January 27th, 2009
GUI Design Studio version 3.1 has now been released and is available for immediate download. This is a minor update with some small but very useful changes. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work on some major new features and further tweaks.
For customers using any prior version of GUI Design Studio, simply install the new version and your existing licenses will continue to work.
If you’ve been using a trial version that has expired, this new version should reset your trial period. If it doesn’t then please let us know and we’ll sort something out for you.
So here’s what’s changed in version 3.1:
(1) Navigation Type Selector
After much demand, we’ve finally put a Navigation Type selector onto the toolbar.
When you connect elements together to define application workflow, GUI Design Studio normally sets the navigation type based on the elements being connected. It gets this right about 80% of the time (or maybe 20% depending on who you ask).
But when you’ve made lots of connections and none of them are of the type you wanted, it can be a little tedious to change them all, though the Format Painter feature introduced in version 3.0 helps a lot here.
So now, you’ll be able to set the type of connection you want to make using the selector. Where connections have to be of a certain type, the selector will be ignored. You can also set it to ‘Automatic’ to let GUI Design Studio decide what type of navigation to create. This basically reverts to the previous behaviour without the selector.
The next two new features should help to navigate around a large design.
(2) Fit Elements to View
The “Fit Elements to View” command does exactly that. The view is changed so that the selected elements are all displayed. If possible, it keeps the current zoom factor. Otherwise, it will zoom out to make sure they’re all made visible.
With no elements selected, the whole design is made to fit within the view.
If you have a numeric keypad on your keyboard, you can use the ‘/’ key as a shortcut. This makes a handy combination with the existing ‘*’ key to set 100% zoom, ‘-‘ to zoom out and ‘+’ to zoom in.
Of course, you can still use the Alt key with the left and right mouse buttons to pan and zoom the display. And, if you have one, the middle button will pan directly and the scroll-wheel can be set to zoom (according to preferences).
(3) Follow Connections
If you’ve ever found yourself zooming in and out or panning (scrolling) a large design to see where a connection takes you, or where it’s come from, then you’ll like this new feature.
Just select a connection and use the “Go To Connection Target” (Alt+T) or “Go To Connection Source” (Alt+R) commands to scroll them into view.
(4) Swap Element Positions
The last of the new features in the “Swap Element Positions” command. This started life as a very simple idea to just swap the positions of two selected elements.
However, once we’d implemented that, we realised that it really ought to do a bit more. Although it has other uses, the main reason for its existence is as an ‘element re-arranger’. So that is what it now does. After a fair few iterations, we think we’ve got it about right and it works like magic!
Because this ‘small’ feature could be of great importance, there’ll probably be another post soon to look at it in more detail.
(5) Split Toolbar
On the very minor size, we’ve made the toolbar split in two if the application window gets too narrow to fit the whole thing on one line.
While this may not be too exciting for you when you always run GUI Design Studio full screen (as you should), it’s extremely useful for us as we start to create size-restricted video tutorials (yes, we’re finally getting them done!).
From a design perspective, note that the toolbar doesn’t just wrap in the middle. Instead, it splits into two, more appropriately arranged bars. Also, there’s no faffing with having to re-position the bars yourself, as you might with other styles of split toolbars, especially when returning to full screen mode. It automatically pops back onto one line again whenever it can!
(6) Check Box States
Another (seemingly tiny) change is that Check Boxes now have a 3-State option rather than just assuming that all Check Boxes are 3-state (for design flexibilty). The default is unchecked unless the Check Box has already been set to an intermediate check state.
This change might only save you the effort of a click or two when changing Check Box properties, but it will become much more significant when interaction features are fully enabled. Watch this space!
We’ve fixed a couple of small bugs related to the application title bar when closing projects and keeping the Project panel open after creating a new project (ooh, that was an irritating one).
Of more importance, though, a few customers had discovered that dragging a component design onto itself could freeze the application, especially if the design was blank.
While this is not normally something you would want to do, it is quite easy to do by accident, especially if what you really wanted to drag was an image of the same name in the same folder.
If you’ve ever pointed a video camera at a television or screen that’s showing the live feed from the camera, you’ll understand the problem here! Although we had some protection against this, we’d managed to miss a test case. Oops. This has now been fixed but sorry if you got caught by this bug.