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Tuesday, March 14, 2017PrintSubscribe
Touch UI 2017 Hot Fixes 2

Code On Time release 8.6.2.0 fixes another set of issues that were introduced in 8.6.0.0.

  • Universal Input safely handles incorrect field names reported by business rules.
  • It is now possible to select filter fields of data views on the pages in Project Designer.
  • The font size of lookup links in Project Designer is now matched with the font size of text.
  • Fixed the status bar / wizard text color in Modern theme.
  • Help can now be disabled in Touch UI using help option in ~/touch-settings.json.
  • Double-page header is not created when modal lookup is selected on top of non-modal page.
  • NEW: Multiple form layouts can be downloaded in a single file from Developer Tools option in context menu.
  • Enhanced instructions on Data Model page of Project Wizard.
  • Fixed processing of initalMode option from touch-settings.json configuraiton file.
  • NEW: Northwind sample dates shifted to 2014-2016.
  • User Avatar title is assinged to the button instead of the icon. This will correctly refresh the title if the window became wider since the previous title of the button will be overriden with the user name.
  • Fixed filter processing in surveys to support original filter:{from:'', to:''} syntax.
  • Multi-line text fields are display in full height in edit mode.
  • Disabled reading of UserID for Active Directory.
  • Fix for "OAuthHandler" undefined compilation error with Unlimited and no membership.
  • Fix for "MimeMapping" is "Friendly" in .NET 4.0 Projects with SiteContent.
Friday, March 3, 2017PrintSubscribe
Touch UI 2017, Modals, Import, Identity Manager, OAuth, SharePoint

Release 8.6.0.0 has arrived! This release contains thousands of changes to the application framework and client library. A new revision of Touch UI has been created to match modern user design principles. Modal Forms, Import, Search, and Themes have all been implemented or overhauled for this release. The new Identity Manager and OAuth support for Facebook, Google, Windows Live, and SharePoint make it easy for your users to login and/or switch accounts. The next generation of SharePoint is now supported with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) mode.

Read on to explore the new features available in release 8.6.0.0. Learn more about upcoming Native Online and Offline Apps.

New YouTube Channel

Watch our brand new YouTube channel! See Touch UI 2017 in action and learn the latest development techniques.

Subscribe to the channel now! New videos will be published weekly. The transcripts of the videos will soon be available on our website in HTML and PDF format.

Modal Forms

Modal forms are now supported in Touch UI. Modals offer an enhanced sense of context and continuity to the user.

Forms will be displayed in modal presentation if sufficient screen space is available. The modal will be sized based on a proportion of the screen’s width and height. Opening additional forms will slide the form in a modal from right side of the screen. The user can tap the previous modal to go back.

Every modal offers access to the “more” menu, represented by the three dot icon in the top right corner. The close icon will return the user to the previous form or grid.

"New Attachments" modal form displayed in Touch UI 2017.

The maximize icon allows the user to expand the modal to fill the screen.

Modal form that has been maximized.

If there is insufficient width to render the form in a modal, it will be rendered in full screen mode. The view tag “modal-never” will also force full screen presentation.

Form is displayed in full screen mode.

Forms that have been tagged with “modal-always” will always be rendered in a modal window.

A form marked as always modal on a tiny screen.

A system of tags allows control over the sizing of modals. See the table below for more details.

Tag Description
modal-always Always render form as a modal.
modal-never Never render form as a modal.
modal-when-tn
modal-when-xxs
modal-when-xs
modal-when-sm
modal-when-md
modal-when-lg
modal-when-xl
modal-when-xxl
Will begin rendering the form as modal if the screen is at least the specified logical size. Default is “md”.
modal-fit-content Shrink the modal to fit the content. These modals will begin stacking, instead of sliding from the right.
modal-title-none Disables the modal title bar.
modal-buttons-more-none Disables the “more” icon.
modal-buttons-fullscreen-none Disables the “fullscreen” icon.
modal-tap-out Closes the modal form if the user taps outside the modal area.
modal-max-tn
modal-max-xxs
modal-max-xs
modal-max-sm
modal-max-md
modal-max-lg
modal-max-xl
modal-max-xxl
modal-max-any
The max width of the modal will be restricted to the selected logical size.
modal-dock-top
modal-dock-left
modal-dock-right
modal-dock-bottom
Docks the modal window to the specified side of the window.

New Theming Engine

A lighter touch has been applied to themes in Touch UI. Starting with release 8.6.0.0, the user has the ability to select “Light” or “Dark” base theme. Then, the user can select an accent for the theme. Each accent contains a combination of toolbar, sidebar, and icon color definitions.

The picture below shows “Light” theme with “Aquarium” accent.

Light theme with Aquarium accent in Touch UI 2017.

Here is “Light” theme with “Dark Knight” accent.

Light theme with Dark Knight accent in Touch UI 2017.

Finally, here is a sample of “Light” theme with “Plastic” accent.

Light theme with Plastic accent in Touch UI 2017.

The new theme engine significantly reduces the amount of CSS that comes with each app, resulting in smaller apps and better performance. It also makes possible the ability to create your own themes easily using a few colors. CoT v9 will offer a built-in Theme Builder.

Note that Dark theme did not make it into this release. We will be adding it in a subsequent release. Additional color variations will be added as well.

4,000+ Icons

Starting with release 8.6.0.0, over 4,000 icons are available for use in apps created with Touch UI. Icons can be applied to a page, view, or action to help the user in navigation and data manipulation.

By default, every application comes integrated with 1,650 icons from the Material icons library, provided for re-use by Google under the Apache License Version 2.0. There are 260 Halfling glyphicons (included with Bootstrap 3.0 under MIT License integrated as well. Additional icon libraries Font Awesome (730) and Ionicons (1,466) can be included using the method described here.

Icons available on actions, forms, and pages.

Import for Touch UI

A new implementation of Import has been added to Touch UI. The “Import” action is no longer hidden from the user. By default, it is available under the Actions menu.

"Import From File" action available on the Actions menu of the action bar.

This action will open the Import modal form, prompting the user to select a file for upload.

First screen of the Import process allows the user to upload a CSV, XLS, or XLSX document.

Upon selecting a file and pressing “SUBMIT”, the file will be processed. The next form will require the user to map the column headers of the imported file with the fields defined in the command argument of the Import action, or “createForm1”. Sample values from the imported file will be displayed as footer text in each field.

Second screen of the Import process allows the user to map columns from the imported file to fields in the controller.

Upon pressing “START IMPORT”, the client will begin resolving lookups and submitting batch insert requests to the server. A modal form will display the status of the import process.

During the Import process, a modal will show status.

The user will be alerted to the fact that the import process was completed.

When Import is complete, a modal will alert the user.

Enhanced Basket Lookups

This release enhances keyboard support for “Basket” lookups. This style, compatible with “Lookup”, “Auto Complete”, and “Drop Down List”, will display a list of values associated with a particular record. Users can use the lookup control to add additional items.

The "Tags" basket lookup shows multiple tags added to the task. A dropdown allows adding more tags.

Tap on an item to remove it from the list, or view details of that record.

Tapping on an item allows viewing or deleting the item.

If the “New Data View” is specified for the field, the user can type in a new item and press “Enter”. If there is only one required field, the record will be inserted and added. Otherwise, the create form will be shown. This allows rapid entry of items. Note that non-basket lookups also allow creating items in a similar fashion.

The “Basket” lookup style offers a great way to create many-to-many records if the Check Box List does not cut it.

Splash Screen

Many app stores recommend the use of a splash screen showing a logo or app name when the app is first started. Apps created with release 8.6.0.0 will show a splash screen for 2 seconds when the user begins a new session. The application logo is displayed in the top right corner. The app footer text is displayed in the bottom right corner. A default background image is displayed on the left side.

Splash screen for apps created with Touch UI 2017.

Learn how to customize the application logo and background.

Identity Manager

Previous releases required users to sign in every time they start working with the app. The new Identity Manager will store login tokens in the browser’s local storage. If the user enables “Remember Me”, the encrypted token will also enable the user to automatically sign in when their session needs to be refreshed. This login token is valid for up to one week. Otherwise, the token will simply remember the user’s name.

When the user begins a new session, an attempt will be made to sign in with the most recently used credential that contains a login token, if one is detected. The loading screen below will be displayed during the login attempt.

Automatic login for users that remember their password.

Otherwise, if there are any credentials, the list will be displayed.

A list of users is displayed on the Identity Manager screen.

The user can select an identity to sign in, and the login form will be displayed. They can also use the three dot icon to remove the identity.

A user icon will be rendered in the top right corner of the screen when signed in. Pressing the icon allows access to the account panel. The user can view their account, log out, switch to different user, add an additional account, or manage the list of accounts.

User can switch between accounts using the account panel in the top right corner.

When the screen is too narrow to display the user icon in the top right corner, the user icon will be accessible under the menu panel.

Account panel can accessed from the menu panel if space is insufficient for the user icon.

If login tokens are remembered for several accounts, it becomes trivial to switch between them – similar to how your smartphone allows jumping between different email accounts.

Open Authentication Support for Google, Facebook, Windows Live, SharePoint

Apps created with release 8.6.0.0 support integration with external authentication services via the OAuth 2.0 API. This feature is available in Unlimited edition. Enable the functionality for each service via the following procedure:

  1. Register your app with the external service.
  2. Register the external service with the app.
  3. Login.

The following services are supported:

Actions to login with a service are automatically displayed in the login form when that service is enabled.

Login with service actions displayed on the login form.

SharePoint Software-as-a-Service

SharePoint Factory project type was originally created as a server-side application that ran a traditional Code On Time Desktop app inside SharePoint 2010. However, the most recent editions of SharePoint (Online and 2016) do not offer the capability to run server-side applications inside the server farm. They do allow embedding simple client-side web apps. As such, the best solution to bring your favorite Code On Time pages into the SharePoint instance is to embed an external Web Site Factory or Web App Factory project in an iframe.

Code On Time app running inside SharePoint Online in SaaS mode.

We now offer the Data Connector for Cloud On Time add-in on the SharePoint Store. Install this add-in to your SharePoint instance. Place the new “Data Connector” web part onto a page, and connect the web part to your app. Once your app has been registered with SharePoint and vice versa, the web part will show a permission request to the user.

User identity is delegated to the SharePoint instance via OAuth support. The SharePoint user simply grants access to your external site, and a matching user identity will be created and automatically signed in to your app.

Learn how to configure the data connector add-in.

Mini Sidebar

The sidebar and menu button behavior has been changed. On larger screens, a wide sidebar is displayed by default.

The full sidebar displayed in a Touch UI app

Medium size screens (such as a virtual iPad Pro) will default to the mini sidebar.

Touch UI app with mini sidebar.

Pressing the hamburger icon in the top left corner will toggle between the full and mini sidebar.

Expanded Keyboard Support

The new release offers better support for keyboard navigation, helping experienced users manipulate data with ease. Arrow keys can be used to navigate the grid or panels. Additional shortcuts have been added:

  • Ctrl+F will search the first visible view on the screen.
  • F10 will trigger the menu button.
  • Shift+F10 brings up the “more” panel.
  • Esc will either close any pending panels, or navigate back to the previous screen.

The developer can also define custom keyboard shortcuts for actions. If the action is visible to the user, pressing that key combination will trigger that action. For example, configure “N” to create a new record from the grid. Configure “Delete” to delete the selected record. Configure “C” to mark a record as “Complete”.

User Icons

The app displays the user identity in the app toolbar and Identity Manager. By default, the first letter will be displayed. The developer can also configure avatars to be supplied for each user.

The user icon on the toolbar offers access to the different identities registered on that device.

Touch Settings

In prior releases, app configuration options were statically generated into a code file. The code would return this static definition to the user. Release 8.6.0.0 now first reads from the “~/touch-settings.json” file in the root of the project. This file is blank by default. If various configuration settings are not present in the file, it will write default values specified at generation time. Otherwise, it will take the values defined in the file. It is also possible to programmatically change values in the settings before it returns back to the client.

This behavior now allows us to rapidly introduce new configuration settings to get you app to look and behave the way you want. For example, to configure the menu to render in the sidebar, use the following config:

{
  "ui": {
    "menu": {
      "location":  "sidebar"
    }
  }
}

The result can be seen below.

Menu is displayed in the sidebar.

Some of the changes that can be made:

  • Move the menu to the toolbar, sidebar, or hide it.
  • Move the “Apps” button to the toolbar.
  • Disable the Quick Launch area of the sidebar.
  • Restrict the number of themes available to the user.
  • Disable user options, such as “Promote Actions” or “Initial List Mode”.
  • Configure a logo and background for the app.
  • Disable the splash screen.
  • Disable the Identity Manager.

See a sample configuration below. Some of the settings will be subject to change.

{
  "defaultUI": "TouchUI",
  "appName": "Inventory Manager",
  "map": {
    "apiKey": null
  },
  "charts": {
    "maxPivotRowCount": 100
  },
  "ui": {
    "theme": {
      "name": "Light",
      "accent": "Aquarium",
      "preview": null
    },
    "displayDensity": {
      "mobile": "Auto",
      "desktop": "Condensed"
    },
    "list": {
      "labels": {
        "display": "DisplayedBelow"
      },
      "initialMode": "SeeAll"
    },
    "menu": {
      "location": null,
      "apps": {
        "tiles": null,
        "location": "sidebar"
      }
    },
    "actions": {
      "promote": true,
      "reverse": null,
      "autoReverse":  null
    },
    "transitions": {
      "style": "slide"
    },
    "sidebar": {
      "when": "Landscape",
      "mini": true,
      "toolbar": true,
      "icons": true,
      "views": {
        "styles": null,
        "names": null,
        "collapsed": false
      }
    },
    "showSystemButtons": null,
    "smartDates": true
  },
  "settings": {
    "enabled": true,
    "options": {
      "displayDensity": true,
      "theme": true,
      "transitions": true,
      "sidebar": true,
      "labelsInList": true,
      "showSystemButtons": true,
      "promoteActions": true,
      "smartDates": true,
      "initialListMode": true
    }
  },
  "membership": {
    "enabled": null,
    "profile": "view switch login logout",
    "help": true,
    "accountManager": {
      "enabled": true
    }
  },
  "help": {
    "enabled": null
  },
  "search": {
    "quickFind": {
      "history": {
        "enabled": true,
        "depth": 25
      }
    }
  },
  "splash": {
    "enabled": true,
    "duration": null,
    "background": "/images/acme-bkg.jpg",
    "logo": "/images/acme-logo.png"
  }
}

A schema will be supplied in the near future to help construct your configuration. COT v9 will offer a built-in configuration editor.

Data Islands

The new “Data Island” feature allows web-dev savvy users to create their own pages using client-side templating. Simply configure a “$app.execute” script block on your page, and the server will automatically replace that block with the requested data in JSON format using standard data controller requests. Add tags to your HTML template, and the data will be rendered according to the template when page loads in the browser without making requests to the server.

Data islands are perfect for public-facing web pages that do not require data interactivity. For example, you can add pages that display product info, account status, etc.

The example below uses a simple Bootstrap table to render the list of products.

Products rendered with Boostrap CSS styling using the new Data Island feature.

The source code of the page is shown below.

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>Product Info</title>
</head>
<body data-authorize-roles="*">
    <div data-app-role="page" data-content-framework="bootstrap">
        <div class="jumbotron">
            <div class="container">
                <h1>My Products</h1>
            </div>
        </div>
        <div class="container">
            <table class="table">
                <tr>
                    <th>Product Name</th>
                    <th>Unit Price</th>
                </tr>
                <!-- repeating control -->
                <tbody data-control="repeater" data-source="ProductList">
                    <tr>
                        <td><span data-control="field" data-field="ProductName"></span></td>
                        <td><span data-control="field" data-field="UnitPrice"></span></td>
                    </tr>
                </tbody>
            </table>
        </div>
    </div>

    <!-- data island request -->
    <script data-type="$app.execute">
        ({
            "controller": "Products",
            "view": "grid1",
            "pageIndex": 0,
            "pageSize": 100,
            "sortExpression": null,
            "id": "ProductList"
        })
    </script>

    <!-- optional client-side post-render processing -->
    <script>
        $(document).on('start.app', function () {
            var productList = $app.data["ProductList"];
            if (productList && productList.length) {
                // process
            }
        });
    </script>
</body>
</html>

Search

The new Quick Find uses a modal form to render above the page content.

The new Quick Find panel displayed as a modal at the top of the screen.

Pressing the three dot icon will open the advanced search modal window.

IMPORTANT: Release 8.6.0.0 has the advanced search mode in a “temporary disabled” state.  The new advanced search allows complete customization of the user interface but is not quite stable at the moment. The feature will be re-enabled in the maintenance release expected to go out on March 13.

Miscellaneous

The release includes a host of other new features, improvements, and fixes. Some of the items are listed below:

  • CORS Support.
  • JavaScriptSerializer has been replaced with Newtonsoft.JSON to offer significantly greater performance .
  • File sizes are now displayed using “KB”, “MB”, “GB”, etc.
  • Issue with DateTime fields being shifted in reports has been resolved.
  • Footer Text property is now supported in Touch UI.
  • Floating category will create multiple internal columns in Touch UI.
  • Categories now offer “Flow” property. A value of “New Column” will render the category in a new column. A value of “New Row” will ensure that the category will move onto the next row, below any previous columns. This enables developers to configure several tabs of data views below the primary form, much like the “Tabbed” layout in previous versions of the app generator.
  • Touch UI dropdowns now render over the value, instead of below.
  • Static lookups in Touch UI grids will no longer query the database to fetch items.
  • Data View field properties are now supported.
  • “When Key Selected” is not re-enabled when opening an action in the Project Designer.
  • Removed several timers to allow Touch UI pages to load faster.
  • Alerts and confirms now use the new modal windows.
  • Desktop has been renamed to “Legacy”.
  • Legacy UI no longer scrolls incorrectly when a business rule changes a field value.
Thursday, March 2, 2017PrintSubscribe
Native Online and Offline Apps

The new product release 8.6.0.0 is coming out March 3, 2017. See the video tutorials that explain the development process at https://youtube.com/codeontime.

The release introduces new Touch UI 2017 and provides the foundation for the future Native Online/Offline Apps. The foundation is provided by the following features:

Batch Import in Touch UI 2017.

Native Online Apps

The next release 8.7.0.0 is expected to go out last week of March. This release will introduce generation of native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows 10.

Here is how you will build a native app with the release 8.7.0.0:

  1. Create an application with SPA page model for a "real" database engine such SQL Server, Oracle, MySql, etc.
  2. Indicate platforms required for native deployment. This will enable CORs support in the app.
  3. Publish an app.
  4. App generator will make special versions of all pages in "Native" deployment folders. All scripts and CSS stylesheets will be copied there as well. Native platform code will be also created.
  5. Deploy the server code of the app to the web server.
  6. Deploy the native code to the app stores.
  7. Install the app and run it on native device.The native code will create a native WebView instance and load local instances of the pages, JavaScript, and CSS. Pages will make remote requests to the server side components. User login and session state is managed through the feature called Identity Manager.

Native Offline Apps

Release 8.8.0.0 is expected to be ready in May of 2017.

The new "Offline" property will be available for application pages.

The data controllers will be generated in ".json" format instead of ".xml". We also need that for both new CoT v.9 and Cloud On Time. The new format of controllers is used by built-in Project Designer.

If at least one page is marked as "Offline", then the following will happen when a native app is running:

  1. Native application will download controllers and data in JSON format from the server.
  2. Only offline pages will be visible/selectable in navigation system of the app if there is no connection.
  3. Any requests for offline data will be executed by the local JavaScript library. Data updates will be executed against the offline copy of the data. The log of requests to update data will be maintained and persisted. There is no need for additional software such as SQLite. We are providing a JavaScript equivalent of the server-side code that will use JSON data controllers on the client to work with data.
  4. "Cloud" icon will be displayed on the application toolbar. There will be several states for the icon:
    • Offline
    • Online + No Local Data Changes
    • Online + Local Changes Require Sync
  5. If the app is "online" then "Cloud" button will be in "Online+" state. If the button is pushed then the following will happen:
    1. The log of updates will be send to the server via the Batch Import API introduced in 8.5.12.0 if data synchronization is required.
    2. Conflict errors will be reconciled by the user when needed
    3. Fresh copies of controllers and data in JSON format will be retrieved from the server replacing the previous offline data set.

Transactional Data Input

Native Online and Web apps will benefit from this new "offline" capability as well. Starting with the release 8.6.3.0, forms will work in "offline" mode. It will be possible to enter child records when a new record is created. The data will be posted to the server only when the master record is posted. This capability will be available in all product editions.