Tuesday, 25 March 2014

APEX 5 first peek - What I missed

When tackling early adopter versions I've enjoyed having a play before reading too much about it. I did look through the EA1 feature descriptions to get a feel for the sort of things to expect, but I waited before watching David's videos to see how easy it was to adapt to the changes - even though I wasn't concentrating on the new page designer itself.

It was certainly worth watching the videos in the end because not only does he describe the new features in the page designer really well, he outlines the state of play for the early adopter release.

So while I haven't gone too deep into the new page designer functionality, here are some less obvious features I think are worth mentioning.

New context menu options

I didn't notice the new options under the right-click when viewing components in the rendering/processing accordion options. I guess I missed these because I rarely use the Tree View.

So when David Peake pointed them out in this video - I agreed it would be a simple way to improve developer productivity, and I know I'd use them all the time.
  • Duplicate 
  • Delete
  • Copy to other page
How many times have we thought - wouldn't it be great if this could be done in one click?
Well, now it's done in two - but super fast, and no wizards.
Component Context Sensitive Right-Click
Copying (& duplicating) is great, but we've always got to be sure not to encounter what we call a cut & giggle, where you forget to change something minor during the process of copying. This is made worse when APEX misses a few attributes, or doesn't change the page prefix.

I've been on a project where copying dynamic actions to other pages was done frequently, and since they're a little newer they haven't had the time to perfect minor copy glitches - similar to those that used to appear copying pages in 3.x. Time will tell if this is still an issue, but we've been promised improvement.

Undo - viewing last change

Undo is one of the first features you might spot in the new page designer, but what I didnt' realise was the tooltip text you see when there is stuff to undo. Of course, I spotted this after I logged feedback suggesting we see a list of outstanding changes when we leave an unsaved page.
Undo Tooltip
Thankfully undo also works to restore deleted components - which may be a frequent accident with the new context menu option.

Autocompletion

When editing page templates I noticed a message under the text area to press ctrl-space to activate autocompletion - nothing happened there nor when using the modal edit (EA1) - but when editing using the Text Editor in the page designer it invokes an autocomplete.
Text Editor Autocomplete
You've probably seen this in products like SQL Developer, some people love it. Personally it's the first feature I turn off because I can't stand the lag it introduces. At least here in APEX it is only on demand.

Page designer search

While I did appreciate the search application feature that came with 4.x, I'm really liking this new feature available near the gallery in the middle of the page designer.
Page Designer Search
Results are instant, and when you click on a result the component is automatically selected and properties shown. Another big productivity booster.

Multi-item updates

Former Forms developers will particularly like this one - using the CTRL key you can select multiple heterogenous components and then update common properties in the editor in one go.
Multiple components selected

The property editor (which no doubt I'll continually also call a palette) shows only common properties, and those properties that differ will be shown with a triangle/delta icon with value redacted under a blue shade.
Forms style property palette
I loved this feature in Forms because you could quickly identify any differences between items, of course in addition to making changes in bulk.

There are also little red triangles above certain properties, but I'm not sure what it indicates. In Forms we saw something like this indicate a value differing from default - but it doesn't seem that here, not are they identifying common attributes. Perhaps the APEX team might elaborate at some point, unless I forgot it mentioned in a video - anyone?

User interface

Something you may have noticed I've missed is commentary regarding other user interfaces. I've just neglected to mention it so far.

There are new features regarding the mobile UI which I'll cover in another post some other day - though there may be enough changes for a few posts.

And disappointingly for my current project interests, the tablet UI has been bumped to 5.1. This is a real shame because it's been an interesting challenge to adapt a desktop interface to a 10 inch touch screen environment. I'm keenly awaiting what goodies the APEX team may provide to make this task easier.

-- Is there something you've seen so far that has excited you that I haven't covered?

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