From its humble origins, the .NET datagrid has transformed into a versatile yet complex software component because of technological advancements and evolving business requirements. Because of its complexity, you must peel back the layers to better understand the control.
The first-generation .NET Datagrid, released by Microsoft and bundled with Visual Studio, took tabular data and displayed it onscreen in the form of rows and columns. It had basic designer (configuration) support and included paging, sorting, and updating support–all requiring writing code.
In the second release of the .NET Datagrid, Microsoft added enhanced design-time capabilities, new data-binding features, and added out-of-the-box sorting and paging features. Microsoft defined more run-time events, also known as "callbacks", to extend the behavior, as well as adjust the look and feel of the grid at run time.
From the beginning, developers ran into limitations with the default Microsoft controls. Developers wanted a more responsive user interface that looked more professional and met rigorous functional requirements.
However, developers didn't want to write colossal amounts of code in order to enable the datagrid to do even basic tasks. This plight resulted in .NET component vendors adding the features that developers found lacking in the default Microsoft controls, including:
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The next wave of .NET datagrids had more Microsoft Excel-like spreadsheet features, which added support for exporting and printing–much like other reporting tools. New features included:
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Today, .NET datagrids continue to add functional and non-functional features, such as performance, ease-of-use, and seamless programming. They are the most frequently used components in .NET applications and are leading drivers of .NET component suite purchases.
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