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Best Practice Makes Perfect

A collaboration with Domino developers about how to do it and how to get it right in Domino

If you've been messing around with the version 8.0 Beta, you might have noticed that we added a couple of design elements, but these don't appear in the Design Synopsis output, and neither do many of the new options we've added to other design elements. This largely has to do with where we think the Designer team's time would be most effectively spent -- the perpetual issue of too much to do and wildly varying opinions on which things are most important.

But also, the Design Synopsis has never worked very well for large designs ("Too many paragraphs") or for large blocks of LotusScript , whose code does not appear in full. The most important limitation of the Design Synopsis, though, in my estimation, is that the output is not customizable. People want to use reports of the design for different things -- maybe someone is interested to see all the LotusScript code, while someone else is just wanting to know what all fonts are used so they can review corporate standards compliance, someone else wants every bit of any kind of code to see where a design element is referred to, and so on. Either the synopsis contains way more information than you want, or it doesn't contain the specific detail you were interested in.

DXL Transformer dialogThat's why, rather than put effort into updating a tool that has a basic conceptual drawback, some versions back we inserted a new function which we hope people will want to use instead. The menu item Tools / DXL Utilities / Transformer... causes your computer to change into a little robotic man who will attack your bugs with guns blazing...

No, wait, different reality. [Wrench!] Actually, it'll put up a dialog very similar to the Design Synopsis dialog, with one important difference: the opportunity to select an XML stylesheet (.xsl file) to transform the DXL descriptions of the selected design elements into human-readable form as an HTML file.

There's only one drawback -- IBM has only supplied one report format for you. The file REPORT-AllLSinForm.xsl extracts all the LotusScript code from Form design elements in the DXL and formats that source code into a nice report. So you are sort of on your own to create additional reports that capture the information you specifically want.

Fortunately, there are resources to help you. Many thanks to Christian Gorni, who has posted a couple of additional XSL files on openntf.org. These might be useful to you as is or with a little tweaking, or they can be examples for your own efforts. If you want to get your feet wet in editing others' XSLs or creating your own from scratch, people in the know tell me that XMLSpy is an excellent tool for that purpose -- free 30-day evaluation.

If there is some Domino developer out there with XSL skills and too much time on their hands, I would love to see a monster XSL file that basically reproduced the output of the Design Synopsis, so that people could just take out what they didn't want. Mr. Mac Guidera, perhaps?

Andre Guirard | 17 April 2007 03:14:00 PM ET | Caribou Coffee, Plymouth, MN, USA | Comments (5)

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