The DevExpress 2010 Roadmap

2010 - a Watershed Year for the Developers

The year 2010 is likely to be a watershed year for the developers we support with our products. Both in the Microsoft space and the Embarcadero space there are new technologies and products promised that are certain to alter the landscape for years to come. For Microsoft, there’s Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4, both of which promise to fundamentally change how and what we’ve been developing since Visual Studio 2005 and .NET 2. Furthermore Silverlight 4 has made its debut as a beta at PDC, then probably as a release in the summer. For Embarcadero, it is likely that there will be a new release of the perennial favorite native compiler, Delphi, building on their successes with Delphi 2009 and 2010, and possibly targeting a new platform, Mac OS X, into the bargain.

We at DevExpress, then, have our work cut out for us in the next 12 months. We have to embrace these new technologies and directions open-armed, and still produce the kind of products that you, our customers, welcome and need, and that garner the extensive awards we’ve been privileged to win in 2009.

In order to produce the breadth and quality of the controls, tools, and frameworks you’ve come to expect and enjoy, we’ve had to make a hard decision. Our products are complex enough and are interdependent and interconnected enough that producing a quality major release is a significant endeavor. For instance, we estimate that, in 2009, fully one quarter of our developers’ time was spent on release-related work and not on producing more functionality, features, and enhancements. With those kinds of statistics to back us up, we have resolved to produce two major releases in 2010, instead of the more usual three. These major releases will occur at the beginning of quarter 2 (say, April), and at the beginning of quarter 4 (say, October). Minor releases will continue to be released as and when necessary, usually once a month. Of course, each of these new style releases will have more features than the older style release: we aim to provide as much, if not more, functionality than ever before.

As is usual in a roadmap such as this, I have to sound my usual note of caution. These plans are our best estimate at this point in time for what we should be able to do in 2010, given our resources and our understanding of the technology landscape in which we operate. Any dates given are estimates and any functionality we describe in this roadmap, especially the further out it is, may be delayed a release, postponed, or cancelled altogether. We strongly advise our customers not to make firm plans based on what they see here: in an industry such as ours, things can change very quickly and we have to react just as rapidly to new opportunities that may present themselves.

Our goal for the Silverlight platform in 2010 is to expand on our current coverage with some new, innovative functionality.

We aim to provide full design-time support for both Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend 3 for our current controls in v2010.1, with all our new controls having such support from the outset.

For the first release of the year for the grid, we’ll be expanding on our work in providing performance without compromising functionality, adding more attributes to the RIA services support, and enhancing the API. The second release will feature enhancements that will maintain the lead we have with the Silverlight grid.

Our package of editors will continue to be improved with such controls as a spin control, a memo editor and color chooser, as well as any editors we’ll be introducing into our WPF range. We shall be enhancing their ability to be embedded in other controls such as the toolbar or ribbon. The rich edit control will continue to be enhanced based on the common codebase with the WinForms XtraRichEdit control, but will gain the ability to print when used with Silverlight 4.

The layout control will continue to be enhanced to ensure its place as the premier layout tool for Silverlight. Examples are collapsible groups and tabbed groups, and full end-user customization for all features will be completed by the second release.

Another major control to make its debut as a beta in late 2010 is the scheduler. This will be based on the same infrastructure as all of our scheduler controls on the other platforms and will use a common codebase with our DXScheduler for WPF.

We will be adding a navigation bar, a tab control, and smaller items like an upload control and a mirror control in the first release, with other controls that are suggested (or that we find we need) in the second.

We shall continue to improve our support for themes by ensuring that all our controls have a good appearance for the default Silverlight theme. We shall also be producing other themes and skins for your use, such as the Black and Silver Office 2007 themes.

We shall release our Silverlight Charts product into beta in v2010.1 with a full release in v2010.2. The plan is to have exactly the same functionality as there is (and will be) in DXCharts for WPF (except for 3D charts); both products will be updated and enhanced from then on in sync.

With regards to reporting and printing, we shall release a report viewer for Silverlight in v2010.1. This report viewer will join our current report viewers for WinForms and ASP.NET to preview reports created by the current XtraReports end-user designer. In v2010.2 we shall release our AgPrinting product which will be geared to printing/exporting our controls, much as the DXPrinting for WPF and XtraPrinting products work today. By the time of the second release of the year, we should have enough infrastructure present that we can then embark on a full-fledged report designer for Silverlight.

The WPF platform continues to expand and we’ll be strengthening our products in that market throughout 2010.

The DXGrid will continue to grow in functionality. Work has already started on producing a filter editor, an expression editor, multi-selection of cells, built-in search, and hit-testing for v2010.1, whereas later in the year, we will be working on master/detail, a data navigator, an advanced date filter, a grid lookup control, and layout and banded views.

Alongside the improvements in the grid, we shall be adding new functionality to the editors. Features include UI automation support, auto-complete combo boxes, multi-column combo boxes, a calculator edit control, progress bars, and range bars in the first release, with a lookup editor, image edit, color chooser, and password edit control in the second. We are also planning on releasing a rich text editor for WPF in 2010; this will be based on our existing codebase for XtraRichEdit and AgRichEdit and so will have similar features.

We shall be releasing into beta a DXScheduler for WPF control in the first release, with the actual release being in v2010.2. This control will use the same proven infrastructure as our current WinForms and ASP.NET schedulers.

The pivot grid for WPF, currently in beta, will be released in the first half of the year. Additional functionality for the grid will be released throughout the year and will include such new features as column resizing, best fit, selection, and templates.

We shall be improving our bars product during 2010 to add features such as bar merging. In v2010.1 we shall make a ribbon control available in beta, with the final release being in the second half of the year. Standard features such as, pages and groups layout, page categories, quick access toolbar, status bar and gallery will be available in the first release.

The feature set for the DXDocking product will continue to be improved with more layout features.

DXCharts will proceed in providing fresh and novel functionality for WPF applications. In v2010.1 we shall provide secondary axes, strips and constant lines for 2D charts, customizable chart and series titles, and provide data binding through the series template for automatically created data series. We shall, of course, be adding more chart types throughout the year.

On the reporting front, we shall round out our set of report viewers by including one for WPF. This will be used to view reports generating from the end-user designer in XtraReports. DXPrinting will continue to be enhanced all year.

In addition to the features and functionality referenced above, we shall of course be investigating other possible controls for inclusion in our WPF package.

Despite the advances in Silverlight, the ASP.NET market continues to be of primary importance, with the somewhat destabilizing influence of ASP.NET MVC to consider.

New controls will include a CAPTCHA control for the first part of the year, with possibly a vertical grid for the second half. For ASP.NET MVC, we shall be testing the waters with beta versions of the data grid, menu, navigation bar, and tab control in v2010.1, with other controls possibly later in the year depending on customer feedback.

Part of our work for v2010.1 will be an analysis and improvement of the render sizes of various controls. In particular we’ll be looking at the menu, navigation bar, and pager controls.

The HTML editor control is up for its fair share of improvements too. Many of them are related to the improved support for common editing scenarios in standard web applications (for example, conversion of absolute URLs to application-relative URLs, choosing of images from upload folders visually, and the like).

Alongside these specific changes and enhancements, we shall be considering and investigating improvements across the board such as right-to-left layouts, adding server mode to other controls, refreshing the demos, adding new skins.

For charting and reporting improvements, please see the section for WinForms.

By far the biggest workload in the first half of the year for the developers of our WinForms products is going to be the support for Visual Studio 2010 and especially its default use of the Client Profile.

In the second release, we will continue to enhance our current control set and review highly-requested suggestions for new functionality and feature sets. Certainly we will be providing the new Office 2010 and Windows 7 “looks” for the ribbon.

The XtraRichEdit control is due for some well-requested features. In the first release of the year we’ll be adding tables support, headers and footers, and the ability to switch off functionality for certain end-user scenarios (such as pictures, formatting options, copy and paste, etc). Later in the year, we’ll be adding further features based on feedback and suggestions.

With regard to our charts product, we plan on adding annotations, side-by-side stacked and full stacked bar charts, improved scrolling features in the first release. For the second we will be adding further chart types (the exact ones have not yet been finalized). Throughout the year we will be adding numerous smaller features to ensure that XtraCharts remains the premier professional royalty-free charting package for WinForms and ASP.NET.

On the reporting front, we aim to provide a reporting services product by the second half of the year. In essence, this product will serve up automated reports to all of our report viewers across all platforms.

The future for eXpress Persistent Objects (XPO) and eXpressApp Framework (XAF) continues to look bright, cementing our view that there is no comparable product on the market that comes close to the simplicity and expressiveness of XAF.

For XPO, we recognize that it needs improvements in various areas. To support Silverlight applications in particular, we shall be adding a new data transport layer in the first half of the year, which will evolve to a middle tier in the second. The same goes for improvements to security: we shall be adding enough support for the security scenarios needed for XAF in the first part of the year, which will be fleshed out for other scenarios in the second.

With regard to XAF, we will be providing many changes in 2010. The most important of these, and something we’ve been talking about for a while, is the support for domain components, with a CTP in the first and a full release in the second part of the year. Instance and field-level security will be made available in the second half of the year, building on the implementation in XPO from the first half. Workflow support is another area we’ll be providing support for: a basic workflow engine in the first half and WF4 support in the second.

We shall be making many improvements to the model in XAF, including strong typed interfaces and multiple layers. This work should resolve several limitations that XAF currently has. Additionally we are working on such features as a dashboard, KPI with charting and drilldown. With regard to WPF and Silverlight support for the UI, we recognize that such support cannot complete without some basic infrastructure from other teams and so it’s unlikely that a full release for either of these two platforms will be seen in 2010, although an early beta might be made available in the second part of the year.

In 2010, we shall continue to enhance the native controls for the VCL to maintain our position as the primary controls vendor for Delphi.

In particular, we shall produce version 7 of the ExpressQuantumGrid. Enhancements include: a new “Layout View” for simple customization of the editors’ layout in the grid, new stacked bars in the chart view, data controller performance improvements, a setup wizard to help configure the grid for simple scenarios, optional Window 7 look-and-feel, and various smaller features and enhancements.

The ExpressBars product will be versioned to release 7 as well. Items for implementation include Office 2010 and Windows 7 look-and-feel for the ribbon, Word 2007 floating style toolbar, more embedded controls for the ribbon.

Exporting will be enhanced to provide Excel 2007 format files and we will be exporting numeric data using the same format as defined in the grid. We will also add images and RTF support into export engine. All export enhancements will be available for the new ExpressQuantumGrid 7 or ExpressBars 7.

The installer will also be improved to allow Delphi and C++Builder libraries to be installed side-by-side in RAD Studio, and we’ll be adding an option to generate debug information during install.

As with all our other products we will be reviewing suggestions and feedback to determine numerous smaller features to implement throughout the year. Of course, as and when we receive news from Embarcadero with regard to their goals for Delphi in 2010, we shall be evaluating (and re-evaluating) our plans to better accommodate them.

The big event for the IDE tools team and therefore for our customers, is the release of Visual Studio 2010. As has been noted elsewhere, this new IDE presents a challenge for our productivity tools, one that we shall be happy to take on.

For the first part of 2010, the majority of our effort will be spent on providing VS2010 support. We aim to release CodeRush Xpress first, alongside VS2010 itself, and then the full CodeRush for VS2010 as part of our major release cycle. We shall also include some polishing of our new test runner functionality, as well as myriad other minor enhancements.

In the latter part of the year, we shall continue enhancing our refactorings, polish our dual GDI/WPF UI support, enhance our code issue detection engine, and improve our support for other languages and platforms like Silverlight, WPF and JavaScript.

Thank you and best wishes,
Julian M Bucknall, CTO and The DevExpress Team