Moving up the range into one of the more heavy duty components, I next looked at Preview and Print.
There is so much functionality crammed into the Preview and Print components that it takes a while to get to grips with them fully. The PDF manual for this component alone, for example, is over 700 pages long; that’s larger than many VB.NET books.
Take a look at the diagram below, for instance, which shows the range of choices available simply for formatting Tables via the C1Print component.
Impressive though this level of functionality is, it can at times become a bit mind swamping. In this particular case I did find that I had to spend quite a lot of time navigating round the various kinds of help. The fact that I was using VS2005 and therefore the 2005 versions of the C1 components sometimes caused me problems. The downloadable samples, which I turned to for help when I got too bogged down were formatted for VS2003 and the C1 2003 versions of the components.
In the end I found that the most straightforward way of navigating to the most appropriate source of help was to go to the ComponentOne HelpCentral pages and work through the online samples and demos displayed there.
I have to confess that I did struggle to get to grips with this component. The vast range of subsets meant that it took a lot of effort to master the details needed for everything to function exactly as you want. However it would be harsh to criticise ComponentOne for including such a comprehensive range. As I mastered some of the various elements, it became a very useful tool indeed. The range of subcomponents includes a Preview Pane, Text Search Panel and Preview Thumbnail View, to name but three of them.
One rather disconcerting aspect that confused me for a while was that the C1PrintPreview component is shown in the Toolbox by that name, but it magically transmogrifies into C1PrintPrintDocument1 when you drag it on to a form.
What makes things rather more difficult is that the ComponentOne Toolbox shown also contains a different component which is actually named C1PrintDocument (but which has different properties and methods).
I did query this with the team at ComponentOne and they assured me that this was intentional. It’s not a big problem and – like so many things – not a problem at all once you know about it, but it is the kind of thing that goes to make a seemingly easy process into a more confusing one for the beginner. That being said, I’m quite prepared to believe that my problems may well lie with my unfamiliarity with document handling in VB.NET in general.
I wouldn’t want those comments to detract too much from the fact that once again this is a useful and powerful productivity enhancing tool.