Tag Archives: development

Heading towards Uniface 10.3

Since the release of  Uniface 10.2 the topic of custom utilities on the Uniface repository has come up several times during conversations with customers, at user events and in the forums. The plan is that we address at least part of these requirements (making umeta.xml available) in 10.3.

Migrating to Uniface 10
Uniface Entity Editor

Why wait for 10.3? The migration from 9 or 10.2 to 10.3 will require a full migration, an xml export and import. This is something we don’t do in patches or service packs. The reason for the migration is that we are working towards locking the repository to offer a stable platform for customers. By stable I mean one where, for the foreseeable future, we will not require customers to undertake a full migration. We have planned changes and are validating them to make sure we can implement the functionality we would like to deliver. For Work Area Support we need to make sure that, as much as possible, merging is possible. For global objects (USOURCE) we are splitting it in to multiple tables to more closely reflect the data they hold.

With the repository being updated there are some areas in the development environment that also need some attention, we need to ensure they continue to work:

  • The compiler
  • Export/Import
  • The hybrid components
  • xml
  • Migration
  • Create Table Utility (for repository and user tables)

Whilst on the subject of the “Create Table Utility”… We have been thinking how it might fit into the IDE, should it have its own workbench or should we achieve the functionality in another way? There are currently two implementations we are looking at. Firstly, from the command line. This option is how, in the future we will be supplying the scripts for the repository. Getting Uniface to generate the scripts, rather than a static list being supplied with the installation, will mean more deployment options – it will use driver options in the ASN to generate the correct scripts for your environment.

Uniface Scripts
*Example only

Secondly, we are looking at adding a create table menu option to the project editor. With this method it would be possible to collect all the tables you need generating into a project and asking Uniface to generate the scripts for you.

Uniface Table Menu

Uniface 10: What’s happened since the release?

Back in September 2016 we had quite a major event, Uniface 10 was released with the ability to develop and maintain all forms of Uniface applications – Client Server, Web and batch.

Uniface 10

Since the release, and based on lots of feedback from the early adopters, we have continued to actively enhance the IDE with constant incremental improvements. In this blog post, I would like to share with you what these improvements are as well as what we have planned for the near future.

To start, it is probably a good idea to give some high-level topics we have been concentrating on.

Migration

This topic has probably been our primary focus during the continuous updating of v10. We have always had a migration path between Uniface versions automating any updates needed. In version 10 we continue with this concept and as information becomes available, from customers and our own experiences, the migration utilities have been updated to further improve the experience.

Uniface 10: Code migrated from 9 to 10
Uniface 10: Code migrated from 9 to 10
Usability and bug fixing

Performance in large repositories has proven to be an area where we have needed to pay attention and has generated some lively discussions on uniface.info. Although this is an ongoing theme we have already made significant enhancements. The dropdown browse dialogs for the Development Objects (cpt:, ent:, libinc:, etc) will load the information and format the data with considerably less of a delay. Incremental rendering has also been added so that the list becomes available and usable even while extra rows continue to be added. The same techniques and improvements will also be added to the resource browsers in the coming patches.

Uniface 10: Cascading brows dialogs
Uniface 10: Cascading browse dialogs
Embedding the GUI screen painter

Client server development is another area we are enhancing. The first enhancement we are planning and currently working on is embedding the form painter directly into the v10 IDE.

Uniface 10: Embedded form painter taken from a developer's PC
Uniface 10: Embedded form painter taken from a developer’s PC
Runtime enhancements

It is now possible to specify what trigger, accept or quit, will be called when an auto close popup loses focus.

The ability to undeclare a trigger, operation or local proc. This will allow model or previously defined scripts to be excluded from the compile effectively allowing default functionality for a trigger to be re-established.

The ability to call up to a higher-level trigger has been added, this allows such actions as explicitly calling the entity level Detail trigger from the field level detail trigger.

Uniface 10: New popup options
Uniface 10: New popup options

As you can see, we’ve been very busy, and there is a lot more to come.

When is the best time to plant a tree?

When is the best time to plant a tree? According to a Chinese proverb it’s 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

As Uniface developers we know this is true. Most applications written in Uniface originate from 20 years ago. And they are still alive and kicking. Well, I am not sure about the kicking part, but they are certainly alive. But I want to build new applications today. I am sure we all want to.

In previous blog posts I told you about my worries. Some of you replied, or sent me an email. Thanks for that! You told me about these frameworks that existed in the mid-nineties. A good and sound framework is an essential building block 🙂 for fast application development. It’s the foundation of applications, but why should we invent the wheel over and over again? I would rather spend my energy on programming algorithms and code business logic.

But let’s be honest, we need more. I mean more frameworks that can be used to build mobile applications or at least fully responsive web applications with DSP’s.

There are hundreds or thousands of excellent Uniface developers out there. And we need a working space where we can meet and join forces. What if such a place would exist? Where we could create nice tools, examples, pieces of proc code or even a complete framework? Wouldn’t that be great! Let’s join forces and start a new community and have this working space. Interested? I have a plan….

Community

I want to organize a new Uniface developers community. The goal of this community is to build, maintain and share Uniface components. And I am searching for developers to participate. A few assumptions:

  • Let’s start small, with a few developers. Not more than a dozen.
  • It’s an online community, so it doesn’t matter where you live, work or which timezone you’re in.
  • We will communicate in English. My English is not the best, but I try. I am sure we all can.
  • The community and the products are independent. So, the software we create or documents we write are owned by the community.
  • Participation is on a personal basis. So you don’t represent your employer. Not even when it’s Uniface. 🙂
  • Everything we create, we will share for free and is open source. I will write a post about open source in the near future. Because it’s not what we are used to…
  • Last but not least. We will work independently and local most of the time. But a community is about teamspirit. Especially in the beginning. We don’t have to be friends, but we need to respect each other’s opinion.

Rocket science

The community is going to build Uniface components. Of course I am talking about Uniface 10. We will start with some nice examples. That’s also the best to get used to the environment.

All of us know how to build nice applications with Uniface. I don’t know if you have any experience with version control, creating mobile apps or Uniface 10. But I am sure community based development is new for us all. So, at certain points it’s going to be trial and error.

Before we can build anything we need to setup an entire environment where we can work together. Think about the architecture inside your development department, but then completely online.

There is already a complete online environment. All that is missing, is you!

Want to participate? Please send me an email (lammersma@hotmail.com). Don’t worry about the technical stuff. It will be explained to you!

 

How to restore default behavior in Uniface 10

In Uniface 9, there are two types of trigger behavior:

  • Implicit or default Uniface behavior;
  • Explicit behavior

The most well-known example of implicit or default behavior is the execute trigger, which displays the component in edit mode, even if you do not declare it. Explicit behavior is all code that a developer writes. This explicit behavior will block default behavior even if you did not intend to. I cannot count the number of times I created an execute trigger and forgot to explicitly add the edit statement.

In Uniface 9, every trigger has its own code container and is validated by the compiler. In a way, all triggers are defined implicitly. The way to restore default behavior is to replace the (inherited) code in the trigger with a semicolon (sometimes followed by a comment). The semicolon breaks inheritance but does not implement any other explicit behavior. The compiler considers it to be empty and will disregard it during compilation. At runtime, Uniface will revert to its default behavior (if it has any).

In Uniface 10, we reduced the number of containers. An entity has a maximum of three containers; one for the declarations; one for the collection operations and one for the occurrence operations (and all other occurrence level modules, such as triggers). Fields, components, and application shells have only two; a Declarations container and a Script container. The Script container is where you store your triggers, operations and entries. There is no way to implicitly define a trigger anymore. Every trigger is either inherited or explicitly declared; in both instances, the trigger loses its default behavior. 

Restoring the default behavior by using a semicolon in the trigger no longer works. During compilation, Uniface 10 will create a trigger that does nothing when executed. It still breaks inheritance but no longer restores the default behavior.


; this trigger breaks inheritance 
; but does not restore the default behavior
; in Uniface 10
trigger detail   
; 
end ; trigger detail

The only real solution to revert back to the default behavior is to convince the compiler to ignore all explicit behavior. For this purpose, we introduced the ‘undeclare’ keyword, which instructs the compiler to skip the compilation of the explicitly defined triggers, thereby restoring the default behavior:


undeclare trigger detail

Triggers can only be undeclared after they have been declared. When a trigger is undeclared before its declaration (or when it does not exist at all) the compiler will ignore the undeclare and issue a warning in the messages tab..


; first declare the trigger 
trigger detail  
  askmess "detail trigger"
end
; then undeclare it
undeclare trigger detail

Undeclaring inherited triggers

A trigger that a component inherits from a modeled entity or field can be undeclared in Script container of the modeled object or in the Script container of corresponding derived object in the component. 

 The Script container of a modeled field contains the following code:


trigger detail
  askmess "detail trigger"
end

The Script container of that same field on a component


undeclare trigger detail

This will result in the removal of the modelled detail trigger and will restore the default behavior (if it has any).

Undeclaring operations and entries

It is also possible to undeclare operations and entries:


operation myOperation
   ; some code
end ; myOperation
undeclare operation myOperation

entry myEntry
  ; some code
end ; myEntry
undeclare entry myEntry

For operations, the same rule applies as for triggers; they can be undeclared in the modeled or the derived object, but it must be done in same code container. For instance, if an operation is declared in the Occurence Script container on the model level it can only be undeclared in the same container on either the model level or the component level.

For entries it works differently. Since entries have a component scope, the entry can be undeclared in every container that is compiled after the last time the entry was declared. This requires a deeper understanding of how the compiler works.

New Year’s Resolution

These are the first lines I write in this new year, 2017. I want to start with wishing you all a very good and successful year. How strange is it. On New Year’s Eve we look back, while on New Year’s day we make plans and start with our New Year’s resolutions.

Some things will start, some have ended and some continue. For most of us, Uniface is one of those continuing. As I wrote before, sometimes I wonder how long it shall. But on the other hand, why care. There are thousands of software development tools. Most of them are bigger (whatever that may be) and perhaps some better than our beloved Uniface. The concept of programming is, from a certain point of view, always the same. Sure, you need to learn. You quit being a Uniface senior to become a junior in something else. You will enter a whole new world, with new and probably many young software developers. And between these hipsters you are the oldest junior they have ever seen. Wow, interesting, isn’t it? Your New Year’s resolution can be becoming a junior again!

In a previous blog I’d bet you a beer. I wrote about this company where I once worked. They tried several software development platforms. Maybe they found something else more tempting. Eventually they did choose Uniface. You did not expect that, did you! To be honest it was a close call. Right on time Uniface invited the management for a lab visit in Amsterdam. Uniface product management listened and that did some amazing magic.

But software development isn’t about magic. No fairy tale with software generating magicians. We all know that. It’s just hard work. One of the most heard complaints is the lack of standard components or add-ons in Uniface. The management of the mentioned organisation also asked this to the Uniface product management. Why do we need to build everything by our self? Why can’t we download standard solutions instead of building them?

The answer is simple: just because…

  1. Your problem is unique, no one ever had it before
  2. It’s been built, but the solution is too specific
  3. Or the solution is built in a previous Uniface version (what the f…, Uniface is upward compatible!)
  4. Or the quality is poor, there is no documentation, there is no source code available or someone wants money for it (and you believe software should be free)
  5. Someone built it before, but did not share it with you.

Is this a problem? Yes, it is. Can we fix it? Yes, we can. And I believe it’s simple. Whenever you think ‘Hey, why can’t I just find this on the web?’, do the following:

  1. Look once again, perhaps it is somewhere around
  2. Design the most generic solution
  3. Build it
  4. Test it
  5. Write some documentation
  6. And…. share it.

Maybe it’s a good New Year’s resolution. Emphasize your Uniface seniority and build to share. How? Where? Who? After reading all of the reactions on my previous posts I have a plan. I am working on it and I’ll explain it to you in the next posting.

Happy new year!!!!