Desktop Layout


An Alpha Anywhere User Guide to the Desktop.

Application Overview

In Alpha Anywhere, the term application, refers to a collection of layouts and operations linked together in such a way that a set of tasks can be performed without using the Control Panel. An Application may make use of Alpha Anywhere's Xbasic programming language to fully customize the way the Application works. However, many quite effective Applications can be designed without using any Xbasic at all. Applications are often designed as a data management solution for use by people who have little experience with Alpha Anywhere. For example, you already use Alpha Anywhere to help manage your mail-order business. You have created ten layouts that collectively let you enter and print invoices, keep track of inventory, maintain a mailing list, and write thank you notes to your big-ticket customers.

Copy and Paste an Object Appearance

You can right-click on an object and select Copy appearance. This copies all of the properties that define that object's appearance to the clipboard. Then right-click on another object in the same layout or another layout and select Paste appearance, to copy the appearance to that object, or Paste All, to copy that object's appearance to all objects on the form of that class (e.g., all "field" objects).

Creating an Inline Style from an Object

To create an inline style from an object:

Creating Layouts

When creating a new layout, you can either copy the design of an existing layout, create one from scratch, or edit the Default Browse or Default Form.

Design Mode and View Mode

Each type of layout has its own design editor that you access in Design Mode. In Design Mode, you create and arrange the layout contents. You switch from Design Mode to View Mode to view and work with the layouts you create. A Form in Design Mode (Form Editor):

Dynamic Properties

All layout types now support 'Dynamic Properties'. Dynamic Properties allow you to define an expression that sets the value of a Layout property (e.g. the color of the border around a control). Here are some examples of the kind of customization that Dynamic Properties makes incredibly easy (some of these tasks can be accomplished in V9, but require Xbasic programming):


Alpha Anywhere supports five types of layouts:

Overview of Layout Tools

Layouts are the primary means by which data is entered, viewed, and printed in Alpha Anywhere. There are five different kinds of layouts: Forms, Browses, Reports, Letters, and Labels. Layouts let you display and edit data. Form Layout:

Password Protecting a Layout

If you want to ensure that only authorized users can change a layout, you can define a password for it. When a user attempts to edit a password protected layout, they must supply the password before the layout appears in the editor.

Pop-Up Event Editor

The Pop-Up Event Editor runs in a modeless window and provides an easy way to attach scripts to object events. When editing a layout, select an object and click Object > Pop-up Event Editor... or right-click and select Events > Pop-up Editor....

Recent Layout Menu

In a large application with many Forms, Reports, Labels, etc. it can be time consuming to find the Layout that you last edited in the list of Layouts. Now, every time you edit a Layout, Alpha Anywhere automatically adds the Layout to a 'Recent' menu. You can right click on the white-space in the Control Panel, or on a Layout name to bring up the 'Recent' menu. In the screenshot below you can see that the 'Products' Form was the most recently edited Form, and prior to that, the 'Edit_Customer_Info' Form had been edited.

Send/Receive Individual Layout Definitions

In Alpha Anywhere, Layouts (Reports, Labels, Forms, Browses and Letters) are all stored in the data dictionary for the table or set on which the Layout is based. In the case of a table, the data dictionary files have these extensions: .ddd, .ddm and .ddx. In the case of a set, the data dictionary files have these extensions: .set, .sem and .sex. Because all of the Layouts for a particular table or set are stored in the same physical data dictionary files, it is difficult for a developer to send a client an individual Layout. You can easily send a client a new copy of the data dictionary (.ddd, .ddm and .ddx files in the case of a table, or .set, .sex and .sem files in the case of a set), but doing so will overwrite any Layouts that the client created, or modified. Now, you can simply right click on any Layout and select Send Layout.

Setting Default Layout Styles

Alpha Anywhere lets you choose a pre-defined layout style for each layout type. Pre-defined styles enable you to create attractive layouts that have a consistent appearance with less effort. All new layouts then use the selected style as a default.

Specifying the Layout Filter

When using the Report, Label and Letter layout editors, you can click the Select Records icon on the toolbar to specify the filter and order expression to select the records to be printed.

Specifying the Menu for a Layout

To specify the toolbar for a form, browse, report, letter, or label:

Specifying the Toolbar for a Layout

To specify the toolbar for a form, browse, report, letter, or label:

Using Dockable Task Panels

Dockable task panels appear when you open different editors. Task panels can be thought of as 'windows' which contain task panes. A task panel can contain multiple task panes. By clicking on the caption (which causes a drop down menu to appear), you can select which task pane appears in the panel. By splitting the task panel vertically, you can see multiple task panes at once. Right-click on the caption, or click on the 'properties' icon for options.