Creating Excel like grid in Silverlight – C1FlexGridBook

If you are developing a business application, you will run into a situation where the end users want to export the data to excel and do some work there and then import the sheet back to the application. This is very normal, the main reason the users ask for it because Silverlight does not have a grid which look and behaves like Excel. There are bunch of work around for this, but I really like the C1FlexGridBook control from Component One. This gird out of the box gives excel like look and feel with less amount of code. Some of the basic features like created tabbed sheet at the bottom of the control to look like worksheets in Excel and many more.

Lets see how to create a simple excel like grid using C1FlexGridBook. What we need to create is Component One dlls for

 image

We need Excel, FlexGridBook and FlexGridBook.

So how do we go about adding the control. So in the XAML I created simple tag for C1FlexGridBook as follows

image

I am planning to create the columns in the code behind (I am trying figure out a problem so two birds with single stone). The data that I am binding is a collection of customers like the following

image

where the data structure is

image

When the page is navigated to the pages I create a customer collection like the following

image

Now all is left is to create the sheets and bind the data to the grid in each sheet. Here is where you have to be very careful. I would strongly recommend you to create skeleton sheets but do not creating individual grid with data binding, rather, you create the grid for the first and default sheet or the sheet the user wants to see. So here are the steps

Create the sheets with AddSheet and pass in the sheet name as the first parameter as shown below.

image

We also bound out collection to grid by doing that, the current grid associated with the sheet get the data from customers. We set the autogenerate to false since I have collection that I want to appear properly. So below create the dynamic columns on the fly

image

now the question is why would I need a cell template? Since the data is boolean I want to display a check box rather than textblock.

image

That’s it. Now if you would run the code you will see a result something like the following,

image

With very little code from control perspective, we got a grid which looks like excel. If you notice, it has following excel features out of the box

1. Row and Column numberings.

2. Office theme.

3. Fixed column heading for application.

4. Default Excel like filtering.

5. At the bottom, you see the sheets and also it comes with default behavior to let the user create new sheets.

6. Excel like navigation to move between sheets with forward and backward navigation button.

7. Navigate to first or last sheet with fast navigation.

8. If you have lot of sheets and want to navigate to a specific sheet, then right lick on the left or right navigation, it shows available sheets and just click on the sheet name you navigate to that sheet.

I really enjoyed working with this control. If you like it or would like to know more about this control send me a note.

Load operation failed for Query ‘X’ – Silverlight/EF

So I was given a project to debug and I started to debug and I got the infamous and more detailed error message from EF/WCF that ‘Load operation failed for Query ‘X’’. In my case this happened at the entry point at our authentication service itself. I know the code of authentication inside out so I added the existing project and start debug. I couldn’t debug and keep getting the same weird error message. So I went to our trusty friend Google and asked the question and vola there are bunch of posting on the same error message. The one really liked was from stack overflow. Even if you never got the error message but I would recommend reading the answer by John Nicholas. The reason for that is even though he did not give answer to the problem, he explained in two ways how you can tackle the problem. I took the short cut and enabled the WCF trace to see what is happening and the stack trace gave exact failing point at the server side and I was able to resolve the problem and keep moving. The sad part was the exception happened at the server side was specific bug in the code, but when we get the error message the message was not very obvious to track it down.With WCF tracing enabled it is easy to figure out what is happening at the server side fast and easy and right to the point.