Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Yeshim Deniz, Greg O'Connor, Trevor Parsons, AppDynamics Blog

Related Topics: Silverlight, Microsoft Cloud

Silverlight: Article

Rich Content Rotator for ASP.NET

Web developers are always on the lookout for great products to add dynamic effects to their Web pages

Web developers are always on the lookout for great products to add dynamic effects to their Web pages. Dynamic pages, often called DHTML pages, make use of slide shows, random content rotation, and news scrollers, and are generally developed using languages such as Visual Basic, Java, JavaScript, and VBScript. Many developers also use Macromedia Flash and other animation tools. Although it is possible to create dynamic pages with these languages, developers face many challenges, such as cross-browser compatibility issues, complex code, high maintainability requirements, and slow loading.

Classic ASP supplied the Ad Rotator component for developing DHTML applications, but it doesn't provide the required functionality. What is needed is a product with great features and functions that requires less maintenance. Developers realized that only event-driven components can provide this added functionality. Components are reusable controls that can be deployed as a single unit. Such components may contain several thousand lines of code, including complex methods or functions.

Developers don't need to know how these components were designed and developed; they need only know how to use and apply them to their Web pages. Many developers began developing controls on their own using Visual Basic 6.0 or Visual C++ 6.0. But most were hesitant to implement such controls for several reasons, including security concerns and rendering issues. Such components are known as ActiveX components; in order to use them, users have to enable ActiveX on their browsers. Many beginning users were unaware of this and hence the display of these pages was affected to a large extent. This scenario has completely changed with the evolution of .NET. Now, many vendors offer components that can be used to perform a wide variety of tasks, simplifying the work of many developers and customers.

Rich Content Rotator, one of the most useful and robust components, was developed by CYBERAKT Inc. (www.cyberakt.com). With Rich Content Rotator, you can create dynamic scrollers and tickers on the fly. It comes with four different licensing options, explained in the Pricing section. The real data comes from either an XML file or a SQL Server database. The main advantage of this component is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel in order to develop animated Web pages. Everything is built into it. Once you understand its usage, the rest of the work is pretty simple and straightforward.

I tested the product on a Pentium IV 2.4GHz with 512MB RAM system running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1. The entire download (www.richcontentrotator.com/download.aspx) took 5-10 minutes. Note: This may vary depending upon your connection speed. The product comes as a single executable file named RichContentRotator_setup.exe, which is around 953KB.

Once you have downloaded the file, run its setup to install the product. Installation normally takes less than two minutes, but it depends upon your system configuration. I encountered no problems during installation. You have to enter the appropriate license key when prompted to continue the installation process. If you have downloaded a free trial version you will occasionally get demo warnings. The product folder, named RichContentRotator, will be installed in the Program Files folder of your root drive. Inside this folder you will find a file named RichContentRotator.dll. This file is the component; it contains all of the magic. The component comes with a readme file containing important information but unfortunately this file isn't found on the Start menu after installation. The product also ships with a lot of sample applications and demos that you can freely use in your own projects.

All Web Forms (.aspx) and XML files of the sample applications are nicely organized in folders, but they are not installed by default. You have to manually install them by running the RichContentRotator_examples.msi file. The sample files are installed in the virtual directory, RichContentRotator, inside the Inetpub/wwwroot directory and hence you can access them by supplying the URL http://localhost/RichContentRotator.

The product also includes a small tutorial, which from my point of view is a real bonus for developers and customers. CYBERAKT's Web site displays live demos (www.richcontentrotator.com/demo_simpleNews.aspx) of the examples used. You can access the code on the pages themselves. You simply need to copy and paste the code using a text editor such as Notepad. I copied the code directly to the Visual Studio .NET editor, but some weird characters were pasted in instead of the actual code. It's better to copy the code to Notepad and then to VS.NET. I did this and it worked well.

Now let's look at how to apply this control in an ASP.NET page. I used Visual Studio .NET 2003 Final Beta to test the product. You can also use Visual Studio .NET 2002 or ASP.NET Web Matrix. If you use Notepad you have to enter all the code from scratch, which will be a tedious process. But I enjoy it. First, I suggest you copy the DLL file to the Common7/IDE directory. You will find this folder inside the Visual Studio .NET installation folder. After firing up Visual Studio .NET, you have to add the component to the Toolbox. This can be done by right-clicking on it and selecting Add/Remove Items. Click on the browse button, then locate and select the RichContentRotator.dll file. Finally, click the Open and OK buttons. If all goes well you will find two components named ContentRotator and Ticker in the Toolbox. The next step is to place an instance of the component on the form and set the various properties such as RotationType, Scroll-Direction, etc. Take a moment to scan through all the properties of the component. If you are a Visual Basic programmer, you will have no difficulty understanding them. As I explained above, the real data comes from an XML file and hence the XmlContentFile property is very important.

Even though all the demos shipped with the product are useful, I will show you how to write a sample program using this component. As you may know, Visual Studio .NET automatically adds the relevant code for a component as soon as you place it on the form. But you have to dress it up by adding a SlideTemplate. This template defines the look and feel of the component by using the data binding syntax. If you have worked with ADO.NET, you already know about the syntax of the data-binding code. The complete code for the sample program I used for testing is shown in Listing 1, available for download from www.sys-con.com/dotnet/sourcec.cfm.

That's all there is to it. Press F5 to compile and run the program. If there are no errors or warnings you should be able to see the scrolling of the data. If you want to add more data, you can do this by simply updating the relevant XML file. Visual Studio .NET automatically opens the browser upon successful compilation. Keep in mind that the loop executes continuously by default. Once you have successfully created a sample program as illustrated above you can freely modify the various settings from the properties window, activated by pressing F4.

Try to change some of the important properties such as Loop, RotationType, ShowEffect, and ScrollDirection. For example, modify the ShowEffect property to Fade and observe the result. But before doing this you should change the RotationType property to SlideShow for maximum results. I hit F5 to compile and run the program whenever I change any property. The main advantage of using Visual Studio .NET is its simplicity when setting the various properties. If you use Notepad then you have to know the various properties of the component. I strongly recommend that you download and install ASP.NET Web Matrix if you don't have Visual Studio .NET. I also tested the product using ASP.NET Web Matrix and noticed slightly different results while adding the DLL to the Toolbox.

The product also ships with another component, named "Ticker". It can be used for creating news scrollers, displaying sports scores, etc. Instead of an XML file, you can directly supply the content with Ticker's Text property. The code for the Ticker component is shown below:

<cyberakt:Ticker id="Ticker1" style="Z-INDEX: 102;
LEFT: 64px; POSITION: absolute; TOP: 184px"
runat="server" Text="Welcome to sys-con.com">
</cyberakt:Ticker>

I discovered that the ContentRotator and Ticker components can be easily integrated into a single application in order to utilize the functionality of both. In that case the real data for the Ticker's Text property comes from an XML file and you can apply it by using the data-binding technique I discussed earlier. The vendor's Web site displays a working demo (www.richcontentrotator.com/demo_tickerSequence.aspx) of this feature.

Unfortunately, the product doesn't come with documentation in HTML Help Format (.chm file). Many developers and customers prefer this format because it helps them to easily navigate between topics. Among other things, a help file should also clearly explain the various properties of the two components and their values so that it will benefit those customers and developers using plain Notepad. I hope the vendor will include this in the next release of the product.

I must say that the current documentation system is nearly perfect since it provides all of the files for the sample applications. CYBERAKT also provides online support, along with a free newsletter subscription so that you will always be updated when a new release of the product occurs. The vendor's Web site says that once you purchase the current version of the component, you will get a license for all the future 1.X versions of the product at no additional charge. The current license key will be valid for the upcoming versions also.

Company Info:
CYBERAKT Inc
108 Pine Crest Rd.
Toronto, ON M6P 3G5
Canada
Phone: 416.622.2923
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.cyberakt.com

Test Environment
Pentium IV 2.4GHz with 512MB RAM, Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1

Pricing
Free Trial Version (with rendering warning)
Application Edition: $79
Developer Edition: $199
Corporate Site Edition: $1,199

More Stories By Anand Narayanaswamy

Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as an independent consultant based in Trivandrum, India. He also works as chief technical editor for ASPAlliance.com and is the author of Community Server Quickly (http://www.packtpub.com/community-server/book), published by Packt Publishing. He runs http://www.Learnxpress.com, http:/www.dotnetalbum.com and http://www.csharpfaq.com. Find out more about him and his other websites at http://www.visualanand.net.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Raju 06/20/04 02:52:17 AM EDT

Dear Anand,

Just wanted to send you a tip. In your Enterprise Architect, you said got some weird characters (I too had the same problem for quite a long time). That is because you pasted the text with formatting. After copying the text, go to the desired page in your Enterprise Architect, "Right Click" and press "E" on keyboard or choose "Paste as HTML" from the context menu.

Warmest Regards,
Raju.

@ThingsExpo Stories
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.