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Code Editor

The code editor is used to view and edit the source code of an elementary block. It is found on the "Code" tab after selecting an elementary block in the navigation tree. The same editor is also used in all tools (Filebrowser, Data-Viewers, Inspectors, Notepad, Documentation Editor etc.)

To the right, you see an example for some code in the editor.

The editor consists of a language drop down list item at the top, and a code editor area, which covers the rest of the editor's space. The code input area is a regular text editor which provides syntax coloring and some code-related functions on its pop-up (right button) menu.

The drop down list selects the programming language in which the block is to be coded. If changed, the system tries to convert the current code into the newly selected language, which is only possible/supported for some language combinations. The block's icon is adjusted depending on the language.

When an elementary block is initially created, some template code is shown in the editor. This consists of the "execute" function body, a comment which gives advice on how to access the input and output values, and a transcript command which prints a standard output message to the transcript. Thus, the block can be immediately executed and does "something useful". Once you get familiar with elementary code, this template comment can be disabled via the settings menu ("Extras" - "Settings" - "Look & Feel" - "Code Editor" - "Long Code Template").

Usually, you will cut out the comment and the transcript command, and replace it by your own code. The function name and body delimiters should be left as is. While typing, a just-in-time parser performs syntax coloring and some syntactic and semantic checks. Most errors and typos are thus detected immediately at editing time.

The expecco API describes some appropriate method calls for JavaScript and Smalltalk. To access the full protocol of the underlying framework classes, use a system browser from the tools menu or refer to the "Smalltalk/X Online Documentation" or the "Smalltalk/X Online Class Documentation".

Programming Language Awareness

Builtin Languages

Currently, two programming languages are built right into expecco. These are translated into an internal compact bytecode form, whenever code is "accepted", and further compiled to machine code whenever the action block is first invoked. The languages are the system's underlying Smalltalk language and a JavaScript lookalike language, which follows the syntax of JavaScript, but has an object and inheritance model of the underlying Smalltalk system (i.e. it is class- not instance based, and does not support dynamic change of an object's slot layout).

These built-in languages are fully supported by the code editor and the debugger: you can place breakpoints (called "halts") into the code, single step, inspect local variables etc. Also, syntax coloring, code completion and quick syntax checking are supported for those built-in languages.

The API is described in the The expecco API document.

Non Builtin (Script) Languages

Other (non-builtin) script languages are processed and executed by external interpreters, and the editor is not fully aware of or supporting any language specific editing support. For some languages, syntax highlighting and comment detection is provided, but neither breakpoints, nor single stepping, nor evaluation of expressions or inspection of values in the debugger are possible in general.

For example, shell and batch scripts are executed by forwarding the code to an appropriate command line interpreter. Groovy code is forwarded to a Groovy interpreter running inside a Java VM. Script languages like Ruby, Python, Tcl, 'R', Node.js or  GnuPlot programs are executed by an external scripting engine. Debugging facilities are limited for those external languages (no single stepping, for example). Although not normally a major issue (as these languages are less used inside expecco), language support for those is available by defining an external language editor in the settings dialog. For example, under Windows, a Notepad++ or under Unix, an Emacs editor may be useful in some situations.

Mouse Click and Selection

Single click the left mouse button to move the cursor. Click and drag to select a piece of text.

Double click to select a word. Double click and drag (not releasing the mouse button after the second click) will select more text word-wise.

Triple click to select a line. Triple click and drag (not releasing the mouse button after the third click) will select more text line-wise.

Quadruple click to select the whole text.

The selection can extended either by pressing the mouse button and the Shift key simultaneously, or the Shift key and one of the cursor keys. If no previous selection exists, the selection is extended from the previous cursor position.

A right button click shows the editor's menu, which contains more editing functions, including many useful operations in its "Misc" and "More" submenus.

Special Characters

To enter special characters which are not on your keyboard and cannot be entered via ALT-key combinations, open a "special characters"-dialog via the popup menu ("More" - "Special Characters"). This presents all possible characters of the Unicode character set. This dialog can be used like a second keyboard; click on the character to get it inserted at the current cursor position. You can keep this window open and around to enter multiple characters.

Editor Functions and Keyboard Shortcuts

The editor provides the most common edit functions both via its right-button pop-up menu and via keyboard shortcuts. For some functions, more than one keyboard shortcut is present (the reason is that on some systems, some shortcuts are reserved by the operating system or window manager, so that the alternative shortcut must be used).

A more detailed description of the editor's features is found in the Smalltalk/X online manual's "Editing Text" section.

The most useful operations are:

Function Shortcut (s) Description
Cut Ctrl-x Cut the selected text. The text is placed into the clipboard and can be pasted via Paste (also into other programs).
Copy Ctrl-c Copy the selected text. The text is placed into the clipboard and can be pasted via Paste.
Paste Ctrl-v Paste the previously copied or cut text (i.e. the text from the clipboard). The text can be pasted multiple times.
Undo Ctrl-z Undo the previous edit operation or text insertion.
Redo Ctrl-y Undo the previous undo.
Delete Del or Backspace Delete the selected text without affecting the clipboard.
Again F8 Repeat the previous cut or replace operation. Implies a search for the next occurrence of the affected text.
This is a very useful function, eg. to replace multiple occurrences of a string by another, you double-click on the first, type over it, and press "Again" to repeat.
Find Ctrl-f Open a search / search+replace dialog
Find-Forward Cmd-f Search forward for the currently selected text or the previous searched text (if the text selection was unchanged).
Find-Backward Cmd-b Search backward for the currently selected text or the previous searched text.
Next-Word Ctrl-w Move the cursor to the next word. Press multiple times to advance
Select-Word Cmd-w Select the word under the cursor, the space between or the next word.
Press multiple times to advance
DoIt Ctrl-d Execute the selected text as a Smalltalk or JavaScript expression.
If there is no selection, the whole contents of the current cursor line is executed.
PrintIt Ctrl-p Execute the selected text as a Smalltalk or JavaScript expression and paste the result
InspectIt Ctrl-q Execute the selected text as a Smalltalk or JavaScript expression and show the result in an inspector window
Indent4 F12 indent the selected lines by 4
Undent4 F11 undent the selected lines by 4
Indent1 F10 indent the selected lines by 1
Undent1 F9 undent the selected lines by 1
Change Case F6 toggle the selection between UPPERCASE, Titlecase and lowercase

The Cmd key is usually labeled "Cmd", "Alt" or "Meta", depending on your keyboard. Thus, to search text that is already on the screen, select it and press Cmd-f.
If it is not already visible, press Ctrl-f.
To evaluate and paste, select some text and press Ctrl-p.
To replace a string with another, select it, type in the new text, and press F8 (Again) - and again, and again...
If you want to search first, before replacing, alternate between Cmd-f (Forward search) and F8 (Again).

DoIt and PrintIt

Especially the "DoIt", "PrintIt" and "InspectIt" functions deserve more explanation as they are often very useful. These are avilable in the builtin languages and interpret the selected text as a code fragment of the programming language and execute it. For example, if you select "Math.sin(45.degreesToRadians)" in a JavaScript editor, then press the "PrintIt" shortcut (Ctrl-p), that code is interpreted and the result pasted at the cursor position.
Useful JavaScript expressions are:

or in Smalltalk:

    Date today 
    Time now 
    UUID new 
    OperatingSystem getHostName
    1234567 nextPrime
    1234567 nextPowerOf2
    45 degreesToRadians sin

Of course, this is very useful while programming an elementary block. You can try out code fragments right in the editor. By the way: every window which shows code can evaluate code: the elementary block editor, the workspace windows and especially the debugger. In the debugger, local variables and self (this) can be used in evaluated code. For incremental programming, place a halt in your elementary block's code, and write the program (after testing it with doIt/printIt) right in the debugger.

For a full list of useful expressions, please refer to the Smalltalk/X Online Documentation.

Again (Repeat Last Edit)

The "Again" operation - press F8 or select it from the operations (= right-button) menu - repeats the last delete or replace operation, after searching for the next occurrence of the original string. So, to incrementally rename all occurrences of "foo" with "bar", find the very first occurrence "foo", select it, type "bar" over it. This is the first edit operation. Then press F8 to repeat this for the next occurrence of "foo" in the text.

The operations menu also offers an "Again until End" function in its "More" sub-menu. This performs multiple "Again" operations, until the original string is no longer found. Use this to replace ALL occurrences of a string by another.

More Useful Editor Commands

The popup-menu and especially the submenus under "More" and "Other" contain a number of additional, often very useful editor commands. Among many others, will find functions to paste the current date and time, to generate UUIDs or to sort your text alphabetically. A very useful function is also "Open Filebrowser on Selected Name", which is enabled if the current selected text is a valid filename.

Editor Customization

By default, the editor is configured to treat the whole page like a piece of paper, where the cursor can be arbitrarily positioned. If you move the cursor, or click into the view, any short line will be automatically lengthened to the current cursor position, when a non-blank character is entered (Rand-Editor behavior).

This may be an unusual behavior for users used to vi, notepad and other editors, which only allow positioning of the cursor to the actual line end, without automatic line lengthening. If you prefer this behavior, go to the editor's settings dialog ("Extras" - "Settings" - "Look & Feel" - "Code Editor") and toggle the "Standard Line-End Behavior" toggle. However, if you do so, it is probably a good idea to also check the "Automatic Indent" toggle.

Changing the Keyboard Mapping

The editor's keyboard-to-command mapping is loaded at startup time from a file named "keyboard.rc" in the expecco installation folder. Once you get a little familiar with Smalltalk syntax, you may even change the keyboard mapping and/or add additional macro functions to suit your personal preferences. Detailed information on how this is one in found in the Smalltalk/X Documentation on Keyboard Customization.

See Also

For the programmer API for the builtin languages see: Expecco API,
Sections of interest are the Pin-API , Activity-API
For information on the functions available in the built-in classes (method protocol), please refer to the Smalltalk/X Online Documentation and especially the Class Reference. For example, some of the mathematical functions are described here and String processing functions are found here and here.
For elementary blocks in general, see ElementaryBlock Element
More information on the Debugger and Inspector are found in the tools section of the Smalltalk/X Online Documentation.

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