Overview

RadControls for Windows Phone 7 completes the missing controls and functionalities from the UI Toolbox for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone Toolkit. We not only offer controls not found in those resources, but we build upon existing controls they have created to offer our users a better experience. Our controls also aim to cut the development time by providing controls based on user feedback. Lastly, our controls are optimized for performance. A quick example of this is our RadDataBoundListBox compared to the ListBox offered in the Toolkit. Our control can handle hundreds of thousands of records without performance degradation.


Some of the questions that we receive from potential customers are in regards to how our controls match up to the Toolkit provided by Microsoft free of charge. This blog post is intended to answer several questions that come up regularly from our customers.

Note: As a UI vendor, I encourage you to view the pages linked below and explore the differences in the suites for yourself.

The Release Schedule for Both Suites

I’ve been recently asked how often our controls are updated compared to the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit. As of this writing (May 2012), the last update to Microsoft’s Toolkit was on November 2011 when several bugs and issues were fixed. [link] Take note, that this did not include new controls or additional functionality. Telerik’s latest update on March 21st, 2012 included bug fixes along with new features and a control. [link]

What about new controls? The Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit added new controls back in February 2011 with the TiltEffect and PerformanceProgressBar. [link] Telerik has released 5 major updates since November 2011, with a new control released on March 21st, 2012. Telerik also released 6 new controls on February 14th, 2012. You can find exactly what has been released when by reviewing the Release History

Comparison between Control Suites

Let’s stop and take a look at a comparison between the suites.

Control

RadControls for Windows Phone

Microsoft Toolkit for Windows Phone 7

Animation

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ApplicationFrame

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AutoCompleteBox

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BusyIndicator

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BulletGraph

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Calendar

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Chart

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ContextMenu

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DataBoundListBox

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Data Engine

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DatePicker, DateSelector

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Diagnostics

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DockPanel

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ExpanderView

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Gauge

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Hub Tile

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JumpList

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LayoutTransform

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LiveTileHelper

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ListPicker

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LoopingList

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MessageBox

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NumericUpDown

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Pagination

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PickerBox

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Phone TextBox

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RateAppReminder

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Rating

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SlideView

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TimePicker, TimeSelector

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ToggleSwitch

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Tooltip

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TrialReminder

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TransitionControl

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UniformGrid

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Window

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WrapPanel

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Figure 1: Comparison of RadControls for Windows Phone and the UI Toolbox for Windows Phone 7.

Major Control Comparison between Suites

Now that you saw a comparison between what our control suite offers that the official one doesn’t, let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at several major components found in each suite.

Toolkit for Windows Phone / UI Toolbox for Windows Phone 7

  1. ListBox – Very basic control found only in the UI Toolbox that displays a box on the screen that contains a list of options, only one of which can be selected.
  2. LongListSelector – [Found in Toolkit] Very similar to the JumpList found in Mango to navigate through applications quickly with the additional ability to use grouping.
  3. HubTile – [Found in Toolkit] This control represents an animated tile that supports an image and a tile. It can display other information on the back of the tile.


RadControls for Windows Phone

  1. RadDataBoundListBox –is the blazing-fast and light-weight version of the standard ListBox component. With this control your end-users can navigate through thousands of items without ever slowing down the application. Comes with the ability to change item navigation, add checkboxes, built in item animations, busy indicators and three modes of virtualization.
  2. RadJumpList – it contains all of the features in the LongListSelection along with core data operations such as filtering, sorting and grouping. You can also add the ability to use a sticky-header which will allow you navigate items with the group name listed. It also has data virtualization build-in for performance of long list. It also has build-in grouped check mode support.
  3. RadHubTile - it contains all of the features in the Toolkit’s HubTile along with 5 different hub types.
    1. RadHubTile is the typical tile that displays a static icon and a counter that displays a notification count or some other type of information.
    2. RadCustomHubTile is a blank tile, initially, and allows users to put any content on the front and back sides via DataTemplates.
    3. RadMosaicHubTile mimics the people hub tile in WP7 OS. It consists of a grid of smaller tiles that flip individually showing an image.
    4. RadPictureRotatorHubTile is used to randomly iterate over a collection of images. Similar to the Pictures hub tile in the WP7 OS.
    5. RadSlideHubTile is the tile you are looking for if you want to show a picture and some info related to the picture.


As you can see from this brief write-up, Telerik not only has the missing controls that you are looking for but also enhances the controls already found in the UI Toolbox and Toolkit.

The Missing Composite Parts of your Phone Application

Besides the major controls that Telerik has to offer is the additional helper classes. As developers, we are all used to adding in the same functionality in our application whether it is adding in error diagnostics, trial app reminders or even asking your users to rate an application. That is why Telerik introduced the “Building Blocks of Metro Applications” which includes:

  • Trial Feature Reminder - The TrialFeatureReminder allows you to display reminder messages for the trial versions of your applications. You can track the usage of the different features and disable only some of them when the trial expires. Then you can display a nice message inviting your user to pay for the features in the marketplace.
  • Trial App Reminders - Very Similar to Feature Reminders in that the TrialApplicationReminder allows you to display reminder messages for the trial versions of your applications. When the trial is expired you can display a nice message inviting your user to buy the application from the marketplace.
  • Rate Reminders - With this component you can add a very important feature for reminding your users to rate your application thus increasing your marketplace presence.
  • Error Diagnostics - With this component you can receive crash reports, add specific debug information and get run-time information from your users when an issue in your application is encountered.


As you can see, the Marketplace is the primary distribution channel for your application. By being able to let Telerik handle these composite parts of your application then you can focus more solely on the core functionality of your application.
Documentation for the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit Control Suite

The next item that I want to discuss is the state of documentation between the suites. The official codeplex site on which the Windows Phone Toolkit is hosted on provides no documentation. You can find the release notes by visiting the Release page, but it merely contains what is new and other changes. In order to learn how to use the control, they refer you to download the sample application and view the source code.

If you are using Telerik controls, we provide multiple ways to understand how to use our controls.

  • Help Documentation – This resource is constantly updated with our new controls and provides an easy way to get started using our controls. It also contains an API references as well as a searchable index.
  • Telerik TV – This resource also has up to date videos on how to use our controls for Windows Phone 7.
  • Quarterly Webinars – After every release, we provide a webinar to get you up to speed quickly with our new controls. You can watch the webinar live or watch it on demand hours after being recorded.

As you can see this is just the beginning to the vast amount of documentation that we have on our controls.

On Support for Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit Control Suite

Another concern is that if you have a problem with the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit then you are dependent upon the forum for help. One quick glimpse at the Issue Tracker and we see that they have 921 open work items at the time of this writing (April 2012). [link] If you look at the Telerik forums on any given day, then you will find 2-3 open issues. Those issues are generally resolved within 24 hours because we have a team dedicated to assisting you when you need help. Matter of fact, we promise a 24 hour response on any support ticket submitted through our site. [link]

Wrap-Up

The intent of this blog post is not to criticize, but to show the difference between organized teams working closely together over a period of time developing, maintaining and improving it. The teams at Telerik are committed to bringing your applications the best of UI components and if you need help along the way we are here for that as well. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions then feel free to send me an email at michael.crump@telerik.com or a tweet at @mbcrump.

You can download free trial of RadControls for Windows Phone here


MichaelCrump
About the Author

Michael Crump

is a Microsoft MVP, Pluralsight and MSDN author as well as an international speaker. He works at Telerik with a focus on everything mobile.  You can follow him on Twitter at @mbcrump or keep up with his various blogs by visiting his Telerik Blog or his Personal Blog.

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