Guru Classic: Who Needs Custom Perspectives In RDi?
February 13, 2019 Susan Gantner
I often talk to people who are confused about RDi perspectives, so I thought this two-part series on why and how to create and use your own custom perspectives would be a good one to update. Very little has changed since the original publication of this first part, but I’ve updated the screen shots and addressed one or two small differences in recent releases. This version assumes you are running at least RDi 9.5
Who needs custom perspectives in RDi? Just about everyone. At least everyone could probably benefit from them. As you know if you’ve read my earlier tips, I’m a huge fan of the Remote System Explorer, which is part of RDi (Rational Developer for IBM i.) But I rarely use the Remote System Explorer perspective as it comes “out of the box.” I customize it in many ways, in the process creating my own custom perspectives.
I use custom perspectives primarily for two purposes:
- To provide a good target for “reset perspective. . . “
- To create special-purpose editing environments.
In this tip, we’ll look at the “reset perspective” point in detail. I’ll cover the “special-purpose environments” in a follow-on tip. I’m writing this assuming that you are using RDi’s “out of the box” default initial perspective – Remote System Explorer (RSE).
If you’re like me and occasionally mess up your RSE perspective (read on for how I manage to do that), you’ll find the “reset perspective” option very handy because it allows you to back out your latest changes without losing every customization you have made. You’ll find this option under the Window pull-down menu in RSE.
Most everyone who uses RDi modifies the RSE perspective to some extent. If nothing else, you have probably stretched the shapes and sizes of the views — meaning the boxes inside RSE such as Remote Systems, outline, the editor window, etc. — to match your monitor shape and size. Perhaps you have also made more adventurous changes to your RSE perspective, such as moving views around, closing some views you don’t use and opening some that you do use that aren’t there by default (e.g., the Snippets view, as advocated by Paul Tuohy).
Once in a while you may find that one of your more adventurous changes wasn’t really for the better and you’d like to go back to the way it was before. No problem! Just use Window > Reset perspective and you’re back to your original version (or latest saved version) of that perspective.
Here’s another common way of messing up a perspective. Maybe you haven’t really been that adventurous, but you realize that your perspective doesn’t seem quite right. Perhaps you seem to be missing a view. The most common (and frightening) view to disappear unexpectedly is the Outline, as Jon Paris described in this article. As Jon stated, one of the ways to recover the missing view is to use “reset perspective.”
So what does all this have to do with custom perspectives? Everything! Because when you say “reset perspective,” you reset to the last saved version of the perspective you’re currently in. So, if that’s the “out of the box” version of RSE, then you have just reset yourself back to the very beginning point for RDi, which is as IBM envisioned the RSE perspective to be.
It’s probably much better to reset your perspective to your own vision of what it should be — resized for your monitor and with all the views you normally use in your preferred positions.
So how do you create your own version of the RSE perspective? You simply use the “save perspective as” option, which is located just above “reset perspective” option in the window pull-down menu.
While you could (at least in some releases) overlay the default RSE perspective, I advocate saving your perspective with your own name, such as “My RSE.” The reason for this is that you may decide someday that you really want to start over completely from the IBM default and if you have already overwritten that one, that makes life difficult.
Now you have a different issue. You have the original RSE perspective and your own (e.g., My RSE) perspective. You probably no longer want to use the original one and you certainly don’t want it to be the default perspective when the tool restarts from scratch.
So if you want your own RSE perspective to be your default perspective, then use Window > Preferences and choose “Perspectives” from the “General” section. Select your new perspective name and use the “Make Default” button to the right.
For those of you already comfortable with switching between perspectives, you can probably skip the next part and tune in for part two of this tip to be published at a later time. For those of you still new to the tool set, here are some tips on switching between perspectives.
If you have created your own personal RSE perspective, you probably want to close the original RSE version. You could use the Window > Close Perspective option, however, that closes the perspective you are currently in, which is likely your customized perspective. So you must now find the original RSE perspective, select it before choosing “Close Perspective.”
You may find yourself wondering, “How do I find/choose a perspective?” Here are some pointers. The currently open perspectives show up in the top right of the RDi window at the right-hand end of the Toolbar. (If you don’t see the toolbar above your edit window, try Window > Appearance > Show Toolbar.) How the perspectives appear by default varies depending on what release you have installed. (To see your version, use the Help pull down menu (or on Mac, the RDi menu.) The “About” or “About RDi” option will show you the version of the tool you have installed.)
The following figures shows the two primary ways perspectives may appear. If you have V9.6 or later installed, by default you will only see an icon for each open perspective. Hover text (when your mouse is positioned over an icon) shows the perspective name. Prior to that, you would see the icon and the text name in the toolbar. Regardless of the default appearance, you can control it. Simply position on a perspective name or icon and right click to find the “Show Text” option which you can turn on or off.
Hopefully you’re not still running a version earlier than 9.0, because perspectives appear differently there. Contact me if you need help finding your perspectives in a very old release.
To choose a perspective once you’ve found it, click on the name or icon to bring that one to the foreground. The image below illustrates the options for perspective appearance.
To close a perspective that appears in the list, simply select that perspective and then choose Window > Close Perspective, or, alternatively, right click on the perspective b and choose “Close.”
As I’ve shown here, creating your own customized perspective can help you recover from lost views or get you back on track after your great idea of changing the perspective turns out not to be such a great idea. Of course, from time to time after you have made some changes to your perspective that you really like, then you need to remember to re-save your customized perspective so you don’t lose all your more recent enhancements.
Susan Gantner, an IBM Champion and co-author of the popular Redbook, Who Knew You Could Do That with RPG IV, is one of the top speakers/writers/trainers on IBM i development topics. She is a partner at Partner400 and System i Developer, and she hosts the RPG & DB2 Summit twice per year with partners Jon Paris and Paul Tuohy.