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#85892 - 2002-06-03 06:54 PM Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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Hi all,

Following in the spirit of my last post I'm posing a question: Could the kix community make use of a stand-alone type library viewer? If so, and if there's nothing else out there that people are using, then I was thinking of writing one.

For those of you not sure what that is, a type library viewer looks into DLL, EXE, and TLB files and extracts information on the objects, methods, properties and events contained within it. It basically would provide the same functionality as the "Object Browser" in Visual Studio, but as a stand-alone app.

From my perspective something like this would be pretty useful so that people writing scripts wouldn't have to refer to MSDN or other on-line sites for basic syntax information or to recall the name of a method you just can't quite remember.

Anyway, if there's already one out there then please let me know where to get it and I'll use it. Otherwise, I'll go ahead and write one.

Thanks.

Steve B
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#85893 - 2002-06-03 07:01 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Chris S. Offline
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Here's a stand-alone that I've used:

http://www.allapi.net/agnet/apiguide.shtml

Includes info, parameters, and VB samples.

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#85894 - 2002-06-03 07:42 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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Steve, another great idea ! I mostly use OLE View or fire-up VB Studio or the VBE. But OLE View is pretty crude, would be nice to have a stand-alone VBE-like interface. One that just presented the Automation interfaces and maybe even the embedded help text.

I've seen sample code (classes) for doing this at the codeproject, or was it codeguru, can't remember which one, but if your interested, have a boo or I can dig-up my old links.

Chris,

Does that util you pointed to list interpret COM typelibs, or just the win32 api's ?

-Shawn

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#85895 - 2002-06-03 07:54 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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Yeah, I saw an example in an old MSDN library. A couple of months ago I actually did a crude mock-up of a viewer. Worked well--looked crappy.

After following the link provided by Chris it looks like a souped up version of the API Viewer. After looking at the screenshots it doesn't appear to support COM references--more of a database of API calls like Win32api.txt (with a lot more info, samples, etc.)

What I usually do is run VB and launch the object browser to figure out what methods, etc. I'm looking for. It's a pain though, and I'm guessing people might like the viewer.

I'll dig out my old code within the next couple of weeks (time is tight right now) and see if I can get something usable for everybody.

If I recall correctly, I used kixforms.dll as one of my test files and it worked fine [Wink]

[ 03 June 2002, 19:56: Message edited by: Steve B ]
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#85896 - 2002-06-03 08:30 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Radimus Moderator Offline
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please do it... I have to use the Force here (also referred to as guessing)

Needless to say, I end up posting it here for Shawn or Kent or others figure out for me.
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#85897 - 2002-06-03 08:45 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Chris S. Offline
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Shawn & Steve, that's correct. That link is to the guide that is essentially a database of collected info. There is a link on another page for a API viewer, but I admit I haven't looked at it yet. I dl'd the quide during our previous discussion regarding "Block Input."
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#85898 - 2002-06-03 11:06 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
BrianTX Offline
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Registered: 2002-04-01
Posts: 895
Microsoft has an object viewer...

Get it at:

http://www.microsoft.com/com/resources/oleview.asp

Brian

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#85899 - 2002-06-04 05:53 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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Shawn had mentioned the OLE Viewer. I'm not partial to it myself since it doesn't contain the help text on each method/property/event and it contains a wealth of information on stuff that is of absolutely no interest to me like interface descriptors and CLSIDs.

What I have in mind in something more user-friendly that just shows the VB/Kix-type syntax for accessing each of the methods and properties and the help text (if any) that's included.
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#85900 - 2002-06-04 05:56 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
BrianTX Offline
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Try this one:

http://home.sprintmail.com/~mpryor/c-frame.htm?promo.htm

Brian

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#85901 - 2002-06-04 11:38 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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Hmmm, for a "light-weight" viewer, that utility sure has alot of "known issues" and "caveats" and "possible dependencies" (like the VB runtimes?) ... [Wink]

Plus, it sounds like there are some known issues with the ITypeLib interface itself in that it states that there are "common issues" between this viewer and OLE Viewer.

But from a look-and-feel standpoint, I think this viewer has things pretty much nailed. Wonder Steve, if the viewer you were planning was going to be C++ or VB based, and that if you might have quite the coding challenge ahead of you, to make a more stable viewer. If its anything like your editor (great piece of work by the way) I'm sure it will be [Wink]

-Shawn

[ 04 June 2002, 23:48: Message edited by: Shawn ]

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#85902 - 2002-06-05 02:04 AM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Lonkero Administrator Offline
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mm...
sounds nice.

but then, would ask dll coders to add more specific help in the dll.
this way separate help-file is not needed.

cheers.

btw, have any of you used linux system as pdc with kixtart logonscripts?
I'm currently investigating possibilities our corp can expand in lan structure.
at the time being, I'm stuck with "experimental" code which incorporates NTFS Access Control Lists with linux posix ACL.
really intresting. maybe at some day even working...
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#85903 - 2002-06-05 04:03 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Sealeopard Offline
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I know from postings in the SAMBA discussion groups that some folks are using a SAMBA PDC with KiXtart login scripts.
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#85904 - 2002-06-05 04:05 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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That last link is exactly the type of thing I had in mind.

Regarding the stability issue, I may have an idea on that. In all of the sample code I've been looking at, it all seems to derive from the same ultimate sample code. I've already fixed 2 bugs that I found in that sample code--and that's without really looking for bugs!

My guess is that whoever wrote that viewer just lifted the sample code and didn't change anything which is why it's not completely stable. My guess is that it shouldn't be hard to make it a bit more stable.

Regarding the language of choice, that brings up an interesting point. I was planning on making it in VB. There won't be any dependency issues since I can include the VB Runtimes and any and all DLLs that are necessary. I have seen some more examples in C++ that I could use but since the VB code was based off this code, I imagine the stability issues will still be there.

How about this...

I was thinking of writing this in C#. The upside is that I'm confident that it will be solid as far stability. The question is how many people who would use this app have the .NET runtime? Or a better question is how many people have access to the .NET runtime without requiring a download? It's a heavyweight runtime at 20+ MB. But it's included with Technet and MSDN and is freely downloadable off the web. I can even package 2 setups--one without the runtime and one with it included.

I've been working with .NET for about 6 months now and would like a real project to actually deploy to people. This seems like a good candidate. But at the same time I don't want to alienate too many people.

What do you all think?
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#85905 - 2002-06-05 04:10 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Radimus Moderator Offline
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well, I'd thing that some developers looking ahead would use/have the .NET, but I don't see many people jumping on the .NET corporate wise for at least a year or 2 (or more).

How many people here still post questions about wintendo machines (many probably on 486s and p100s)...
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#85906 - 2002-06-06 12:40 AM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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Steve, from my standpoint (user), this would be my order of preference:

1) C++
2) VB
3) C#

Don't know about others, but I tend to be "on the move" quite a bit, like carrying my tools with me or at least be able to get them in & running real quick. C++ obviously no issue there. VB, at least you got a good chance of having the runtimes already there, C# w/ 20MB+ download, i mean, I got it here at home, but its nowhere to be found at the office. A 20MB download as needed doesn't really turn me on either (imho).

Now ... if I were in your shoes - I would go with whatever language you used to write your KixScripts Editor in. I mean, this viewer would obviously make a wonderful addition to your editor - so why not kill two birds with one stone here ? So if you implemented the viewer as a class, or as an ActiveX control in itself (with a stand-alone wrapper), that would make your life easier for sure - assuming of course at the end of day you wanted to roll it in.

-Shawn

oops, forgot about the MFC library, hmmm, ever consider ATL/WTL ? [Wink]

-Shawn

[ 06 June 2002, 01:30: Message edited by: Shawn ]

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#85907 - 2002-06-06 07:45 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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Shawn,

Ultimately, the plan is to wrap it into the editor. For now, though, I wanted to make it a stand-alone app with no external dependencies.

With the editor it's going to be worked in to intellisense so that when you type 'CreateObject("' it will pop up a list of all registered tlb objects and whenever you type a "." after entering an object it will provide a list of properties and methods like in VB. That way you won't even have to launch a separate utility to get at the information.

But for now I just want to get this thing out there so people can use it.

I guess the C# idea isn't really going to fly...a pity. Oh, well. I'll try to dig up some old C samples. If I can't find them the quickest route will be to use my existing VB source.

Hopefully in a week or two...
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#85908 - 2002-06-06 09:25 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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Steve, my two cents, I think the viewer rolled into the Editor would still be very usefull. Intellisense is great, in fact, it one of my favorite IDE features. But to me, intellisense alone is only half of the battle. The other half is browsing through the myriad of COM libraries and ProgIDs, looking for something that your not sure of, or looking for new possibilities that one didn't even know existed, yeah ?

Its your call, but could you imagine the Visual Basic Editor without the Object Viewer ? You know the score on that - using intellisense, one would have to create an instance of everything they wanted to browse, plus, maybe miss-out on the embedded help text buried inside TLB's (unless you were going to intellisense that as well).

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to seeing your finished product. Hopefully you will allow kixtart.org to be beta testers, hopefully even alpha testers [Wink]

-Shawn

[ 06 June 2002, 21:28: Message edited by: Shawn ]

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#85909 - 2002-06-06 09:34 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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p.s.

Have you benchmarked your idea of droping-down a codesense window, listing all available progids, when autocompleting a CreateObject(... ? Just curious about the length of time it would take to do that.

-Shawn

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#85910 - 2002-06-07 02:44 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Shawn Administrator Offline
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Steve, sorry for ranting off-topic there. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I should know better than that. And in regards to C# vs C/VB, I would use your viewer even if it was coded in COBOL or RPG4 [Wink]
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#85911 - 2002-06-07 04:21 PM Re: Type Library Viewer for Kix?
Stevie Offline
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I know exactly what you mean. Dropping down the intellisense doesn't give the same level of information as the object browser and there's quite a bit more scrolling involved. And like you say, you need to type in every instance of every object you want to look at.

I'm sure it will be bundled with the Editor. In fact, what we're going to do in an upcoming version is allow users to add their own tools to the Editor. So things they use often while scripting can be placed directly under the tools menu.

Not only that, but I'm going to add yet another ActiveX control to allow an app to input text directly into the active script window. That way, users can build their own custom wizards or add-ins if they so choose.

Now I'm getting off topic...

As far as benchmarking, my preliminary look is that it will be fast enough to pop up the window almost immediately. I need to look at some objects with dozens or hundreds of members to see what would happen then.

As soon as I have something for everyone to look at, I'll definitely have you guys bang on it for a while. That would be great.

Steve
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