How many of you remember when developing an application meant painting a 25-row by 80-column screen? Those days are long gone, and developing Windows applications is now a complex process.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the limitations of Microsoft’s Common Controls and Common Dialogs, the Common Controls Replacement Project (CCRP) just might change your life forever. The CCRP team, which won the 1999 Editor’s Choice Merit Award from Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal , consists of a small group of Windows developers who provide faster, more fully featured, and free controls that you can use in place of the standard Microsoft controls.

Surf over and browse the controls
When you visit the CCRP site , click the Control Info link first. That takes you to a list of all the available controls for Visual Basic 5 and 6. You can download individual controls or a Multi-Pack, which provides a single download for all controls and servers created for specific builds of Visual Basic.

Those packs include the same controls, demos, and help files that you get when you download an individual control. Some of the controls in the Visual Basic 6 Multi-Pack include CCRP Animation, CCRP BrowseDialog Server, CCRP DragList, CCRP FolderTreeview, CCRP High-Performance Timer Objects, CCRP HotKey, and CCRP IP Address.

Register and read before you download
All of CCRP’s products are free—the only requirement is that you fill out a brief registration form. I also recommend that you read the Plain-talk FAQ page to make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities in using the CCRP controls.

One of CCRP’s most important policies concerns linking to their download pages. Because the controls are constantly reviewed and improved, the team asks that you don’t put links directly to their download sites on your Web pages for other developers to use. Instead, they prefer that new customers come through their Web site and read the latest information about a particular control before downloading it.

When you’re being given something for free that can help you speed up the process of developing and delivering applications, it’s a good idea to follow the guidelines laid out for you. For more information, follow this link to visit the home page of the Common Controls Replacement Project .