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Blog: Peter Lammersma

Enhancing the provided toolset

The new Uniface 10 IDE (Integrated Development Environment) offers a well-equipped toolbox It provides nearly everything a developer needs to build and maintain software applications. But sometimes you want a bit more or need to add a personal touch to the tools provided.

My toolbox

Every developer uses several tools and utilities to do his/her Uniface work effectively.

These are the ones I can’t do without:

  • Uniface 10 to build web and mobile applications.
  • Notepad++ is the editor for all files I don’t edit with Uniface. It is based on the powerful Scintilla editor.
  • To monitor all communications to and from other applications I use Wireshark. This is also perfect for monitoring network traffic.
  • In addition to Wireshark I use a very old tool called Nettool. This tool is easy to use and perfect for creating an http tunnel.
  • To monitor processes on my computer, Sysinternals Process Explorer is indispensable. The developer of this tool, Mark Russinovich, has created a lot of nice tools. If you don’t know about these, just check them out!
  • A database management tool – the choice depends on the database being used. During development I use SQLite studio, since the repository is stored in a SQLite database.
  • GIT and Sourcetree to interface between my local environment and Gitlab. A modern developer can’t do without version control.

Additional utilities

Most of the time, my work is done in the Uniface IDE. Adding extra utilities was and is very useful. Like most developers, I build my own Uniface utilities. These utilities are components built in Uniface that let you perform actions in the IDE.

The functionality of the utilities I use today is very close to what I have been using for the past few years. In previous versions of Uniface, the additional menu was the place to store additional functionality. Uniface 10 offers two places: User Defined Menus and User Defined Worksheets. The first adds a menu entry in the action or global menu, while the second adds a worksheet to one of the editors.

Using the User Defined Menus or Worksheets is very easy, and powerful at the same time. To use the additional tools I already had in the User Defined Worksheets – the solution I like most – only a few changes were needed, and then I was able to utilise the enhanced functionality Uniface 10 offers. This one-time change is really easy and certainly worthwhile. Your own tools can be integrated into Uniface 10 seamlessly.

I’ll now describe two tools I built a couple of years ago and use now in Uniface 10.

My version control interface

The utility I use every day is a basic version control interface. It consists of a Uniface form to create an export of the object I am working on. With the User Defined Worksheets solution, this form has become an integral part of my IDE. The form with the additional functionality is now (with Uniface 10) a tab in the editor of the object.

Before starting a modification to an object – a component for instance – I open this worksheet and it checks if I have the latest version of the object I am about to change. After my work is done, I open this worksheet again to save the latest version of the object to a file on my computer. The User Defined Worksheet has a default operation, ws_refresh, that is fired when the object is changed. This local copy is created by the $UDE function of Uniface. With the external tools GIT and SourceTree, local versions of the objects are stored in Gitlab.

I have made this additional tool available on every editor in the IDE. Version control is important regardless of the type of component.

My entity utility

Another tool I use adds value in the entity editor. The flexibility of the User Defined Worksheet solution in Uniface 10 allows me to add tooling to specific editors in the IDE. This entity utility provides additional information and actions in the entity editor of the IDE.

It adds a new tab to the IDE to show me where the entity, which is opened in the editor, is used, and allows me to perform actions on that particular entity. Besides an overview of all the relationships this entity has, it shows all the components on which the entity (or a subtype of it) is used. It offers functionality to open related entities and components. It also compiles all related components.

Figure 1 An example of my Entity Utilities worksheet

Information about the Uniface repository can be read in the meta dictionary – nothing new about that. What is new in Uniface10 is that information about the current object (as opened in the current instance of the Uniface editor) is available in the U-Bar. The value of the U-Bar is a parameter of the default operation ws_activate. Opening a component in the corresponding editor can be achieved by calling the operation navigateTo in the IDE APIcomponent IDE_API_1.

Wrapping it up

Uniface makes it very easy to add functionality to the IDE. It is enough to have a Uniface resources file and a logical path in the assignment file to enhance the IDE. Use it to add your own tools or to utilise those of others. That last option is very interesting 😊. I wonder what tools you have created and use?

This is still something I would really love to see added to Uniface: a library to share sources, frameworks, samples, tools and other add-ons. It could even be an add-on to the IDE itself.

On Uniface.info there is already a section called ‘Uniface utilities, add ons and extras’. If you have any Uniface 10 additional tooling you want to share, please send it to uniface.technical.support@uniface.com and the Uniface Support team will be happy to add it. I look forward your input!”

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