I have been an Infragistics customer for a number of years; as a matter of fact it's been over 9 years since I purchased my first controls from them. Recently though I've become quite unhappy with my experience with their products. Over the years they went from having a great set of UI tools to having one of the most complicated and useless sets of tools. Let me elaborate on what I mean; let's take the ASP.NET components for example. These components come in two flavors, 3.5 and 2.0; a lot of the functionality is similar if not the same. Yet they are not interchangeable. If you add a 3.5 component and then choose to add a 2.0 component your application will break in new and unusual ways. To fix this takes some time and manual intervention on the developer's part. I also have an issue with their increasing use of the nickel and dime sales approach. When the introduce a new product line , Data Visualization for example you'll get the first barely functional release for free, but then to maintain and get updates, you'll be forced to pay for version 2. At the end of the day, this just causes frustration and headache and unnecessary expense.
Since this is an out of pocket expense, I started with some simple criteria that I used to evaluate the competition.
- What does the toolset contain and the core quality and functionality of the tools?
- How responsive is support to inquiries and requests?
- How often is the product updated and new functionality added and does it cost extra?
- How responsive is sales to inquires?
- Do they offer upgrade pricing?
- Do they offer flexible Product Licensing?
Armed with this criteria is set out to evaluate the competition. I looked at a fair number of tool sets but, many of them didn't meet the first criteria, so that left me with two, Telerik and DevExpress.
Telerik has a decent suite of tools which I had used in the past and they meet all of the criteria except for the upgrade pricing. They wanted an essay 300 – 500 words for 7 questions, a minimum of 2100 words, about why you're leaving the other vendor in order to qualify for a competitive upgrade. This in my opinion is completely absurd. First since this was a personal purchase, I shouldn't also have to elaborate on why, if they don't want new customers then don't advertise upgrades. Secondly my time is valuable; I shouldn't have to justify my decision in writing.
So that left DevExpress. To be honest, I have used Code Rush and Refactor Pro for almost two years and have been completely satisfied with the sales and support from DevExpress. The tool set is fantastic so far, a really positive change from the hassles I encountered with Infragisitics. They have a complete set of ASP.NET (a single set) WPF, Silverlight, Windows Forms and Reporting. All of the products are easy to use and look great. The only real issue is documentation, which they have indicated is being updated, but asking a question in the forum yielded an almost instant, accurate, response. So I'm now using DevExpress going forward and I have some really exciting UI ideas to try out.