Prashant Deva's blog

Talks on technology and the latest developments in Placid Systems.

Nested datatypes in Virtual Ant and How we screwed up the Beta

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As it turns out , I just recently noticed that a minor mistake on our part greatly screwed up the beta experience for all the users. If you did try the beta then don’t worry, it doesn’t affect your system in any way but it does affect the experience you had with Virtual Ant, meaning you didn’t get to see everything we had put in there.

So what was the problem? Well as it turns out when they tell you to avoid hardcoding absolute paths in your code they are absolutely right. But as it turns out, in the heat of coding someone got a little tempted and the path to one of the images in the beta version of Virtual Ant had an absolute path to the directory containing it.

That images was for one of the buttons in Virtual Ant. Since the button is custom drawn on the GUI, without the image you wont be able to see it at all. The problem went unnoticed for so long because all the machines we tried it on had the image in the right place. The mistake was finally noticed when just last week we went to update that portion of the code.

So by now, you are probably wondering what does the button actually do and where should it have been found. Well as it turns out when you select one of the running tasks in Virtual Ant, you see all its attributes on the right. Below the attributes are bars which allow you to add datatypes like 'fileset', 'filelist', etc to the task right from the gui. The image in question refers to the button which allow you to add datatypes to the task.

No buttons to add datatypes!

Since you cannot see the button, you cannot add datatypes to the task, rendering Virtual Ant almost useless. Thus you can imagine my horror when I noticed this error so late in the game and realized how we royally screwed up the beta release.

But now since we are past that, its time to show you how the attributes view in the final release will look like.

The new attributes view

Clicking on the 'green' plus button next to each datatype allows you to add datatypes to that task. Many datatypes have a special dialog associated with them which gives you a special gui to define that datatype easily. If the datatype has a dialog associated with it, it will pop up when you click on the 'plus' button. Here is the dialog for adding selectors to a task which supports them.

Selector dialog

Special gui dialogs like this are defined for many ant datatypes like fileset, filelist etc.

That said we are now extremely close to the final release. We have added an insane amount of functionality since the beta. I will be talking about some of the major new features for the final release in my next few posts.

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