Productivity Options for ASP.NET Developers

Standard Controls vs. AJAX Toolkit vs. Third-Party Controls

Understanding the Options

ASP.NET developers have three options for improving productivity: the standard controls built into the ASP.NET platform, the open source AJAX Toolkit and third-party ASP.NET controls.

1. Using the Default Controls

The ASP.NET framework includes about 30 server controls that provide basic web application functionality. For example, ASP.NET includes a GridView control that works well for simple presentations of tabular data, but lacks common features like filtering and grouping. The default controls can be extended, but the process is time consuming and counter-productive for most projects. 

The standard controls are best for learning ASP.NET or building projects that do not require rich functionality or sleek UI.

Standard ASP.NET Controls from Microsoft

ASP.NET AJAX Toolkit Controls

2. Using the Open Source AJAX Toolkit

Microsoft partnered with the open source community to provide a number of “add-on” controls that build on the ASP.NET AJAX framework. The Toolkit adds simple AJAX behaviors to ASP.NET applications, but they lack extensive configuration options. Unlike third-party controls, the AJAX Toolkit does not have a regular release schedule or roadmap, so updates are unpredictable. Further, the Toolkit is not officially supported by Microsoft. Support is available only through online communities.

The AJAX Toolkit is best for projects that require open source or have the time to solve problems manually.

3. Using Third-Party ASP.NET Controls

For most development teams, choosing third-party controls that provide extensive configurability and comprehensive out-of-the-box features is the best choice for maximizing productivity and profit. UI for ASP.NET AJAX from Telerik, for example, offers over 80 UI controls for rapidly building ASP.NET and SharePoint sites and applications enabling you to focus on value-generating development tasks and reduce time spent on common application functionality.

Telerik controls are best for projects that need to deliver rich functionality in real world projects constrained by time and resources.

Third-Party ASP.NET Controls
ASP.NET Productivity With Third-Party Controls

Not Convinced Third-Party Controls Can Make You More Productive?

This whitepaper will walk you through the challenge Telerik Developer Evangelist, Jeff Fritz gave himself: Build the same application by allocating 30 minutes to working with the default Visual Studio toolset and 30 minutes to Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX. He then compared the results based on how much functionality he implemented and the amount of code he had to write. The productivity gap may surprise you.

Get the free whitepaper

AJAX Toolkit vs. Default Controls vs. Telerik Controls

Feature Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX Default ASP.NET Controls AJAX Toolkit Controls
Toolset More Than 80 Controls Approx. 30 Controls Approx. 50 Controls & Extenders
Free Some Yes Yes
24-Hour Support Yes  Yes  No
Built on ASP.NET AJAX Yes Yes Yes
Cross-Browser Support Yes Yes Yes
Rich Client-Side Functionality Yes No Some
HTML5-Ready Yes Yes  Yes
Adaptive Mobile rendering Yes No No
Extensive Documentation Yes Yes Yes
Live Online Demos Yes No Yes
Public Roadmap Yes No No
Frequent Updates Yes No No
Professional Themes Yes No No
Theme Customizer Yes No No
Visual Studio Configuration Wizards Yes No No
TypeScript Intellisense Yes No No

Some controls offer more functionality than others, such as Grids and TreeViews. The following charts compare out-of-the-box features in the Telerik controls to the default ASP.NET AJAX control equivalents.

Telerik RadGrid vs. Default ASP.NET GridView

Feature Telerik RadGrid Default ASP.NET GridView
Column Templates (TemplateColumn) Yes (TemplateField) (Custom Code)
Basic Paging Yes Yes
Custom Paging Yes No
Item Templates (Row) Yes No
Built-In Filter Control Yes No
Binding: Server-Side Yes Yes
Binding: Client-Side Yes No
Binding: WebService Yes (Markup) Yes (Code-Behind)
Frozen Columns Yes No
Virtual Scrolling Yes No
Automatic CRUD Operations Yes Yes
Multi-Row Edit Yes (Simple Property) No
Batch Editing Yes No
Context Menu Yes (Property) No
Grouping Yes No
Exporting to PDF/Excel/Word Yes No
Client-Side API Yes No

See more than 60 online examples of RadGrid for ASP.NET AJAX

RadTreeView vs. default ASP.NET TreeView

Feature Telerik RadTreeView Default ASP.NET TreeView
Design-Time Wizard Yes Yes
Checkbox Support Yes Yes
Extensive Client-Side Functionality Yes No
Node Templates Yes No
Singular Node Templates Yes No
Load-on-Demand: Server-Side (defined on a node-by-node basis) No
Load-on-Demand: Client-Side Yes (via runat=”server” script)
Load-on-Demand: WebService Yes No
Lazy initialization Yes No
Drag-and-Drop Yes No
Editable Nodes Yes No
Context Menu Support Yes No
Keyboard Support Yes Yes
Right-to-Left Yes Yes

See more than 30 online examples of RadTreeView for ASP.NET AJAX

RadComboBox vs. default ASP.NET DropDownList vs. AJAX Toolkit ComboBox

Feature Telerik RadComboBox Default ASP.NET DropDownList AJAX Toolkit ComboBox
AutoComplete Yes No Yes
Load-on-Demand: Server-Side Yes No (via usage of the
Load-on-Demand: Web Service Yes No (via usage of the
Load-on-demand: Page Methods Yes No (via usage of the
Item Templating Yes No No
Built-in Animation Configuring Yes No No
Extensive Client-Side API Yes No No
Right-to-Left Support Yes No No

See more than 30 online examples of RadComboBox for ASP.NET AJAX

More Than Expected with Telerik

In addition to control-by-control comparisons, Telerik offers value that goes beyond the default ASP.NET controls by providing tools that help optimize and configure ASP.NET applications.

Telerik vs. Default ASP.NET Controls

  • RadAjax - UpdatePanels make Ajax easy in ASP.NET, but Telerik goes further by offering RadAjax, a tool that dramatically simplifies UpdatePanel configuration and management. Stop worrying about Triggers and UpdateMode and instead focus on simple configuration. 

  • RadScriptManager - A superset of the default Microsoft ScriptManager, RadScriptManager adds powerful functionality to ASP.NET AJAX applications for optimizing performance. Without assistance, RadScriptManager will combine Telerik JavaScript files, enabling rich pages to load faster. 

  • RadCompression - Make pages load even faster with this simple tool that automatically compresses AJAX and WebService responses. It’s a perfect complement to HTTP Compression offered by IIS7, which misses these Ajax responses by default. 

  • Visual Studio Extensions - Minimize your Telerik learning curve with these built-in Visual Studio helpers. The Telerik Visual Studio Extensions (VSE) can help you start a new project, upgrade existing projects or even add code to your project for advanced Telerik scenarios. 

  • Semantic Rendering - Telerik ASP.NET controls employ semantic HTML rendering, which improves a page’s SEO with no extra effort.

  • Theming - Telerik controls enable you to use a single property to apply any of the 20 ready-to-use built-in themes, including an innovative mobile skin. You create a consistence look for your apps, while saving design and front-end development time.

Telerik vs. AJAX Toolkit

  • Works with both RadScriptManager and ScriptManager - UI for ASP.NET AJAX works with both the RadScriptManager and the default ASP.NET ScriptManager, regardless of the target framework version.

  • Extensive documentation & API reference - While the AJAX Toolkit does offer some documentation, API reference, and online demos, the resources are limited. Telerik controls offer extensive documentation, API reference, knowledge-base articles, videos and online demos for every control.

  • Multi-functional controls - The AJAX Toolkit provides some very “specialized” controls that only perform a single function, like the Accordion and Modal Popup. Telerik controls offer all of the functionality found in the Toolkit and more through rich, multi-featured controls. For example, RadPanelBar provides Accordion behavior via a single property, and RadWindow has a single property to enable modal support.

  • Support - UI for ASP.NET AJAX are backed by industry-leading support from Telerik. The official and active Telerik community forums also provide a wealth of knowledge and support. The AJAX Toolkit, meanwhile, only offers online community support. It is not officially supported by Microsoft due to its open source license.