Issue 48 * May 9, 2008

Application Browser Goes Visual
Introducing GLX2 Visual Application Browser

by Jerry Daniels

Figure 1. GLX2 Visual Application Browser. An Object Tree, Preview/Snapshot pane and a property inspector in a single Revolution plug-in.

Revolution's native application browser is indispensable for development projects that include hidden objects, groups and substacks. However, the current Rev app browser is not anyone's idea of a small window and -- if you're unable to identify your target object by it's descriptor in the hierarchical list – you may need to click back to your stack to figure out. With hidden objects, this is particularly painful.

Fear not! All uncertainty and convolution of workflow is about to disappear. In May, the Daniels & Mara GLX2 Visual Application Browser hits the world-wide market via the RevSelect program at the Runtime Revolution store.

Let's slice and dice the GLX2 Visual Application Browser (VAB) to see what it offers, shall we?

The Object Tree

Figure 2. List of Stacks with invisible, but in memory stacks shown in parentheses.

No object browser worth its salt can live without a hierarchical tree to show relationships between objects: who's the parent and who's the child? But, hierarchical (object) trees tend to suffer when the number of cards in a stack become too numerous. To solve this problem, VAB shows a single card's objects with a handy menu for changing cards – thus avoiding unwieldy, less-than-useful tree lists that go on forever.

Figure 3. Card navigation made easy using the card menu.

Trees also show relationships, but, do they allow you to change relationships? VAB does! To add an object to a group, simply drag and drop it into that group; or option-drag it to place a copy into the target group. You can also drag groups of objects, but, whether you drag a single object or multiple objects, the result relayers the relocated objects, as you'd expect.

Last but not least, VAB identifies each object's type (stack, card, group, button, field, etc.) with an appropriate icon placed to the left of the object's name. When an object has a script, VAB tells you so by making that object's icon brighter than those without scripts.

The Snapshot - The Visual Part

Figure 4. An object clicked in the Snapshot pane or in the Tree is surrounded by a bright rectangle.

The "V" in VAB means you can actually SEE your currently selected object in the Snapshot pane. Plus, a colored rectangle surrounds the target object in the Snapshot (yellow in Chalkboard motif; red in Alabaster) —  EVEN IF THE OBJECT IS INVISIBLE. If a portion of the rectangle of an object is off-screen, then the off-screen side(s) are orange. (However, if an object is entirely outside the rectangle of its stack, you won't see any selection rectangle.)

Objects selected in the Tree are selected in the Snapshot. But, the reverse is also true: an object clicked in the Snapshot pane is selected in the Tree. So, if you are unsure if an object you're looking at in the Snapshot belongs to a group, click to select it in the Tree where its relationship(s) will be laid bare to any and all seeing people. You'll discover what, if any, group it belongs to – and where it sits on the card, layer-wise.

Objects in the Snapshot are also moveable. Click and shift+click to select objects in the Snapshot pane – or click and drag in a neutral, object-free area of the Snapshot's card to create a selection marquee around any objects it intersects. Once you've got an object or objects selected, you can move them with your pointer, or nudge them with your arrow keys, or delete, cut, copy and paste them. In short, you're ready to party. Speaking of partying . . .

Here comes the X-rated part: As you move an object or group of objects, Alignment Guides appear. These Guides are wonderful anti-aliased, glowing lines that show when an object's left, top, right, bottom, or center aligns with the vertical or horizontal center of the card. Guides also appear when the left, top, right, bottom or center of one object aligns with another object's left, top, right, bottom or center. This feature is pure sex! I align objects even when I don't need to. (Note to self: you need to get out more.)

Figure 5. Menubars are not only visible for editing, but the menus themselves are also draqgable so you can change order of the menus.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the visualization of menubars in VAB. These much-maligned members of the Revolution pantheon of objects suddenly become comprehensible, highly visible, and even down-right friendly under the jurisdiction of the GLX2 Visual Application Browser. You can see them, edit them (more on editing and inspecting in a minute) and MOVE THEM. Yes, you can reorder your menus in a menu bar by simply dragging a menu left or right – or downward to remove it from a menubar entirely.

You might want to take a moment to clear your head and re-read that last paragraph. It's true. Menubars appear at the top of the VAB Snapshot — whether you are using Windows XP, Vista, or Mac OS X — and your wish is their command.

Scripts and Properties

Figure 6. Right-clicking an object in the Snapshot pane or the Object Tree presents a contextual menu of editing options.

Accessing the script of an object in VAB is a simple as double-clicking the object (either in the Tree or the Snapshot) to pop open the script editor of your choice (we recommend the GLX2 Script Editor, of course). You can also right-click on any object in the Snapshot or the Tree to copy, edit, inspect, clone, hide or delete the object or its owner.

The simplest way to inspect an object's  click any object in the Tree or Snapshot, and its properties appear in a familiar-looking, built-in Property editor. (FYI: Selecting multiple objects displays the same property panes that the Revolution property inspector would show.)

Figure 7. Placing pointer over an icon in the VAB property inspector describes its pane.

Here are a few of the advantages of VAB's built-in Property Inspector. At the top of our Inspector, a row of small buttons replaces the Rev property pop-up menu, making pane navigation faster and more straight-forward: just click the appropriate button to open the pane you want. Plus you only have to use VAB for a few minutes to realize what a huge advantage it is to have property editing so nearby and accessible to your app browser. In fact, you can optionally make VAB your property inspector of choice.

Figure 8. Each object clicked in the Snapshot pane or the Object Tree gets its own tab.

Did I mention Tabs? VAB features the same Tabs used in the GLX2 Script Editor. Whenever you click an object, you create a Tab for it. This makes it extremely easy to switch between objects when you're setting properties or aligning. Plus, tabs really simplify working on objects that live in different stacks. Clicking a tab instantly displays that object's Snapshot. Fast. Simple. Reliable. (Just what you'd expect if you're a GLX2 Script Editor user, so it does not receive the "pure sex" designation reserved for Alignment Guides.)

Installing VAB

GLX2 Visual Application Browser is a plugin for Revolution. When you purchase it (from the Revolution Store), you get a double-clickable installer that will ask for your registration code. When you input the code, VAB is installed in your third party plugins folder inside your operating system's Documents folder. After the plug-in is installed, just start up Revolution and go to the Revolution preferences stack. Click the "Use GLX2 Visual Application Browser" check box at the bottom of the Application Browser pane, and VAB is yours to command.

Like all GLX2 products, VAB is auto-updating. Use the Help menu in the VAB menubar to check for the latest release or beta version of the product. The next version is always in beta, so our users can see how our products are evolving, and contribute to the process with your feature requests, feedback, and bug reports.

GLXmas in May

Figure 9. GLX2 Property Inspector to be given away at RevLive Conference.

May, 2008, is a big month on our Revolution calendar. Not only do we have the RevLive Developers Conference in Las Vegas, but GLX2 will become a product line instead of just a single product. The GLX2 product suite includes: GLX2 Visual Application Browser, GLX2 Property Inspector, and GLX2 Script Editor. The property inspector portion of VAB will be given away as a separate plugin to all attendees at the RevLive conference – when VAB itself goes on sale.

Don't think that our GLX2 Script Editor has been standing still these last months! As beta testers can affirm, GLX2 VERSION 2.1 has loads of new features and enhancements. It is also set for release at the conference in Las Vegas – and be will be available shortly afterwards from the Revolution store on the sparkling new Runtime Revolution website.

I hope to see you in Vegas. Barring that, perhaps I'll see you on the email list – or on our new support site for the GLX2 product line which is now accessible to one and all at:

The nitty gritty of how to get it free.

Now you've read all about it, here's the good news: you can pre-order VAB free, saving you $79, with any Revolution Studio or Enterprise purchase, until the end of May 2008. How? First, you need to copy this coupon code:


Now, click here, to put Visual Application Browser in your basket.

Then you need to click here to add a Studio license.

On the basket screen, put the coupon code in the coupon box, and head straight to the checkout!

If you want Enterprise, click here.

If you want to update a Studio license, pick from Early Update or full Renewal.

To update an Enterprise license, this is your link for Early Update, and this is your ticket for a full Renewal.

And if you're not sure what you want, click here to email our friendly customer support team for assistance!

Please note: VAB is not yet released, but you can pre-order it.

Terms and conditions. Offer ends 31st May 2008. Offer is not applicable in conjunction with any other discount, including Educational discount. Offer not valid with Revolution Media.

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