Time for another weekly status report:
qooxdoo 0.8 development
Menu implementation is complete. The algorithms were greatly improved to have a very well working menu placement. The timeout infrastructure was improved as well. It now uses only two timers for all menu instances instead of two for each menu. Key handling and mouse handling features are also leaps ahead of the old implementation. The code got a lot leaner and cleaner.
The qx.ui.menu.CheckBox implements the IFormElement interface. The qx.ui.menu.RadioButton implements the IRadioItem interface. This means that both are now compatible to all the other form elements in qooxdoo and can be easily connected to them.
A MenuButton class was added to qx.ui.form to make it easy to add menus to normal standalone form buttons without requiring a toolbar.
A SplitButton was implemented to be used either in toolbars or standalone in simple forms. A SplitButton combines a normal button with a menu button in one visual component. This type of widgets is typically seen for history buttons in browsers, where a down arrow opens a popup menu that lists the previously visited sites. To be consistent, the SplitButton also implements the IFormElement interface.
Menus, like the popups and tooltips, make use of the new alignment API to align widgets relative to each, to mouse event coordinates or to DOM elements. This generic API also supports a smart fallback handling to find the best available solution if the initial side has not got enough space to show the entire menu. By using this new API we were able to replace all widget-specific code previously implemented for popups, tooltips, select boxes, etc. This reduced the overall code size and complexity significantly. API names may not been totally consistent just yet, we’ll iron that out shortly.
The alignment API may also be used in the low-level DOM layer, because the algorithms itself are implemented in a widget- and layout-agnostic qx.util.AlignUtil. It is independent from the high-level GUI toolkit. This means that this API may be used for websites and portals as well to facilitate the placement of widgets/elements relative to each other.
The qooxdoo Widget class now supports a new property keepActive, which prevents other widgets from getting activated (i.e. becoming responsive to key events), when the user clicks on them. This feature was required primarily for menus, but may be useful for other areas as well.
In the low-level layer major improvements for the fallback handling (when no active element was found) lead to more stability in the core framework.
This week porting the Table widget to 0.8 continued after it had been started end of last week. qooxdoo’s Table is one of the most comprehensive virtual grids out there. Nevertheless, migrating the widget is coming along nicely. Given the complexity and amount of code, one needs to repeatedly be reluctant to changing code while doing the fundamental migration itself. Progress looks good so far, so stay tuned for a reasonably stabilized Table next week.
A small issue was fixed for the last transition in the theme system were the old decorator was not correctly resolved.
The display of key shortcuts was corrected (adopted from Windows), it now uses a plus sign instead of a minus sign, e.g. “Ctrl+C”.
The ToolBar class now supports a method addSeparator for convenience.
Some issues of last week’s first basic implementation of a text selection API have been resolved.
Port of the widget-level drag and drop implementation just started.
The dependency to the external wget command, used for downloading contributions from the qooxdoo-contrib repository, has been resolved and the functionality is now available in a pure Python/PSL implementation. Unfortunately, due to the ViewVC service of Sourceforge being offline, the revision check had to be disabled. This means that if you include a contribution in your config, you will be downloading the same contrib over and over again with every new source or build generation. A work-around is to do an initial download with a ‘contrib://’ specification for the manifest key, and then change the key to point to the contrib in your local download cache, so the build process will use the local copy for further runs. We hope to re-enable the check soon, once SourceForge turns back on ViewVC service reliably.
As a consequence, the cache key has been modified to accommodate a new subkey, downloads, a path to the contribution downloads. The path key, denoting the path to the compile cache, has been renamed to compile accordingly, and some background information was added regarding this key. This is an incompatible change, so if you are working with the trunk version of the tool chain you have to adapt your config files!
Say Goodbye to Makefiles!
Probably the biggest perceivable change in the build environment is the demise of application-level Makefiles (well, most of them 😉 ). After thinning out the functionality provided by proper make targets over the last couple of weeks, now also the frontend is gone. That means, up to recently you could still invoke ‘make source’ in an application, and the call was immediately routed to a generator invocation. The following just hit the trunk as a replacement (we will further investigate if that is to be a long-term solution). Anyway, as of now you invoke a local ‘generate.py’ command instead, which is available in each application and the framework. It uses the same arguments as the generator (e.g. a ‘generate.py source’ will generate the source version of the application). This applies to most applications in the trunk (exception is still the buildtool) including the Skeleton, so if you are used to fetching fresh skeletons from the trunk for your own development, this applies to you as well.
While some might find the current switch in trunk from ‘make’ to ‘generate.py’ tedious (well, which change isn’t?!), it also offers some immediate benefits, like you can easily add the ‘-v’ command line switch to your generator invocations to get debugging output. The story behind all of that is much more exciting: we are eventually getting rid of the ‘make’ build system all together, only requiring a standard Python installation. This is trivial on most OS, including Windows, were you eventually won’t even need a Cygwin installation any longer. We have a couple of ideas in the pipeline about how to make the interface to generator’s functionality easy and comfortable (borrowing ideas from buildtool). As you noticed there’s currently still much work being done in consolidating the low-level stuff. If you have any good suggestions in regard of a user-friendly build process, don’t hold back!
As one of the first applications qooxdoo’s API Viewer has been ported to 0.8. Johnny was up to the challenge, and besides the migration work he had also to become familiar with the code base. Nonetheless, it only took him a couple of days applying the changes described in the preliminary UI migration guide. The first change one notices is the modern appearance which came “for free” without changing a single line of code.
We will use the experience we got form the actual porting work and put together an application migration guide. Please note that the search function in the migrated API Viewer is still deactivated, since the ListView widget is deprecated and has been moved to qooxdoo-contrib. The Table widget will be used to display the search results, once its port has been finished. There are still some tweaks to make in the ported API Viewer, so it will be made available within the next few days. As a preview see the following screenshot (click!):
The place for adding, maintaining and collaborating on new features to qooxdoo saw a bit of spring-cleaning. It was made more consistent, but work on it continues, not only anticipating the adjustments for the 0.8 tooling, but also the reorganization of the existing qooxdoo RPC servers (Java, PHP, Perl, Python). They are to become regular contributions and will benefit from their new incarnation inside qooxdoo-contrib. Among other advantages, this allows for an individual release management without being dependent on the framework or one another.
Here comes the user-submitted “Real-life example of the Week”:
di-lemmata is a new project targeted at scholars of German literature. It combines linguistic concepts with modern programming techniques in order to enhance and support research in the field of literary studies. di-lemmata’s library application has been completely implemented in qooxdoo (0.7.3) and currently covers the lyrical works of 11 German speaking poets. Although the HTML pages of the project (i.e. the lyrical works themselves) are in German, of course, the GUI of the qooxdoo application is also available in English and Russian.
Next week will see an ongoing migration of applications to 0.8, e.g. demobrowser. Also porting the remaining widgets will continue (DateChooser, ColorSelector, …), and finally Table is to expected to stabilize as mentioned above. If progress permits and scope is appropriate, we plan on a first beta release end of next week. Stay tuned. 😉