ActionManger for Visual Studio & Delphi 2006

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April 12th, 2005 - Woll2Woll is pleased to announce its new product, ActionManager for Visual Studio (VS.NET) and Delphi 2005. See http://www.woll2woll.com

The ActionManager component is used as a repository of actions that can be applied to components and controls, such as menus, buttons, check boxes, and radio buttons. Most controls, where custom behavior is required after the end-user clicks on them, will benefit from the ActionManager.

Woll2Woll’s design does not replace your controls, but enhances them with a new Action property. Even 3rd party controls can use actions defined by the ActionManager. You can also build your own custom re-usable actions.

Those familiar with earlier VCL development with Delphi might be familiar with some of the benefits of using actions. However when building .NET WinForms, actions are not available in Delphi 2005 nor are they as flexible as Woll2Woll’s implementation.

Why use actions

  • Separate your business logic from the user-interface controls: Use of the ActionManager will separate your business and application logic from your user-interface controls. The implementation code is associated with an item in a repository, and not a user-interface control. This makes your code easily shareable by other controls.
  • Centralized code for refreshing the control's appearance. The ActionManager gives you a simple methodology for updating the appearance of your controls based on dynamic criteria. Thus if one user should have certain buttons or menu items disabled and another should have them enabled, you can easily handle this logic completely within the action. You do not need to manipulate the properties of the user-interface components (buttons, menus, etc.).
  • Code re-use: The ActionManager strongly encourages and allows for code re-use through its architecture of supporting user-defined standard actions. Quite often you will notice that you are attaching similar code to many of your visual controls. By recognizing what is common, you can create your own new defined actions. These new actions will work as in the ActionManager's standard actions (see types inherited from ActionItem) and allow you to add your defined functionality to any visual control by simply assigning its Action property.
  • 3rd Party implementation dependencies are eliminated: Programming through actions frees you from being dependent upon specific implementations of native and 3rd party components. This style of programming allows you to easily switch components. For instance, you can remove a button and replace it with a menu selection by just assigning the menu item’s Action property. All the behavior of the old button is transferred to the menu item.
  • Flexibility: The ActionManager allows you to selectively define which aspects of an action you wish to use in your user-interface components. For instance, you can choose to use the Enabled property of an action, but to disregard the action's Text property for a particular toolbar button.

 

Robust Designer

The ActionManager designer allows you to organize, edit, and view your actions by categories.

When using the ActionManager’s pre-built actions, you only need to assign the Action property of your user-interface control to enable its functionality. If you are building your own actions, then define the properties and events with the Designer, and then later associate them with your user-interface control. The following are some of the ready actions that ship with the product.

Category Operations
Database Next, Prior, NextPage, PriorPage, First, Last, Delete, EndEdit, CancelEdit, Add
Edit Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Undo, SelectAll
Dialogs SelectColor, SelectFont, Open, Save, PrintSetup
Format Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikeout, Bullets, AlignLeft, AlignCenter, AlignRight
Window TileVertical, TileHorizontal, Cascade, ArrangeIcons, MinimizeAll

The following properties are defined for each action.

Action Property Functionality
AutoCheck

When an action's AutoCheck property set to true, all components associated with the action will have their Checked property stay in sync when one component's Checked property is updated. This is particularly useful and more common when you have a MenuItem from a menu, and a checkbox attached to the same action. The beauty is that you do not have to write any code to update their checked state. Also note that AutoCheck works for grouping buttons or MenuItems, allowing you a convenient way to have one component uncheck/unselect itself when another component having the same GroupName is checked or selected (such as a groupbox).

See the screenshot at the top of this document and note the Alignment submenu is automatically controlled by the ActionManager to toggle all related menuitems.

Checked Set the Checked property to check or uncheck user-interface components associated with this action
Enabled Set the Enabled property to enable or disable components associated with this action
GroupName This property works in conjunction with the AutoCheck property allowing the end-user to select from a collection of related components. Set AutoCheck to true when enabling a selectable group. See also the AutoCheck property.
ImageIndex Assign an ImageIndex to associate an image from the ActionManager's ImageList to the associated component
Shortcut
Assign the Shortcut property to associate a keystroke with the action
Text Assign the Text property to set the text of components associated with the action.
ToolTipMessage Assign a ToolTipMessage to associate a ToolTip for components associated with the action
Visible Set the Visible property to show or hide components associated with this action

System Requirements

The ActionManager supports development through WinForms using either Visual Studio 2003 or Delphi 2005. Note: Delphi 2005 supports actions through VCL forms, but not through WinForms.




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