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New top level UI in Frontier 5

There's a beginner mode and expert mode in Frontier 5.

As it ships from the server, beginner mode is on. You can go into expert mode by choosing the (new) Expert Mode command from the File menu.

In beginner mode Frontier.root is open, but it is not displayed in a window. Until you go into expert mode, the object database is completely invisible.

In beginner mode, a totally standard File menu. The Open command opens a script that lives in a file system file. You can store any Frontier type, outline, wptext, menubar, script, etc in a separate file. In beginner mode, all the FIle menu commands work the way they would work in a word processor or draw program.

This is different from previous versions of Frontier, where the only easy storage structure was the object database. In Frontier 5, until you're ready to dive into the power of database scripting, it's neatly hidden behind the Expert Mode command. We imagine that many people will never flip this flag.

Menus in Beginner Mode

As you may know, Frontier displays a set of "soft" user-editable menus between the Edit menu and the Window menu. This menubar is stored at system.misc.menubar.

When you're running in beginner mode a different menubar object is displayed in this space. This allows us to customize the user interface for beginners. We'll be able to do a simple file-based website management layer in this menu. No programming required, but you get the power of running on a highly customizable platform that can be programmed by people who understand how the object database works.

This creates a new platform. We hope interesting new software ships from the existing Frontier scripting community.

Browsing the object database in Frontier 5

In Frontier 5, the object database browser is an expandable outliner. We brought in the Clay Basket outliner for this job. There's a lot of power in this outliner that isn't wired up in Frontier 5. If things go well, you'll see some great new stuff in 5.1 and beyond.

The second difference is that the little "main window" for each database is gone. When you open the root, you see the top level of the database. Doug figured this one out. When he told me about it, I said "of course!" Right on. This was always the right way go to.

The About window

The About window gets more power in Frontier 5.

In addition to the usual marketing and version stuff, it now has the popup menu that used to be in the main window for each database. The items in the popup menu are the names of the scripts in your system.agents table. When you select an item in that menu, the messages for that agent are displayed in the About window.

This is where messages to the user go. So if you want to see what's going on inside Frontier, in all the threads it's running, choose About Frontier from the Apple menu (on the Mac, not sure where this goes on Windows).

Frontier 5's About window has a neat hidden feature. If you click on the Zoom box it gets small, like the main window in Frontier 4.

Also, very important, the About window is modeless in Frontier 5.


There are two main differences between beginner mode and expert mode in Frontier 5:

  • You don't see the object database window in beginner mode.

  • You get a different set of menu commands in beginner mode.

In expert mode:

  • The main window is gone.

  • The new top-level window for the database displays an outline of the contents of the database.

In both modes:

  • The About window displays messages to the user.

  • The About window is modeless.

This page was originally posted on 9/10/97; 7:39:44 AM. It was last built on 10/5/97; 12:46:30 PM with Frontier. Internet service provided by Conxion.