Saturday, January 9, 2010

One GUI to rule them all…

It was just under a week ago that I discovered how to attach a custom control to a Class Property and allow the control to be shown when using the PropertyGrid via UITypeEditors.

It’s been quiet a week for the Mud Designer. I created a test editor so that I could mess around with using the UITypeEditor, and I found that it was actually really easy to implement. The more I worked on the test editor, the more I liked it. The current layout of the editor I have never really liked. It was really easy to maintain due to the code being segregated into multiple editors, but it made it difficult trying to get all of the editable Properties of each object into the editor. There wasn’t enough screen space to fit it all, so I started adding tab controls and really cluttering up the UI quiet a bit. I didn’t like it, as it made understanding the flow of the editors difficult.

The test designer had a simple work flow. Menu driven, and easy to understand what’s going on. The UI was designed much like Visual Studio, with a project explorer and object property editor off to the side of the GUI, and a large open workspace for a future designer that I would like to implement. Objects are created via the menustrip, and once created and saved, are displayed in the Project Explorer, where right-clicking on the object displays a couple of options including Editing it and Deleting it.

Realms and Zones can now be created truly independently of each other. Zones are stored in their own ‘Zones’ directory, and when a Realm is loaded and being edited, the user can select ‘Zones’ on the Realms Properties and it will open up a custom TypeEditor allowing users to move zones out from being within the independent ‘Zones’ directory and move the files and contents of the Zone into the Realm’s directory ‘Realm Name/Zones/Zone Name’. Users can create Zones and add their Rooms to it, without having to place it in a Realm if they don’t want to.

While the Test editor can’t create or link Rooms yet, it does several things that the current set of editors can’t do.

  • Build Zones outside of a Realm
  • Move Zones in and out of a Realm
  • All Objects are now accessible at anytime, from within the same GUI.
  • Objects are now Auto-Saved anytime a change is made to it.
  • Object Management has been greatly simplified

I spent all day working on the creation, saving, loading and linking of Realms/Zones and was surprised at how fluidly everything worked together. There are several areas that I want to re-visit and refractor, but that will happen at a later date.

With the progress I’ve made over the last week, I’ve decided that the Test Designer will become the Mud Designer, and all of the current editors will be removed from the project. The latest SVN commit at Codeplex no longer contains the previous editor tools, and only contains the new Mud Designer. I’m hoping I can get the Room creation setup tonight, and the Zone/Room and Room/Room linking put together by the end of tomorrow.

Once all of the Environments are able to link to each other and work correctly, I will work on the visualizer, which is going to be a visual display showing all of the Realms in the project. Users can select a Realm in the visualizer and the visualizer clears out to show all of the Zones contained within the Realm, along with showing the user what Zones are linked to it. Selecting a Zone will reveal the ‘Zone Entrance’ room, and all of it’s doors, letting users click a door and travel through the zone door to door.

The visualizer is a planned concept, but has taken a back seat for the moment while I work on linking the environment objects together. I also need to take a look at some of my existing code, and do some clean up on it. Refractor some code from the designer into the engine classes and work on building a few helper methods within the engine to help simplify the actions that the designer needs to do. Tags: ,,,

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