The Case of the Missing Outline (View)
March 28, 2007 Jon Paris
One of the most common mistakes made by beginning WDSC users in our on-site classes is to accidentally close the Outline View by clicking on the “X” in the top right hand corner. As those of you who already use WDSC know, Outline view is probably one of the single most valuable features in WDSC, and once you are used to using it, to lose it is a disaster!
So how do you get the window back again? There are two ways–the brute force approach and the more “refined” approach.
The brute force approach is to simply click on Window –> Reset Perspective. That resets everything back to the defaults for the perspective. Unfortunately any customization that you have made to the perspective will be lost and you will have to re-do it. This is perhaps a good point to mention that if you do like to customize your workbench, it is really a good idea to save it under a new name so that in the event that a reset is the only answer, at least your customization is not lost. To save your custom version click on Window –> Save Perspective As. . .
The more “refined” approach is to select Window –> Show View –> Other. . . From the resulting dialog click on the plus (+) sign beside the “Basic” entry–and then select Outline from the resulting list and click on OK. Voila! Your outline view is back. By the way, the reason that Outline is not grouped with the iSeries views is Outline is available for XML, HTML, and Java etc. as well as RPG and DDS.
You can use this method to build any customized perspective that you like – for example adding an iSeries debug view to your own personal editing perspective.
Since we’re on the subject of views, you can make the Outline view far more usable by turning it into a fast-view. To do this right click on the outline window bar and select Fast-View as shown.
That will “park” the view at the bottom of the perspective, which is probably not where you want it since every time it pops-up it will overlay the left-hand side of the edit window, covering most of your code. For most people, the best place to park it is on the right hand side of the perspective where it will only overlay the (mostly empty) right-hand side of your source window. To do this, right click on the fast-view Outline icon and from the pop-up menu select Dock on –> Right as shown below.
To use the Outline view, click its fast-view icon, and it will pop out. You don’t have to do anything except click somewhere in the edit window to make it pop back in again.
As you can see below, the Outline view for RPG programs, gives you a complete overview of your program.
It provides details all of the files, record formats and fields used in your program. Including the field definitions! Not only that but it details prototypes and parameters, subroutines and subprocedures. The blue dots in the list identify the lines where the item in question is referenced. Better yet, fields with an (M) against their reference identify the points in the logic where the field content is modified. But best of all is the fact that if you click on any item in the list, the editor window is instantly positioned to the relevant line of code. Eat your heart out, SEU!
Jon Paris is one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on programming on the System i platform. Paris cut his teeth on the System/38 way back when, and in 1987 he joined IBM’s Toronto software lab to work on the COBOL compilers for the System/38 and System/36. He also worked on the creation of the COBOL/400 compilers for the original AS/400s back in 1988, and was one of the key developers behind RPG IV and the CODE/400 development tool. In 1998, he left IBM to start his own education and training firm, a job he does to this day with his wife, Susan Gantner–also an expert in System i programming. Paris and Gantner, along with Paul Tuohy, are co-founders of System i Developer, which hosts the new RPG & DB2 Summit conference. He can be reached at email@example.com.