(The following guest blog was written by Sam Tran. Read the original here.)
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, was having the marketing team at Syncfusion reaching out to me and saying they liked my blog and pointing out to me e-books were not the only things 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 licenses are 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 include the world’s largest corporations, institutions, and software firms.
For the record, I’m still new to Syncfusion, though I have used similar products from other makers such as Telerik, and from this, I can say they really, really deliver on all fronts. Solutions get shipped out at a faster rate and the finish is far superior in quality to 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
- Desktop: WPF, UWP, Winforms
- File Formats: Excel, PDF, Word, PowerPoint
- Data Science: Predictive Analytics (R and SPSS Models, deployment via .NET)
- Dashboard Platform
- Reporting Platform
- Big Data Platform
- Integration Platform
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.NET MVC) and desktop products/components (WPF). I was very impressed by both. I also toyed around with some of the other stuff—exactly what I wanted.
In evaluating products by any component maker, the product needs to do a few things; Syncfusion nailed these without issues.
Essential Studio control panel: access everything from this simple interface.
Firstly, it must be intuitive. Tick. No one, least of all developers, wants to spend hours and hours researching and reading up on documentation just to understand how things work. 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 documentation.
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 look 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 need to be stacks of components as well as examples that inspire you and you can learn/adopt from. No problems here, there’s plenty to choose from. What is available and possible is showcased in a clear and simple way via the control panels.
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 Google 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 offerings 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 wasted 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.
Don’t like a background color 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 offerings, but did play around with their Dashboard and Reporting Suites and was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to set this up in the cloud with Azure (runs on Virtual Machines). A reporting platform on Azure can basically become part of the Internet and it’s accessed via a URL like any website, while the report remains basically SSRS (.RDL files). This is great if you have existing investments in SSRS and are 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 the Big Data Platform in the Visual Studio Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards for 2016 for their offering/implementation of Hadoop.
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, a nice alternative to SSRS but still using .RDL files. Hosting on Azure is only a few clicks away as seen here—note the Azure URL while the 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 has an impressive set of tools that will help you create things that you can be proud of and, in the process, save you a lot of time.
If only this had been available when I started application development.