Fun with third-party controls

Telerik recently managed to brighten my day. I’ve been using their WinForm and ASP.NET suites for a few weeks now, long enough to realize there are several things about them that irritate me. Case in point: the text boxes.

I have an application with a web front end and a small WinForm back end that will be used by administrators. I wrote the admin module first, and it needed to allow the user to input and edit currency values. The WinForm suite only has one masked text box control, so that’s what I went with. But it isn’t quite as nice as I hoped, probably because it has to be all things to all people. It treats its values more like text than numbers. If you assign a numerical value to it that is not as wide as the overall mask, it won’t right-justify the text, which for dollar amounts is very wrong. So I had to prefix shorter values with zeroes. I could set the text so the placeholder character is shown rather than the zeroes, but that falls apart as soon as the user touches the control, even just by tabbing over it. The zeroes pop right up. It’s very minor, obviously, but you’d think that after paying a thousand bucks for super snazzy controls they would be a little smarter.

I had a similar need in the web module for editing currency values. Here’s where Telerik started to redeem itself. The ASP.NET suite has a numeric text box, as well as the regular masked text box. I didn’t notice the numeric one at first. My eyes kind of glazed over looking through the dozens and dozens of controls in the toolbox. I saw the regular masked text box and figured since it was in the other suite, that it was all they had.

The numeric text box is perfect. It allows free-form input like any text box and then beautifully formats the value into the type of number you want. Now if they could only port that control to the WinForm package…

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