Authoring Guided Applets


You create ViSta's Guided Applets by a visual point-and-click interface. No programming is required.

The method is identical to creating ViSta's GuideMaps. You indicate the GuideMap is a Guided Applet when you save it.

There are six steps:

  1. Enter authoring mode.
  2. This is done simply by typing into the listener:
    (author t)
    This provides an empty "Author's Workbench" window and a Tools menu of special authoring tools to create the buttons, arrows and icons that appear on a guidemap.

  3. Create GuideMap Buttons.
  4. There are two kinds of buttons on a GuideMap:

    1. Analysis buttons control a step of a statistical data analysis. In the figure, the "Explore Your Data" guidemap is being created (here is the finished guidemap). So far, the Browse Data, Visualize Data, and Summarize Data analysis buttons have been added (the arrow is a flow icon explained later).

      Analysis buttons are created by using the Data, Transform, Model, and Analyze menus (and the data related items in the File menu) in the usual way. In authoring mode these menu items are modified to add a button to the workbench. The button represents the data analysis step. The actual step of the data analysis takes place as usual.

    2. Flow buttons and icons control the flow of guidance.

      • Buttons: The flow of guidance takes place when an active button is clicked on by a user.
      • Icons: The flow of guidance automatically takes place when guidance flow reaches an icon.

      Flow buttons and icons are created with special authoring tools in the Tools menu. There are six menu items that create flow icons and buttons:

      • AND Icon: The AND icon controls flow by requiring that all incoming connections be used before any outgoing connections are activated. This icon is represented by a short arrow. One AND icon appears on the workbench in the previous figure.
      • Link Button and Auto Link Icon: These menu items create Link buttons or icons which link the user to a new guidemap. A dialog box asks for the name of the guidemap linked to. This name is displayed on the guidemap, preceed by Link:. At the time that the guidemap is used (but not at the time it is being authored) the first eight characters of this name will be used to find a file in the guidance directory (with spaces in the link name represented in the file name by dashes).
      • Return Button and Auto Return Icon: These menu items create Return buttons or icons which return guidance to the guidemap which originally linked to the current guidemap.
      • GoTo Button: This menu item creates GoTo buttons which guide the user to a newly created data or model object. A dialog box asks you to select whether the guidance will flow to the most recently created data or model object, or to a specifically named object.

  5. Create Flow Arrows.
  6. Use the Connect Objects menu item to connect two objects (either buttons or icons) with an arrow. The arrow is drawn to the currently active icon from the previously active icon. Thus, to draw from object A to object B, click first on A, then on B, and then use the Connect Objects menu item.

    The figure at the right shows the buttons and icon connected by flow arrows.

    The flow is such that after Browse Data is used, both Visualize Data and Summarize Data will become active. When both are used, guidance is transfered through the AND icon to whatever follows it.

    The guidance flow is not shown well by the arrangement of the buttons and icons, so we will re-arrange them.

  7. Arrange the Buttons and Icons.
  8. You can drag buttons and icons arround the workbench window to create an "esthetically pleasing" structure that communicates the flow of guidance (shift-drag drags the selected object and all those below it).

    The third figure has a structure which clearly displays the guidance flow.

  9. Determine Which Buttons are Initially Active
  10. When a guidemap appears, some of its buttons must be initially active. You determine which buttons are active by
    1. selecting a button that you wish to be initially active
    2. while that button is selected, choosing the Initial Button menu item.
    Any number of buttons, including all of them, may be initially active. At least one button must be initially active. In the preceeding figure, if the Initial Button menu item is used the Browse Data button will be initially active.

  11. Save the new GuideMap.
  12. When you are finished authoring the guidemap, use the Tools menu Save Guidemap item to save the guidemap. You will see a dialog box which asks for the name of the file, the title of the guidemap, and whether this is to be an applet.

    The correct naming of the file is critical, as it serves as the method by which other guidemaps link to the guidemap you are saving. The name must be the first eight characters of the name used by other guidemaps in their Link buttons or icons (with spaces in the button/icon names replaced by dashes). Thus, if another guidemap links to the guidemap being saved by a Link button named Link:Explore, the guidemap being saved must be saved as the file explore.lsp.

    The title may be anything at all. This information appears as the title of the window. This example's title is: Explore Your Data (here is the finished guidemap).

    Make sure you check the Applet box. (Note: This feature is not yet supported in released versions of ViSta, but will be available in future versions. Currently, there is no Applet box to check in the dialog box.)

Authoring Additional Guided Applets.

You can author additional guided applets by typing: (author t :new t) .

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Copyright 1997 by Forrest W. Young. All rights reserved.