More Upgrades

With the addition of a whole new back end structure I went forward with recreating the front end a little bit. Aside from a few bugs that exist in the spreadsheet application we now have a new login and user profile page. It is almost the same as the old one but is a bit shinier. The shadows and background moves in response to your mouse to give it some 3D looking effect, not sure if that is going to stay or not though. Jerry Schneider is working on redoing the code editor and got some work done at the hackathon but has not pushed his code yet because of some integration issues with the code editor and the new backed. Hopefully when that is done we will see some of his awesome work.

New Login Screen

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New user profile

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Bad code and little documentation

In the past few weeks I have begun writing two new applications for Briefcase: Code editor, and Presentation Editor. The code editor is based off of the LDT syntax highlighter and the presentation editor is meant for use with the BIG presentation system. As I have been rapidly coding there is little to no documentation for these applications and the code base for them is quite horrendous. But that is ok. Why is it ok to have horrendous code? For research, just messing with code to figure out how it works. However, looking back on it I see that it is quite bad. I also tried to see how the LDT would work with a content editable DIV tag. It works, but there are many problems with it. So I am now going to begin working with ranges within text areas in order to implement adding and removing selected text within a text area. If I am able to do that then the entire code editor will be created using a slight derivation of the LDT. The documentation for Briefcase need to be improved quite a bit before I can consider the program even remotely ready for a release.

Beginnings of the XML Menu and Menu API

A few weeks ago I set out to figure out the best way to create menus in our applications that were easy to use. At first the results were pretty bad. The menus would stack or they would not now up at all. Once I believe i even got one to pertinently stick to the middle of the screen. But now the menus are working quite well. The first alpha of the menu system is what I would call it. It is very simple to use as well. All of this information will be in the wiki as well. Individual menus for each application can be created via XML and different cross application styles can be created using CSS.

Alpha Build of XML Menu

Including the menu in your code

<script type="text/javascript" src="menu.js"></script>
<div id="TitleMenu"></div>

Include the javascript file and then put the menu div where ever you want the main title bar to go. Usually it is put first thing in the body. In later version you will be able to put the menus (or other menus) on the left and right sides of the screen
Creating the menu (in xml):

<XMLMenu>
  <menu name="File" iconsrc="icons/action_forward.gif" version="normal">
    <button name="save" function="save()" enabled="true" iconsrc="icons/action_save.gif" shortcutKey="Ctrl+S" version="normal"> </button>
    <button name="load" function="load()" enabled="true" iconsrc="icons/action_back.gif" shortcutKey="Ctrl+L" version="normal"> </button>
    <break></break>
    <menu name="Feature Select" iconsrc="icons/action_go.gif" version="normal">
      <button name="Feature One"   function="alert('one')"   iconsrc="icons/flag_blue.gif" shortcutKey="Shft+Ctrl+1" version="normal"> </button>
      <button name="Feature Two"   function="feature('two')"   iconsrc="icons/flag_green.gif" shortcutKey="Shft+Ctrl+2" version="normal"> </button>
      <button name="Feature Three" function="feature('three')" iconsrc="icons/flag_orange.gif" shortcutKey="Shft+Ctrl+3" version="normal"> </button>
      <button name="Feature Four"  function="feature('four')"  iconsrc="icons/flag_red.gif" shortcutKey="Shft+Ctrl+4" version="normal"> </button>
      <button name="Feature Five"  function="feature('five')"  iconsrc="icons/flag_white.gif" shortcutKey="Shft+Ctrl+5" version="normal"> </button>
    </menu>
  </menu>
  <menu name="Edit" iconsrc="" version="normal">
    <button name="copy" function="copy()" iconsrc="icons/copy.gif" shortcutKey="Ctrl+S" version="normal"> </button>
  </menu>
</XMLMenu>

the XMLMenu element is the wrapper for the XML menu
The three elements, menu, button, and break, all create different menu elements. If you nest elements inside of a menu element then they will show up as a sub menu. If you try to nest them in any other element (break or button) then they will be ignored. Every menu or button has a name and an image icon associated with them. Buttons have a function to run if they are clicked and all attributes have a version. The version does not do anything right now but in the future it will indicate advanced features of the menu system. XML above is the XML used to create the menu in the screen shot.

Presentation And Realizations

Last Friday (the 10th) we gave a presentation to RCOS.  We were able to learn a lot of things from peers. Two things of importance are where to save the files. Previously we were using a files system, this has been replaced with a database, much better. The other important thing is syntax highlighting. Colin Kuebler with the Koala project has spent a year learning and experimenting with syntax highlighting inside web browsers. While I initially assumed that the style of highlighting he used was inefficient and not-cross browser capable I now find that his method is actually one of the most efficient methods out there. Hopefully one of the next features we will have is the multi user editable content.

The presentation can be found at: Breifcase_Presentation_3

Back on campus

The school year has started and we are back on campus. I am looking forward to the semester. Last semester we were able to get help from other people who wanted to contribute, and I am hoping to get even more this year. There are now two in-progress applications for the front end of briefcase, a spreadsheet, and a text / code editor.  The Spreadsheet is coming along nicely and should be fully usable in just a few weeks! The text editor is having a few cross-browser issues that still need to be fixed, and there are a few features, like syntax highlighting, that I am sure I will need help designing. Thanks everybody who has contributed so far and I hope that you continue to do so!