Epinova FlexiGrid vs EPiServer Composer
FlexiGrid and Composer are two quite similar modules that allow editors to dynamically define and change their web page layouts. The following is a comparison between the capabilities and limitations of both modules.
Manual implementation of FlexiGrid in Visual Studio
At first glance, there are a few major differences between the two modules.
1. FlexiGrid is free - Composer is not
FlexiGrid is free to use (and modify), while a Composer license costs a cool $10,000. This makes FlexiGrid a far more sensible option in projects with a tight budget.
2. Composer offers extended support
As Composer is now adopted into the EPiServer product family, support and further development is assured. Of course, the FlexiGrid module is also supported and developed further by Epinova, but less frequently.
3. FlexiGrid offers layout freedom - Composer has layout restrictions
Using FlexiGrid, editors are free to define the grid as they please. With Composer, the editor is restricted to pre-defined layouts.
4. FlexiGrid is based on standard .NET technology - Composer is based on proprietary technology
FlexiGrid is based on the standard .NET WebParts technology, and is an extension to the EPiCode.WebParts framework. Composer is not based on .NET WebParts, but a custom built framework originally developed by DropIt AB.
Also, check out Thomas Leela's comprehensive blog posts "Web Part Framework for EPiServer polished and tuned" and "Web parts and EPiServer in perfect harmony" for a technical overview of the benefits of Epinova's WebPartsProvider framework, which FlexiGrid is built upon.
Let's do a side-by-side comparison.
|Creator||Epinova AS||EPiServer (from Composer 4.x) / DropIt AB (original "Extension /X3" module)|
First release ca 2005, continous development.
|First release ca 2003 (as "Extension"), continous development.
Based on proprietary technology.
|Compatibility||Newest version supports both EPiServer CMS 5 and CMS 6||
Composer 3.x: EPiServer CMS 5
|Browser support||All major browsers||All major browsers|
|Availability||Module package, source code (EPiCode)||Module package only (EPiServer World)|
|Source code||Free to download and modify||Not available|
|Price||FREE. No license required||Costs $10,000. Licence required|
|Editing||Intuitive EPiServer-like editing environment||Familiar EPiServer-like editing environment|
|Layouts||Editor is free to define grid layout on the fly, no pre-defined layout restraints||Editor must choose from a set of pre-defined grid/ column layouts|
|Samples||Package contains only a few ready-to-use webparts, but Epinova have developed a wide variety of webparts
which may be included in the package soon
|Sample package available for download which includes a set of most commonly used blocks|
|Installation||Easy module installation through Deployment Center||Easy module installation through Deployment Center|
|Language support||Supports multiple languages
(default includes EN and NO)
|Support multiple languages
(default includes EN, NO, SE, FI, DA, NL)
|Access rights||Access rights inherited from current page, applies to all webparts on the page||Access rights customizable for each block/zone|
|Info||Short introduction (Norwegian)||Release notes Composer 4.0 (English)|
|User/dev guide||Coming soon||User guide (English)
Dev guide (English)
|Demo||Demo||Demo (X3/Composer 3.x)|
|Download||Module package (EPiCode, requires login)||Module package (EPiServer World, requires login)
Being an Epinova employee, I am of course biased towards FlexiGrid. It has been used in many of our customers' production web sites already, and has proven to be a flexible, robust and user friendly tool.
However, if price is not an object in your project, and the editors do not need free control (or, on the contrary, WANT more restrictions) over layout of a page, then Composer might be your choice.
Give both products a test run - they are both easy to set up, and you'll soon discover which product best fit your needs.