What's new in Visual LANSA Version 13?

Version 13 adds several significant new features to Visual LANSA's development tools. The new features provide additional options and capabilities for software architects and developers to use when designing and developing applications for desktop, Web and mobile contexts.

For more detailed information on these feature view the What's New Guide (CHM 4.14MB - Requires Internet Explorer).

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  • Web Application Module Enhancements
  • Windows 64-bit Support
  • IBM i user profiles can now be validated, and IBM i passwords can be changed using the IBM special APIs with interfaces to RDML and LANSA Open.
  • SuperServer connections can now be made between all supported platforms: IBM i, Windows and Linux.
  • Export lists can be generated automatically when checking in or delivering objects to an IBM i server, and objects can be refreshed selectively in the Repository.

You can install a new Version 13 SP2, upgrade an existing V13 or V13 SP1 to SP2 or upgrade an existing Version 12 system (with or without Service Pack 1) to Version 13 SP2.

Visual LANSA usability enhancements include a new Tables Layout, simpler UDCs, a new CRUD wizard. WAM enhancements include Webroutines support POST in JSON Format, a new property, vf_wamevent and improved Undo/Redo in the WAM editor. Further support for long file names in the Logical Modeler and other enhancements and fixes are also included.

You can install a new Version 13 SP1, upgrade an existing V13 to SP1 or upgrade an existing Version 12 system (with or without Service Pack 1) to Version 13 SP1.

DirectX comes to Visual LANSA and offers powerful graphic capabilities to LANSA developers.
Visual LANSA provides several user interface options for building applications including, Win32 rich client, Web and mobile. The addition of DirectX with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) extends the user interface design options and expands on the capabilities of Win32 rich client APIs. The new capabilities provide developers with far more control over the appearance of panels and controls using program accessible properties, and enable developers to build dynamic user interfaces that present data visually as pictures, images and/or graphs, where colours change and animation occurs based on data values.

What is DirectX?

DirectX is a generic name for a set of graphical APIs (developed by Microsoft) including:

Direct2DAllows developers to create and manipulate two-dimensional drawings including geometry, bitmaps and text.
Direct3DAllows developers to create and manipulate three-dimensional objects.
DirectWriteRenders text using ClearType typography and enables world-wide applications with multiple script support including Chinese simplified and traditional, Greek, Japanese and Latin.

The DirectX graphics rendering engine uses hardware acceleration to speed up screen display by delegating graphics processing to the processor on the video card.

Developers can use DirectX to build dynamic applications with an enriched graphical user interface. Applications can present visual representations of data more easily and dynamically by constructing the images and drawing programmatically. In the past developers would have waited for a graphic artist to prepare a drawing, image or used Adobe Flash to create dynamic images and videos. Using DirectX developers can program the user interface to draw images based on the data without add-in components such as Flash.

Graphics tools in version 13

Using the new and enhanced graphics tools in version 13 developers can create interesting and colourful user interfaces by combining visual effects generated by brushes, gradients, transparency and animations.

Brushes and gradients

Gradients add life to coloured screen panels and controls. Instead of one solid colour gradients use multiple colours to add contour to a screen panel. Developers can set the way one colour fades into another colour by painting a screen panel using brushes. A solid brush paints one colour. A linear brush paints a gradient where colours grow, fade and intersperse vertically, horizontally or at an angle. A radial brush produces an effect of a colour growing in intensity in a circle (or radiating) from a point. The image brush inserts an image or picture into a screen panel.

Horizontal and vertical gradients.These images show examples of a linear brush drawing vertical, horizontal and vertical gradients painted blue and green.
Radial brush gradient.These images show examples of a radial brush gradient painted blue-green and blue-white.
Solid brush.This image is an example of a solid brush painting with blue.

Transparency

Transparency controls the level of transparency from opaque through translucent to transparent for screen panels and controls. Developers can create compound effects by stacking screen components on top of each other and applying different transparency levels. An example of this effect is the use of a coloured and semi-transparent panel to cover a whole screen while waiting for a user to provide log on credentials. The user can see the screen but cannot access it until they provide their credentials.

Transparency also allows developers to include watermarks on screen panels. A watermark is visible but does not hinder the view of other screen components.

Animation

Animation adds life and action to screen panels and controls. Developers can use them to draw a user's attention to a specific part of a screen or invoke an animation effect based on certain values in a text box control. The animation effects include fade, blinds, flip, shrink, wiggle and wave.

Automatic scaling for fonts and controls

Automatic scaling for fonts and user interface controls allows a form and its controls designed for one screen resolution to display properly on a screen with a different resolution. Automatic scaling relieves developers of the burden of having to build forms for multiple specific screen resolutions.

Styles and themes

Styles set a number of properties automatically across multiple objects to create a theme. Creating and applying styles to objects ensures consistency in an application's user interface and simplifies maintenance and enhancements. Developers can dynamically apply styles at a number of levels from a whole application down to a form or individual controls. Applying a style at the application level will force adoption of the style by all forms and controls in the application. Doing this for existing applications will be a small change but the impact of the change will be extensive.

DirectX styles can be managed from the ribbon

User interface controls

LANSA's user designed controls provide the control functionality (data binding, events and methods) and developers can define the appearance and layout. Controls include panels, tree views, tiles, carousels and books. The table layout control can arrange content into discrete and/or overlapping panels. Popup panels provide a context menu and modal dialogue. Controls have new properties including hint title, cursors, mouse events (hover, enter and leave), styles (visual, private and mouse over), rotation, skew, scale and opacity.

Developers can use controls provided by LANSA and/or 3rd party controls and widgets.

Getting started with DirectX

The choices for getting started with DirectX are:

Do nothingExisting applications will operate as usual but without enhanced graphics features.
Use DirectX only in new applicationsUsing DirectX only in new applications is a safe way to implement enhanced graphics features. The appearance of new applications will differ markedly from existing applications.
Apply DirectX in existing applications partiallyIndividual forms or panels can start to use DirectX related features e.g. new controls or animations, without affecting the remainder of the application.
Enable DirectX in existing applications fullyEnabling DirectX in all parts of existing applications will enhance the appearance of the applications.
This is a radical change to existing applications and requires thorough user interface testing.

LANSA is ready for Microsoft Windows 8 style user interfaces. LANSA developers can build applications using DirectX to create modern, rich user interfaces for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Web applications.

LANSA developers can build web applications for mobile devices using Visual LANSA and jQuery Mobile. Visual LANSA provides tools for business logic and database access, and jQuery Mobile provides tools for the user interface.

jQuery Mobile is a user interface framework for mobile devices based on HTML5 and it provides controls that developers use to assemble the pages (or screens) of an application. Controls include toolbars (page header, footer and navigation), buttons (button and text links), content placeholders (maps, headings, images, grids and list views), and form controls (form, text input, search, toggle switch, slider, menu, radio button, checkbox, submit button). The theme feature of jQuery Mobile simplifies user interface design by ensuring a consistent colour scheme and the appearance of controls. Applying a theme to an application removes the need for developers to manipulate property settings for individual controls in the user interface.

Visual LANSA simplifies designing and creating mobile Web applications by hiding the underlying complexity of Web application development and automating common Web development activities. Developers can build Web applications starting from a blank page or use a wizard to guide them through the development stages.

LANSA applications can include .NET user interface and other .NET components including:

  • Graphs
  • Buttons
  • Barcode scanners
  • Device specific interfaces

Developers can register 3rd party .NET controls in the Repository and then use the events, methods and properties of the controls in their code. This feature provides developers with a wider choice of components they can use when building applications.

LANSA provides full support for Unicode columns in database tables and Unicode in the developer IDE, RDMLX and user interfaces.

Database tables support UNICODE data types in columns.

The Visual LANSA IDE displays multilingual text using Unicode allowing developers to see text in all languages displayed as it will appear in the user interface when programs run.

RDMLX components and functions support Unicode.

User interfaces (both forms and WAMs) support Unicode.

Developers can use Unicode string intrinsics to ensure data integrity (AsNativeString and AsUnicodeString).

Change management is a methodology for managing change in an orderly and predictable manner. It allows developers to control how and when source code changes occur and to reverse changes when necessary. Developers can implement change management by installing and operating change management software, known as source control, revision management or version control systems (VCS).

VCS systems automate administrative tasks associated with creating and maintaining software. Automating these tasks provides a predictable process for moving software through development and deployment cycles. Automated change management is a necessity in larger projects where several developers can be working on branches of the same software that will be merged before implementation. Even small groups of developers can simplify software management using a VCS system.

Version 13 includes a change management interface that allows developers to use a 3rd party VCS master repository with their LANSA development projects.