App Studio

Learn about numerous enhancements to the App Studio hierarchies.

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App Studio
Wednesday, November 1, 2023PrintSubscribe
November 2023 Hotfix

The following features and bug fixes are included in the release 8.9.35.0:

  • (Framework) The errors are displayed as notifications when evaluating the availability of actions in the given context. Developers will see a notification displayed if there is an error while evaluating the When Client Script expression specified on an action. Such expressions are written in JavaScript and allow implementing the conditional availability of actions.
  • (Framework) The legacy syntax [FieldName] will not conflict with the new recommended method of referencing fields in the When Client Script expressions of actions. The recommended syntax is this.FieldName. For example, this.UnitPrice > 100.
  • (Designer) The Windows-based legacy designer does not crash when selecting the Controllers, Fields and a few other nodes in the Project Explorer.

We are aggressively executing on the roadmap of the App Studio, the new embedded development environment for applications created with Code On Time. The App Studio is available in the apps with the HTML page model and Touch UI. Make sure to inspect the various user interface elements of your application and view their properties in the new Project Explorer hierarchy.

Developers that rely on the ASPX page implementation or Classic UI will have an opportunity to try the new tools in the upcoming releases. The project list and the standalone tools will appear directly in the same page that presently provides the newsfeed when the app generator is started.

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The Project Explorer hierarchy is displayed when a field in form or grid/list/cards is inspected. An individual without any understanding of the application will have instant access to the project configuration directly from the live app running on the locahost in their favorite browser. The hierarchy is working in the readonly mode in this release.

A few clicks allow making changes to the application behavior in the Settings hierarchy in a live application running on the localhost.

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Click the Settings button on the App Studio toolbar to activate the Settings hierarchy. Multiple properties can be configured directly in the live application right now.
Tuesday, October 31, 2023PrintSubscribe
Hierarchies Are Taking Shape

The release 8.9.34.0 introduces numerous visual and behavioral enhancements to the App Studio hierarchies. There are also important features and bug fixes that will improve the performance of applications created with Code On Time.

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The tree in a hierarchy is now provided with a dedicated toolbar. The system Refresh, Collapse All and Properties buttons will allow developers to operate the hierarchies in a consistent manner. The Pin command will create a reference to the selected configuration element on the surface of the Studio in the future releases. The node-specific actions will appear on the toolbar.

App Studio Hierarchies

The hierarchy is the core feature of the App Studio, the new development environment embedded directly into the applications created with Code On Time. This release provides an extended set of options available for configuration in the Settings hierarchy. Developers can inspect the live app and see the properties of the data controller fields. The Project Explorer hierarchy provides the read-only access in this release. The Models hierarchy is unchanged and provides access to the data models and their columns.

The following enhancements are available in this release:

  • The RESTful API limit default is set to 2500 to ensure that all controllers, fields, etc are visible in the hierarchies. The original default value was set to 100.
  • Extended the UI Automation rules.
  • Added the basic server.rest configuration.
  • Added the visible expressions to the barcode and ui-automation configuration to hide properties when not enabled.
  • Added the "group" nodes to the controller, e.g. command, actions, etc.
  • Added the 2FA settings in the Membership and Authentication section of settings.
  • The studio is available in the live apps based on the HTML page implementation model only. Apps based on the Classic UI and ASPX page model will be configurable directly in the App Studio application without the live preview and ability to inspect the user interface.
  • (App Studio) The "...not fully implemented..." message shows the App Generator version instead of the app version.
  • (PropGrid) The hierarchies have a dedicated "close" button. Another option to close is to tap out.
  • (PropGrid) The "Properties” command executed in the tree will center the selected node if it was scrolled away.
  • (PropGrid) The "tree" can gain the keyboard focus.
  • (PropGrid) Double-clicking the information pane divider will toggle between its default height and the height that ensures that the entire content is visible.
  • (PropGrid) Expanding a category or complex property will scroll the inner content to maximize its visibility as needed.
  • (TreeView) Expansion of nodes and navigation between the nodes in the same hierarchy is smooth instead of being instant.

A hierarchy is built with two new features of Touch UI, the TreeView and the PropGrid. Both features will be made available to developers for use in their own projects in the future.

Features and Bug Fixes

The following bug fixes and enhancements are a part of the release:

  • (Touch UI) Advanced Search displays the available lookup values for the fields in the form while taking into account both the operators that require a value and those that do not require a value. For example, setting the "DateTime" field operator to "last week" will reduce the number of options available in the dropdowns of the other fields in the search form. Previously the operators without a value were ignored.
  • (Touch UI) Notification bar/toast will not push the modal form upward when the form transition is taking place. The notification will be delayed until the end of the transition.
  • (Touch UI) The data controller notifications start displaying right away. Previously a non-controller related notification had to be displayed first for the controller notifications to begin showing.
  • (Touch UI) Enhanced styling of the single-column and multi-column forms. The automatic form templates always make use of the “collapsible” containers.
  • (Touch UI) The simple and collapsible containers in forms are hidden unless they contain at least one visible data container or if there are no data containers but there are visible children.
  • (Data Aquarium) Dynamically generated JavaScript business rules are precompiled and reused for better performance.
  • (Touch UI) The Expand/Collapse tooltip of the collapsible container in a form will appear only if the toggle is clicked.
  • (Touch UI) The ability to configure the complex sort expression through the context menu of a grid/list/cards view is restored. It was broken in the previous release.
  • (Framework) The new this.FieldName syntax is fully supported in the When Client Script property of the data controller actions.
  • (UI Automation) The automated forms will remain visible when the automation rules are executed if the ui.automation.debugging is set to true in the ~/app/touch-settings.json configuration file. This is a useful feature that accelerates the development of applications driven by barcode readers.
  • (UI Automation) Fixed the typo that prevented the subsequent execution of the "then" rules during the automation.
  • (Action State Machine) The Select and Edit commands initiated in the form are executed by the parent view after the form is closed. All other commands are executed in the context of the active form.
  • (RESTful) The names of the data controllers, views, fields, etc. with "_" are allowed to be specified in the path of the resources.
  • (RESTful) The foreign key fields in the resources with the compound primary keys are correctly resolved during the navigation.
  • (RESTful) The "public" API Keys are included in the path of the "lookup-" resources.
  • (TreeView) The data-studio-link navigation is instant.
  • (TreeView) The tree remains invisible during the initial rendering and performs the instant scrolling of the visible node into view.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.scrollIntoView(element, block) method will scroll the element into view if it is not fully visible. The optional block parameter accepts 'start', 'center', and 'end' values that will indicate the new location of the scrolled element in the owner's boundaries.
  • (TreeView) The $app.touch.treeView.context() method returns the context data of the TreeView in the active form if the child node is not specified.
  • (Prop Grid) The selection of a node will cause the navigation toolbar to update its contents and state of the buttons.
  • (Touch UI) Added new resources related to the property grid.
  • (PropGrid) The vertical scrollbar is correctly refreshed when another tree node is selected.
  • (PropGrid) If there is no selected property then the "information" pane is cleared.
  • (PropGrid) Native "dblclick" event will reset the dimensions of the dynamic components of the Properties Window.
  • (PropGrid) The event propgrid.app is triggered with the 'propGrid.eventName' set to 'action' when a button is pressed on the toolbar of the tree or properties.
  • (TreeView) The partially visible node is scrolled into view before the 'select' is triggered when the node is selected by the user.
  • (Prop Grid) The dedicated toolbar is displayed above the navigation tree.
  • (Prop Grid) Expansion of a category or complex property will cause the contents to scroll upward to ensure maximum visibility of the expanded content.
  • (Prop Grid) Reduced the height of the hierarchy title.
  • (Prop Grid) The 'visible' attribute of a category is propagated either to its "primary" property or assigned to the first property that has no "visibility" expression of its own.
  • (PropGrid) A tap on the "readonly" property value will select its label.
  • (Prop Grid) A click on the "horizontal" line separating two properties will select the one above. Previously the entire line was "dead" to the click and it caused the impression that the grid is not responding to the click.
  • (TreeView) The container representing a tree node is now marked as app-node. The text of the node is marked as app-text.
Tuesday, October 17, 2023PrintSubscribe
Scrollbars, Booleans, Placeholders

Code On Time release 8.9.33.0 delivers on the promise of the app development nirvana with the new tools embedded directly in the live applications. Numerous enhancements and bug fixes are also here to make your apps better. Get the latest release and try them out!

New Embedded Development Tools

The new iteration of the App Studio introduces the project configuration hierarchies that are giving developers one-click access to the project settings, data models, and data controllers. The metadata with the hierarchy descriptors is embedded in the App Studio source code, which is just another web application created with Code On Time. Custom applications created with Code On Time have a tiny script that connects them to the App Studio when running on the localhost address. Microsoft IIS Express web server hosts the App Studio on the developer’s workstation.

The primary objective of the App Studio is to eliminate the learning curve and deliver unprecedented productivity with the live UI inspection and project configuration.

App Studio tools are activated when developers click on the icons surrounding the application boundaries. The Inspection tool activates the live UI inspection mode. The corresponding hierarchy with the pre-selected configuration item is displayed instantly in response to a click on a user interface element of the app. Developers make changes to the app configuration in the Properties Window attached to the hierarchy This eliminates the learning curve completely and delivers unprecedented productivity to novice and experienced developers alike.

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App Studio tools blend into the user interface of the live application. Developers use various hierarchies with the attached Properties Window to make changes to the app configuration. The RESTful API of the App Studio manipulates the project configuration in the response to the requests form the embedded development environment.

Both the Hierarchy and the Properties WIndow are making use of the RESTful hypermedia of the App Studio application. Its API allows manipulation of the project configuration elements.

App Studio is metadata-driven. The core configuration tools are fully functional with this release. The future releases of Code On Time will expand the metadata database delivering new capabilities to developers.

The current configuration of the metadata demonstrates only a small subset of the future capabilities. Code On Time will deliver the new feature drops at least once a month while we execute on the App Studio Roadmap.

Scrollbars

The main scrollable area of Touch UI forms and pages is provided with the programmatic vertical scrollbar. Grids also display the programmatic horizontal scrollbar that allows scrolling the grid columns. This ensured the uniform appearance of the app in the different browsers.

There are many other scrollable areas such as panels, lists, and menus that had the system scrollbars visible on the touch-screen devices only. The new release addresses this deficiency and provides the uniformly styled system scrollbars for the webkit browsers controlled with the pointer devices.

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All scrollable areas are now provided with the uniformly styled system scrollbars that match the presentation of the programmatic horizontal and vertical scrollbars of the Touch UI pages and forms. The system vertical scrollbar is visible in the Category Name context menu of the Products grid in this screenshot. The programmatic horizontal and vertical scrollbars are also visible.

Boolean Fields

The options of the Boolean fields are now as follows: N/A, Yes, No. Previously the options were N/A, No, and Yes. The framework will render checkboxes as the Drop Down List by default. The other input modes include the Check Box and Radio Button List.

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Here is an example of the RadioButtonList input style for the boolean. Previously the options were rendered vertically as No and Yes. Set the Rows property of the data field to 2 if you want the radio button list options to render vertically.

Future release will allow an easy change of the Boolean input style directly in the live application. Developers can set the input style in the legacy Project Explorer by selecting the corresponding lookup style in the field settings.

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The new embedded development tools provide the Input Style option with the supported choices when a Boolean field is inspected. The Properties Window adjusts the available configuration options according to the current state of the inspected object. Objects of the same type may have a different set of properties.

Native Placeholders

Starting with this release we are replacing the programmatic placeholders of the single-line input fields with the standard “placeholder” attribute.

Touch UI creates only one physical text input for the entire form. The input is activated for the focused field. The other fields are presented with the custom HTML, which significantly improves the performance of the form. Moreover the invisible form content remains in a raw unformatted state until activated. This enables enormous tabbed and wizard style forms with the partially hidden areas.

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The single-line inputs rely on the standard placeholder attribute.

Multi-Level Context Panels

The transitioning between levels in the context panels has been improved to ensure that relative vertical scrolling of a level remains the same during the transition and when users are returning back to the previous level. The panel contents were scrolled up during the transition in the Touch UI framework prior to this release.

Sync.*.xml File Formatting

The individual transactions in the Sync.*.xml files are saved with the formatting to simplify comparison when committing changes to the source control systems.

This is the significant improvement introduced to simply the team development with Code On Time. Previously the formatting was not performed on the sync files.

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The Sync.*.xml files of the project are keeping track of the Project Explorer transactions. Now the individual transactions are saved with the formatting to simplify the comparison in the visual tools when developers commit the project changes or review the history of changes.

The future releases of the new App Studio tools will also generate the sync transactions when developers manipulate the configuration hierarchies or change values in the Properties Window.

The legacy Windows-based Project Explorer and Project Wizard will be “retired” when the metadata database of the App Studio is completed.

“Visible When” and “ReadOnly When” Expressions

The JavaScript expressions specified in the Visible When and Read Only When properties of fields and actions can be written with the following syntax:

JavaScript
1234this.Country == 'USA'  // new syntax
/* the obsolete syntax examples */
[Country] == 'USA'     // old syntax
$row.Country == 'USA'  // old syntax

Use this new syntax instead of the older variations. Place “this.” in front of the field names. There is no need to change the code in the existing expressions though.

RESTful API Engine

The hypermedia expressions of the $app.restful() method now support the ".field-name" syntax that allows hypermedia navigation through the links in the resource field values. For example, the .definition >> .dataModel.columns path specified in the hypermedia key of the $app.restful(options) method will use the resource data values to figure the navigation path and final object of the result. The context option of the $app.restful method allows specifying the resource data for the field-level hypermedia navigation.

The API endpoint includes the correct self link for the dashboard data controllers with the form view tagged as rest-api-root.

The endpoint also includes the search link for the data controllers that can return a collection resource.

TreeView and PropGrid

The new $app.touch.treeView and $app.touch.propGrid methods are implementing the hierarchical and the properties presentation styles for data. Presently both APIs are being used by the App Studio. We are planning to integrate the APIs in the framework for general purpose usage. The hierarchy will be available in the UI of the data views with the self-referring lookup data fields and DataView fields. The property grid will become one of the optional presentation styles for the form views.

The App Studio tools rely on the Touch UI of the host application to render themselves. It shows the power of framework in the foundation of the applications created with Code On Time.

Release Notes

The following features and enhancements are included in this release:

  • (Touch UI) Fixed the incorrect positioning of the horizontal scrollbar in the grid views when the mouse pointer is detected.
  • (App Gen) The app generator window is brought to front when the App Studio completes synchronization actions.
  • (Touch UI) The new UI features PropGrid and TreeView are not a part of the framework. Both are integrated into the Properties Window of the App Studio.
  • (Universal Input) The native "placeholder" is now applied to the active data inputs. The synthetic multiline placeholder is applied to the multi-line and rich text.
  • (Touch UI) The options of the Boolean fields are now as follows: N/A, Yes, No. Previously the options were N/A, No, and Yes. The framework will render checkboxes as the DropDownList by default. The UI will present a toggle. Another option is to use CheckBox or RadioButtonList style of items.
  • (Universal Input) Browsers will not offer to autofill or autocomplete the values in the text fields.
  • (Universal Input) The dynamic input created when a field is gaining focus has the "name" attribute matching the name of the field. Previously there was neither the 'name' or 'id'
  • (Touch UI) The Drop Down List input does not display N/A text when the field has no value in edit mode.
  • (Touch UI) The multi-level context panels restore the vertical scroll position of the previous slide when users return back and provide a natural placement of the next slide. Previously both the previous and next slides were scrolled to the top before the start of the slide transition.
  • (Touch UI) Native scrollbars are now displayed in all scrollable areas of the UI with the exception of the "main" scrollable area with the content of the active page or form.
  • (Touch UI) Removed support for ui.scrollbars.modern property. Scrollbars are always modern going forward.
  • (Touch UI) Unified the styling of the synthetic and native scrollbars in the app.
  • (Touch UI) All scrollable areas of the UI are tagged with app-has-scrollbars class. It ensures the appearance of the system scrollbars.
  • (Reading Pane) The reading pane master toolbar trims the menu width correctly when previewed in the App Studio.
  • (Touch UI) Setting both ui.form.lines.horizontal and ui.form.lines.input to true will hide the horizontal lines in the forms in the edit mode. The inputs will appear outlined.
  • (Advanced Search) Auto-complete cache lists are cleared whenever there are changes to the other criteria in the form.
  • (Advanced Search) The value is not assigned a single-item list when the operation is changed unless there are sample values.
  • (Advanced Search) The "text" version of the value is formatted when the operation of the field is changed and there are sample values.
  • (RESTful) The $app.restful(options) method accepts the cacheTrimDepth key in opinions. If the key is not specified, then the cache trim depth is assumed to be 2. The previously cached resources are removed if their path matches the resource URL which is gradually trimmed the specified number of times per cacheTrimDepth value.
  • (RESTful) The system query parameters 'limit', sort, count, filter, and fields are never treated as possible field value filters.
  • (RESTful) The $app.restful(options) method will convert the object-style options.fields to the format compatible with the RESTful API fields parameter, which is modeled after the GraphQL.
  • (RESTful) The core framework propagates the exceptions when a RESTfulResource.IsRequested returns true. Otherwise the internal exception handling is performed. This improves the error reporting of the RESTful API Engine.
  • (RESTful) The warning to specify the 'value' key for a blob is not displayed if the content type of the request is multipart/form-data.
  • (RESTful) Method $app.restful() accepts the cache option. If the value of the option is true then the response is cached for 10 minutes while the page is loaded in the browsers. The value or the cache option can be specified as the number of seconds that will cause the response caching.
  • (RESTful) Extended the hypermedia expressions to support the ".fieldname" syntax that allows hypermedia navigation through the links in the resource field values.
  • (REStful) The data resource schema includes the "values" array with the possible list of values if the field defines a static set of items.
  • (RESTful) The API endpoint includes the correct self link for the dashboard data controllers with the form view tagged as rest-api-root.
  • (RESTful) The API endpoint includes the search link for the data controllers that can return a collection resource.
  • (REStful) The data resource schema includes the "values" array with the possible list of values if the field defines a static set of items.
  • (RESTful) The RESTfulResource.Current.LookupNavigationIdentifier(controller) method will locate the first data controller identifier by traversing the navigation history of the RESTful resource.
  • (RESTful) Generic exception handler will scan the "inner" exception for the RESTfulREsourceException instance. It is returned in the result if found. Otherwise the "general_error" is returned.
  • (Framework) The automation, form, and input keys are removed from the app settings when running in the App Studio mode.
  • (Framework) The ApplicationServicesBase.UserThemes(string) method will return the themes available at the specified root. App Studio uses this method to fetch the themes and accents of the active project.
  • (Touch UI) The appName key always has a value on the client. Previously, setting the key to null would have resulted in null value in the settings embedded in the page.
  • (Touch UI) The form layout engine has been changed to correctly reveal the collapsible categories that are not visible when the form is rendered for the first time.
  • (Touch UI) The "ghost" outlines of the collapsible categories with the invisible content are not visible anymore.
  • (Touch UI) Simplified the positioning of the app-wrapper and app-bar-actions.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.show() method always clears the "forward' history when invoked. The forward history may contain previous instances of the forms when users cancel out.
  • (Touch U) The $app.touch.show(options) method accepts the mapped defaultValues object in the options argument.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.show() method correctly executes Select|Edit|New commands if the parent view is not the same controller as the controller specified in the method options.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.show() method returns an instance of a promise that will execute "then" if the form is closed with the Update or Insert action. Otherwise the promise is rejected.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.activeElement(trigger) method returns the wrapped active element of the document. If the trigger parameter is specified then the namesake event is triggered on the active element.
  • (Touch UI) The standard links a[href] are not handled by the framework in any way if they point to an external resource.
  • (App Gen) Changed the format of the database connection exception for the metabuilder.
  • (Touch UI) The specific form width can be specified with the modal-width-NNN tag.
  • (Touch UI) Replaced the obsolete calls to focus/blur/select/click with the trigger method and the corresponding string value.
  • (Touch Core) Removed the legacy processing of Escape key in the panel implementation.
  • (Touch UI) The synthetic vertical scrollbar is positioned 1px away from the right side of the scrollable page area.
  • (Touch UI) The surrounding line around the list of values in autocomplete/dropdown/lookup is slightly darker in Touch UI.
  • (Touch UI) Fields with the names that include phone|fax, email, or url will have the system actions "call", "email" or "url" associated with them unless the field type is not 'String' or the corresponding data field is tagged as action-call-disabled, action-email-disabled, or action-url-disabled. Use action-call, action-email, or action-url on the fields that do not meet the "name" match criteria to force the system actions related to their values.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.input._refocus() method ensures that the original field can be focused unless the focus has moved elsewhere.
  • (Touch UI) The operating system context menu is allowed on any content that has the data-context-menu="true" applied to any of its closest descendants or self.
  • (Universal Input) A data field input that has lost focus is marked as app-was-focused. The class is removed when another input receives focus.
  • (Touch UI) The legacy scrollablepageready.app event has been removed from the framework. It existed to provide support for legacy PropGrid. The new implementation of the Property Grid relies on the pagereadycomlete.app event triggered on the shared instance of the survey.
  • (Universal Input) A click on the partial "glass pane" will not return to the previous modal screen if the current input value is not valid.
  • (Data Aquarium) The client library issues invoke(getpage|execute|getpagelist).app client-side events that allow the alternative execution of requests. App Studio uses this feature to access its own RESTful API.
  • (Touch UI) The $app.touch.whenPageShown(callback(page)) method now passes the “shown” page to the callback.
  • (Touch UI) The beforemodalcancel.app event is triggered on the document when users press the Escape key. If the default is prevented on the event, then the modal form will remain visible. The property grid uses this event to gradually remove the focus from the property before allowing itself to be closed with the next press of the Escape key.
  • (Touch UI) The data input fields are assigned the app-has-changed class if the default value is defined for the field and the current value is not equal to the default value. Input values are displayed in the "bold" font if the value has changed. The default values can be specified in the surveys only in the default property of a question.
  • (Touch UI) JavaScript expressions specified in the Visible When and Read Only When properties of fields and action can be written with the following syntax: this.Country === 'USA'
  • (Framework) The $app.eval method can handle inline (single-line) expressions for "get" and "set" operations when two or three arguments are specified. App Studio uses inline get/set expressions specified on the hierarchy nodes and object properties.
  • (Touch UI) The class app-field-label-other is applied to the "aside" and "count" field headers in the list/cards. This eliminates the styling conflicts with the fields named "Label".
  • (Touch UI) The new method dataView.extension().layout() will refresh the layout of the "shared" survey. Used by the Property Window to display the properties of the selected hierarchy node.
  • (Touch UI) Removed the code that was interacting with the window.external since the framework does not make use of Cloud On TIme anymore.
  • (Touch UI) Update icons to the latest Google Material Symbols.
  • (App Gen) The Sync.*.xml files are saved with indentation to simplify comparison during check in with source control (Git).
  • (Touch UI) Removed the code that was interacting with the window.external since the framework does not make use of Cloud On Time native app shell anymore.