only if the file does not exist yet.

New Features

Data Aquarium Framework will include a new AJAX components Web.HoverMonitor and Web.Menu located in the new script Web.Menu.js. The new components are a foundation for MenuExtender in new premium projects. Component Web.HoverMonitor replaces DropDownBehavior from AjaxControlToolkit that has been previously used to provide popup menus in the framework’s user interface. This will further increase the speed of rendering, responsiveness of user interface, full keyboard support, smart positioning, and identical rendering in major browsers.

The code generator speed has been increased to prevent re-generation of code files that will remain unchanged since the last code generation session.

Code OnTime Designer will include support for action groups and security settings available in Data Aquarium Framework application.


New premium projects will be released on October 19, 2009. Current premium project subscribers will automatically receive an update availability notification. Current Code OnTime Designer subscribers will also receive the designer updates at the same time.


The future release of updates will include support for Microsoft Access and My SQL databases. The tentative availability date is set to November 23, 2009.

We are also evaluating support for deployment of Application Factory projects to Microsoft Azure.

Please post your comments about the new features and directions that you want us to explore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009PrintSubscribe
Form Category Rendering Modes

Data Aquarium Framework supports two form rendering modes and optional tabbed presentation.

Standard Rendering Mode

The standard mode mimics Microsoft SharePoint forms. A single column of data fields is displayed on the right while categories with descriptions are displayed on the left.

Unlike Microsoft SharePoint the form is an AJAX web form and is being rendered entirely on the client eliminating the need for post backs and providing an excellent response time. The XML data controller embedded into the server application provides a list of data fields and categories.


You can see the live version of this form at

Compact Rendering Mode

The compact rendering mode is turned on by indicating that the category must start in the new column.

The categories are rendered from top to bottom with the fields and corresponding labels displayed on a single line. Category header text and description are displayed above the category fields.


The AJAX engine behind the form will also automatically downgrade the layout to a single column rendered compactly if there is not enough space for all categories to be displayed without scrolling.


You can see the live version of this form at

Here is the data controller markup that enabled new column on the category with the header text Address. A single attribute set to true is all takes.

<category headerText="Address" newColumn="true" >

Tabbed AJAX Forms without CODE

You can also enable a standard or compact rendering with categories activated when a corresponding tab is selected.


Tabs are integrated into the AJAX client library of Data Aquarium Framework  and require very little effort. Simply add a tab attribute with tab label as a value to a category element to turn the tabbed layout on. If at least one tab is defined then all the other categories without a tab are automatically grouped under General tab.

<category headerText="General">
<category headerText="Hire Date and Manager">
<category headerText="Address" tab="Address">
<category headerText="Notes" tab="Address">

Tabs are aware of the edit and insert modes of the view and are working in unison. For example, if you start editing the data while the first tab is selected and then switch to the second tab then the data fields are presented in edit mode as well and edits of the first tab are not lost.

If there is an error in the invisible field then tab is automatically selected and the field is highlighted when user tries to update or insert a record.



Note that tabbed presentation does not support multiple columns in compact mode.

You can see the live version of this form at


The standard and compact rendering modes with an option to enable tabbed presentation provide some truly powerful user interface options that require no code and deliver professional results.

See the video tutorial that shows how to build such forms with Code OnTime Designer.

Read about custom form templates if you need more control over the user interface of the AJAX forms.

Sunday, September 20, 2009PrintSubscribe
Building ASP.NET/AJAX Forms With Code OnTime Designer

Learn ASP.NET/AJAX web form customization with Code OnTime Designer. We will start with an automatically generated single-column AJAX web form that lists all fields of an employee record. We proceed by creating the following form layouts in real time:

  • A single column form with employee fields broken into four categories
  • A two column form with compact field layout
  • A form with four tabs for each category and fields displayed in compact layout.
  • A form with two tabs that bring up two categories each displayed in a standard layout.

You can see a live demo of an application similar to the one in the tutorial at