Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Component Makers Expand into New Markets

Leading .NET component maker Telerik on Monday revealed that it was breaking into the application lifecycle management (ALM) space, with the release of Telerik WebUI Test Studio automated testing products and TeamPulse agile project management for Team Foundation Server. As reported by Visual Studio Magazine Executive Editor Kathleen Richards, Telerik has formed two new divisions -- Automated Testing and Team Productivity -- to support the initiatives.

A Microsoft-aligned component maker expanding its product portfolio is not in itself newsworthy. These companies constantly change or expand their offerings as Microsoft itself expands the number and quality of built-in components that it ships with maturing platforms like Silverlight and ASP.NET MVC. What is notable, however, is that component makers are now engaging in entirely new sectors.

Infragistics is best known for the NetAdvantage family of .NET developer components, but the company was also showing off its Quince Pro hosted developer collaboration solution at the Visual Studio launch event. Quince Pro allows developers to share design frameworks, style guides and pattern libraries to drive more consistent UI development across the organization.

The Quince code was developed internally at Infragistics, but for Telerik the move into testing was enabled by its merger with Austin, Texas-based ArtofTest. Christopher Eyhorn, executive vice president of the Automated Testing Division at Telerik and formerly co-founder of ArtofTest, said Telerik WebUI Test Studio is designed to extend its appeal beyond technical testers.

"What we've really tried to do is make this interface more QA friendly. We really wanted to gear it and make it more intuitive for the non-technical tester," said Eyhorn, adding that the new product has been optimized to detect Telerik controls.

"We have translators that actually detect all the Telerik controls on the page and record against the control object model, as opposed to just atomic XAML elements. So instead of recording just a click against some stackpanel, it's actually, 'Oh, we expanded the expander,'" Eyhorn explained.

Other component makers have operated in diverse markets for years. Developer Express (DevExpress) is a major component provider, yet it is perhaps best known for developer productivity tools like CodeRush and Refactor!. The company announced that the free version of CodeRush Xpress 5 was available concurrent with the Visual Studio 2010 launch, addressing changes to the updated WPF-based VS Editor and other new functionality.

Not all component makers are rushing to adopt new competencies, said Daniel Jebaraj, vice president of Syncfusion.

"My opinion is getting into other areas, competing with ALM vendors -- HP, Rational, Microsoft -- is not something I would consider. I think the opportunity for component vendors is to grow their component base and produce larger and larger frameworks," Jebaraj said. "There is a lot of opportunity just in the core component business, without getting into ALM and testing."

One way or the other, component vendors must seek fresh ground, said Kevin White, marketing director for DevExpress.

"Companies have to do it. They have to branch out."

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