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.NET UI Generator

This year, my company is going to be converting a few legacy applations to .NET. We are currently trying out some .NET code generators and find much success with them.

The complaint I have is that those generators that make a WinForm, or even a WebForm application, they are only "Admin" apps. The Data Access and Biz Logic Layers are fine, the UIs are terrible.

Has anyone found a good UI generator that might have some different layouts and themes we could choose from. We are open to buying any commercial application or using an Open Source project as well.

I mainly want to see what's out there to see if we can speed this up as well so we can get to work on "some more interesting" applications.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Douglas III Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
Maybe you should look at CAB of .Net 2.0
CAB = Composite UI Application Block
Vineet Reynolds Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
And BTW UI design should be done by a UI designer. It's more of an art than science, which is why you might not come across UI generators.
Vineet Reynolds Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
I really liked Visible Developer. The forms were a bit more user-friendly than a typical generated UI and they got much better after they implemented a few suggestions from the users. The UI was also relatively simple to modify, extend, or simply replace. The only reason we stopped using them was that we really needed to move beyond what they'd ever be likely to produce in the standard edition. We simply couldn't afford licenses to the version that let us modify the code generation templates and the proliferation of decent business object generators meant that we couldn't really justify the maintenace fees for the standard edition.

Good business object generators seem to be a dime a dozen, so it really surprises me that there isn't more effort being put into UI-generation.
Ron Porter Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
I agree with Vineet that UIs should be developed by people. However, we've already got our UI design standards in place and could easily turn over the grunt work to a UI generator.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the next big thing can be generated. But I'm not building the next big thing. I'm building just another business app.
Ron Porter Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
You could look at Kathleen Dollard's book - she does do some .NET UI generation.  The key here is the goal isn't to use codegen to do 100% for UI.  It gets you going and then let the humans make it look right for other humans.

I think the reason UI and codegen are not perfect mates is it is more difficult to put hard and fast rules to aesthetics and usability (than say generating CRUD SPROCS).  Not necessarily impossible, but more difficult.
Mike Stephenson Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
I agree with you Mike. Our company has a bunch of hard and fast UI rules for our applications. To me, startitng with a Template that can get a close would save 100's of manhours.

I prefer to do UI work, but when you have to do the same things 12 times, you start thinking about auto generating as much as possible.
Douglas Boyce Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006
Our company made an inhouse converter that would convert an infopath form into a web app ( page) and it saves a ton of work cause we design the ui in infopath and it already maps to an XML schema.  I think there is an open source tool that is similar, the link is <a href="">here</a>. he page is in french, but the idea is it hosts infopath forms for you, i imagine you could use this for a custom solution to allowing a decent UI system, but it depends on your UI and what you need with specifics.
Lucas Krause Send private email
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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