I'm hearing great things about GLX2, can you tell me what it is?
GLX2 is a script editor for Revolution. It's part of our second-generation, Galaxy-branded developer tools and pre-built application components. Our firm mostly does consulting and development work for software publishers and IT departments. We felt we could deliver more value to our clients, and demand better fees, by using these high-performance tools and pre-built components on their projects and products.
What inspired you to write GLX2?
I've been crazy about creating developer tools for a long time, especially ones that work with fourth generation languages. Our firm developed several script editors and pre-compilers for HyperCard and CompileIt! back in the 1980's. It was Dan Shafer who encouraged me the most to create a SmallTalk-like code browser for Revolution. Then, Chipp Walters kept goading me until I did it. I've written development components for Revolution for the last three years with major revamps each year. I can't seem to stop. It's been very beneficial for our consulting and development business. Tools like these have always opened a lot of doors for me, personally and professionally.
Has anyone else had a hand in its creation?
Trevor DeVore has been involved over the last year with GLX2. He's been my number one collaborator this year. He took my debugger code and really made it sing. He also invented Script Snapshots for GLX2. Snapshots has a fiendishly clever way to track variables in scripts that are difficult to debug. Mark Wieder contributed some script formatting code. The guys from the MetaCard group—instigated by Geoff Canyon, I believe—wrote a very fine script colorizer from which I got some great ideas and snippets. Sarah Reichelt and Éric Miclo were our first two beta testers three years ago—and they continue to make major contributions from within the test team. We have a small group of users who are heavily involved in testing our products before they go on the market. My wife Mary Jane has helped with several graphic components—the gray glass tabs, for example. And my son Joseph helps out with our product Web sites and also serves as idea guy. His speciality is something he calls "idea farming."
How long did it take?
From design to rollout GLX2 took about ten months. It was done simultaneously with billable client work. That's how we "bought" my time to do it. To be realistic, though, GLX2 is the result of almost thirty years in the technical world—starting with punch cards, migrating to personal computers and finally to high-level languages running on amazing devices with graphical user interfaces that we use today. There really aren't that many problems in code or design that haven't already been done. I'm always astounded how many old ideas look so fresh when re-applied in a new environments. Lately we've been using RevBrowser to "screen scrape" Web pages from within an application in order to gather real estate data. I was "screen scraping" terminal screens in 1990 at GE Aerospace.
What do you think are its best features?
A person's work style really determines what he or she likes best in GLX2. Myself? I tend to take the product for granted sometimes, so I turn the clock back and work for a day in Revolution without any of our tools—then I notice what I really miss. I'm not all that crazy about typing, so I like auto-completion and clairvoyance. It really cuts down on keystrokes and frees up my mind so I can make better decisions. I'm paid to make decisions, not to type. I personally set clairvoyance so that it starts guessing what I'm trying to type after four characters. It can be set higher or lower in that regard.
I'm always inspecting objects, so I really miss no-click inspection if it's not there. I want to see properties or scripts quickly. No one likes to wait or go through a monotonous process of choosing the pointer tool, right-clicking an object and then selecting "edit script" off of a menu. I just hover over the object and hold down two modifier keys and I'm looking at my script before I know it. I wrote an object inspector in 1987 when we first moved to Texas.
Tell us more about these features.
Since many of the applications we build for clients are complex, we designed GLX2 and our previous generation tools with a small "footprint" in mind. Rather than multiple windows, we chose "tabs" like Mozilla and Safari use in their Web browsers. That leaves room on the screen for the client's "work product." Carrying the idea of a Web browser a little farther, we decided this year to include links in the object scripts that could take a developer from a call to a handler to the handler itself in one click—just like links in a Web page.
I also like having my handlers organized not just in a list, but also in "folders." We use special comments to indicate which handlers are related and belong together. These show up in the handler list in folders. All of our products have always had folders, but GLX2's handler folders are certainly the best looking and easiest to use so far.
The "sleeper" feature of GLX2 is it's very architecture. It considers all work you do as "work-in-progress." You can close a tab or the GLX2 window with scripts uncompiled, but when you go back to work on your code the next day, wherever you are, they'll be just as you left them. The same handler folders will be open, the scroll position will be the same, and size and position of your window will be identical. Because of this, the work flow is very smooth. GLX2 tries to stay out of the way and let you work and let your creative juices flow. When I'm in that zone, I find I can make the best decisions and thus write better code and design better workflow/UI.
Will GLX2 run under 2.9?
I believe everyone on our quality assurance team has an enterprise license for Revolution and has been, therefore, able to test GLX2 running under Revolution 2.9 developer previews. We've had no problems so far. Our subcontractors and employees are also using GLX2 from within Revolution 2.9.
How closely have you worked with RR over this?
As you know we are RevSelect partners, so we collaborate on a business level already. Kevin, Mark and, to some extent Marcus, have all spent some real time noodling over features, technology and positioning of the product with me–and also with Trevor. The two of us (Trevor and I) actually went over to Scotland last December to meet with Mark and Kevin. That was a great trip and we all got super inspired to take Revolution to the "next level" with great products.
I've probably spent by far the most time working with Kevin. We Skype quite a bit. Being a coder himself and the author of a great deal of the Revolution IDE, he's a great confidant and strategist when it come to IDE components. He's also been very encouraging. It's great to see him get so excited about a product like GLX2. He has real passion for Revolution, and it seems to make him even happier to see other people contribute and take it places it's never been before.
The most tangible benefit of Kevin and Runtime Revolution's enthusiasm for GLX2 is it's bundling with Revolution. Anyone who renews their license (Studio and Enterprise) gets GLX2 for free! New purchasers of Revolution also get GLX2 at no additional charge. Those wishing to buy GLX2 directly without any bundling, will pay $99 US for it. So that's quite a good deal. We're excited about the market potential of GLX2, given its advantageous bundling with Revolution.
I understand that we are also bundling the "Concept Editor" with GLX2. What, exactly, is this?
The Concept Editor is a very nifty script editor and application browser for Revolution. It's like a concept car: very cool and exciting to look at, but not something for everyday driving—at least not yet.
The Concept Editor launches as a separate application–it's not a plug- in for Revolution, but rather a separate application. It is launched (like any other script editor) from Revolution; and, it also has no-click inspect keys like GLX2. It "talks" to Revolution via the same sort of "sockets" that the internet uses.
The second remarkable thing about the Concept Editor is its appearance. It covers the entire screen with "smoked glass" while the editor "frame" floats on top of it. You can see through to your Revolution stacks, but you can also easily read the code "floating" on the glass. It resizes from every side (even on the Mac), and let's you no-click-inspect Revolution objects through the glass. It has slide out lists for an object tree, and a list of bread crumbs ala GLX2. It's a little hard to explain to someone who's not watching it work its magic, because it does things no other editor does–and does them unlike any other script editor. I've never seen an editor like it.
Probably the third surprising thing about Concept Editor is its speed. As a separate application, it has no message conflicts with the Revolution IDE and it's very asynchronous in it's communications with Revolution, so it's really fast. It's definitely a fun ride. Every one who buys GLX2—or gets it free with their Revolution renewal or purchase—gets access to Concept Editor. However, at this time, it's only available for Mac OS X.
Where do you see GLX2 going in the future?
GLX2 specifically will "inherit" ideas, code, and features from Concept Editor. That will be an ongoing process. GLX2 may end up with a "Concept Editor" skin. People who have seen Concept Editor run really like this skin, so, I wouldn't be surprised if that comes to pass–though, I can't promise anything in this regard.
This next year we'll also be focusing more on higher level, pre-built components. Things like:
- Desktop Web Application Frameworks with skins
- Integrated Log-on component with a user profile builder
- A Home Page Designer
- Navigation Trees with an Editor
- An editable Screen Scraper for Embedded Web Browsers
- Desktop-LAN-Web Database Manager
- Record and List View Designer
- Add-a-Record Phone Scripts and Wizards
- Drag-and-Drop Process Palettes to Create "Associations"
We want to take our editing skills into higher level collections of objects. At the same time, we want to keep our lower level tools evolving and getting better. The goal of these products is to bring simple, powerful tools to our clients and their staffs; and to deliver highly-valued, low-cost services to our custom development clients. With a business-niche focus, these tools and components may also evolve into lower-dollar, mass-market products. I always have lots of ideas.
Those who want to see GLX2 and Concept Editor and find out more about us can check out thse Web sites:
GLX2 - daniels-mara.com/glx2/
Concept Editor - daniels-mara.com/concept/
Daniels & Mara - daniels-mara.com