Xojo 2016 R4 (The Xojo IDE I Always Needed)

Xojo 2016 Release 4 hit the web today.  In many respects this is the IDE that I wish had been released three and a half years ago as a few of the more insidious features bugs have been fixed.  And, as usual, there is a plethora of new features, changes and bug fixes that make R4 a must-have release.  Let’s get to it!

First, the tabs in the IDE now work like most of us want them too.  Open an object, say a window, into a new tab.  By default this tab is locked and it will stay in that window.  The small back and forward arrows at the top of the navigator are not even visible.  To ‘use’ the tab for another object click on the lock symbol in the tab to unlock it.  It might take a click on the name of the Window at the top of the navigator but the arrows come back and you can navigate back to the project stack.  Or, as I tend to do just close the tab and open another object.

In a somewhat related fix, the Back and Forward arrows in the toolbar now work properly per tab.  As you navigate through an object, choosing the back button remembers where you’ve been in that object.  In previous releases the Back and Forward arrows seemed to be a exercise in random number theory as it seemed to go to locations in the IDE I had never visited.  There might have been a pattern to it but usually I just never bothered to use the buttons.

If nothing else, these two changes are a compelling reason to use R4.  The locked tab feature and the back/forward buttons never worked the way I wanted to use them.  It is sad that it took this long to get it right.

The Navigator filter received some updates too.  Now you can use type’s like ‘type:property’ will only find properties.  ‘Type:shared%’ will only find anything that’s shared.  It’s pretty powerful and I recommend playing with it a bit to get used to it.

There is now a contextual menu item for Pictures to convert them to an Image Set and put the selected picture in the first image slot.  This eliminates multiple steps with the mouse and is a very useful addition.

For Windows users there has been some changes.  UseGDIPlus has been deprecated and is replaced with Direct2D drawing.  Make sure to test any of your Windows apps that use a lot of drawing in a graphics object as things might have changed a little with the switch to Direct2D.

New Picture only creates 32 bit depth pictures and this now matches what the other target platforms do by default.  This also means that NewPicture method is deprecated.  HiDPI builds for Windows are no longer beta.

Xojo cloud received a major update.  Uploads to Xojo Cloud are now much faster.  Libraries are now cached by the server so only code and image resources are uploaded.  For example, in R3 one of our largest web projects took over three minutes to upload.  The first time I used R4 it took a little over two minutes (it was caching new libraries) but every time I uploaded the project thereafter it took a mere 44 seconds to upload.  That’s a significant time savings!

The WebListbox now has a CellPicture method that allows you to assign a WebPicture to it.  The WebSession shutdown mechanism has been refactored to help keep sessions from getting stuck and not quitting.  Exceptions in Websession.close no longer keep subsequent sessions from closing.

Due to changes, especially on the Windows side, you might want to check on updated versions of your plugins.  MonkeyBread software recommends version 16.5, or newer with R4.  16.5 is currently in preview and they expect to release it next week.  Einhugur has a couple of updated plugins for Release 4 as well.

As with any major Xojo release, you should test your projects thoroughly before releasing anything into the wild.  The beta program catches a lot of bugs but it’s not a perfect program.  One such bug that got through is an Application crash when using the Super button in the Inspector.  Until a fix is released type the class super by hand rather than using the dialog.

R4 is a small, but significant release.  It moves Windows forward using Direct2D drawing, and Xojo Cloud is significantly faster for deployment, but perhaps the changes to the IDE are the most important.  The Navigator is not nearly as horrible as it was in previous releases and, in my opinion, makes it as useful, now, as the Real Studio IDE.  If you are still using Real Studio I recommend checking out R4 as I think it takes most of the pain out of using Xojo.

What’s new, changed, or fixed, that makes you happy?

Iconographer Review

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If you’ve spent any amount of time making cross-platform applications in Xojo you probably hate icons as much as I do.  I’m no graphic artist and because of this I’ve paid good money for several icon sets.  These icon set are fine but they’re pretty basic/generic and don’t tend to look right in macOS, Windows 8 and above, or even iOS.  And that’s just for application icons.  Making icons for documents, disks, folders, and the like, are just as big a pain to make.  Each platform has several different styles and getting it right is awful.

Ohanaware introduced Iconographer last week.  This is the tool I’ve been waiting for!  Iconographer lets you easily make icons that are consistent for their target platforms all while keeping the overall identity intact.  Not having to use a high-end graphic tool, like PhotoShop is worth it to a developer geek like me.

Using it is easy.  Simply drag your starting image into the editor window and start manipulating it.  At the top left of the window there is an expanding toolbar, for lack of a better word, that lets you pick the Icon Type:  Application, Folder, Disk, Document, and Web Icon.  Below that you have options for the target.  Depending upon the Icon Type you have the option to pick the Target.  For Application you have macOS, Windows, and iOS but for the Folder Target you only have macOS and Windows.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-7-09-32-pmTo the right of the drawing canvas you can pick the style of the icon.  For macOS you have Blank, Circular, Rounded Rectangle, Tilted, Rounded Square, and Plugin.  For Windows you have Blank, Windows Tile, and Use Different Application Icon.  Similar styles are there for iOS.

Below the Styles is the Layers list that lists the layers in the selected Style.  I will be honest, I had issues figuring out how to manipulate the layers.  You can add layers using the ‘+ Layer’ button where you can add Shapes, Images, and Text.

Adding Text also was problematic for me.  Once I added a Text object I couldn’t always select it until I had rotated it and then reset it to zero.  Then, if I had two text objects I never was able to edit and change the text of the first one.  I chalk this up to possibly not understanding what the shared label is.  At times I also had a weird purple selection rectangle that I was never able to get rid of.
At the bottom of the drawing canvas is, perhaps, one of the more useful features of Iconographer.  The Eye lets you select from a number of environments to preview your icon in an About Window, the macOS dock, and even the Mac App Store, to name a few.  This is a great way to preview your app in an actual environment and lets you make decisions while in the application instead of having to leave and use a graphics application.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-7-09-49-pmOnce you’re done you can build your icons.  It takes the currently selected Icon Type and all of the selected Targets and outputs them into the directory of your choice.  For macOS it will create an icns file and for Windows an ico file.  It really is that easy.  It would be nice to have the ability to export SVG format too.  If you’re creating a suite of icons, say for application, document, and disk, you have to do it in several steps but that I suspect that most developers won’t have an issue with that.

Iconographer is a must have for any cross-platform developer.  It’s ability to make consistent application and document icons for macOS, Windows, web, and iOS easily and quickly make this an invaluable tool.

Iconographer works on macOS X 10.10 and better.  It normally costs $19.99 but Ohanaware has an introductory price of $9.99.  More information can be found at http://ohanaware.com/iconographer/.

Xojo 2016 Release 3

Xojo 2016 R3 was released today.  This release is a much smaller release than either R1 and R2 and despite not having any major new features has some nifty new small features and changes that will probably make your life easier.

You can now create a new event definition by right-clicking on an existing event and choosing “Create New Definition From Event”.  If you have ever subclassed a control you know what a pain this can be.  You need the Open event for your subclass, but you need to create a mirror Open event so the user could do something.  Before this release you had to create the definition manually and then hope the parameters (if there were any) matched.

Making ImageSets from existing pictures is easier.  Right-click on the picture and choose “Convert to Image” where it will create an ImageSet and put this image at the base image.  The only caveat to this feature is that you must have the Supports Hi-DPI setting in Shared Build Settings checked.  This seems like a needless restriction in my opinion.

You can now right-click an item in the Library and be able to create a new subclass from that menu item.  You no longer have to add a class and then change its super to the class you want.

Extract Super is a new right-click option on a class that lets you extract code items.  If you have a subclass , like the Listbox, you can now extract the super and tell the IDE which methods, properties, constants, delegates, enumerations, etc it should have.  To do this before would have been an extremely tedious and time consuming task.

Right-clicking on the Contents headers in the Navigator lets you insert things into your project.  In a similar fashion, right-clicking on a header of an object lets you add another of the same type.  If you right-click on Methods the only thing active in the contextual menu is the Add method.

The contextual menu in the Code Editor has two new additions.  You can now “Wrap in #if false #endif” and “Wrap In For Next”.  Both of these will options will wrap currently selected code in that code.  Another interesting adoption, “Convert to Constant” will take the currently selected code and bring up a Constant dialog allowing you to change the Name, Scope, Type, and Value of the constant before saving it and replacing the code with the new constant.

The icon for the Xojo Project file now has a solid color that helps distinguish it from the other Xojo text files.

The Library now has two “All” entries.  One is “All Controls” which shows every control including custom subclasses in the project.  The second is the “All Built-In Controls” which is just the native controls for the project type.  There is a new attribute you can add to a control, “HideFromLibrary” that you can add to a control subclass that keeps it from listing in the library.

If you like to have non-standard code editor colors you can now import and export color themes in preferences.  Also in preferences you can set how many “Recent Items” there are in the menu of the same name in the File menu.

As with every Xojo release, R3 has a not insignificant number of pure bug fixes.  I encourage you to look at the entire list and decide for yourself if anything important to you has been fixed.

An important bug concerning MySQL was fixed.  In the R2.x series using a MySQL connection in a thread would just ‘hang’ and never come back.

In my own testing R3 has been solid.  I did run into an issue with a web project that I opened in R3, saved it, and then tried to reopened it in R2.  I got the infamous “You might lose data” message that’s always scary.  In R2 I did an analyze project and saved it with on further issue.  So remember kids, backwards compatibility is a blessing – not a guarantee.

I enjoyed this beta cycle.  It was much smaller and easier to test.  Without major new features it seemed a less rushed cycle.  Hopefully R4 will be as good.  Will we finally see 64 bit debugging?  Man, I hope so as a current Raspberry Pi project really could use it.

Anything in R3 that you’re particularly happy to see?

Edit:  As Tiago points out in the comments section I forgot to mention the compiler optimization settings!  This dropdown in Shared Build Settings area will choose an optimization level (Default, Moderate, and Aggressive) for Raspberry Pi and any other project built for 64-bit.  Early reports suggest that it does a good job on math intensive projects as well as projects that are using a lot of loops.

It missed my initial list because we’re not building for 64-bit yet – waiting on that debugger.  I apologize for the omission.

Xojo 2016 Release 2.1

Release 2.1 of Xojo 2016 was released yesterday.  This version fixes a few bugs discovered in Release 2 and fixes couple of serious regressions regarding threads.  Sadly, it also introduces a couple of new bugs that might affect your project.

A number of bugs were squashed in iOSTable and for web apps.  If you use either I recommend checking the release notes.

I am unsure of exactly what changed in Release 2 but Threads had issues.  Release 2.1 fixes quite a few (most?) of them.  Resuming a suspended thread now works properly on sleeping or suspended threads.  Blocked threads waiting for locks will stay waiting.  Some applications were hanging when the last non-main thread exited and the main thread had recently been unblocked.

If you are MySQL user the thread issue may have affected you as well.  Certain queries that create detached threads would cause assertions.

The DMG’s distributed by Xojo are now code signed so they will open in Sierra.

A product as big as Xojo will inevitably have bugs not found during the beta process.  I usually joke it takes about thirty seconds after release for the first bug to be found and Release 2.1 is no exception.  These Windows bugs, however, are no joking matter.

If you use RTFData in a Windows application you may experience problems.  As you reload the rtf data back into the control the text sizes get smaller.  Feedback 44852.  This may be related to Feedback 44878 where using SelTextSize and TextSize results in the wrong size being reported.  So if you have 10 point text it will report back as 9.5.

I think it’s always a good idea to peruse the Newest and Recent Activity lists to see what other developers are seeing.  There are a few other minors regressions being reported as well as a couple of Windows only regressions.

Should you upgrade to R2.1?  If you are already using R2 you most definitely should as R2.1 fixes some serious issues..  If you are on an earlier version it’s a bit more murky.  The answer is a definite maybe but only after some doing real testing – especially if you are using threads or MySQL.

What say you Xojo friends?  What do you think of R2 and R2.1?

Xojo 2016 Release 2

Last week Xojo 2016 Release 2 was unleashed to the masses.  There are a lot of changes and tweaks in this version and if you are creating web or iOS applications there is a lot of like about this release.  There are also a myriad of changes and enhancements that should satisfy most developers.

iOS Stuff

The biggest changes in R2 is for iOS and these are things that developers have been requesting since its initial release.  Support for iOS 7 has been dropped because its market share is less than 20% and the minimum required version is now iOS 8.  This also means that Xcode 7 or Xcode 8 needs to be installed.

The Xojo engineers added iOSScrollableArea which allows you to view and display content that is larger than the view.  This is a very welcome addition and is worth the upgrade for this feature alone.

R2 also adds the iOSLocation class that allows your application to request location coordinates as well as get updates from the device.  Once your application gets permission to access the device location you receive changes via the LocationChanged event that gives you latitude, longitude, altitude, course and speed parameters.  An Accuracy property lets you change the desired accuracy.  In addition to iOSLocation Xojo has added the iOSMotion class that allows developers to access the accelerometer and gyroscope.

iOSTable was arguably the most useful and least powerful control in iOS for Xojo and this release definitely gives it some love.  You can now embed controls in the cells of iOSTable by using the iOSCustomTableCell class.  This allows you to create some very rich and powerful UI that lives in the cell of an iOSTable.  I guess the best equivalent in desktop and web terms is that the iOSCustomTableCell is a specialized ContainerControl you can put into an iOSTable cell.  I’m looking forward to using this.

They’ve also added support for Row Actions in the iOSTable.  The new ActionsForRow event passes in the section and row and you have to supply the iOSTableRowAction array.  The iOSTableRowAction has a title, an Auto tag and a Style.  The style can be either Normal or Destructive with Destructive changing the background of the Action to red (does this ever vary? – not sure).

The new iOSSharingPanel allows you to share pictures, text and URL’s with any registered system service or app.  That’s a fancy way of saying you can share this data between applications.  It’s the iOS version of the clipboard available to desktop applications.

The iOSPicturePicker class allows you to select images on the device or take pictures with the camera.

To avoid confusion for users, the old SQLiteDatabase class for iOS has been renamed iOSSQLiteDatabase.  The corresponding recordset class is now named iOSSQLiteRecordSet.

Non-IOS stuff

The Web framework is now HiDPI capable.  It works similarly as desktop apps in that it queries the browser for the scaling factor.  Then, the application serves up the proper image if it can.  You can change how this works by changing the Supports HiDPI in the Shared Build Settings.

In Windows there are a number of significant HiDPI changes that make it work better in Windows 8.1 and 10.  Perhaps the biggest Windows change is that Xojo.Net.HTTPSocket is no longer much slower than HTTPSecureSocket.  I have not had a chance to look at this one in detail yet so if you’ve had success or failure with it, please leave a comment below.

Always check the release notes that are in every release.  I’m just hitting the highlights out of hundreds of line items and you never know what might be there that affects your application.

As with any new release it’s better to test your project against it before releasing it into the wild.  In my own testing I had some instability with converting an old web project (started around the very first public beta of Web Edition) to use HiDPI graphics.  This involved adding an ImageSet and adding the 1x and 2x graphics, deleting the old graphic, and then fixing it in all locations in the project.  I was able to crash the IDE but all of the crashes were different and, of course, none of it was reproducible.

The Future

The 800 pound gorilla in the room is a 64 bit IDE and 64 bit debugging.  Things like XojoScript are holding back the IDE from being 64 bit.  I would also imagine that not having an integrated debugger available in 64 bit is holding back that as well.  I know we are avoiding releasing some 64 bit projects because of these limitations. We’ve also been playing around with the Raspberry Pi and it’s definitely not very useful without the debugger.

We need the 64 bit debugger.  Let’s hope that R3 provides us with some relief in that area!

How has your experience been with R2 so far?

Xojo 2016 Release 1.1

Xojo 2016 Release 1.1 hit the web today and this version should be the one you’re using from now on.  This dot release fixes a number of critical and important things.

First off, web app compile times just got much better.  Building a 64 bit Linux web application went from five minutes in 2016 R1 to just three minutes in 2016 R1.1 (both versions had to recompile the plugins so take two minutes off that for an average time). This is a marvelous and unexpected surprise in R1.1.

The Web Page Layout editor that was a dog in R1 is much improved.  A complex web page with multiple containers and controls is now nearly flawless when dragging controls around on the page.  This one feature alone is the worth upgrading to R1.1.

The MySQL plugin no longer crashes when a closing the database connection.

BMP’s with a mask dragged into a Linux project long longer throws an out of bounds exception when the app is launched.  Xojo.Net.HTTPSocket was also updated.

In Windows, the SaveAsDialog no longer returns the wrong name if anything in the file path has a period in it.  Xojo.Crypto.RSAGeneratePair no longer crashes.  The new Language Reference no longer has high CPU usage and the Windows IDE no longer crashes when a remote debug app quits.

Besides the web page editor, the IDE also received a few fixes.  Perhaps most important is that searching the project no longer results in a crash for some developers.

Read about all of the R1.1 changes in the release notes.

All-in-all R1.1 is a welcome version and I recommend that you update to it immediately.  What do you think?

Xojo 2016 Release 1

Xojo 2016 Release 1 was released today.  This much anticipated version is all about Retina and HiDPI display support.  In addition to that, there are, as always, the usual mix of new features and bug fixes.  Let’s get to it!

The IDE is Retina Aware

The IDE itself is now Retina capable and all of the icons and images used in the IDE have been replaced with high resolution images.  On my 27 inch 5k iMac it’s quite a noticeable difference to my aging eyes: everything is very sharp.  As with many apps once you start using the high resolution version it’s hard to go back to a lower resolution.

Before you jump into this version you might want to do some testing.  On relatively new iMac the Web Layout Editor is very slow.  So slow as to be almost unusable.  This only happens on existing projects since new projects seem to work just fine.  Perhaps it’s a combination of project size and/or web page complexity or number of Web Containers.  I really don’t know but I’ve submitted a Feedback report showing the symptom and an application sample from Activity Monitor.

Your Apps Can Be Retina Aware

In the last Xojo version we were introduced to ImageSets and that feature is now more useful in 2016 Release 1.  The ImageSet allows you to add a normal sized image (1x), a 2x image, and also a 3x image.  Mac OS X only uses the 1x and 2x images but some Windows 10 resolutions will use the 3x image.

HiDPI support for Windows is officially beta and I believe that’s mostly because the various versions of Windows that Xojo supports all do HiDPI slightly different.   Currently Xojo does not support Window 10’s per-display scale factor and will use the scale factor of the screen it was launched on.  TextArea’s only display in large size, the HTMLViewer and MediaPlayer is not scaled, BevelButtons don’t display, and Image Set Icons do not appear correctly in toolbars.  Obviously this is less than ideal for Windows applications and you probably don’t want to release a Windows app with this set.

With Retina/HiDPI support is a new Application shared property called SupportHiDPI.  When set to true, Xojo will build your application with Retina and HiDPI awareness.  When set to false it will build apps that worked the same was as previous builds.  Sadly, this property cannot be changed at runtime because it would make enabling it for Mac OS X a no brainer but leaving Windows as is.

As you can imagine, Retina/HiDPI changes a number of important things.  The Picture class has a new constructor that can take one or more bitmaps in addition to its size.  All bitmaps must have the same aspect ratio or an invalid argument exception is generated.  One question that I’ve not explored for myself is how exact this ratio must match.  What is the precision on this check?

The graphics object now has a ScaleX and ScaleY property.  For pictures the scaleX/Y are always set to 1, but a graphics object passed in from the paint event might have a ScaleX/Y set to 2 on a Retina display.  Graphics.Pixel is now deprecated (NOT REMOVED).

Windows have a couple of changes too.  There is a new event ScaleFactorChanged on Mac OS X that is an indicator that all graphics for that Window should be invalidated.  A read only ScaleFactor tells you what the scale factor is for this window.  The Canvas object has a similar ScaleFactorChanged event on Mac OS X as well.

Local Language Reference

Retina is not the only new thing in R1.  The Local Language Reference has been revamped again and if you are a Dash user you’ll notice that it shares much of the same look and feel.  Searching for an item in the Language Reference, in my opinion, is considerably easier in this new version and I find I like it better than the online version.  Besides being able to search for any event, property, class, enum, etc the local language reference allows you to go back through your search history rather quickly.

Web Framework Changes

The web framework received a number of important changes.  Perhaps the biggest and most important to web users are that WebStyles have changes their implementation.  The change notes say “User defined WebStyles now have more specificity than framework applied styles.” which I have been lead to believe means that WebStyles now work properly in all cases as there were fringe cases where styles were either ignored or improperly applied.  During the beta cycle Xojo asked us to test web apps to make sure nothing broke.  In my testing I didn’t see any issues.

The connection type of a web app can now be set with a command line option.  The WebListBox received some love too.

Miscellaneous Fixes

  • Build times have been improved.
  • Xojo.net.httpsocket now works in Mac OS X console and web applications.
  • A memory leak in NSWindow was fixed in the Cocoa framework.
  • The FileTypes editor has received a number of bug fixes and changes.
  • 40 changes to the documentation and examples.

Conclusions

With all of this work on Retina/HiDPI applications for Release 1 I am disappointed at the lack of project examples for HiDPI and Retina.  Sure, the SupportHiDPI is an easy thing to do, but for many of our applications that create images on the fly we are only left with some fairly vague instructions.  A Xojo Blog posted today http://blog.xojo.com/a-journey-of-a-thousand-pixels might be your best bet in understanding some of these changes in more detail but even I scratched my head with some of the implementation details.  Actual example code that show the practical implications of Retina/HiDPI and creating images would have been very welcome.

I’m relatively happy with 2016 Release 1 though not without some reservations.  Since the number of Windows controls in HiDPI that don’t scale properly is fairly large it’s not ideal that you can’t turn off HiDPI for Windows but keep Retina on for Mac OS X.  Sure, you can always do two builds but it’s not an automated option.  Performance issues with the Web Page Editor is also troubling and perhaps this means there’s a dot release in our near future.

There are quite a few things on the horizon that Xojo needs to tackle.  Full debugging in 64 bit and a 64 bit IDE is perhaps the biggest one and the HiDPI stuff is surely a distraction from that important requirement.  This beta cycle was really long and it makes you wonder how much their schedule has shifted just to get HiDPI (mostly) working with some obvious work still to do.

What are your thoughts on Release 1?

Xojo 2015 R4

Xojo 2015 Release 4 hit the internet today.  The fourth release of Xojo this year is full of bug fixes and only has a few new items.  I’d recommend using this release as the bug fixes are substantial.

Let’s get what’s NOT in this release out of the way.  This release was initially supposed to be about getting Retina and HiDPI capabilities in the IDE and in our applications.  It was determined that there just wasn’t enough time before the end of the year to get it done.  It’s disappointing to not get these new capabilities but I’d rather they be done right than Xojo giving us a half-assed feature that no one is really happy with.

This release also does not complete the 64-bit work started in 2015 Release 3.  We still cannot use the Remote Debugger to live debug 64-bit applications and there are still major gaps in the capabilities between 32-bit and 64-bit applications.  A full list is here:  http://developer.xojo.com/64-bit-guidelines

Changes and Fixes

What this release does is fix over one hundred compiler, framework, database, and IDE bugs.  There a number of 64-bit bugs that have been squashed that were causing linking errors or outright crashes when compiling 64-bit applications.

For the framework there are a couple of high profile fixes that are welcome.  XML Exceptions no longer ‘skip’ exception handlers.  I know this has been troublesome for many developers.  An issue with the new Xojo.IO.Folderitem class has been fixed on Cocoa that would cause crashing when a FolderItem object was put in a tag, for example.

The Web framework received

some bug fixes as well.  Some of the more notable:  WebSessions no longer quit when moving from network to network.  WebPicture’s no longer return nil when defined from a FolderItem and the WebPicture no longer uses twice the memory when the image is in the project file.  The web framework now recognizes the Epiphany web browser on Raspberry Pi.

The WebDragItem now has the Origin X and Y values that indicate the X and Y coordinates of the Sender web control where the drag began.  I haven’t tried this out yet, but this should make some things (like a web based designer) a little easier to create.

The MSSQLServer Prepared Statement no longer returns a nil and should allow developers to use this safer method of using Xojo with Microsoft SQL Server database servers.  The ODBC Database plugin also got an update so it no longer crashes when retrieving large SQL columns.

The IDE has dozens of bug fixes.  Most of them pretty minor but they add up.  Among the more notable fixes:  AutoComplete has had extensive work so that control arrays and structures should work.   Private methods and properties now show in AutoComplete as expected (now, only when in scope).

The Syntax Help Area (at the bottom of the Code Editor) is now scrollable  when the content does not fit the preexisting area.    This area will also show the description, if there is one, in addition to the signature.

The Interface dialog now resizes itself to 75% of the window height.  If you make it larger it will reopen at that size (or the limits of the window).

Filtering in the Navigator now shows results ordered on how closely they match the string based on the Levenshtein distance of the match.  So if you don’t quite get the name right you might still get results instead of requiring an exact match.

New Stuff

Despite this being a mostly bug fix release there are a couple of new goodies that might make your day.  The first is that MySQLCommunityServer now has a SecureAuth property which allows users to authenticate using old password hashes.

The Graphics class for desktop apps has a new property, called CharacterSpacing, that allows you to change the percentage spacing between characters.  You can use both positive and negative values.

Web Text controls now have a TextAlign property.  This should simplify web projects as you no longer do have to duplicate a WebStyle and change the alignment simply to change the text alignment for a single control.  You can still do that but this is a new way to eliminate that extra work.

In some preparation for Retina, Image Sets are now available.  Use the Insert Menu and select Image.  In the Image Set editor that are now 3 thumbnails for the set for normal size, double size, and triple size.  But since this release doesn’t include Retina support this feature is of limited usefulness – for now.

What might be the biggest news of the release is the addition of the CGFloat data type.  This temporary datatype aliases to a Single in 32-bit builds and a Double in 64-bit builds.  This should make fixing some the common libraries (think MacOSLib) easier since we can make one variable that will work for both build types.  Xojo has said that once 64-bit iOS and OS X builds are ONLY 64-bit the CGFloat data type will be deprecated.

Future Releases

I’m a big fan of these mostly bug fix releases.  In a product that changes so much and so quickly (at times), these bug fixes releases allow us to take a deep breath and not worry too much about using this release.  We worry about the big releases because of the shear amount of changes involved and the amount of testing required with our applications.

So what do we have to look forward to in 2016?  Presumably, 2016 will see a full compliment of Retina and HiDPI support since Xojo publicly pulled it from this release.  I would also expect the 64-bit journey to continue with hopefully the IDE becoming 64-bit which means that XojoScript, Windows version and icon information work, and the grandaddy of them all, Remote Debugging work in 64-bit.

I hope we get a Remote Debugger for Raspberry Pi simply because that will make life easier on that platform too.  I’m not sure what else we really need for Raspberry Pi.  What have I forgotten?

I would expect the IDE to get some level of redesign.  Many people, including myself, are unhappy with the workflow in Xojo and think it’s slower to use than Real Studio.  I know of several large customers that have stuck with Real Studio rather than migrate their projects to Xojo simply because of the IDE workflow issues.  Personally I’m happy that Xojo plans to address some of those issues.

I expect the iOS framework to grow with new controls and capabilities.  I also expect the new Xojo framework to keep growing (TCP Socket perhaps being the biggest need) and getting more attention to eliminate some of the cross platform bugs in it (looking at you HTTPSocket).

Will 2016 be the year that the desktop or web frameworks gets rewritten for the Xojo framework?  Perhaps, but Xojo isn’t saying much.  With XDC now in October we won’t get much of a hint of future plans until then, or until we see it in a beta cycle.

I know that Android support is at the top of the wish list in Feedback.  I do NOT see it in 2016 simply because it’s yet another platform.  Unless they’ve already started the work on it (which is always possible and we haven’t noticed it) I expect it to take at least 18 months (more likely two years) for an Android beta release.  And even then, how long until it’s really usable?

So what is your take on this release?  Good, bad, or meh?  What are you most looking forward to in 2016 from Xojo?

Xojo 64-Bit Apps and Raspberry Pi

Xojo 2015 Release 3 is now publicly available.  This release is, by far, the biggest Xojo release in many years – if not ever.  All targets can now be built for 64-bit and also for Raspberry Pi (32-bit ARM).

Building your application for 64-bit in Xojo is as simple as going to the build settings for each platform (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux) and setting the Architecture to 64-bit.  On Linux builds in addition to the 64-bit option there’s also the ARM 32-bit option to build for Raspberry Pi.  It really is that simple.

All this is really good news because Xojo put a lot of time and effort to get the 64-bit compiler working.  They’ve obviously been working on 64-bit much longer than just this release period but to add twelve new targets (Mac OS X 64-bit desktop, console, web, Windows 64-bit desktop, console, web, and Linux 64-bit desktop, console, web, and Linux ARM desktop, web and console) is impressive, to say the least.

Raspberry Pi support is better than initially announced at XDC 2015.  Initially we were told that Xojo would only support console applications for the Raspberry Pi.  Instead, we have the ability to not only create console applications but also desktop and web applications for Linux ARM.

I’ve taken some random web and desktop projects and ran them on the Raspberry Pi with few to no issues.  The only thing I’ve not been able to get working is cgi web applications even though I installed Apache (I’m sure it’s simply a matter of getting the configuration correct).

One of the cool things about the Pi is that you can use GPIO and create all kinds of cool projects with switches, LED’s, and sensors of all types.  In the examples that come with R3, look in Platform-Specific/Linux/Raspberry Pi/ and you’ll see four projects that make use of the Wiring Pi library.

If you want to dive into Xojo and Raspberry Pi I highly recommend you take a look at the Xojo GPIO page on the Einhugur blog at https://einhugur.com/blog/index.php/xojo-gpio/.

If that wasn’t enough for one release, Xojo didn’t stop development on other parts of the IDE.  Web applications can now use drag and drop between objects on a WebPage.  They added a new AcceptingConnections property that allows you to start/stop a web app from accepting connections.  Standalone web apps now use TLSv1.2

There’s some new features in iOS too.  iOSLabel has new clipping modes that you can use instead of wrapping.  iOS now has container controls which should allow for some really complex user interface designs.  The iOS advanced tab in Build Settings now gives developers the ability to modify the Entitlements of built apps.

The desktop app FileTypes Editor is completely revamped and now allows developers to specify UTI’s for Windows and Linux too.  The new editor also lets you know if the icon set is complete.

A few important IDE bugs have been fixed.  If you delete an object that has open tabs those tabs are closed.  The grab handles on Layout Editor objects are now inline with the control frames than outset slightly.  These are annoying little things and I’m glad they’ve fixed.

Moving your own applications to 64-bit seems to take two routes.  One, it will just work and you’re on your way; or two you’ll have some work to do.  This seems to depend entirely on if you’re using plugins and libraries.  MonkeyBread Software and Einhugur have 64 bit versions of their plugins ready to go so check with them for 64-bit compatible versions.  MacOSLib may cause some issues and while I know the developers have been updating it I don’t see anything on their GitHub site saying they’re compatible yet.  Windows Functionality Suite users out of luck since it was made before structures were available in Xojo so if you’re using any of those classes you’ll have to find alternatives.

I would expect a few things about 64 bit to come to light now that it’s released to a bigger audience.  While I can’t confirm a dot release is coming I expect one to fix anything major to come up in the next week or so.

Everything is not yet perfect for 64-bit in the R3 release.  For one, the debugger doesn’t work in 64-bit applications yet.  Until that’s released you’ll need to debug the old fashioned way using console messages and log files doing full builds.  You cannot do remote debugging for ARM targets either.

A few other items are unavailable for R3.  XojoScript is unavailable for 64-bit or ARM targets.  You cannot build 64-bit Mac OS X apps from Windows or Linux.  Icons are not preserved in Windows 64-bit apps.  Tooltips class and tooltips on the ListBox do not work on Mac OS X 64-bit.

The Xojo IDE itself is not 64-bit.  I don’t think this is a huge deal yet but it’s also impressive that they were able to get 64 builds from a 32 bit application.

This release is massive and impressive with 64-bit builds and Linux ARM as well as over 300 changes and bug fixes should make everyone happy for a while.  Xojo should be congratulated for their hard work.

What did I miss?  What are you happy or disappointed with?

XDC Notes:  Compiler Notes AND Exception Line Numbers

So far I’ve written a couple of posts about information gleaned from the XDC keynote address last week.  One session that revealed some additional information was Joe Ranieri’s Compiler session.

Joe started off by talking about what’s happened to the compiler in the past year.  The list is pretty impressive since that includes iOS (32 bit AND 64 bit), 64 bit for Mac, Windows, and Linux, as well as adding the new framework, and adding better compiler error messages.

He spent some time explaining why the Using and Global keywords came about and how they are used.  It’s interesting that you can mix and match the two frameworks and how that might be desirable.

Iterators were next up in the presentation.  Iterators allow our classes to be used with For Each loops and Joe said that iterators are generally more efficient than alternate approaches.  Two interfaces are available Xojo.Core.Iterator and Xojo.Core.Iterable.  A good example of the new interfaces are in the Xojo.Core.Dictionary class.

The new Text datatype is the attempt to solve the String datatype deficiencies.  Strings could be text or a bucket of bytes which led to issues with encoding.  Text is always a valid textual representation and is a series of Unicode code points (a way to think of this is an array of characters that might be ASCII or a valid Unicode character- either way you, the developer, don’t need to care).  When converting to Text you always give it the Encoding you want so it’s never in question.  One nice feature of Text is that you can convert to and from a String with no penalty.

The New Auto datatype is the replacement for Variant.  Auto’s perform NO conversion of data which led to sometimes subtle issues with Variant as it would gladly convert from datatype to datatype regardless if it made sense or not.  Auto will only do conversions that the compiler would (such as doubles and integers) but raise exceptions when it comes across something it can’t do (like strings to integer and visa versa).  Auto preserves type information exactly so you can use Introspection to determine the type.

New for 2015 R3 is more 64 bit targets.  This includes GUI projects on Windows and Mac OS X, console and web projects on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.  Porting, for most of us, should be straightforward.  However, there are a number of problems we’ll face.  Among them are Declares, Integer size assumptions, and Plugins.

A new 64 bit aware plugin SDK is due out soon and Christian Schmitz from Monkeybread was showing off his plugins running in 64 bit apps with no issues (it’s my understanding it was NOT using the new SDK so I’m sure he’s got some work to).  The new SDK is entirely C based and the overloaded C++ functions are going away.  Most of the long deprecated functions are doing away too.

Declares will be a problem, though.  Of particular note is the Windows Functionality Suite.  It won’t work in 64 bit and you’ll have to find replacements for those things you use.  Mac OS Lib is in better shape but needs some updating too.

Structures need to be updated for 64 bit apps to.  The default structure alignment of 1 means it puts each field right after each other and this is wrong for 64 bit apps.  If you use the structure alignment of 0 it will align the structure ‘naturally’ which matches was C does.  I’ll be honest, this was interesting news but way above my pay grade in understanding.  Talk to Joe if you have questions on the implications of this change.

Also new in R3 is customizable array sorting.  Currently we can do this using SortWith but now we’ll be able to pass in a delegate.  Joe really seemed pleased about this addition but I think the implications won’t be immediately noticed by the community.  I for one don’t remember the last time I had to sort an array since we generally load arrays sorted in the order we want later.  You might find this useful.

Joe wrapped up his talk with some roadmap items.  For R3 the IDE debugger is still 32 bit.  Obviously it needs to be 64 bit and that will happen.  The better compiler error messages initiative will continue as well as Xojo-specific compiler optimizations.

Perhaps the biggest bombshell that came out of the roadmap portion was exception line number information!  This means that we should be able to get information on which line of code caused the exception.  I believe at this point several people clapped as determining which line of cause caused an exception can be difficult to determine.

I followed up with Joe after the session and while it’s not finalized, here are the plans.  The compiler will spit out two files on the build.  The first is the application and the second debug information.  When an exception is called there will be a binary blob that can be saved and sent to the developer.  There will be a tool included with the IDE that takes that blob and can show you the original line of code that caused the issue.  AND it will show you the stack like the debugger does now.  It will not have any variable or argument information.

Regardless, this is a feature that people have been requesting for years.  This should lead to better error reporting and hopefully better programs!

The compiler session was the only Xojo led session, that I attended, that had any sort of roadmap information presented (with the exception of the Keynote).  It was informative and was a wealth of information.  This session gets a five start review (except for the purple code against the black background – sorry Joe).

See anything that gives you hope?  Anything makes you want to mope?