Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Automic Blog, Michael Kopp, Jyoti Bansal, Kaazing Blog, Steven Mandel

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)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a mu...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...