If I had to summarize what the RadFormDecorator control is about in a single sentence, it would be:
The RadFormDecorator aims to unload yet another task from the "regular Joe" developer by reducing the need for styling elements on the page.

Enter RadControls

Telerik RadControls provide a great deal of rich UI controls allowing a developer to build web-based applications that resemble the richness of a desktop application. The majority of controls provided in the suite do not have direct analogs provided by the browser - e.g. RadEditor, RadGrid, etc. There are also a number of controls that can be used to replace somewhat similar browser counterparts.  For example, you can use a RadComboBox to replace a HTML <select> element which has very limited styling abilities. You can use RadWindow to replace the ugly browser window.open control. You can use RadSplitter to replace the browser <frameset>. You can use RadToolTip to replace the unskinnable plain-text browser tooltip.


Enter RadFormDecorator

So, what else there is on a web page that a developer cannot style adequately?
The answer is: checkboxes, buttons, radiobuttons - but also textareas, textboxes, fieldsets and labels. This is where the RadFormDecorator steps in to fill the gap and provide the developer with a simple to use, flexible and configurable control that can deliver the "finishing touch" for a true rich UI. With the RadFormDecorator control Telerik goes a step further and provides the ability to replace those browser "gadgets" commonly left out from control suites.

 

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The challenges

This control is currently in active development, skins as well as functionality are being added to it.
Making the control do what it does so far has by no means been trivial. Due to browser differences in the eight (yes, eight) browsers that need to be taken care of - IE6, IE7, IE8, FF2, FF3, Opera, Safari, Chrome - and due to the unobtrusive nature of the RadFormDecorator  (it does not force developers to change a single line of existing code or to use any new set of controls), a few challenges had to be overcome. We are working on fixing all problems reported. So far we have been able to overcome all and I am quite content with the way RadFormDecorator has been evolving from its conception.


RadFormDecorator is a unique control that has no direct analog anywhere on the web. In addition to having some commonalities with toolsets such as the Yahoo Widgets and others, it also employs many unique solutions.
It might not be ideal for all kinds of scenarios - for example, having it decorate a page with a hundred checkboxes and buttons can make the page render slower. Also, problems still surface here and there. Yet, by definition, no tools are universal. The decorator is an easy try - adding it to your page takes seconds, there are only one or two properties one might want to consider - DecoratedControls as well as DecoratedZoneID. It takes a minute to check what the decorator does and whether it is fit for a particular page or particular application.

I believe the screenshots provided from a test page I use for the control development speak for themselves. RadFormDecorator simply delivers the missing 10% of styling a page that one missed so far.  It is a tool made for you, the developer, and I hope you find it useful.

About the Author

Iana Tsolova

is Product Manager at Telerik’s DevTools division. She joined the company back in the beginning of 2008 as a Support Officer and has since occupied various positions at Telerik, including Senior Support Officer, Team Lead at one of the ASP.NET AJAX teams and Technical Support Director. Iana’s main interests are web development, reading articles related to geography, wild nature and latest renewable energy technologies.

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