Chapter 1 Introduction
Welcome to VA Assist Pro for VA Smalltalk. Using VA Assist Pro, you will be able to build VA Smalltalk applications far more easily, quickly and safely with the VAST Composition Editor, enhanced code browsers and source code editor. VA Assist Pro streamlines most common editing operations and adds many time-saving features. VA Assist Pro’s UI Assistant should eliminate most of the cases where the standard settings view needs to be opened.
What will VA Assist Pro do for me?
The bottom line is that VA Assist Pro should dramatically improve your productivity while using the VAST Composition Editor and the VA Smalltalk code browsers. Tasks that used to be complicated and time consuming are now quick and effortless. In many cases, operations that would have taken dozens of mouse clicks have been reduced to just one or two.
Many common editing operations that are buried within the Composition Editor’s menus have been surfaced for easier access. Many additional editing operations have been added as well that should save you a great deal of time.
What is VA Assist Pro?
VA Assist Pro has two major components: Browser Enhancements and the Composition Editor UI Assistant.
Browser Enhancements
VA Assist Pro brings a modernized look and feel to VA Smalltalk. Gone are the simple black and white lists and simple hierarchical views. VA Assist Pro replaces the simple lists in all of the standard browsers with enhanced lists capable of displaying icons and color. Careful use of icons and color greatly increases the information bandwidth available to the developer.
A significant amount of time during any VA Smalltalk application development project is spent refactoring code, moving classes and methods between applications, recategorizing methods, changing methods from public to private and back, etc. All of these operations are time consuming and awkward using the standard VAST browsers. Many of these commands invoke multiple cascaded dialog boxes in order to figure out the intent of the developer. Drag/drop makes many of these operations much simpler and straightforward.
VA Assist Pro adds an integrated Find/History feature to all of the code browsers by adding an additional combobox to the upper left corner of each browser. The combobox keeps track of all of the classes you have most recently visited. Revisiting a class is as simple as selecting it from the drop down list. The combobox is also editable which allows you to type in a class name or a wild card expression and then hit enter. The specified class will then be found or a list of alternatives will be presented in a selection list.
VA Assist Pro provides for customizable toolbars in all of the browser windows. Each browser type has a default toolbar line up that can be edited via the included toolbar editor. Most common menu commands may be represented as toolbar items in a browser's toolbar.
Abbreviation expansion is provided in all text views. Just type in an abbreviation and hit SHIFT+Space to have it expanded. For example, typing "int" followed by SHIFT+Space will replace the text "int" with "isNil ifTrue: []".
All of the system text prompters have been enhanced to remember previous entries. For example, the Browse Implementors, Browse Senders, Browse Classes, etc. commands from the Transcript will now remember the all prior entries. This makes it very easy to duplicate queries repeatedly without undue typing.
Code Editor Enhancements
As part of the browser enhancements, VA Assist Pro replaces the existing source code editor with a new powerful and modern editor built off the popular open-source Scintilla editor component. With this comes a host of new features including hardware-accelerated rendering, multiple undo/redo, bracket highlighting, smart highlighting, debugger call tips, indicators, enhanced breakpoint management, line numbers and much more!
Baked into this enhanced editor is Code Analytics, a feature that allows for detecting, reporting and repairing common errors and warnings that occur during development. In order to help the user repair issues, VA Assist Pro includes new refactorings with Interactive Workflows to radically facilitate fixing issues.
VA Assist Pro includes an Editor Theming engine allowing for customization of all visuals within the code editor from the real-time "color-as-you-type" syntax highlighting to bracket matching...and all this is available in the browsers, debuggers, inspectors and workspaces. A number of different editor themes are included and can be customized using the interactive editor theme UI.
VA Assist Pro integrates code completion with the Smalltalk browsers, debuggers, inspectors and workspaces. With Code completion, you can type the partial name of a variable, class or selector, and the completion engine (either by request or after typing a certain number of characters) will provide you with a list of possible suggestions you can choose from to complete what you're typing. The Code completion popup is even used by the Code Analytics and Refactoring features to help facilitate certain actions like creating accessors and defining undefined variables. Code completion also comes with numerous configuration options can be adjusted to fully customize the experience.
UI Assistant
VA Assist Pro’s UI Assistant is a small tabbed notebook with eight pages of toolbar buttons: Standard, Tools, Settings, Layout, Size & Position, Links, Parts and Setup.
The Standard page replicates the functions of the Composition Editor toolbar with some added features. Some of the Tools page features are Select All, Select All in Same Class, Bring to Front, Send to Back, and Inspect Part. The Settings page allows you to change many common part styles without needing to access the settings view. Style changes can be applied to multiple widgets simultaneously. The Layout page includes attachment styles that can be applied to one or more widgets with a single mouse click. Lock a group of widgets to the lower right corner of the window with one mouse click! The Size and Position page has over a dozen options such as Set Size and Position, Alignment, Move and Size by Pixel. The Links page gives you a dozen options for displaying and filtering displays of links. This lets you concentrate on just the event or attribute connections you’re interested in. The Parts page gives you quick access to all of the parts found on the Composition Editor’s palette.
VA Assist Pro does not modify any Composition Editor code and has no effect on run-time code because it uses only existing protocols and accesses existing development time data structures in the same way the Composition Editor does. All features are completely integrated with the Composition Editor’s undo/redo facility. VA Assist Pro can be easily enabled and disabled at any time.
What you should already know
To be successful using VA Assist Pro, you need
a working knowledge of VA Smalltalk
a working knowledge of the Composition Editor if you plan to use the UI Assistant
familiarity with components and navigation of the operating system you are using
This manual assumes that you have a functional knowledge of VA Smalltalk. VA Assist Pro allows you to more quickly build VA Smalltalk applications using the VAST Composition Editor and code browsers. If you are new to VA Smalltalk, you should work through the tutorial provided by the VAST documentation before proceeding with VA Assist Pro.
You need to be familiar with operating system interface components such as dialog boxes, buttons, and menus. You should also understand the mouse concepts of pointing and clicking, as well as the text manipulation commands for your system.
How this manual is organized
Chapter 2 covers installation of the product.
Chapter 3 covers VA Assist Pro’s browser enhancements to include the code editor.
Chapter 4 describes File & Edit menu enhancements.
Chapter 5-8 discuss enhancements to the Classes, Applications, Categories and Methods menus respectively.
Chapter 9 covers the Options menu.
Chapter 10-12 describes Application Manager, Configuration Maps Browser and Application Editions Browser enhancements.
Chapter 13 covers miscellaneous browser enhancements.
Chapter 14 describes various special browsers supplied by VA Assist Pro.
Chapter 15 covers Application Organizer enhancements.
Chapter 16 discusses Transcript Tools menu enhancements.
Chapter 17 is a brief overview of the UI Assistant.
Chapters 18-26 describes the UI Assistant toolbars
Chapter 27 describes the UI Assistant’s Enhanced Menu mode
Last modified date: 11/12/2018