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Friday
May112012

Apesuite Beta 6 - Preview Demo

We are working hard on finalizing Beta 6 of the Apesuite package for Firemonkey.  
 
As part of this process we'd like to get some early feedback on a few of our new components coming out in Beta 6.  The following is a link to a demo download that includes binaries for Windows and OS X.  We would appreciate it if you could download it and start playing around with it.
Featured in the demo are the following new components:
  • TSmartGrid - A very versatile and flexible spreadsheet style grid component that aims for inline editing, advanced styling with fills and borders, excel-style navigation and selection, low memory footprint (theoretically), importing and exporting of multiple formats and fast (well as fast as Firemonkey will allow, which is still pretty slow at the moment).
  • TFontComboBox - A cross platform combo box that lists the fonts available on the system.
  • TFontToolbox - A toolbox for our TPageBar component that makes it easy to set all font settings.
  • TFillEditor - A panel that provides an editor for a Firemonkey TBrush (Fill, Stroke properties).
The feedback we are most interested in has to do with the SmartGrid navigation, selection, formatting and editing. 
  1. Are there any keybindings that seem to be missing?
  2. Is there any action that doesn't feel natural or consistent with other sheet type editors (mac or windows)?
  3. Is there some specific performance bottleneck you are running into?
  4. Is there a specific feature that you would like to see implemented in this component?
If you could provide feedback to us quickly, that would be great.  We're trying to finalize our feature set to iron out as many quirks as possible before beta 6 release. As I said in our recent blog post, we're aiming for beta 6 release this month and would like it to be sooner rather than later. Your help will be crucial to making that happen.
 
Non-customers can provide feedback in the comments of this blog post and customers can use the official support channels.
 
Thanks in advance for taking a look.

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Reader Comments (10)

A few comments:

1. The demo takes a long time to start for me, both on OS X and Windows.

2. The grid's appearance is very good.

3. Selecting a cell range on OS X is annoyingly laggy. However, the problem doesn't arise when I run the Windows EXE in a Vista VM on the same physical machine, despite the VM having the benefit of only 1GB and a single core allocated to it.

4. The OS X demo also suffers popup menu bugs - sub-menus don't appear until I click the parent item, on which the parent menu disappears as the sub-menu appears.

5. When editing a cell, if the caret is at the end of the text and SelLength (or equivalent) = 0, I would expect pressing the right arrow key to move the focus to the next cell. Similarly, if the caret is at the start of the text and SelLength is 0, pressing the left arrow key should move the focus to the previous cell. This isn't happening in your demo however.

6. I think the styling of your ribbon control needs work - e.g., the tabs need to be more prominent, and the black outlines round the controls need to be lightened. On OS X, have you considered trying to immitate the look of the Office 2011 ribbon control? Functionally, I'd also like double clicking a tab to minimise the ribbon, like it does in Office (Windows or Mac).

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Rolliston

"right to left support" it is the most important feature that if doesn't exist all controls means nothing for all right to left language
bidi support , please implement it.
for more information about it please read this :
http://vcldeveloper.com/news/firemonkey-and-support-for-bi-directional-text/

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterahmed

Response to Chris...

1. The delay is due to the new TFillEditor component which is made up of 70+ buttons each (and there are three in the demo). Firemonkey is taking an excessive amount of time for button creation. We are looking into where the bottleneck is coming from and if it's an optimization that we can recommend to Embarcadero, we'll do that. Otherwise we may have to change our approach in that component.

2. Thank you... :)

3 & 4. We have yet to really spend a lot of time testing the grid on OS X. We will probably release Beta 6 before we spend too much time optimizing for OS X but it will be fixed before Apesuite goes RTM.

5. Thanks for catching this. This is exactly the type of feedback we were hoping to get and we'll get this fixed before Beta 6 goes out.

6. Thanks for the suggestions on the TPageBar (ribbon-like) control. We will take your them under consideration. I don't own a copy of office for the mac, so I'll see if I can find some screenshots online to reference. I will say that the PageBar should be completely customizable via the style editor in Firemonkey and we're happy to take submissions on tweaks to the default style for implementation in the release version.


Response to Ahmed...

Thanks for the comments. We are utilizing the Firemonkey framework so any bidi support is going to be dependent on the framework. We shouldn't be building in any limitations of our own though, so if it works in Firemonkey it should work in our components.

Did you find something in particular that is broken in our grid that works in Firemonkey otherwise?

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason Southwell

I am desperate for a reasonable Firemonkey grid, this brings hope, thanks!

1. The size of the executable (21 mb) seems excessive?

2. Any chance of discontinuous multiselect, selecting e.g. columns A and C, but not B, using ctrl-click?

3. Any chance of moving columns or rows by dragging, like in the VCL stringgrid?

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOyvind Hammer

Response to Oyvind...

1. The exe is compiled in debug mode with debug dcu's... that's probably why.

2. Not in the initial release, but we can certainly take down the feature request.

3. We can look at implementing this.

May 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterSivv Support

"the TPageBar (ribbon-like) control" - ah yes, I suppose there's the licencing issues if you call it a 'ribbon'! Although, Office for the Mac highlights the ridiculousness of the situation - it's called 'the ribbon', looks like a 'ribbon' from a layperson's POV, but plainly doesn't adhere to the specific requirements of MS' own ribbon licence (e.g., the menu bar is still there, including the classic File menu).

That said, I've found a few other issues -

7. On OS X, I can't resize either the columns or the rows with the mouse.

8. Also on OS X, the Enter key in the number pad doesn't work (this may be a FMX issue). This is using the Apple Wired Keyboard.

9. Once more on OS X, while the number keys in the number pad work in the grid and 'formula bar', they don't when trying to change the grid size in the ribbon page bar.

10. You may want to tweak the demo so that pressing Enter when the focus is on the 'formula bar' gives the focus back to the grid, like it would in Excel.

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Rolliston

Your demo is very slow. It takes almost 12 sec to start. Clicking into the select Font Combobox takes about 2 sec. The footprint is also extremly high. It takes about 250 MB Virtual Size, after the fonts are loaded it has 350 MB VS.

OS: Win7 32-Bit
CPU: Dual Core 2.80 GHz
RAM 2.00 GB

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarkus Ja

Response to Markus...

The slowness at start is due to the new Fill Editor component. We've already worked around the Firemonkey performance limitation for the Beta 6 release and the demo will start much more quickly.

The Font Combobox slowness is due to a performance limitation in Firemonkey that we won't be working around. The good news is that you will only see it if you use custom styles, so the component itself will work quickly if you are happy with the default styles.

We are optimizing for speed, not memory. Firemonkey isn't really a fast framework and we are doing everything we can to make sure a component like this performs quickly enough to be usable. In a lot of ways, that performance is going to come at the cost of memory. Having said that, there is probably something that can be done to reduce the memory footprint and we'll spend some time looking at it after the Beta 6 release.

Response to Chris...

7, 8 & 9: I'm not quite sure what the difference is between OS X and Windows in Firemonkey, but it appears that the mouse coordinates are off by a bit. We're looking into the differences to make sure it works well under both OSs.

10. Demo tweaked as suggested for release with Beta 6.

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason Southwell

Good !
But too long time to start, too big size, too slow.

May 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Lee

@Tommy,

Thanks. As I said above, the time to start is fixed for the next update. Also, as I said above, the size is due to debug info and otherwise bloated firemonkey framework.

Regarding speed, I've mentioned the reasons why the font box is slow. Other than that can you point to specific speed issues? We haven't really yet optimized for speed but are regularly running it through AQTime and find the bottlenecks to mostly be in the firemonkey framework.

May 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason Southwell

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