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Going through customer feedback several months ago, we realized that there are pretty simple scenarios in which you use our ASP.NET ComboBox, while you could be using a much simpler and more lightweight control designed for the task at hand. We then thought we could ship such controls to substitute some of the ComboBox functionality and allow you to do your job faster and with less code. In this regard last Q we shipped the AutoCompleteBox, and this Q we will ship the DropDownList, DropDownTree and SearchBox controls. Here's what you can expect to find in RadDropDownList.

Meet the DropDownList

The newest addition to Telerik’s ASP.NET AJAX controls family is designed to make creating dropdown lists a breeze, delivering flawless looks and great performance. Although the DropDownList is super lightweight, it still comes with a ton of features, including:

  • Binding to all ASP.NET DataSource components, Lists, as well as binding through PageMethods, WebService and OData services.
  • Server-side  and client-side Templates.
  • Full keyboard support.
  • Support for all major tablets and mobile browsers: (Chrome (Android and iOS), Mozilla, Android’s default browser, iOS Safari, Opera).
  • VirtualScrolling – a new twist to the already familiar LoadOnDemand mechanism, which makes handling large sets of data even faster and easier.

A detailed explanation and examples of each feature, as well as many others, could be found in our online help and demos.

So… Why should I choose the DropDownList instead of the ComboBox

At this point you might be thinking: “Okay, I already have most of these things with the ComboBox. Why should I choose the DropDownList? What can the DropDownList do better?” However, I would suggest asking another question – “Do I really need a ComboBox”. Sometimes you just need a regular dropdown control, which still looks and feels like a Telerik control, but doesn’t have any unnecessary “baggage”. This is where the DropDownList comes in. Let me share some of the major differences and improvements that we’ve put in it, and why we think you should give it a try:

  • Lightweight - this is definitely a key word. The DropDownList has only ¼  of the total amount of javascript that the ComboBox has, and ½ of the stylesheets. It also has a greatly reduced amount of HTML rendered on the page. This all amounts to great responsiveness.
  • Performance – this is where the DropDownList really shines. While the ComboBox provides a filter functionality to help look through large sets of data, it struggles when the number of items exceeds several thousand. The new DropDownList has a new form of LoadOnDemand mechanism, called VirtualScrolling, which makes dealing with thousands of items seem effortless. Working with both Server and WebService/OData binding, VirtualScrolling requires only the setting of two properties and is ready to go.
  • Keyboard support vs. Filtering - While it doesn't' support filtering like the ComboBox, the DropDown list offers an almost equally useful alternative. Through the keyboard support you can type a word while the dropdown is opened and you'll be navigated to the next matching item. Or you can navigate through all items starting with a specified letter if you press the coresponding key repeatedly.

Another great thing about the DropDownList is that it's designed in such a way, that is shares most of the properties, methods and markup with the ComboBox, so that you can effortlessly change from one to the other. Most of the times it's as easy as changing the tagname.

All of this functionality will be showcased during the What's New Webinar on March 5, where you will be able to get answers to your questions live, as well as get a chance to win a Telerik .Net Ninja t-shirt and a ThinkGeek gift card. You can register for the webinar here

Key Take-Aways

So when you are building your next project, or revisiting an old one, please try the new DropDownList and see how much this little control can do for you. We would also be happy to hear where you think we can improve, and what you like/don’t like about the new control.

Download RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX Q1 2013 Beta

About the Author

Bozhidar Ivanchev

is a software developer at one of Telerik's ASP.NET AJAX teams, where he is mainly responsible for RadScheduler, RadTreeView and RadRibbonBar. He has been with the company since 2011 and ever since he has been working in the field of ASP.NET AJAX and client-side development. In his spare time he enjoys playing his guitar and drums, skiing and practicing other extreme sports.

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