Effective web application development: 12 tips for making the most of data grids

Customer Opinion: Developers have never been more critical of business innovation and digitization, especially when it comes to making sense of an increasing number of datasets to deliver web applications without fault.

Data grids are a simple way to efficiently use all of that data, displaying tables of data on one page and providing users with a lot of information.

Unfortunately, they are often misused and lack critical capacities which is detrimental to the user experience. Many also get lost in trying to make sense when datasets turn out to be great.

Here are 12 tips on how developers can make their life easier and choose the right grid for their web applications to ultimately unlock the full potential of grids.

The images used below are taken from Progress Kendo UI Grid.

# 1 use the right data format

Developers should avoid converting data from one format to another as this can impose a performance penalty when binding the data to a grid. A robust grid should be able to bind to data in these formats.

# 2 offline app caching support

Caching can greatly improve the overall performance and scalability of web applications. However, with the support for offline applications, it is helpful for grids to support a local data cache on the client itself to improve the overall user experience.

# 3 enable data virtualization

Extracting and processing a large amount of data can impose a significant penalty on runtime performance due to limited browser resources. Virtualization displays data in the grid as needed by showing items from the current page index and retrieving items on demand.

With grids like Kendo UI, it is also possible to group data when virtual scrolling is enabled, providing a powerful tool for handling incredibly large amounts of data.

# 4 take advantage of expandable pagination

Few grids go beyond the fundamentals of paging capabilities. It is important to use grids where paging works in conjunction with other features such as extensibility to support custom paging, sorting, and filtering.

# 5 use efficient data link to remote data

In a grid, it is often the task of retrieving data that poses the greatest challenge. It is important for a grid to support binding to local and remote data sources and to support binding to remote endpoints that expose data.

# 6 take advantage of push notifications

Web pages are often viewed as static resources with data updates occurring behind the scenes. Support for protocols such as SignalR and WebSockets in grids allows grids to receive real-time push notifications from endpoints, providing an improved user experience.

# 7 Support exporting data to multiple formats

Once a grid is loaded with data, users may want to export the data to common file formats such as Word or PDF, which many grids do not allow. A grid should support exporting linked data to these popular file formats as well as simpler representations like JSON or XML.

# 8 provide type-sensitive filtering

Grids can easily become overcrowded, making it more difficult for users to obtain information. Efficient grids allow developers to apply filters to data in individual columns with operators of type “greater than” or “less than”, and they provide functionality such as pagination and sorting.

# 9 Leverage Templates for Data Layout and Appearance

Templates provide the ability to control the layout and appearance of data contained in grids, which is sometimes overlooked. Models are a powerful extensibility mechanism that should be prioritized when evaluating grids.

# 10 Responsive design support

The web is not only isolated from the desktop browser, it is available on a wide range of devices with different resolutions. Grids must be able to support responsive design out of the box in order to provide a good user experience.

# 11 use built-in data visualizations

Data can be difficult to understand, which is why we use tables and charts to visualize it, help spot trends and gain insight. A grid must support this capability through sparklines and / or embedded charts.

# 12 use aggregates to provide insight into data

Aggregates are often found at the bottom of grid groups or columns and provide information about the grouped data without the need for additional columns. Efficient use of aggregates in grids provides these summaries whenever they are available for viewing.

Data grids are a powerful tool for developers, which is why Progress Kendo UI Grid has been designed to include all of the components and features listed below. Progress takes pride in creating tools that support not only the developers who use them, but also the people who use the applications created with them. Kendo UI is available for a free trial and comes with samples and full documentation.

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