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User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

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  • User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

    Can the user defined dock panel be used in either of these ways?

    1. Open a user defined dock panel which placed on top of existing desktop form
    2. Open a user defined dock panel which is placed along side of a MDI form, where the MDI form is a desktop form whose fields and labels are dragged and dropped desktop objects and NOT XDialog code.

    Are either of these doable?

    Does anyone have any simple examples they can share with the forum.

    It is now several months after the release of version 10, and the V10 help has been added to the Alpha Software web page.

    Yet when I do a search for User defined Dock Panel, DockPanel, Dock Panel, nothing comes up which describes how to create these.

    I found I demo (does NOT equal documentation) in the what's new in V9 for XDialog.

    So this feature has been available for quite some time, but by my count is undocumented for at least two years. Why the delay?

    Someone on this forum earlier noted that examples need to be graduated: simple example, a more complex example, and a hairy example.

    I find the code behind the V9 What's new with XDialog falls into the hairy category.

    Bob McGaffic
    Last edited by rmcgaffic; 12-13-2009, 03:01 PM.

  • #2
    Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

    I found that what I was trying to do is very easy with Visual Studio 2010. But how does one do this simply (read NO XDialog)with Alpha Five?

    Note that in Visual Studio, you simply define designate one form as a MDI parent and that form is ready to act as a container for child forms. Sounds simple to me. Can Alpha Five match this ease of use?

    Take a closer look at Alpha's DockPanel Example2 in the What's new with Version 9. Alpha's example painstakenly specifies individual fields and labels and their positions all in code (which I definitely have no interest in wasting my time doing likewise) compared with Visual Studio's approach of creating a form as per usual and then voila changing one property to make it a child form.

    Anyone up to the challenge to demonstrate how either DockPanel example1 or example2 can be done using desktop forms? Or does no one bother to use DockPanels in their applications because they are so much work or so poorly documented?

    Bob McGaffic
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Creating an MDI Parent and Child Forms in Visual Studio
    The first step in creating an MDI form is to create the parent form. Begin by launching Visual Studio and creating a new Windows Application project named vbMDI. The new project will contain a single form. Change the name of this form in the Properties panel to MDIparent. Also in the Properties panel, change the IsMdiContainer property to True. You will notice that the form background changes to dark grey, the default for MDI containers. This form is now ready to act as the container for the child forms.

    Add two more forms to the project using the Visual Studio Add New Item toolbar button:

    Edit the properties of the two new forms so that the title texts are Child Form 1 and Child Form2 respectively. Also, use the properties panel to name the forms MDIchild1 and MDIchild2.


    • #3
      Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?


      This feature is too important to receive only an elementary overview.


      • #4
        Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

        Bob, from the release notes I think this is just for use with xdialog MDI windows and not standard forms.


        • #5
          Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?


          Maybe I can ask the question another way:

          Can a Dockpanel be created which contains an Alpha Five desktop form?
          Can this Dockpanel next be placed aside another Alpha Five form on the desktop?
          Can the customer form in the What's new in V9 Dock Panel demo be a regular desktop form rather than painstakingly created as a XDialog form?

          I am real confused -- considering:

          Dr. Peter Wayne's book on XBasic simply ignores Dock Panels;
          Ms. Susan Bush's book on A5V9 ditto.
          And of course the A5V10 on-line documentation has no mention of dock panels.

          In fact the only time their books mention "dock" is in reference to toolbar docking, 3 and 12 references respectively.

          OK, so I did an Alpha search on MDI instead. I noted that every time MDI was mentioned so the word XDialog. So I figured that the two must go together, which is what I think you are confirming.

          Why is this important?

          Because Alpha Five lacks a splitter control for destop forms. I have now investigated four commerical ACTIVEX splitter controls, all of which work with Microsoft Access or Visual Basic, and none of which work with Alpha Five. So if Alpha won't work with a splitter bar, the dock panel looked like a possible way to achieve the same design objective: two forms on a screen that change size dynamically -- as form A on the left is expanded to the right, form B on the right automatically shifts further to the right.

          This capability is the one of the hallmarks of commercial software: Windows Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, Quicken, etc. I am just trying to understand why Alpha Five makes it so difficult and why it doesn't bother to well document it.

          One more question if anyone has read this far:

          In the What's new in V9 database Dock Panel Example 2, Selwyn has two forms:
          One for search for a customer
          One for customer information as follows:

          Customer Id: | [.10customer_id];
          Firstname: | [.40firstname];
          Lastname: | .40Lastname];
          Company: | [.40Company]; etc.
          Instead of this laborious coding on Selwyn's part, would it be possible for him simply to display a conventional desktop form whose fields and labels where dragged from the desktop toolbox?

          Selwyn is obviously a prolific and careful coder. I am not. I just don't want to write code if I can at all avoid it. Wait a minute, isn't "codeless" Ajax a current Alpha theme? Isn't develop applications without coding a Alpha position statement? Then shouldn't there be a way of using a conventional desktop form with dock panels other than to rewrite the form in code like that highlighted above?

          Bob McGaffic
          Last edited by rmcgaffic; 12-15-2009, 08:29 AM.


          • #6
            Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?


            It is what it is and I guess if you want it to do more then maybe add it to the wish list, although I'm not convinced that means a lot. There isn't any feedback given from Alpha regarding the requests so its up to you whether you spend the time outlining what you would like. I tend to add to the wish list in hope rather than belief that anyone at Alpha seriously looks and considers the requests. Cynical I know but without feedback we are left in the dark as to Alphas intentions for future features. Personally I don't think they are that interested in the desktop side of things and if you look at Alphasports they have even decided to ditch using the tab control in the vendors form which speaks volumes. The tab and tree control have needed a makeover and some added functionality for a while but I don't think it will happen. I think they will go down the lines of the grid component and basically design for the web and try and force fit those solutions into the desktop. I'm not saying its a bad idea being able to use the grid component in a form just don't don't expect to much in the way of primary development for the desktop. Hopefully someone from Alpha will chime in and prove me wrong.

            I haven't used the dock panels but is there a possibility of embedding an xdialog on a form and using the dock panels with the embedded xdialog. Probably not suitable and may well be more work than just using an xdialog in the first place without the form.


            • #7
              Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?


              I'm kind of wish-listed out. I posted in v8 and v9 what I thought were a lot of low hanging fruit suggestions that could really enhance Alpha and in V10 nothing.

              So either my suggestions were nutty or Alpha is going to try to coast with its desktop product. Of "all" the new V10 desktop features, I found only one improvement of substance: the form header/footer capability.

              I am really thinking that desktop developers would be better served, if Alpha would spin off desktop development to another company so that they could be free to pursue their vision of web/cloud computing.

              My beef with XDialog is not the use of code per se -- nothing wrong with XBasic. It's the need to ocde the labels/fields and other controls and programmatically specify their positions.

              I'm sure XDialog has its place (for internal development at Alpha). But come on, it doesn't qualify as a RAD tool if it does not:

              1. Allow a visually designed form to be used as a part of that dialog
              2. Provide a utility for translating a visually designed form into XDialog code.

              To use XDialog is to revert back to the days of yesteryear. Anyone ever write an applicaiton with DOS FoxPro?

              What's the difference between Selwyn's What's new in V9 sample 2 video that I cited earlier

              Customer Id: | [.10customer_id];
              Firstname: | [.40firstname];
              Lastname: | .40Lastname];
              Company: | [.40Company]; etc.
              and this:

              @10,05 SAY "First name", @10,15 GET FIRSTNAME
              @11,05 SAY "Last name",  @11,15 GET LASTNAME
              @12,05 SAY "Company",    @12,15 GET COMPANY
              For Pete's sake, this how we designed forms in the days of dbase II!

              Bob McGaffic


              • #8
                Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

                I'm in full agreement and looking back at the wish in 2004 you can see that Peters comment was entirely justified.

                It sounds very promising... it's just that you have to live long enough to see it.
                Selwyns comments

                this will definitely happen.

                In V7 forms are being stored as XML.

                Either in V7 or V8, forms and xdialog will merge into the same thing, and xdialog will become nothing more than a very succinct syntax for defining a form.

                we do plan on having 'unbound' forms.
                these forms will be stored in the database's dictionary (like a script), and not in the table's dictionary.

                users will be able to place a 'data source' control on an unbound form. the data source control will tell the dragdrop list what field to show.

                forms will be able to have multiple 'data source' controls on them. these 'data sources' can either be linked (as in the case of a set), or unlinked. unliked would allow (for example) a form that showed two browses - one of customers and one of prospects.
                would have led you to believe that at the very least even if you were a little behind schedule and I can understand it not making it into V7 or V8 but surely V9 or V10 would have it. It would be nice if Selwyn would explain why it hasn't materialised after all this time, five years later.


                • #9
                  Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

                  I was able to create a docked custom toolbar that displays a tree populated from records in a table (on left). Now I would like to apply the Toolbox style to it which uses html for its categories and items something like the one on the right - but also populated from my table. Also where are these themes to be found that the XD Toolbox is using? It seems they ought to be editable.

                  So any ideas on how I might do this? It won't be a true dock panel, but I'm getting closer...

                  Oops - this is attached to the wrong thread - but is still a similar subject!
                  Last edited by MoGrace; 03-01-2011, 03:31 PM.

                  Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in those things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford


                  • #10
                    Re: User defined DockPanels -- where is the easy to follow documentation?

                    Five years and still no enhancement on this feature.

                    I found this in the 'new' online documentation:

                    The {HSIZER} command allows you to stretch a docked toolbar to the left or right.

                    That's it - no info on how to make THAT happen. I tried adding {stretch=width, height} to every element on my docked toolbar and though it shows the arrows nothing moves. (I sent a complaint to the doc wizards)

                    I was able to place a {vslider} that expands/ contracts 2 vertical lists on the toolbar, but getting the regions to work correctly is also a bear.

                    Has anyone got these things to work? So far the standalone dockable custom toolbar is about as close to a dock panel that WILL work with a form, as you can get.


                    - notice this thread has had OVER 1,000 views? Seems there is 'some' interest for this DESKTOP feature!
                    Last edited by MoGrace; 06-11-2016, 10:42 PM.

                    Discernment is not needed in things that differ, but in those things that appear to be the same. - Miles Sanford