When you want to ask for help in programming …

October 17, 2016

Filed under: How-to,Philosophy — Andrew @ 11:54 am

then use the following template:

  • Explain details that you see as much as possible. Environment, problem, etc.
  • Explain exactly what you want – what you think should be happening.
  • Explain what is actually happening.
  • Explain why you think it should be working differently.

By walking through all these steps you may find answer by yourself. In any case this will greatly increase a chance of getting adequate answer fast.

Sciter article on CodeProject

January 7, 2015

Filed under: How-to,Sciter — Andrew @ 10:30 am

Sciter clock

I’ve published Sciter technology introduction article on CodeProject with the brief description of samples included in SDK.

Context menus in Sciter

September 27, 2014

Filed under: How-to,HTML and CSS,Sciter — Andrew @ 1:57 pm

Context menu is a standard UI feature and in order to support them Sciter has following mechanisms on board:

  1. custom CSS property named context-menu. It defines location of DOM element ( usually it is one of <menu class=context> ) that will appear on context menu activation.
  2. Menu behaviors and their DOM events associated with menus.
  3. Context menu activation and initialization mechanism.

(more…)

[tiscript] ‘this’ and ‘this super’ function arguments

May 27, 2014

Filed under: How-to,Sciter,Script — Andrew @ 2:56 pm

Each function in JavaScript and TIScript gets implicit argument named this.

So when you call method of some object as foo.bar(1) then foo object is passed to the bar(param) function as a value of this argument. And the param will get value of 1.

All of us who are practicing JS, Python, Ruby, etc. know about that ‘this’ thing pretty well.

But what shall you do when you have inner function and want to access ‘this’ value of outer function? The only way in JavaScript for that is to declare other variable with distinct name and assign ‘this’ to it: var that = this;.

To cover such code patterns I’ve introduced in TIScript “super this” concept, so we have following implicit variables in any function:

  • this – standard this variable;
  • this super – standard this variable of outer function;
  • this super super – this variable of outer-outer function;
  • etc.

Here is an example that outputs “6” in standard output:

class Test {

  function this(data) { // constructor
    this.data = data;   // instance field 
  }

  function Outer(arg1) {
    // this - hidden argument, local variable 
    // arg1 - argument, local variable

    function Inner(arg2)  {
      // this - hidden argument, local variable 
      // arg2 - argument, local variable
      // arg1 - outer variable - outer argument
      // this super - outer variable - outer 'this' argument
      
      return 
        (this super).data   // 1 
        + arg1              // 2
        + arg2              // 3
    }
    return Inner;
  }
}

var test = new Test(1);

var innerFunc = test.Outer(2);

stdout.println( innerFunc(3) );

Usability of tree and paged lists

January 26, 2013

Filed under: How-to,Philosophy,Sciter,Usability,Web Application Techologies — Andrew @ 6:52 pm

I’ve found first answer in this topic on StackExchange extremely representative.

That reminded me discussion we had when were designing the first version of Evernote application.

Initially the Evernote has UI organized as “endless tape of notes”. Here is one of sketches that I did at that time:

Challenge there was to provide UI that allows the user to find notes quickly without need of excessive scrolling.

Each note may have so called tags (a.k.a. labels) assigned. By clicking on tag (left side bar) the tape will get filter applied – only notes with such tag are shown.

By expanding the tag (“+” sign) you can see intersection of notes that have this tags and some others. For example here click on hello->world (on the left) will give you set of notes with the condition has-tag:"hello" AND has-tag:"world" (see top bar):
Note tape with filter applied

And if you type “wonderful” in the search field you will get filter has-tag:"hello" AND has-tag:"world" AND has-text:"wonderful" applied.

This will give you single note:
tape with text filter

Pretty convenient I would say.

Sciter UI, application architecture

November 4, 2012

Filed under: C++,How-to,HTML and CSS,Sciter — Andrew @ 2:47 pm

Architecture of applications that use Sciter based UI can be visualized as this:

Typically such applications contain two distinct layers:

  • UI layer that uses Sciter window with loaded HTML/CSS and scripts (code behind UI);
  • Application logic layer, most of the time that is native code implementing logic of the application.

Ideally these two layers shall be split appart – isolated from each other as they use conceptually different code models and probably code styles.

UI layer uses event driven model: "on click here expand section there and send request to logic layer for some data".

Application logic layer (ALL) is more linear usually. It is is a collection of functions that accepts some parameters and return some data. Even if ALL uses threads code inside such threads is still linear.

UI and app-logic interaction principles:

Most of the time code execution in UI applications is initiated by the UI itself but sometimes application code may generate its own events. For the UI such events are not anyhow different from pure UI events like mouse/keyboard clicks and the like. Informational flow between UI and ALL conceptually fall into these three groups:

  1. "get-request" – synchronous calls from UI to logic layer to get some data:
  2. "post-request" – asynchronous calls with callback "when-ready" functions:
  3. "application events" – application detects some change and needs to notify UI to reflect it somehow:

To support all these scenarios application can use only two "entry points" :

  • UI-to-logic calls: event_handler::on_script_call(name,args,retval)
  • logic-to-UI calls:  sciter::host:call_function(name, args ) – calls scripting function from C/C++ code. The name here could be a path: "namespace.func".  

get-requests

To handle UI-to-logic calls the application defines sciter::event_handler and attaches its instance to the Sciter window (view). Its on_script_call method will be invoked each time when script executes code like this in scipt:

view.getSomeData(param1, param2);

that will end up in this C/C++ call:

event_handler::on_script_call(NULL,
         "getSomeData", 
         2 /*argc*/ , 
         argv[2], 
         SCITER_VALUE& retval /* return value */ );

Sciter SDK contains convenient macro wrapper/dispatcher for such on_script_call function:

  class window
    : public sciter::host<window>
    , public sciter::event_handler
  {
    HWND   _hwnd;
    ...
    
    json::value  debug(unsigned argc, const json::value* arg);      
    json::value  getSomeData(json::value param1, json::value param2);      

BEGIN_FUNCTION_MAP
  FUNCTION_V("debug", debug);  
  FUNCTION_2("getSomeData", getSomeData); 
END_FUNCTION_MAP
  }

Declaration FUNCTION_2("getSomeData", getSomeData); binds view.getSomeData() in script with native window::getSomeData call.  

Therefore functionality exposed to the UI layer by logic layer can be defined as a content of single BEGIN_FUNCTION_MAP/END_FUNCTION_MAP block.

If your application contains many modules that are connected dynamically then you can define single view.exec("path", params...) function that will do name/call dispatch using some other principles:

var newAccount = view.exec("accounts/new", initialBalance);
view.exec("accounts/delete", accountId);
view.exec("accounts/update", {customerName:"new name"} );

application events

Application can generate some events by itself. When some condition or state inside application changes it may want to notify the UI about it. To do that application code can simply call function in script namespace with needed parameters.

Let’s assume that script has following declaration:

namespace Accounts 
{
  function created( accountId, accountProps ) {
     $(#accountList).append(...);
  }
  function deleted( accountId, accountProps ) {
     $(#accountList li[accid={accountId}]).remove();
  }
}

Then the application code can fire such events by simply calling:

window* pw = ...
pw->call_function("Accounts.created", accId, accFields );
pw->call_function("Accounts.deleted", accId );

post-request

Need of post request arises when some of work need to be done inside worker threads. Some task either take too long to complete or data for them needs to be loaded from the Net or other remote sources. UI cannot be blocked for long time – it still shall be responsive. The same situation happens in Web applications when JavaScript needs to send AJAX request. In this case callback functions are used. Call to native code includes reference to script function that will be executed when the requested data is available.

Consider this UI script function that asks app-logic to create some account on a remote server:

function createAccount( accountProps ) 
  {
    function whenCreated( accountId ) // inner callback function
    { 
      $(#accountList).append(...);
    }
    view.exec("accounts/create", accountProps, whenCreated );
  }

It passes accountProps data and callback function reference to the "accounts/create" thread. This thread creates the account (presumably takes some time) and invokes whenCreated at the end.

class createAccount: worker_thread 
  {
    handle<window> ui;
    SCITER_VALUE props;
    SCITER_VALUE callback;

    void run()
    {  // the thread body
       // ... do some time consuming stuff ...

       SCITER_VALUE accountId = createAccount(props);

       // done, execute the callback in UI thread:
       ui->ui_exec([=]() {
         callback.call(accountId); 
       }); 
    }
}

Note about that ui_exec function above: the UI is single threaded by its nature – singly display device, single keyboard and mouse, etc. Worker threads shall not access the UI directly – the UI shall be updated from UI thread only. The ui_exec function does just that – executes block of code in UI thread. See C++0x: Running code in GUI thread from worker threads article about it.

Epilogue

Having just two "ports"  (out-bound UI-to-logic and in-bound logic-to-UI) is a good thing in principle. This allows to isolate effectively two different worlds – asynchronous UI and deterministic application logic world. Easily "debuggable" and manageable.

HTML, CSS and script (code behind UI) runs in most natural mode and application core is comfortable too – not tied with the UI and its event and threading model.


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