TweetFollow Us on Twitter

ViewIt
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:7
Column Tag:Tools of the Trade

Faceware's ViewIt

Differs from other interface designers and toolbox extenders in its simple code writing.

By Philip Borenstein, MacTutor Regular Contributing Author

What is ViewIt?

The promotional literature that FaceWare puts out describes ViewIt as a window designer and manager. That description is accurate, but it makes ViewIt sound like yet another interface design kit. FaceWare also describes ViewIt as extensions to the Macintosh Dialog Manager and Control Manager. And that’s true, too. What these descriptions don’t convey is how different ViewIt is from other interface designers and toolbox extenders.

Like other interface-building tools, ViewIt lets you create windows and lay out controls in those windows. But instead of generating source code that you customize, ViewIt uses code resources that already know how to manage those windows and controls. This approach has some clear advantages and some drawbacks. Depending on the kinds of applications you write, the advantages may outweigh the drawbacks.

The main advantage is that the code that you write is remarkably simple. Most of what you do is set up a window, call the main event loop routine, and check for hits in your controls. In general, you don’t need to concern yourself with the Macintosh Toolbox. The main disadvantage is that most of the behavior is locked away in code resources, so your application may be carrying around extra baggage that you don’t really need.

What’s in the package?

ViewIt works with most popular Macintosh development environments. The commercial version comes with demo programs for THINK C, THINK Pascal (both of which can be used with MPW C and MPW Pascal), Absoft Fortran, Language Systems Fortran, and MacFortran. The THINK C and THINK Pascal programs come with ready-to-use projects. Two separate utilities let you use FaceWare modules with HyperCard and Prograph.

The ViewIt package consists of three parts: FaceIt, ViewIt, and UtilIt. ViewIt is the part of the system that lets you lay out controls in windows. FaceIt is the part of the system that deals with the main event loop, the menu bar, and other program-wide features. UtilIt consists of utility routines used by FaceIt, ViewIt, and by your own program.

You can use the ViewIt module without the FaceIt module to design modal dialog boxes. With FaceIt you get automatic support for modeless windows. The documentation does tell you how you can use ViewIt modeless windows in programs that have an existing event loop, but if you’re starting from scratch, you may not want to go through the trouble.

All the modules that make up ViewIt live in a resource file called FaceWare. You can place this file in your System folder, so all your ViewIt-based applications can share it, or you can copy resources from the FaceWare file into your application to create stand-alone applications.

ViewIt costs $95. FaceWare distributes a shareware version that includes nearly everything that comes in the commercial package. You can use the shareware version for 30 days. After that, you either get rid of it, or you buy the commercial package.

How does it work?

Instead of customizing source code, you make calls to a dispatching routine called FaceIt() which loads the appropriate modules for program-wide behavior like cutting, pasting, and printing and for control-specific behavior. In addition the standard Macintosh control manager, which uses CDEFs and CNTLs, ViewIt uses its own control drivers (stored in FCMD resources) and control descriptions (stored in FCTL resources). These FCMDs are the code resources that do all the work.

To create windows and lay out controls, you don’t use a separate application. You don’t even need to use ResEdit. Instead, you lay out the controls while your application is running. Once you’ve created a window, you press the Command-Shift-Option keys to enter ViewIt’s editing mode. In this mode, you can add or delete new controls and edit existing controls. To see how they’ll work, you just press the Enter key and you’re back in run mode again.

Since the edit mode is part of ViewIt (it’s stored in the FaceWare file), you can fine tune your user interface without using your development environment. Suppose you’re doing a demo for your users, and they say, “This button should be red. That menu should be over there.” All you have to do is go into edit mode, make the changes, and try them out. ViewIt comes with a smaller FaceWare file without the edit mode that you can use when your application is finished.

The FaceWare file with the on-line editing support takes up about 1 MB, and the file without the on-line editing support is about 440K.

This picture shows one of the dialogs used for editing a control. The Driver Help button brings up another window that contains the on-line help for buttons.

What kinds of interface elements does ViewIt handle?

In addition to the standard controls that the Macintosh Dialog Manager provides (buttons, check boxes, radio buttons, static text, and editable text) ViewIt also gives you pop-up menus, picture-based palettes, graphic buttons based on PICTs, ICONs, and SICNs, dials, and more esoteric controls like a help text viewer and a scrap viewer.

You can specify the color and framing style of any control. For text-based controls, you can set the font, size, style, and text color. You can have buttons draw their text in bold, outline Palatino, or you can have right-justified check boxes with the check box on the right side of the text. Most controls have several variations. Pop-up menus, for example, come in several varieties. Some menus behave like menus in the main menu bar. Some menus check only one item at a time while others have several items checked.

Every control belongs to a view, which is kind of a meta-control, and a window can have several views. Views can be longer than the window they belong to, and it’s easy to add both horizontal and vertical scroll bars to them. Views let you group controls, so you can move them around as a unit. Since you can show and hide views, you can use them for dialogs that have multiple pages.

ViewIt makes a distinction between a control’s appearance and its behavior. This distinction is useful for picture-based controls. For instance, you can have an icon behave like a button, so it highlights while the mouse button is pressed on it. Or you can have several icons behave like radio buttons where only one icon of a group is highlighted at a time. Of course, some combinations, like editable buttons, don’t work because the CDEF or FCMD doesn’t support a particular behavior, and other combinations, like check boxes that behave like radio buttons, will get you into trouble with the user interface police.

If you want to make a control behave a little (or a lot) differently, ViewIt gives you hooks that let you intercept virtually everything a control does.

In traditional dialog box programming, when you have a list of radio buttons, check boxes, or other controls, you need to set the controls’ values from one of your data structures. When the user dismisses the dialog, you need to get the value of each control and set your data structure accordingly. ViewIt has a nice feature called Data Linking that does this for you automatically. When you create a window, you pass ViewIt the address of a record. When you design your controls, you give the offset into the record where the value is stored. ViewIt takes care of doing all the numeric to string conversions-even for real numbers.

Of course, you don’t have to use Data Linking. You can have controls report when they’ve been hit. ViewIt uses a mechanism similar to menu events to tell you which control has been hit. ViewIt variables tell you which control, in which view, and in which window received the click. The ViewIt routines let you get the state of the control so you can tell what’s in an editable field, whether a check box is on or off, and so forth.

This picture shows a ViewIt window with two views in editing mode. The left view is a scrolling view that shows assorted controls. The right view is a Help Control that shows text.

Documentation

All of the ViewIt documentation is on-line, and it’s always available when you’re in edit mode. When you’re editing a specific control, you can click on a button to get its documentation. The documentation is right where you need it when you’re working, and it doesn’t clutter your desk. A printed manual, though, would have made learning ViewIt a bit easier.

With printed documentation you can flip through the pages to get a sense of what a piece of software is about, and even the manual’s physical size gives you a hint about the complexity of the software. With on-line manuals a list of topics in a menu may refer to half a kilobyte of text or two half a megabyte text. There’s no way to know.

The demo programs that come with ViewIt are complete in the sense that they show off virtually every feature, but a little hand-holding would have been nice. You can copy controls from the ViewIt demos and paste them into your own application, or you can try modifying them to see how different settings work.

Who is ViewIt for?

ViewIt is ideal for in-house programmers and consultants who need to write Macintosh applications quickly. Often, these programmers need to respond quickly to requests for new features, and ViewIt’s edit mode makes it easy for the programmer and the user to collaborate on the user interface. In-house programmers can take advantage of the fact that many ViewIt-based programs can share the same FaceWare file. This arrangement keeps the application size small.

ViewIt is also useful for programmers who have existing programs that they need to port to the Macintosh. ViewIt is much easier to learn to use than the Macintosh Toolbox. It’s certainly easier to learn ViewIt than it is to learn object-oriented programming, and for vanilla Macintosh programs, ViewIt handles most of the Macintosh housekeeping tasks.

Commercial (and shareware) software vendors may find that ViewIt’s overhead makes ViewIt-based applications larger than hand-rolled applications, particularly for small applications. It is possible to move only the resources your application uses from the FaceWare file. ViewIt comes with a utility program to do just that.

Summary

ViewIt is a surprisingly powerful interface-builder. Its approach to the problem is considerably different from the other tools on the market, so it may be difficult to get into it at first. For non-Macintosh programmers who need to put together a Macintosh application in a hurry, ViewIt takes care of most of the standard housekeeping chores. ViewIt doesn’t require you to learn object-oriented programming or a class library.

The only way you’ll be able to decide whether ViewIt will work for your application is to try it. You can use the shareware version of ViewIt for 30 days, and if you like it, you’re obligated to buy the full version. If not, you can wipe it off your disk, and program like you programmed before.

For more information

FaceWare

1310 N. Broadway, Urbana, IL 61801

217/328-5842 • AppleLink: D1323

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Day One 2.3 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is the easiest and best-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application for the Mac. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.16 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
Sketch 45 - Design app for UX/UI for iOS...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
NeoFinder 7.1 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.15 - Subscription-based p...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.2.5- - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32-bit and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.261 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Sketch 44.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.260 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Chromium 59.0.3071.115 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 59.0.3071.115: This update has no Flash plug... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Super Samurai Rampage (Games)
Super Samurai Rampage 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Super Samurai Rampage is a bloody, retro pixel style high score chaser. You play as a legendary Samurai warrior provoked... | Read more »
You can now travel to Skyrim in The Elde...
The Elder Scrolls: Legends' new expansion has opened up Skyrim's craggy mountains and snowy plains for exploration today. Heroes of Skyrim is out now, adding a bunch of new Skyrim content to Bethesda's recent CCG. [Read more] | Read more »
High-stakes solitaire game 'Missile...
Missile Command and Solitaire might seem like an odd couple, but indie developer Nathan Meunier has brought them together to create his first game, Missile Cards, which launched on the App Store today. [Read more] | Read more »
Eos 2 (Music)
Eos 2 2.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $5.99, Version: 2.0.2 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Supercell celebrates Hay Day's comm...
Before there was Clash Royale or Clash of Clans, there was Hay Day. Now, Supercell's first game is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and the developer is commemorating the event with this touching new video. Supercell picked one long-running Hay... | Read more »
Dive into epic summer adventure with Oce...
Summer may be the best time to enjoy ocean adventures, and now you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home, thanks to the folks at Joycity, creators of Oceans & Empires. The old-timey naval MMO is getting a sizable new June Grand... | Read more »
Missile Cards (Games)
Missile Cards 1.0.9 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.9 (iTunes) Description: "Missile Command meets Solitaire...only with more doomlasers, death, and explosions." | Read more »
Collect mini assassins in 'Assassin...
Assassin's Creed is traveling back in time to the Spanish Inquisition for its latest mobile entry, Assassin's Creed Rebellion. The game is giving the series a look that's a huge departure from its past design, recreating classic characters in a... | Read more »
Animal Crossing is still coming to mobil...
Animal Crossing is still coming to mobile in 2017, according to aWaypointinterview with Nintendo. Announced in 2016, the game was delayed without a defined release window. However, fans of Nintendo's fantasy slice of life game won't have to wait... | Read more »
Ravenscroft 275 Piano (Music)
Ravenscroft 275 Piano 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $35.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Experience the splendor of a Ravenscroft Grand with the most realistic sounding piano ever created for iOS. Launch... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Will iPad Running iOS 11 Be The ‘Ute’ Of The...
Steve Jobs’ analogy comparing iPads and PCs to cars and trucks respectively is seven years old but still stimulates discussion and debate. Appearing on an All Things D panel in 2010 shortly after the... Read more
Free CarePassport App gives Patients control...
Boston based CarePassport is on a mission to enable patients to take control of their medical records by allowing patients to aggregate, store, share and manage all their medical data including... Read more
Western Digital Launches New My Passport Ultr...
Western Digital Corporation has expanded its WD brand My Passport portable drive line with the redesigned My Passport Ultra drive. In addition to a new metallic look, the drive offers intuitive WD... Read more
Clearance 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for up to $210 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar... Read more
Apple Releases iOS 11 Public Beta; How To Get...
The official release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system iOS 11 is vaguely slated for the fall, but as of June 26, ordinary users can download an iOS 11 public beta. To download the iOS 11... Read more
Extend Life of MacBook Pro Retina 2.0TB With...
MacSales.com/Other World Computing has announced availability of the new OWC 2.0TB Aura Pro Solid State Drive for mid-2012 to early 2013 Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display. One of the fastest... Read more
BBEdit SummerFest 2017 Discount Ends Friday,...
You can get 20% off BBEdit for a limited time in Bare Bones Software’s http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/Specials/SummerFest.html?mc_cid=f2101ca260&mc_eid=[UNIQID]SummerFest 2017 sale and... Read more
Use Apple’s Education discount to save up to...
Purchase a new Mac using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: - 15″ 2... Read more
Clearance 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac available fo...
Amazon clearance 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMacs (MK482LL/A) available for $1799.90 including free shipping. Their price is $500 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any... Read more
13-inch 1.8GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
B&H Photo has the updated 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/256GB MacBook Air (MQD42LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1129 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $70 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Online Store WW Customer Insights -...
…with data mining tools: R, SAS, etc.Experience with common shell scripting tools: unix, python, apple script, Swift etc. Apple Online is one of the largest and Read more
Engineering Project Manager, *Apple* Online...
…the electronic commerce (eCommerce) systems and solutions that enable and support the Apple Online Store (AOS) - one of world's largest online retail businesses, Read more
*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
…organizational consensus on strategy and vision for publisher tools, authoring, and Apple News Format.Carries this strategy and vision across the organization to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject matter Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.