Friday, August 31, 2007

RadEditor "Prometheus" up to 76% faster

[Cross posted from blogs]

For months now we have been talking about the new RadEditor being built in the "Prometheus" suite and how it is going to be the best version of RadEditor to date. Today an early preview of that work was released in the "Prometheus" Futures build and made available for general testing in the Telerik community. Obviously, the version that was released today looks a lot different from the final version that will be released- dialogs are still rough, features are unpolished, and some features are missing- but it is still a great look at what's coming.

Today I ran the RadEditor Futures release build through some tests to compare the total page load time to the current Q2 2007 SP2 RadEditor. While the exact feature sets of the two controls differ at this stage, I tried to configure the classic Editor with the only the controls in the default "Prometheus" Editor to make the tests fair. To measure the page load times, I turned to the handy JavaScript page load stop watch I blogged about many months ago. I ran each control- Classic and Prometheus- through 12 tests: 6 in FireFox 2, 6 in IE7, 3 with "unprimed" browser cache, and 3 with the component's files already cached by the browser.

The results were amazing!

RadEditor "Prometheus" on average loaded 76% faster in IE7 after the control's files had already been cached. It loaded 67% faster on an unprimed cache. The gains in FireFox are more modest, but the load time has still been cut almost in half. Overall, IE7 loads both versions of RadEditor faster than FF2, but the difference in performance is much greater with RadEditor "Prometheus". IE7 on average loads RadEditor "Prometheus" 56% faster than FireFox, compared to a mere 13% advantage with the classic Editor component. I expect FireFox's performance to approach IE's in future RadEditor "Prometheus" builds.

Out of curiosity, I compared "Prometheus" Futures RadEditor to another leading WYSIWYG web editor to see how their performance compared. The other editor loaded quickly- faster in some tests by tenths of a second. At first I was a little stunned. Then I compared more closely the feature set and richness of this competing control. It completely lacked innovative user interface features like the integrated RadWindow for dialogs (it just uses clunky browser windows) and basic features like undo history (not to mention lack of Ajax support or an extensive client-side API)! When you consider the extra features and richness RadEditor "Prometheus" delivers in 3 tenths of a second, I think the delay becomes acceptable for most users.

Either way, the number one rich-text editor on the web is definitely getting faster in version 8 and any applications that use RadEditor should definitely plan of upgrading soon after Q2!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Future bug in new Prometheus Futures build

Did you eagerly download today's "Prometheus" Futures build only to be confounded by strange JavaScript errors? Don't worry, it's probably not you. It appears today's Futures build was released with a build date in, well, the future. As Telerik's own Atanas Korchev detailed in a blog post early last month, products built on ASP.NET AJAX have a problem if the assembly's build date is in the future (relative to your local system clock). As you probably know, the RadControls are developed in Bulgaria which means the build clock is about 7 hours ahead of Eastern Time, making the assembly build date "in the future" for most of today's US work day.

To solve the problem, simply set your system clock to some time after 5:10 PM today. With your computer safely operating in the future, reload your Prometheus Futures page and your JavaScript issues should disappear. I've found that you can then set your system clock back to the correct time and the page will continue to function correctly, even after clearing your browser's cache.

Hopefully the next build will be built in the past so you don't have take your computer back to the future (thank you, I'll be here all week).

[Thanks to Shaun for reporting this in the forums.]

In case you missed it: part III

Keeping with my general pace of delivering a new installment in this series about once a month, it is high time I brought your attention to some great blog posts on the Telerik blogs...(wait for it) case you missed it (well, in case you missed them, in this case, but that wouldn't match the series title). The blogs have been busy with new faces and great installments from long time writers, so if you haven't subscribed yet, you should. Without further delay, here are some of the great posts from the last month:

And that's just a small sample of the content on the Telerik blogs right now. There have been almost 20 new posts in August and many more that weren't highlighted in July. So if you're looking for something interesting to read today, you've got plenty of great material to pick from.

Prometheus Futures delayed, available today (update)

When you're trying to release beta components there is fine line between releasing unfinished code to meet an announced deadline and delaying a release to finish a few more beta features. In the case of the second "Prometheus" Futures release, we have obviously opted for the later path so that we can deliver the highest quality beta code. At this point, you already know what's coming in today's release, but for those that missed it, the major update will be RadEditor Prometheus.

And while we're waiting on the release, let me mention a few of the new things you'll find in this totally re-built WYSIWYG online editor:

  • CSS sprites used for toolbar buttons- that means fewer images to download from the server, which means better page load times.
  • Background script loading- instead of loading all of the client-script for all of the Editor features on the initial page load, RadEditor "Prometheus" will load the client-side scripts for specific features asynchronously. That means less code to download on initial page load and faster page load times.
  • Single file deployment- while all other RadControls have moved to embedded web resources in previous releases, RadEditor remains the one control that still requires the RadControls folder. That changes in RadEditor "Prometheus", which now supports the easy single file deployment.
Obviously, RadEditor "Prometheus" is a major step forward for the award winning component, so we're eager to get your feedback on the changes. Watch for the "Prometheus" Futures release today and check back here for an update with a direct link to the download.

UPDATE: The "Prometheus" Futures update is now available! Grab the download from your account and check out the new online demos.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Telerik Silverlight survey live

Silverlight 1.0 is almost here, and you've already got a project scheduled to use it, right? Or do you? Either way, Telerik wants to know. As the official release of Silverlight dawns and the release of Silverlight 1.1 rapidly approaches, we want to know how you plan on using Silverlight in your projects. Take five minutes to complete the new Silverlight Survey and tell us what you think of Silverlight. Your feedback will help shape the products Telerik delivers for Silverlight 1.1 and will be key in setting our development priorities over the next 6 to 8 months. As a thanks for your time and feedback, you'll get 1500 Telerik points added to your accounts.

So take a break, visit the survey, and help shape the future of Silverlight at Telerik. The survey will run through September 17th.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Houston TechFest wrap-up

In case you missed it, the first annual Houston TechFest has come and gone and it seems like it was a great success. I've already shared with you the interesting tid bit keynote speaker Brad Abrams provided regarding Silverlight, but the fun didn't stop there. I had the pleasure of demoing the Telerik RadAjaxManager for ASP.NET AJAX (or RadAjax "Prometheus" for the initiated) to a standing room only crowd of about 60 people. It seems next year we'll need a bigger room!

For those of you that were able to attend the session, thanks for stopping by and for bringing some great questions. The slides from the presentation, the demo code, and even a recorded web cast version are all available online if you want to take a closer look at anything we covered. If you still have questions about ASP.NET AJAX or the RadControls, always feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to help you on your road to learning both.

If you weren't able to make the conference, the online resources should help you catch-up on what you missed. You'll definitely want to try to join us at our next event, though. It is great to visit with "real" developers and we'd love to meet you face-to-face. 'Til then, have fun with ASP.NET AJAX and thank you for your interest at the TechFest!

exclusive: Silverlight 1.0 getting official this week

At today's Houston TechFest, Microsoft's Brad Abrams was the keynote speaker and he delivered what has become (more or less) the standard Silverlight overview presentation. He showed off Silverlight applications running on his Mac PowerBook and showed off the incredible new media capabilities that Silverlight is aiming to provide in the near future. If you've seen a Microsoft delivered overview on Silverlight before, then you pretty much know what was covered in this keynote (the Airlines demo, the chess demo, etc.).

But the one question on everyone's mind is when will all of this Silverlight stuff officially be released (you do remember that even Silverlight 1.0 has yet to be released, don't you?). While Brad claimed that the "people" at Microsoft would not let him provide exact dates, he did provide a juicy clue that indicates Silverlight 1.0 will be officially released within the next week. As Brad put it today, "Silverlight 1.0 will be released before the milk in you refrigerator goes bad." I don't know about the milk you buy, but milk that's in my frig now will probably expire in about a week, maybe two.

Brad seemed very eager to share (dang corporate shackles), so I'd be inclined to think his "hint" meant we'll see the official release of Silverlight 1.0 this week. "So what?" you say. As Brad put it again, the official release of Silverlight 1.0 marks the beginning of the Silverlight adoption clock. Partners that have "real" applications built on Silverlight- like MLB and Fox- will begin to turn on their new Silverlight services with the official release and we'll finally start seeing adoption of the Silverlight plug-in outside of the group of early-adopters (a.k.a. Microsoft developers)- a critical step in the evolution of Silverlight if it is to compete with Flash's 98% global adoption.

So there you have it. Silverlight 1.0 will (most likely) be officially released this week and you heard it here first.

Friday, August 24, 2007

RadGrid 5.0 beta coming soon

As the dog days of summer start to come to an end, it's time to start looking forward to the exciting new features coming in the Q2 2007 release. Four months have passed since the huge Q1 release and about three weeks remain before Q2 will hit the streets. Many controls will be getting new features in the next release, not the least of which is RadGrid.

RadGrid, which will get a major upgrade to version 5, is going to be sporting some very interesting new features. I almost hate to tell you the features here and ruin the surprise, but with a beta due late next week it's time to share. Aside from the normal round of bug fixes and performance improvements, RadGrid 5.0 will also feature:

  • Support for the ObjectContainerDataSource
  • Improved accessibility
  • Frozen column support in scrolling with static header scenarios
  • Built-in export to CSV
  • and Built-in export to PDF!
Clearly the last feature is the big one. You will now be able to export data from your RadGrid directly to PDF. This feature has been one of the top requests for a while now, and our developers are happy to finally deliver the powerful export option in the Grid.

The other features are no slouches, either. Frozen column support, export to CSV, improved accessibility, and client-side performance optimizations all contribute to making RadGrid 5.0 one of the (if not the) best ASP.NET grid components available. Certainly the best Telerik has ever released. Watch for an early beta of this new control late next week and get ready to give us your feedback as we put the finishing touches on another great Q release!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Telerik WinForms CAB Enabling Kit beta released

For any developers in the Telerik community that develop WinForms applications using the Composite UI Application Block, this is some very exciting news. Today we announced and released the beta of our new RadControls for WinForms CAB Enabling Kit. This new kit provides seamless integration of the RadControls in CAB-based smart client applications and makes the process of using Telerik's WinForms controls with the CAB among the best in the industry.

The new CAB Enabling Kit is going to be actively supported and updated by Telerik, earning status as a separate Telerik product. Obviously, it will be freely available to all WinForms subscription holders. Before the official release in Q2, the Kit's WPF Woodgrove Finance-like demo will receive some need fit-and-finish, but other than that it is ready for you to start downloading and testing. We look forward to supporting CAB developers in the future and to enhancing the Kit to make it the best development experience available for developing rich CAB-based applications.

Download the CAB Kit beta today and then give us your feedback in the forums. The most active beta testers have the opportunity to earn up to 5,000 Telerik points!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

PayPal getting a face lift, new logo

Many Telerik developers (self included) run sites that use PayPal to process online payments. Of those that don't, almost all use PayPal from time to time to make purchases online. Therefore, I thought this audience might find it interesting that PayPal is about to get a major face lift and a new logo.

The new web site is currently a live beta and it definitely has a "lighter" more corporate look than the current site enjoys. Gone are the bold blue rounded tabs and in are sleek silver square tabs (rounded tabs seem to be so Web 1.0). It's not the best looking redesign I've seen, especially considering it seems almost entirely cosmetic. Once you log-in, the organization of the tools and content looks very familiar. I think PayPal could have done more to actually improve the site's usability, such as making it easier to locate purchased merchant services through your account page.

The beta site does not feature the new logo, though. To see the new logo, you'll need to check out PayPal's stealth "Paypal-promo" site (checks out as a real PayPal site in the Whois records). The new logo reminds me of Visa's recent logo redesign, relying on simple statements of color and oblique lettering to show that all important forward motion. The new logo is not that different from today's outlined version, but it does look more professional and on par with other "big players" in the credit industry. Either way, the new logo means you'll need to update any PayPal logos on your site so that "customers know you are a current PayPal merchant" as a recent email states.

Expect the new logo to drop publicly "in the coming weeks" and get ready to make some site updates if you support PayPal purchases. And everyone should try out the PayPal beta site and submit your feedback via the Site Feedback link to let the PayPal web team know what you think of the changes. This concludes this public service announcement.

Prometheus Futures update due next week

Have you been wondering what happened to the Futures updates we promised a "few" weeks ago? Well stop wondering and take off your thought reading helmets, the time has finally come to update the Prometheus Futures. Next Tuesday, August 28th, we will release a major update to the Prometheus Futures build, and hopefully the scale of this update will make the wait worth it.

In the next Futures release you'll find stable betas of RadWindow, RadInput, and the totally new RadEditor. Of these newly "prometheus'd" controls, RadEditor is clearly the most significant. RadEditor has been completely re-built for Prometheus and its performance has been radically improved. If you're a fan of RadEditor, you'll definitely want to start playing with this beta next week.

The controls that have already been introduced in the Futures build will see some updates next week, too. RadScheduler and RadChart have a number of new features to show-off as all of the controls get ready for the big Q2 release in September. So stay tuned and watch for the release announcement next week!

DevReach 2007 details now available

If you don't have the opportunity to visit with Telerik at the upcoming Houston TechFest, your next chance to mingle is DevReach 2007. Hosted near Telerik HQ in Sofia, Bulgaria, DevReach is the premier developer conference organized by Telerik for Microsoft developers across Eastern Europe. This year's event will take place on October 1st and 2nd and will feature notable speakers like Tim Huckaby (Microsoft Regional Director), Carl Franklin (DotNetRocks), and Dino Esposito.

I will be making the trip to DevReach this year, too, so the event is not strictly limited to developers in Europe. If you just happen to be in Bulgaria October 1st, pay the 80 EUR registration fee and come join us for a good time.

For complete details on this year's event (and to reserve your spot), check out the beautifully designed DevReach website that launched this week. It features the full list of speakers, an early list of sessions, and a new blog supported by the DevReach team that will keep you informed on all DevReach happenings. And, of course, it runs on Sitefinity 3.0.

Monday, August 13, 2007

RadControls Learning Guide available in print

At the beginning of the summer we introduced an incredible new learning resource to the Telerik community in the form of a full book dedicated to the RadControls for ASP.NET. Clocking in at just over 620 pages, though, this free PDF is not exactly laser printer friendly. To save you the hassle of waiting on 620 pages to print and to save you from the glares your co-workers would certainly provide as they wait on their print outs, we have decided to make the learning guide available in print!

Taking advantage of the latest in on-demand publishing, Telerik is offering the Learning Guide in print through top-rated printer What does on-demand publishing mean? It means you'll be able to buy a copy of the Learning Guide that looks just like a tech book you'd buy at your local bookstore with the latest Learning Guide content at an incredibly affordable price. The only downside to on-demand publishing is that you'll have to wait a couple of extra days for your book to ship since (as many fast food chains claim) they don't make it 'til you order it.

The service is quite incredible and a great way to get the Learning Guide in print if you prefer reading books over on-screen PDFs. And at $29.99, I challenge you to find another 620+ tech book that gives you so much for so little. Order your copy today and add it to your essential tech book library.

Telerik at Houston TechFest August 25th

Your next opportunity to meet with Telerik face-to-face and to hang out with a few hundred .NET developers is quickly approaching. The first annual Houston TechFest will be held Saturday, August 25th, and yours truly will be there meeting with developers and doing a session on ASP.NET AJAX with Telerik's RadAjax "Prometheus". The Houston TechFest is being put on by the Houston DNUG (.NET Users Group for the uninstructed) and it will be held on the campus of the University of Houston. As a Platinum sponsor, Telerik will also be distributing free CDs and t-shirts to all event attendees, so don't miss your chance to get your hands on some genuine Telerik cotton.

The keynote speaker for this event is Brad Abrams (Microsoft, Group Program Manager for the UI Framework and Services). He'll be delivering a talk on Silverlight- past, present, and future- that should be very interesting to any developers considering near-term adoption of this young framework. So if you're in the Houston area, register for the TechFest and come join us for a fun filled day of .NET learning.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Adobe PDF previewer finally available

This post has little to do with Telerik (though I'm sure I could make some loose connection), so hopefully you'll forgive the exceedingly rare off-topic post. But since I thought one of the greatest shortcomings of Outlook 2007 when it shipped was the lack of a PDF previewer, I thought I'd share with this audience the widespread availability of the missing previewer. Released back in early June, Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.1 finally ships with a PDF preview handler that enables you to preview PDF files directly in Outlook. Why this wasn't available when Office shipped in November is anyone's guess, but at least there is now a solution.

If you're like me, you probably stopped using (or upgrading) Acrobat Reader long ago. There are many free programs on the Nets that make opening PDFs a much faster and painless experience. The inclusion of the previewer in 8.1, though, finally offers a enough reason to revisit the old bloatware and upgrade to the latest version. If you're using Outlook 2007 and you've missed this too, download the latest Adode Acrobat Reader and have fun previewing PDFs next week.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Grade your website's performance with YSlow

One of the better tools for web developers that exists today is FireBug, a free extension for FireFox. FireBug enables web developers to quickly inspect CSS rules, analyze document structure, and debug JavaScript errors. If you haven't added it to your web development toolbox yet, then do it now. But this post is not not about FireBug, it's about a new tool from Yahoo! called YSlow that extends FireBug (an extension extension?) with incredible performance optimization tools.

YSlow integrates directly into FireBug and when activated it grades the active web page based on Yahoo!'s thirteen simple rules for speeding up your website (another excellent resource). The results of the scan are conveniently presented with a list of scoring metrics, induvidual grades for each metric, details for improving each grade, and direct links to Yahoo!'s resources on performance improvement. I don't think there is any other free tool that exists that makes it this easy to identify easy site performance improvement opportunities.

Clearly, some of the metrics are better suited for larger sites (such as measuring your use of content delivery networks for static content), but for the most part the tips are very helpful. If nothing else, the tool's Stats and Components tabs will help you analyze the total size of your page (pre- and post-cache), the expiration date of your static content, and the size of your cookies- all good things to know when you're trying to optimize an application.

I've got to to give credit to Adam Kinney for blogging this first and bringing it to my attention. Do yourself a favor and download this free tool now and start optimizing your web applications today. With any luck a lot of hard work, maybe you too can earn Google's near perfect score of 99.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Input needed: RadGrid for WinForms v4

If you are a WinForms developer and you want to help shape the next version of RadGrid for WinForms, now is your chance to share your priorities. RadGrid is obviously one of the most important components in our WinForms suite and we've been working double-time to improve its quality (read: speed and performance). Now that the quality is much closer to being on par with the "Telerik standard", we want to make sure we focus on implementing the features that matter most to you.

Do you want export functionality first? Or do you want full hierarchal grids first? Your input in the RadGrid Survey will set our development agenda and help us deliver the correct feature set first. You have until August 31st to cast your vote in the survey, and to thank you for your time you'll get 300 Telerik points added to your account just for voting.

So what do you have to lose? The survey takes less than two minutes and you get to help set the direction of RadGrid. Vote today or forever hold your peace (well, at least until version 5).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Telerik wins big in SYS-CON 2007 .NET Reader's Choice Awards

It has been a good year for Telerik and awards. After winning 8 asp.netPRO Reader's Choice Awards in May and earning a nod as Best of TechEd 2007 for our WinForms controls in June, we can add 2 awards from the SYS-CON 2007 .NET Reader's Choice Awards in July. Nominated and voted on by .NET Developer's Journal readers, Telerik won the following two awards:

  • Best .NET Editors and IDEs for RadEditor
  • Best .NET Libraries and Controls for RadControls for ASP.NET
This is the second time that RadEditor has been recognized as best in class this year, further strengthening the point that RadEditor is the best online rich text editor. Winning the award for the best .NET library is also a great honor. In addition to beating out industry veterans likes Nevron and Infragistics for the title, this marks the first time this year that the RadControls suite has taken top honors in a Reader's Choice award show.

None of this would be possible without your support and your votes, though, so thank you again for choosing Telerik as your .NET UI provider of choice. You are what helps make Telerik great and we are committed to matching your enthusiasm for our controls with continuing innovation and outstanding support!