DDS Design with RD Power
April 27, 2011 Susan Gantner
In an earlier tip, I provided a peek at the DDS Designer integrated with RSE in the Rational Developer for Power Systems (a.k.a., RD Power). In this tip, I’m going to go into a few features that may not be easy to spot at first glance. But some of these things are among my favorite features of the tool.
In the last tip, I talked about how to easily see and edit the DDS source using the Source tab under the Design view. If you just want to have a peek at the source for a particular item on a screen or report, you can also hover your mouse over the name of the record/field in the upper-left corner of the Design view. The source lines for that item pop up, which is a nice quick way to see what keywords and/or conditioning indicators are in use for an item. In Figure 1, you can see the source pop up because of the position of my cursor on the name of the PRODCODE field selected on the Design screen.
Adding items to the screen (or report) is done by clicking on the type of item in the Palette view and then clicking on the Design view where you want it to go. The new item will now appear in the Properties view or the Prompter view so that you can change or add any attributes to the item, such as naming the field, changing its type and length, or adding keywords. When you need to put static text on the screen, you need to use the Text Constant from the palette. That may seem obvious to most of you based on what I’ve just said, but people accustomed to the older CODE DDS Designer would probably think–as I did–that you could simply key the text directly on the Design View.
Database reference fields are not done from the palette. They use the Field Table view that we’ve had in RSE all along. In the Remote System view, right-click on a database file (object, not source) and choose Show in Table > Fields. This displays a list of fields and their descriptions into the Field Table view (positioned under the Design view). Select a field from this list and drag and drop it onto the Design view.
Once you have an item on a screen you can move it around by grabbing it with your mouse. As you might expect, you can select multiple items by holding the Ctrl key and you can move them around together. There are also some alignment tools available. For example, if you select three fields, you can right click, Align > Align Center (or left, right, top, bottom, etc.). Note that when you use the alignment tool, it aligns relative to the last item selected. If you want to center one item in a record format (such as a screen title), right-click on it and choose Align to Parent.
In my last Designer tip, I talked about switching between the Design view and the Source Editor view using the tabs below the source or Design view. There is a third tab there, which is Preview. This can be used to test the screens to see what they look like with a given combination of indicators. The secret to using the Preview tab is that you must first create something the DDS Designer calls a “Screen” (or a Report for PRTFs). Let’s look at how to create a screen and then we’ll see how we can use them in Preview mode.
Screens are created using the Design Page Screen Control Panel. I talked about that in my last tip, and since I also suggested that I don’t use it often and normally close the Control Panel, you may have yours closed now. The Control Panel is opened or closed by using the small arrow at the top left of the Design view (see the circled control in Figure 1). When the Control Panel is open, you can choose between Design records and Design screens. A screen in this tool is a collection record formats that are used together, such as record formats that overlay one another. You can create a screen with just one record format in it for testing purposes. When you select Design Screens, you give a name to the Screen you want to create and then click on the Records tab to choose which record(s) are to be included in this Screen.
Now that you have at least one “Screen” defined, you can use the Design Screens mode when working with your records. When you do this with multi-format screens, you can see one format appearing in color and the other format(s) appearing grayed out in the background. Selecting another record format from the control panel or from the Outline View brings that format into the foreground and the others appear in the background. This helps to avoid overlapping items from multiple formats. By the way, if you have created a multi-format screen and you only see one format at a time on the screen, click on the Draw Records Transparent control–the left-most of the five icons appearing at the top of the Design view.
You can also use the Preview tab and its indicator testing facilities on your newly created Screen. Click on the Preview tab at the bottom of the Design view (next to the Design and Source tabs). Next choose a Screen from the list and you will see your screen with all its formats. In Preview, you can also test the effect of indicator combinations on the screen.
To do this, click on the Indicators tab in the Control panel. Create a name for your indicator set (e.g., Entry Error), and then tick the boxes to the left of the indicator(s) that correspond to that condition. Next click on the Values tab in the Control Panel and choose the Indicator set you just created. Your Preview Screen should now reflect the state of the screen when that set of indicators is on. This is one of those features that is hard to describe in words, so I have made a short video demonstrating this feature.
I’ll just call your attention to a couple of other features of the Designer you may not notice right away. First, there is a Font Size slider bar at the bottom of the view, which you will find useful to make the Design view fit well on your size monitor. When you’re in Design mode, there is also a slider to the right of that one to control the intensity of the grid that shows up in the design view. And don’t forget your friend from the RSE editor: the Undo and Redo functions. Feel free to try things. While not every action can be “undone,” most can, so experiment!
There are many other features of RD Power’s DDS Designer that I don’t have space to cover here, but give it a try and explore for yourself.
Susan Gantner is half of Partner400, a consulting company focused on education on modern programming and database techniques and tools on the IBM i platform. She is also a founding partner in System i Developer, a consortium of System i educators and hosts of the RPG & DB2 Summit conferences. Susan was a programmer for corporations in Atlanta, Georgia, before joining IBM. During her IBM career, she worked in both the Rochester and Toronto labs, providing technical support and education for application developers. Susan left IBM in 1999 to devote more time to teaching and consulting. Together with Jon Paris, she now runs Partner400, and appears regularly at many technical conferences, including System i Developer’s RPG & DB2 Summit. Send your questions or comments for Susan to Ted Holt via the IT Jungle Contact page.