! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.
I came across what, at first glance at least, seems like a really useful product today: GOA WinForms
. The idea behind it is simple, but really clever. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are applications that are supposed to work well both via a web page and when run directly from the desktop. They suffer from the problem that web applications rarely look, feel or work anything like “real” computer applications as they implement buttons, menus etc differently to operating system user-interface paradigms. The obvious solution is to implement a set of widgets in Flash, Silverlight, AIR etc that look and feel like those on the chosen operating system. This is no simple task though, and even if done well, one is still faced with potentially writing a “real” application and a RIA that do similar things, but that have wholly different widget APIs.
GOA WindForms addresses this problem in a novel way. The developer uses Visual Studio to create a .NET WinForm. That developer then uses GOA WindForms to turn the WinForm into Flash or Silverlight. Thus the developer can create an XP-style interface in their RIA with minimum effort.
I’d previously expressed concern that the Pro version was in alpha with no price attached, just a vague “The price of the Professional Edition will be close to the prices of the controls libraries that you can find on the market today.” I pleased to report that Jean-Gabriel has now published the prices on his blog. So now you can use the alpha to see if it is a suitable solution without worrying about nasty surprises further down the line.