Product of the Day: X-Designer

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Product: X-DesignerManufacturer: Imperial Software TechnologyAddress: 120 Hawthorne Avenue, Suite 101               Palo Alto, California 94301Telephone: 650-688-0200E-mail: sales@ist-inc.comURL: www.ist-inc.com

X-Designer is a multi-award-winning Motif GUI builder capable of generating code for Motif 1, Motif 2, Java, Microsoft Windows and XML. X-Designer for Linux is well-established in the marketplace - Linux is the operating system of choice for an increasingly large proportion of X-Designer's customers. Motif and Linux are a great combination for user interfaces as they are both robust, industry standard products.There is no better way to develop a GUI on Linux than using Motif and X-Designer.

Already the first choice of many of the blue-chip Fortune 500 companies, X-Designer comes with a long and distinguished pedigree. X-Designer 7 combines the high standard of previous releases with the addition of a first-class Motif 2 integration, giving developers access to all the Motif 2 widgets and resources. No other Motif GUI builder offers this level of Motif 2 support. XML generation, some clever improvements to the MFC and UIL code generation and tooltip help support are some of the other additions in this release.

X-Designer does all that you would expect of a Motif GUI builder and it does it very well. But what sets it apart from other products of its type? The answer lies in three main areas:

  1. X-Designer is a mature, robust and well-engineered product which has been in constant use in the software engineering industry for many years. It is regularly updated to keep it at the cutting edge of graphical user interface design.

  2. X-Designer includes a number of value added tools for testing, online help, UI grabbing, quick starting and pixmap editing. There are also tools creating client and server applications and for creating internet-ready software. These tools are included in X-Designer - they are not add-ons or plug-ins.

  3. Multi-platform options. X-Designer can generate C, C++ and UIL code for Motif. X-Designer can also generate Java and XML from your design. It can even generate code for Microsoft Windows. Using the "Visaj bridge" option lets you save your design ready to be imported into IST's Visaj Java GUI builder, also available on Linux.

It is worth noting that X-Designer is very well supported - 90% of the companies that buy X-Designer renew their support after the first free year.

Rapid Development

X-Designer has an intuitive and friendly point-and-click interface so that user interface design is fast and simple. The Motif widgets appear on a palette on the left side of the main X-Designer window. Clicking over a widget adds it to your live design. There is a design area which presents a hierarchical view of the widgets in your user interface and a live dynamic display which presents the user interface exactly as it appears when you run the generated code. Giving the hierarchical view allows all widgets - including "invisible" containers like Forms and RowColumns - to be selectable. It also presents you with an overview of your design. The live dynamic display is unhindered, separate and an exact reflection of the completed application. Since you know exactly what it will look like and how it will behave, you are more likely to get it right first time.

Resource panels with logically grouped resources and editors for pixmaps, compound strings and fonts, allow you to flesh out your design simply and easily. The Links mechanism lets you add dynamic Show, Hide, Manage and Unmanage callbacks to widgets with actions, such as PushButtons. This lets you see immediately how your design reacts when, for example, a button is pressed to display a sub-dialog.

Features such as graphical Search and Annotation and Fast Find give you an overview of the resources and callbacks you have set and allow you to find objects and resources across multiple hierarchies. X-Designer can also be tailored to your specific use with a customizable toolbar and widget palette.

Advanced Layout Editor

The arrangement of a Form widget's children used to be one of the most daunting tasks facing a Motif programmer but X-Designer's Layout Editor has reduced it to a few minutes design work. With a simple click-and-drag interface and multi-level Undo button the developer can quickly experiment with different layouts and resize behaviors. For cross-platform applications, X-Designer automatically generates C++ code to reproduce the sophisticated Motif-style resize behavior on Microsoft Windows.

Online Code Editing

With X-Designer you can add your own sections to the generated code and choose whether to add the code into a separate dialog or directly into the generated code. X-Designer first generates the code if it needs to and then presents it in an editing window. You are shown where you can safely add your own lines so that they are preserved when code is regenerated.

Full Context-Sensitive Help for X-Designer and Your Design

X-Designer includes full help which can be viewed in either Netscape or XD/Help - X-Designer's own help browser which reads and interprets a subset of HTML. Each dialog in X-Designer has a Help button which causes help on that context to be displayed in the viewer of your choice.

HTML-based context sensitive help can be built into your application within X-Designer using XD/Help. X-Designer generates all the code to invoke either XD/Help or Netscape and to display the HTML page and tag specified in X-Designer. Using a portable library provided with X-Designer, you can also add tooltip help for widgets in your own designs for all flavors of code - MFC, Java and Motif.

Integrated Tools

X-Designer includes a number of tools to assist in the building, customizing and testing of all types of graphical application. As fully integrated tools, these are provided without compromising the quality of the core product and with no cumbersome installation or integration. They simply appear in the menus and on the toolbar. These tools are:

  1. AppGuru. This is a wizard which adds standard user interface components to your design. Select which elements you would like to include to jump-start your own design. They are immediately placed into your design hierarchy and live dynamic display.

  2. XD/Replay. This GUI testing product allows you to create automated test scripts or rolling demonstrations for your application. Simply tell XD/Replay to record your use of the user interface and then play it back without human intervention.

  3. XD/Capture. Use this to grab the user interface of any running X11 application and put the result into X-Designer as a fully configurable design. Then customize and generate code from the design as normal, you can even generate code for Microsoft Windows or Java.

  4. Pixmap Editor. X-Designer's pixmap editor provides a palette of drawing and painting tools along with a configurable color palette. It is available from the main toolbar and supports the dragging and dropping of any pixmap onto the canvas. It provides a more intuitive way of designing an icon and can bind the newly created pixmap to a shareable object.

Client and Server Application Support

X-Designer's integrated Internet Smart Code helps you design a client application. Make it Internet-ready or let X-Designer generate a client and a server from your design. Widgets are grouped together into portable data structures and the callbacks are enhanced so that they can either run remotely or communicate with a remote server. You can even "Go Live" to test your client application while using X-Designer.

Powerful Third-Party Widget Integration Capability

Over 650 widgets have been integrated into X-Designer and there are a large number of pre-configured integration kits shipped with the product. X-Designer provides very fine control over widget integrations and can safeguard against suspect widgets. It is also user configurable.

Flexible Code Generation

X-Designer lets you generate:

  • C and C++ with full ANSI support.

  • UIL

  • Java. Fully portable, 100% Pure Java using your choice of AWT or Swing components.

  • Microsoft Windows MFC, allowing genuine cross-platform GUI development.

  • Complete Makefiles

  • XML

There are no proprietary libraries and all generated code is portable and clean. Guard comments are included to allow for incremental code generation and to protect any code you may wish to add. You can also add to generated Makefiles in order to build other aspects of your application.

Documentation and Tutorials

The extensive User's Guide covers every aspect of this versatile application. To get you off to a running start, a number of tutorials lead you steadily through the various aspects of design building, setting resources, laying out widgets, generating code, designing for Java, designing for Microsoft Windows, creating an internet-ready application and placing re-usable widget groups on the palette. If you need more help, there is always the highly responsive and knowledgeable support team ready to answer your queries about Motif in general and X-Designer in particular.

X-Designer 7 is available for evaluation, simply mail your request to sales@ist-inc.com or visit www.ist-inc.com.

email: potd@ssc.com

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