I’ve made no secret that I
despise really dislike the Navigator in the Xojo IDE. It is often in the way and it paradoxically either shows not enough detail or way too much. Working in a large project is an exercise in frustration due to the Navigator. Thankfully, the most serious bugs have been worked out but there are still issues where the Navigator may or may not have the control focus when invoking a keyboard shortcut. This can sometimes produce ‘interesting’ results
During the XDC 2016 keynote last week Geoff Perlmann, CEO of Xojo announced that an IDE redesign happening. This scheduled change should appear towards the end of 2017. They acknowledged at XDC 2015 that the Xojo IDE needed some redesign but it is obvious that they’ve given it some serious thought with actual design documents that spell out exactly how it should work.
During the keynote Geoff showed us several screenshots of ‘Photoshopped’ versions of the new IDE with the caveat that everything could change between now and release. The biggest change is that this new IDE is a mixture of the best of Real Studio and Xojo.
Gone is the Navigator (as we know it) with all of its faults. In its place, Geoff said that we’ll start with a something akin to the Project Tab from Real Studio. In the screenshot it looks like it’s a list of the project with a Type (e.g. Window, Class1, Class2, etc), and another column to describe what it is. In Real Studio this was a combination of base class and whatever interfaces it might be using. To figure out the base class and interfaces of an object in the Xojo IDE you have to hover your mouse over the item. Every new tab will start with this project list.
Double clicking on an object zooms in on that object in the same tab. It loads whatever editor it needs. This should eliminate much of the focus stealing that happens with the Navigator and make individual editors more stable without constantly having to worry about the Navigator.
A side benefit (I think) of the Navigator being eliminated is that the Library of controls is now on the left side of the screen and will be visible, by default, in the Form Layout editor. This fixes a complaint many people have in the current implementation where the Library and Inspector can’t both be open at the same time without making them windows.
With two screen shots it’s hard to glean much information but with a toolbar item for Build Settings it’s a sure bet that their is a new (old again?) dialog for the build settings that is currently in the Navigator. This makes sense because after you’ve set up those things how often do you really change them? Again, one more thing eliminated from the Navigator that annoyed me.
It appears that Location is again in the toolbar. This should make it faster to change locations in the project instead of having to invoke a dialog. Since this IDE should work a little like Real Studio let’s hope that the Back/Forward buttons work properly.
We did not get a look at the Code Editor so it’s hard to say if that’s morphing back to what Real Studio was as well. I for one would like to see the method definition pane move back to the top of the screen rather than in the Inspector. In the “Meet the Engineers” panel the compiler engineer, Joe Ranieri, said that there would be changes likely in the debugger panel but didn’t mention anything specific since the 64 bit debugger is a work in progress.
From two screenshots it’s obvious that Xojo is listening to our complaints. It’s a shame, though, that it will take four years to address them. I can only wonder how many developers do a bulk of their work, still, in Real Studio because they are more efficient with it, and only compile in Xojo. The plus side, though, is they are doing it the right way with a design document and essentially writing the documentation, first, before implementing it. It’s a big and important job so it’s nice to see changes coming.
What about you? Are you excited about it or is this just one more thing to relearn?