I am about to develop a Windows PC application (it can be WinForms or WPF) and my main concern is a UI problem I will have to address.
Basically, I need to have a grid of about 50x50 that I need to get input from the user for. That's 2500 fields. Realistically most will be left blank, about 10% will be filled out by a user. Each field can be blank or have a number from 1 to 4. I want easy input - a drop down box perhaps (since it doesn't make sense to tab through all 2500 fields when with the keyboard, I want the user to fill out the values with the mouse).
I was thinking the drop down boxes or maybe even labels that change value when you click them, but the problem is (from the tests I've done) adding 2500 of ANY type of control will make the interface horribly slow. I tried using a tablelayoutpanel in a WinForms app with the suspend/resumeupdate functions, and also doublebuffering and that helps a bit, but it's still terribly slow. I am reluctant to go the DataGridView route because I need VERY custom headers and I need the UI to auto update some percentages as the user changes values in the fields. But I will not be opposed if that's my only option.
I heard WPF may be better since you can have many controls and each one doesn't take its own windows handle, and there's virtualization (not sure how hard that is to implement).
I'm open to suggestions. I know someone will suggest to break up the grid, which I may end up doing. Either way, I'd like to know the most efficient method for a large grid with many controls in a Windows app as if I were going to develop this without breaking up the grid.
I'm using VS 2013, developing in C#, .NET 4.0.