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Infragistics Debuts Ink-Enabled Toolset

Infragistics, a publisher of development tools for the .NET, COM and Java platforms, plans to unveil a new version of its suite Monday that now provides the ability to deploy ink-enabled Windows Forms applications through its Presentation Layer Framework.

Windows Forms is an application, built around classes in the Microsoft .NET Framework class library's System.WinForms namespace, which gives developers the ability to write graphical user interface applications that create windows, process user input, and so forth.

Infragistics new NetAdvantage 2003 Vol. 3 suite can now be used as a foundation to build any custom ink-enabled Windows Forms control, Brad McCabe, senior technology evangelist for Infragistics, told internetnews.com.

"We're in the early stages of ink right now. We know that and everybody knows that," McCabe said. "But the Tablet PC is a form factor that we really think is very viable and has great potential going forward. We've seen tremendous productivity benefit for our own staff by running in a Tablet PC world."

He noted that even customers that aren't interested in inking capabilities have shown interest in Tablet PC, because the pen-driven interface can often improve efficiencies. For instance, employees working in the field that spend a lot of time filling in forms with checkboxes or pull-down menus can benefit from the pen-driven input mechanism.

Dean Guida, CEO of Infragistics, added, "We are extremely excited about being first-to-market with an ink-enabled toolset. The Tablet PC is tremendously innovative because of inking, the system's natural pen-driven input mechanism. This is important to developers building Windows Forms .NET applications, because there are many circumstances where pen-based input is more natural and effective than keyboard input."

Guida thinks Tablet PC and ink-based applications will especially increase productivity in vertical markets, like health care, banking and other service organizations.

"By making it as easy as dropping the NetAdvantage UltraInkProvider element on any form you wish to ink-enable, developers can now enhance their personal productivity and dramatically improve the efficiency of existing business processes."

NetAdvantage is built around Infragistics' Presentation Layer Framework, which provides a common set of core logic, through shared assemblies, found in all its .NET Windows Forms products. The company said that means common behavior and programmability across the elements of the toolset. McCabe explained that ink-enabling any application entails installing NetAdvantage, installing the UltraInkProvider element in the toolbox, and bringing up any form that needs to be ink-enabled. The developer then drags and drops the UltraInkProvider element onto the form.

McCabe said Infragistics has also made a host of other enhancements to its suite. For .NET (Windows Forms), it has added new UI elements (including Button, Label, and Button DropDown Container), .NET grid enhancements, .NET tree enhancements, .NET schedule enhancements and .NET charting enhancements.

For ASP.NET (Web Forms), it has added two new elements in the form of ASP.NET date chooser and ASP.NET calendar. It has also made grid, menu and charting enhancements for ASP.NET.

NetAdvantage 2003 Vol. 3 will debut with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $695. The NetAdvantage 2003 Vol. 3 Enterprise Edition -- a subscription which includes all updates, upgrades, Infragistics .NET source code and all new components added to NetAdvantage 2003 for one year (the company puts out three updates per year) -- has an MSRP of $995.

Both products will be available online on Oct. 6, and as boxed products on Oct. 15. Current subscribers will receive the upgrade on Oct. 3 for free, as part of the subscription.