Visual REXX Faceoff - Part 1
Written by Gordon Zeglinski
This issue sees the first part of the Visual Rexx face-off. We start by looking at VX-REXX.
The Watcom VX-REXX package includes two 3.5" HD floppies and a 700+ page manual. The manual is nicely written, but the reference section is slightly hard to use. (Fortunately, one doesn't have to use it!) The first few chapters are instructions on how to do things, the rest of the manual is all reference. There are plenty of sample programs included.
To install VX-REXX, you need about 5-6 megs of free disk space. The install program is pretty simple and non-intrusive. It fits in nicely with the OS/2 environment. There's nothing I hate more than these "ego-maniac" install programs that go out of their way to make you sit and watch them install. Fortunately, this package doesn't have one of those. After answering a few questions, popping in the two disks, and rebooting, we have the following folder on our desktop.
Look and Feel
The interface is neat and easy to use. It consists of the window you are designing and a tool palette, as shown in figure 2.
VX-REXX uses SOM to implement its "tools". Each of the objects in the Tools window (except for the pointer) is a SOM object. Note, just because VX-REXX is based in SOM does not mean it's a WPS app, which is not a bad thing. VX-REXX does mimic the feel of the WPS. Each object has a pop-up menu that can be used to change the various properties of the object you have clicked on. Figure 2 shows the popup for the main window; other objects have similar menus. Figure 3 shows the properties notebook for a static text object.
Overall, if you are used to the WPS, you will quickly learn how to configure and create objects. We now get to the best part of the interface.
I found the reference section of the manual a bit difficult to use. It's hard to find answers to questions like "How do I put text into the damn listbox?!". Fortunately, you don't have to look in the manual for this. VX has a code insertion ability. To use this ability, you bring up a context menu, select "Code Insert", then select the action you want the code to perform. The inserted code will usually require some editing. In addition to the popup menu method of code insertion, the user can drag a control from the window they are designing and drop it on the code window. VX-REXX will then prompt the user for the action to perform, after which the code necessary to perform the action is inserted.
Wrapping Things Up
I have found one annoying thing/bug in VX, but before I comment on it, I will wait for a response from Watcom tech support. Next issue, we'll look at VisPro/REXX (from HockWare) and see how VX-REXX compares to it.