What’s an engineer without tools? The first hit of a Google search for the phrase “Engineer without Tools” is a quote from Star Trek Deep Space Nine – Millennium Book Three (Inferno): “He was alone and useless, an engineer without tools, … “
Alone and useless … I guess that says it all.
Vice versa: the better the tools, the more efficient the engineer can be. Application developers, software developers, software engineers, they all need tools. Of course, the Uniface Development Environment as we know it in Uniface 9 and before is a very advanced tool already, or a collection of tools. In the Uniface 10 IDE we take that to a much higher level, using the concept of the toolbox.
The next release of Uniface 10, internally named 10.00c, shows the first contours of the toolbox. This release will be used for product demos at User Conferences as of mid-May. And no doubt the toolbox will be featured in the next product update on the Uniface Partners United website.
Each task in Uniface 10 will have its own dedicated toolbox. Visually the different toolboxes look and work the same and they can always be found in the same location: at the left side. A toolbox provides the elements (the tools) that are appropriate for creating content in the editor we’re in: when we model an entity we’ll have a toolbox that enables us to create fields, keys and relationships. The project editor will provide a toolbox for creating project content: the elements to choose from in the project editor’s toolbox may range from a single component to a completely predefined application.
The Component Editor in Uniface 10 has three main tasks, each supported by its own specific toolbox: Define Structure, Write Script and Define Layout. Here’s a preliminary screen shot of the Component Data Structure toolbox:
The toolbox allows for multi-select, which makes it easy to pull multiple elements into the editor with just a few clicks. In a superficial test we noted down which steps we needed to create a data structure for a DSP based on a modeled entity.
First of all, it’s much more intuitive to discover what you need, because the toolbox puts it ‘in your face’. But more important, in Uniface 10 we needed less than 50% of the mouse clicks compared to Uniface 9.6 to achieve the same result.
But it’s not limited to these benefits, in fact the sky’s the limit! Engineers can create their own custom toolboxes. Whether as a matter of convenience or as a way to encourage or even enforce standards, e.g. project or organizational standards. Agreeing on standards and guidelines is no longer an exercise on paper, but can actually be implemented through software in an intuitive and consistent manner.