Great WPF Applications #3: 90 Degree Radius Reports

Great WPF Applications #3: 90 Degree Radius Reports

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Many of the applications I'll be highlighting in this series are highly graphically-intensive and media-centric. I thought I'd present a counterpoint early on in this series to highlight that Windows Presentation Foundation is also very capable as a platform for other classes of application.

90 Degree Software are based in the beautiful city of Vancouver in Canada, and have been working with us for some time on a new end-user reporting tool for business data. Those of you who use SQL Server 2005 will probably be familiar with the Reporting Services component (SSRS), which enables developers to create standard reports based on OLTP and OLAP data that can be delivered in electronic or print form. Reports are created in an XML-based format called RDL, typically using Visual Studio as an authoring environment, and are stored, configured and managed using SQL Server Management Studio.

If you're an end-user (rather than a developer) who wants to create some standard business reports, you've not had a great set of authoring tools until now. Visual Studio is daunting, and the Report Builder client application is limited to a small set of predefined report templates. Fortunately, 90 Degree's Radius software fills the gap, allowing report designers to generate freeform reports using a straightforward interface based on the Office 2007 look and feel, taking advantage of pre-built templates for applications like Microsoft CRM and Team Foundation Server.

Radius was built entirely using WPF (with the exception of the ribbon toolbar, which was bought as an off-the-shelf WinForms component because no WPF equivalent existed at the time). The report canvas, the dialogs, the application chrome - it's all WPF. Incidentally, you'll also see some nice usage of other Windows Vista features - they use the Peer-to-Peer APIs that are exposed by WCF, and they were one of the first applications to get the "Certified for Windows Vista" logo.

Radius doesn't necessarily have the most immersive visual experience of all the applications we're tracking, but it has exactly the right interface for its user base. Bloor Research are impressed, calling it a "sure fire thing".

Some people have a perception of WPF as "only being suitable for spinning 3D video balls" - that's clearly not the case, as this application (and many others) demonstrate. 90 Degrees' own CEO says that WPF "gave us an opportunity to accelerate development timelines but introduce features that differentiate us from competition."

It's a shame that 90 Degree don't have a trial version available for immediate download, but you can request one from their site by filling out a registration form.

  • Interesting App :-). You should consider using Kenny Kerr's Window Clippings for your screens, though ;-).

  • Winter has finally set in with single digit temps and minus degrees wind chills but still no snow. WPF/Avalon

  • Just to update this, there's a nice Channel 9 video of this application that just hit the wires:

    http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=280437

  • As already mentioned and confirmed in the Channel 9 thread, this is not a WPF app, it's a WinForms.

  • It really is a WPF application: our team has been assisting 90 Degree Software for a long while to build this application, and I've seen the code! They used the WPF/WinForms integration capability to host a WinForms ribbon bar, since there wasn't a WPF version on the market at the time and it didn't make sense to rebuild one from scratch.

    I actually mentioned this above in the original blog entry, so I'm not quite sure what the confusion is.

  • Sorry, but that doesn't look like a WPF app at all, and I guess any window spy tool will show many HWNDs.

    Are the reports and charts rendered by the WPF? Doesn't look like they have rewritten the Office chart engine using WPF...

    Also where are they taking advantage of the WPF?

  • I agree that the application does not look like other WPF applications you may have seen but I can guarantee you that it is.  This is intentional as we are targeting a business user community with needs for familiarity so the UI is largely modeled after Microsoft Office.  in order for us to deliver an application like this we did end up using some controls that happen to be WinForm as Tim points out.  the ribbon control and the chart control are WinForm whereas the remainder of the application is WPF and these WinForm controls will be replaced by WPF versions as they are available.  

    it is important to note that WPF is a powerful platform but it has many uses outside of what you might consider it good for.  we view WPF as important to us for 2 reasons: 1 - productivity.  with the introduction of XAML, we are able to develop our user interface faster and we're more quickly able to adapt to user feedback.  2 - the architecture of WPF allows us to take full advantage of it's rich graphical capabilities in future releases of our products without having to change our architecture.

    Roger S

    90 Degree Software

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