Tag Archives: WINDOW

The COMMUTERMODULE Property

As most of you will probably know, “commuter module” is the term given to a stored procedure whose main purpose is to handle event processing for a specific form.  Rather than have each individual event processed in a separate event script, quick-events are used instead to call the commuter module directly, passing it various parameters such as the name of the object firing the event, the name of the event itself, and any relevant arguments.  The commuter module then branches off to different internal subroutines to handle the event.

Following this methodology offers several important advantages:

  • Simplified code management
  • Simplified deployment
  • Improved code sharing via internal subroutines
  • Lower memory overhead (single procedure vs. multiple event scripts)

While using a commuter module like this is the recommended way of developing applications in OpenInsight, there has never been any sort of formal link between the commuter module and the form itself, which means that it is usually necessary to adopt a naming convention for this approach to work.

For example, it is common to have a commuter module with the same name as the form, or with the same name as the form and suffixed with the string “_EVENTS”.  By doing this it was easy to define quick-events to call the commuter module in the old v9 Form Designer like so:

v9 Commuter Module Quick Event

v9 Commuter Module Quick Event

The OBJ_CALL_EVENT program looks for a stored procedure with the same name as the form, or one with the same name as the form and suffixed with “_EVENTS”.  It was also possible to avoid the overhead of a lookup and call the commuter module directly by using the “@WINDOW” placeholder like this:

v9 Commuter Module Quick Event (using @WINDOW)

v9 Commuter Module Quick Event (using @WINDOW)

Or the “@WINDOW_EVENTS” placeholder like this:

v9 Commuter Module Quick Event (using @WINDOW_EVENTS)

Of course, even with this approach the form still wasn’t actually linked to it’s commuter module, rather it was only linked to “OBJ_CALL_EVENTS” or a fictitious entity called “@WINDOW”.

In version 10 we’ve added a new WINDOW property called COMMUTERMODULE, which simply contains the name of the stored procedure to use (this can be any valid name – you are no longer limited to one based on the name of the form, though we do suggest you keep this convention to help organize your application):

CommuterModule Property

CommuterModule Property

When the form is saved and compiled this stored procedure is linked to the form with a “used-by” relationship, thereby making deployment easier as you will see the link when you create your RDK definition records.

Another benefit of this is that you can quickly open your commuter module from the form by using the “View Commuter Module” button on the Form Designer toolbar:

View Commuter Module button

View Commuter Module button

Finally you can easily set your quick events to call your commuter module in the Event Designer like so:

Commuter Module QuickEvent

Commuter Module QuickEvent

Note that it uses an “@COMMUTER” placeholder – this is replaced with the contents of the COMMUTERMODULE property at runtime.

(You can still use the previous @WINDOW/_EVENTS or Obj_Call_Events methods if you wish – those options still exist.)

So, this is the first step in tightening the relationship between a form and it’s commuter module.  There is certainly scope for more integration between the two and this is something that we hope to pursue during subsequent releases.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10)

Size and Position

In previous versions of OpenInsight the position of a Window or control has always been determined by its SIZE property – an @fm-delimited array comprised of the Left, Top, Width and Height values.  This means, of course, that all of these values have to be processed together at the same time.

For example, if you only want to update a control’s Top attribute then you first have to get the current SIZE property, update the second field, and then set the entire array again like so:

ctrlSize    = get_Property( ctrlID, "SIZE" )
ctrlSize<2> = 100
call set_Property_Only( ctrlID, "SIZE", ctrlSize )

This can become tedious to write and it is also inefficient.

For version 10 we’ve exposed each of the SIZE fields as separate properties so you can now access them directly.  The new properties are:

  • LEFT
  • TOP
  • WIDTH
  • HEIGHT

Here’s the previous example updated to use the TOP property:

call set_Property_Only( ctrlID, "TOP", 100 )

Positioning using rectangle (RECT) coordinates

Those of you used to working with the Windows API will know that many API functions don’t use Width and Height values when dealing with positioning: they work with a “RECT” structure that uses Left, Top, Right and Bottom values to define an object’s position instead (i.e. the coordinates of the top-left corner and the bottom-right corner).

In some cases being able to update a position using Right and Bottom instead of Width and Height can actually be more efficient because it can mean less calculations needed in your own code, and so a new RECT property has been added to enable this functionality.

The new RECT property works in exactly the same way as the current SIZE property except that the Width and Height fields have been replaced by the Right and Bottom fields like so:

* // RECT property structure
* // 
* //   <1> Left
* //   <2> Top
* //   <3> Right
* //   <4> Bottom

As with the SIZE property we’ve also exposed the  individual fields as separate properties so there are two new properties to complement RECT which are:

  • RIGHT
  • BOTTOM

 

 SIZE, RECT and “stealth mode”

As you may know, when using the SIZE property with the Set_Property function you can set a “visible” attribute in the 5th field that can control the visibility of the object when it is moved. For example, setting the SIZE of an invisible WINDOW makes it visible by default unless you set this visible flag to “-1”.  This is still the case in version 10 and it also applies to the new RECT property as well.

However, we have also added a new 6th field that can contain a “Suppress Change Notification” flag.  When this flag is set to TRUE$ the object that has been moved receives no internal notification from Windows that it has been updated, so this will stop any MOVE and SIZE events from begin raised as well as preventing any autosize processing.  This is sometimes necessary when you have complex positioning requirements.

* // Full SIZE property structure when used with Set_Property
* // 
* //   <1> Left
* //   <2> Top
* //   <3> Width
* //   <4> Height
* //   <5> Visibility
* //   <6> Suppress Change Notification
* // Full RECT property structure when used with Set_Property
* // 
* //   <1> Left
* //   <2> Top
* //   <3> Right
* //   <4> Bottom
* //   <5> Visibility
* //   <6> Suppress Change Notification

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

The SCALED event

As covered in our recent posts on scaling and High-DPI, OpenInsight now has the capability to dynamically alter the scale of a form at runtime, taking care of layout, fonts and images.  However, there may be circumstances where this is not sufficient – perhaps you need to tweak the layout yourself, or perhaps you need to display a specific image rather than rely on a DPI Image List.  In this case you will need to know when the scaling operation has taken place, and you can handle this in the new SCALED event:

SCALED event

This WINDOW event is triggered when the SCALEFACTOR property is changed or when the form is moved to another monitor with a different DPI.

bForward = SCALED( ctrlEntID, ctrlClassID, origDpiX, origDpiY, origScaleFactor, |
                                           newDpiX, newDpiY, newScaleFactor )

The event is passed the following event-specific arguments:

  1. The original X DPI value
  2. The original Y DPI value
  3. The original SCALEFACTOR value
  4. The new X DPI value
  5. The new Y DPI value
  6. The new SCALEFACTOR value

The system performs no default processing for this event.

 

Handling layout for scaled forms

Of course, this leads us to one of the main issues with handling scaling: how do you get and set layout properties like SIZE for a scaled form? What units are used?

There are basically two choices available:

  1. Use Device Independent Pixels (DIPs): With this method all coordinates are treated as though the form is scaled at 96 DPI with a scale factor of 1.  The system is then responsible for mapping them to actual pixels at runtime.
  2. Use Pixels (PX): With this method the coordinates passed are treated as actual screen pixels regardless of the DPI or scale factor.

Using DIPs may seem easiest at first, especially in terms of backwards compatibility with existing code, but it does have some drawbacks:

  • Positioning can be imprecise due to integer rounding, and you may sometimes find a case where you need complete accuracy.
  • Some properties and events cannot use DIPs at all (mainly those that relate to screen coordinates), thereby leading to the need for some type of dual coordinate system, resulting in added complexity and possible confusion.

So, to keep things simple, OpenInsight operates in Pixel mode by default, which means it keeps a single and accurate coordinate system.  Remember, scaling is an “opt-in” system, meaning that none of your existing forms will scale unless you specify otherwise (via the DPISCALING and SCALEFACTOR properties), so you can review your code before enabling it and ensure that you don’t encounter any problems.

However, even though the default coordinate system is Pixels we don’t want to remove the choice of using DIPs if you prefer, so forms now support a new SCALEUNITS property that allows properties like SIZE to operate in either DIP or Pixel mode.

SCALEUNITS property

This is a WINDOW property that defines the units used when accessing layout properties like SIZE, CLIENTSIZE, TRACKINGSIZE and so on.  Note that it also affects events like BUTTONDOWN and methods like TEXTRECT too.

It accepts the following values:

  • “0” – Scaling units are Pixels
  • “1” – Scaling units are DIPs

Example: Scale a form and examine it’s SIZE using different SCALEUNITS

* // SCALEUNITS property equates - (from PS_WINDOW_EQUATES)
 equ PS_SCU_PIXELS$ to 0
 equ PS_SCU_DIPS$   to 1

* // Assume we are currently running with Pixel units
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SIZE", 10 : @fm: 10 : @fm : 400 : @fm : 300 )

* // Now scale the window to twice its normal size ( actual XY remains constant
* // for a form when setting SCALEFACTOR - only the width and height change)
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEFACTOR", 2 )

* // SIZE returns 10x10x800x600 
pxSize = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )

* // Now set the scaling units to DIPS
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEUNITS", PS_SCU_DIPS$ )

* // SIZE returns 5x5x400x300 
dipSize = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )

* // Note that the X and Y returned in the DIPs SIZE above have also been scaled. 
* // The form hasn't moved, but the units of measurement have changed, so the 
* // location is reported relative to a _theoretical_ scaled desktop size.

At first glance it may seem that the SCALEUNITS property should be a SYSTEM property rather than a WINDOW one, but bear in mind that OpenInsight applications may inherit from one another, and executing a form designed for one set of units while running in another application with a different “global” setting would undoubtedly cause problems.  Of course there’s nothing to stop you setting the SCALEUNITS to DIPs in a promoted CREATE event for your own applications but that’s another story…

 

Scaling helper methods

There are six new WINDOW methods you can use to help with manual scaling – they convert between Pixels and DIPs based on the form’s current DPI and SCALEFACTOR (They are not affected by the SCALEUNITS property):

  • SCALEFONT
  • SCALESIZE
  • SCALEVALUE

The “SCALE” methods perform a DIPs to Pixel conversion.

  • UNSCALEFONT
  • UNSCALESIZE
  • UNSCALEVALUE

The “UNSCALE” methods perform a Pixel to DIPs conversion.

(You only really need the SCALEVALUE and UNSCALEVALUE methods, but the other four have been added to make things a little more convenient for you).

SCALEFONT method

This method takes an unscaled FONT property and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledFont = exec_Method( @window, "SCALEFONT", origFont )

SCALESIZE method

This method takes an unscaled SIZE property and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledSize = exec_Method( @window, "SCALESIZE", origSize )

SCALEVALUE method

This method takes an unscaled value and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledVal = exec_Method( @window, "SCALEVALUE", origVal )

UNSCALEFONT method

This method takes a scaled FONT property and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledFont = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALEFONT", scaledFont )

UNSCALESIZE method

This method takes a scaled SIZE property and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledSize = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALESIZE", scaledSize )

UNSCALEVALUE method

This method takes a scaled value and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledVal = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALEVALUE", scaledVal )

Example: Moving a control using DIP coordinates on a form with Pixel SCALEUNITS

* // Example - Move a control using DIP coordinates. We get the current pixel
* //           size, unscale it so we have the value as it _would_ be at
* //           96DPI/ScaleFactor 1 (i.e. DIPs), offset it by 10 DIPs, scale
* //           it back to Pixels and and then move it.
* // Get the current scaled size (pixels) - assume we have a SCALEFACTOR of 1.5
ctrlSize = get_Property( myCtrl, "SIZE" )

* // Unscale it back to 96DPI/ScaleFactor 1.0 - i.e. to DIPs
ctrlSize = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALESIZE", ctrlSize )

* // Adjust it to whatever we need (assume we want to offset it by 10 DIPs
* // (10 pixels at 96 DPI)
ctrlSize<1> = ctrlSize<1> + 10
ctrlSize<2> = ctrlSize<2> + 10
 
* // And ask the parent form to calculate where it _should_ be using the 
* // current scale factor
ctrlSize = exec_Method( @window, "SCALESIZE", ctrlSize )
 
* // And move it using pixels ...
call set_Property_Only( myCtrl, "SIZE", ctrlSize )

The previous example is rather contrived and is really only there to highlight how the methods can be used.  Another way of doing this would be to switch to DIPs using the SCALEUNITS property like so:

* // SCALEUNITS property equates - (from PS_WINDOW_EQUATES)
equ PS_SCU_PIXELS$ to 0
equ PS_SCU_DIPS$   to 1

* // Set the scaling units to DIPS 
scaleUnits = set_Property( @window, "SCALEUNITS", PS_SCU_DIPS$ ) 

ctrlSize = get_Property( myCtrl, "SIZE" )

* // Offset the control by 10 DIPs
ctrlSize<1> = ctrlSize<1> + 10 
ctrlSize<2> = ctrlSize<2> + 10

call set_Property_Only( myCtrl, "SIZE", ctrlSize )

* // And restore the SCALEUNITS
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEUNITS", scaleUnits )

The AUTOSCALE property

By default OpenInsight maintains automatic scaling for all controls on a form, even after you’ve manually set a scaled property yourself.  However, you can opt out of this behaviour by using the boolean AUTOSCALE property:

  • When set to TRUE (the default value) it enables scaling for a control.
  • When set to FALSE no automatic scaling is performed.

This property applies to all controls (but not to WINDOW objects for obvious reasons).

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

The SCALEFACTOR property

As we mentioned in our last post on High-DPI, the work needed to accommodate per-monitor DPI scaling in Windows 8.1 has also created the ability to scale OpenInsight forms to an arbitrary value outside of any system DPI settings.  This new functionality is exposed via the SCALEFACTOR property described below.

SCALEFACTOR property

This WINDOW property is a dynamic array comprising four fields:

<1> ScaleFactor
<2> Minimum ScaleFactor
<3> Maximum ScaleFactor
<4> ScaleFactor Increment

<1> ScaleFactor

This is a number that specifies how much to scale the form by.  A value of 1 means that the form has no scaling applied, a value of 1.5 scales the form to one-and-a-half times its normal size and so on.

Note that the scale factor is applied after any scaling applied for system DPI.  So, if your form runs on a 144 DPI monitor (150%) and has a scalefactor of 2 applied the actual scalefactor used is 3.0 (1.5 x 2.0).

<2> Minimum ScaleFactor

This specifies the minimum value that the ScaleFactor can be set to. By default it is set to “0.1”.  This value can be set at design time. See the note on “Scaling Restrictions” below.

<3> Maximum ScaleFactor

This specifies the maximum value that the ScaleFactor can be set to. By default it is set to “5.0”.  This value can be set at design time. See the note on “Scaling Restrictions” below.

<4> ScaleFactor Increment

If this field is set to a value other than 0 it allows the ScaleFactor to be adjusted via the  Mouse-wheel /Ctrl-key combination, or with a “pinch-zoom” gesture if running under a touch screen.  The increment value controls the rate at which the form grows or shrinks.  This value can be set at design time.

Example 1: Set a form’s scale to twice its designed size while allowing the user to adjust the scalefactor by the mouse or touchscreen:

* // Note that we ignore the min and max scalefactors, leaving them at their
* // defaults.
scaleFactor = ""
scaleFactor<1> = 2    ; * // twice normal size
scaleFactor<4> = 0.1  ; * // allow mousewheel/gesture - each wheel notch
                      ; * // adjusts the scalefactor by 0.1

Example 2: Comparing OpenInsight forms with a SCALEFACTOR of 0.5 and 1.0 respectively (both running on a 144 DPI desktop with DPISCALING disabled)

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 0.5 vs 1.0

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 0.5 vs 1.0

Example 3: Comparing OpenInsight forms with a SCALEFACTOR of 1.0 and 1.7 respectively (both running on a 144 DPI desktop with DPISCALING disabled)

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 1.0 vs 1.7

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 1.0 vs 1.7

DPI Image Lists and Image Scaling

In Example 3 above note the quality of the magnifying glass glyph on the buttons in the scaled form: it is much clearer and sharper on the Search button than it is on the Split button. This is because the Search button was designed using a “DPI Image List”, which means that an array of images, along with a corresponding array of DPI values, was specified for this glyph rather than just a single image. OpenInsight scans this DPI Image List looking for the closest match it can find when performing a scaling operation.  By contrast the Split button is using a single image designed for 96 DPI and stretched to fit, resulting in a blurry appearance.

(Note: We first mentioned this functionality in the section “Supporting images under High-DPI” in our original High-DPI post).

Or course, you may also find yourself in the position of not wanting a particular image scaled, and in this case we’ve added a new property to the Image API called IMAGEAUTOSCALE.  This is a simple boolean property that controls if an image is scaled by the system during the scaling process.  It’s default value is TRUE.

(We’ve also added a similar property to other areas of the system that use images as well, so there is a GLYPHAUTOSCALE property, a SPLITGLYPHAUTOSCALE property and so on).

 

Scaling Restrictions

The minimum and maximum size that a form can be rescaled to can be restricted by the minimum and maximum window sizes as defined by the OS.  As a general rule this size is usually slightly larger than the size of the entire desktop across all monitors (See the GetSystemMetrics() Windows API function along with the indexes SM_CXMAXTRACK, SM_CXMINTRACK, SM_CYMAXTRACK, and SM_CYMINTRACK for more details).

You can, however, override this behaviour if you set the TRACKINGSIZE property for a form, specifying values large enough to handle your desired scaling range.

 * // Example - Ensure the form will actually scale to the min and max factors
 * //           we've set
 
 winSize     = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )
 scaleFactor = get_Property( @window, "SCALEFACTOR" )
 
 trackingSize    = ""
 trackingSize<1> = winSize<3> * scaleFactor<2>
 trackingSize<2> = winSize<4> * scaleFactor<2>
 trackingSize<3> = winSize<3> * scaleFactor<3>
 trackingSize<4> = winSize<4> * scaleFactor<3>
 
 call set_Property( @window, "TRACKINGSIZE", trackingSize )

 

Scaling Interaction

In our next post we’ll take a look at the new SCALED event and discuss how to interact with the system during a scaling operation.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

OpenInsight and High-DPI – Part 2

In a previous post we looked at OpenInsight’s new features for running on High-DPI systems, and we described how forms can properly scale themselves to take advantage of better resolutions,  thereby avoiding unnecessary blurring as the window manager tries to compensate when faced with a non-DPI-aware application:

High-DPI comparison between v9 and v10

High-DPI comparison between v9 and v10

In the example above both forms are running on a desktop set to 144 DPI (150%). The top form is running under OpenInsight v9 and, as you can see, has been stretched by the system resulting in blurry outlines, icons and text.  In contrast, the bottom form is running under OpenInsight v10 and has been scaled correctly – the checkbox image and icon are sharp and the font has been scaled to the correct point size. (A word of caution – if your own system is set to use High-DPI don’t bother viewing this image on a Chrome-based browser unless you’ve set _it_ to use High-DPI as well – generally Chrome doesn’t handle automatic High DPI scaling like IE and FF, so the image above will still appear blurry, as will this text!).

However, with the release of Windows 8.1 Microsoft have made some significant changes in this area that has also led to changes in OpenInsight’s High-DPI handling as well.  Until Windows 8.1 the DPI setting for the system was constant across all monitors and fixed during the login process – selecting another DPI setting required logging out and back in again, or even a full reboot in the case of Windows XP.  Now, with the steady increase in monitor resolutions across different form factors, Microsoft have added the ability to set the DPI per monitor, which means that forms created on one monitor may look too small or too big when moved to another monitor with a different DPI.

In order to deal with this at runtime, top-level forms are now notified by a new Windows message called WM_DPICHANGED, which is sent when either of the following happens:

  1. The DPI of the monitor a form is displayed on changes, or
  2. The form is moved between monitors that have different DPI settings.

This message is used by OpenInsight to adjust the scale of a form dynamically as required, so if a form’s DPISCALING property is TRUE you will see this happen as you drag it across monitors with different DPIs.  All the rules described in the original post still apply of course:

  • Fonts are scaled
  • Coordinates are scaled
  • DPI-aware images are selected and/or scaled

(We’ve also added a new property called DPI to the WINDOW object, which returns the DPI of the monitor that the window is currently displayed on).

The fact that scaling has moved from a static to a dynamic operation has also led to the implementation of a new OpenInsight WINDOW property called SCALEFACTOR, which allows you to set the scale of a form to an arbitrary value at runtime, regardless of any DPI setting.  We’ll take a look at this property in the next post.

In the meantime, you can find more information on Windows 8.1 per-monitor DPI scaling here:

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

The WRITEATRECORD property

The OpenInsight ATRECORD property is an easy way of updating data in your forms in a similar fashion to the way the “@Record” variable worked in Advanced Revelation, but it does suffers from one potential drawback: Any fields in the data record set via ATRECORD that are not bound to a control on the form are not updated when the form contents are saved.

Of course there is a reason for this: OpenInsight forms only update individual fields in a record when saving data rather than the entire record, and it is this capability that allows it to implement the “Ignore Self Locks” feature that means you can use more than one form to simultaneously edit data in the same record.

Still, not every scenario calls for this level of finesse, so Openinsight 10 introduces a new WINDOW property called WRITEATRECORD.  When set to TRUE$ all data set via the ATRECORD property is written to disk, just like “@Record” in Advanced Revelation.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

Taskbar Integration – Progress Bars

One of the most useful features introduced with the Windows 7 taskbar was the ability to display progress information directly on your form’s taskbar button.  OpenInsight 10 exposes this functionality via two new WINDOW properties:

  • PROGRESSVALUE
  • PROGRESSSTATE

PROGRESSVALUE Property

This is a simple @fm-delimited array composed of two fields that contain the current progress value (i.e. the proportion complete) and the maximum progress value (i.e. the value when completed).

Example:

Progress Bar 50% complete

PROGRESSVALUE of 50,100

Note that this property is set-only.

PROGRESSSTATE Property

This property specifies the appearance of the progress bar. It can be one of the following values:

  • “0” – No progress Information
  • “1” – Normal (green)
  • “2” – Error (red)
  • “3” – Paused (yellow)
  • “4” – Indeterminate (this results in a marquee-style effect)

Example:

Progress Bar Error

PROGRESSSTATE of 2

Progress Bar Paused

PROGRESSSTATE of 3

Note that this property is set-only.

Further reading

More information on taskbar Progress Bars can be found here, along with some guidelines on their usage here.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).