Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Peak into the Future of Script Editing in ExtendSim


In my last blog, I listed some of the new features we are incorporating into ExtendSim 10.

In this blog, I would like to add a list of new features that are specific to the script editing environment within the ExtendSim block editor that have been added to the application since that blog was posted.

A while ago, we had an internal meeting here in the office where the in-house block developers presented to the application developers a wish list of features they would find useful in the ExtendSim block scripting environment. The open source software package Notepad++ was used as an example to show some of these proposed features. After the meeting, we did a little research and found that Notepad++ is based on an open source software package called Scintilla. Well, one thing led to another and ExtendSim 10 will now include a powerful new code editing environment.

New features for the scripting environment in ExtendSim 10 include:

  • More sophisticated code colorization, including the ability to customize colors
  • Code folding
  • Regular expressions in searching
  • Find in files capability
  • Brace matching
  • Show white space option
  • User customizable code completion
  • Call tips (show arguments during code completion)
  • Zoom/reduce in script window
  • Auto indentation
  • Indentation guides
  • Smart highlighting
  • Word wrap (sometimes known as line wrap)
  • Show end of line characters
  • And many more improvements

As mentioned in my last blog, we still don't have an official release date for ExtendSim 10, but we're looking forward to it as much as you are. We are waiting eagerly for the time when we can say more than it'll be ready 'When it's done.'

Friday, March 21, 2014

Business Intelligence

If you do a web search for the term "business intelligence" or "BI", you'll get two points of view - one is focused on how to gather and transform raw data into information and the other is focused on the process of analyzing and utilizing the information for strategic planning. Two parts of a whole, really, since there is no point gathering a ton of data unless you can somehow put it to use. Plus it's tough to make decisions about what your company/department/process should do unless you have enough information to support those decisions.

That got me thinking again about how important it is that ExtendSim has an internal relational database capability for storing and managing data. An internal database serves as a bridge between the simulation model and external data repositories, both to supply data to the model and to report model outputs. It also helps that ExtendSim has robust tools to facilitate the exchange of data with external sources. For example, its ADO (ActiveX Data Objects) capability allows ExtendSim to perform high speed data exchanges with external databases such as Microsoft Access and SQL Server. And the ExtendSim DB Add-In for Excel allows analysts to fully specify an ExtendSim database in Excel, including parent/child relationships, formatting, and data validation, and then retrieve useful information from the model without having to learn anything about simulation or even how to use ExtendSim.

But the storage, management, and transfer of data is only one part of the story. What is even more important is that the data gets used in a meaningful manner. And that is where simulation comes in. Simulation is a low cost, high reward method that allows you to analyze existing processes and explore the effect of changes. Likewise you can get assurance when designing completely new systems and processes since you've simulated their behavior or performance in advance. An intelligent way to do business.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Peek into the Future of ExtendSim

With ExtendSim 10, under development now, we are updating and overhauling every aspect of the ExtendSim® application.

The development of this new version of the ExtendSim application uses industry standard IDEs (integrated development environments) for development on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. On Windows we're using Microsoft Visual Studio for our compilation and coding, and on the Macintosh we’re using Apple’s Xcode. Of course, as it has been for previous versions, the development language used for ExtendSim 10 is C++.

Another aspect of our development process that we are very excited about is we are using a cross-platform application framework call Qt. Using Qt gives us a huge advantage in that we can leverage all the existing features of the Qt framework and quickly take advantage of any new features the developers of Qt add to future versions. This means we can get new features out to you, our end users, more quickly.

A partial list of the new features planned for ExtendSim 10 that will come to you with the help of these new development tools are:

  • Multiple Notebooks
  • Docking tool palettes
  • Tear-off tabs in dialogs and worksheets
  • Multiple undo
  • Improved zoom
  • Anti-aliasing
  • Scaled text – editable while scaled
  • Object grouping
  • Object free rotation
  • Object transparency/translucency
  • Polygon – add/remove points (alt click on a segment.)
  • Improved dialog editor
  • Code completion improvements
  • Graphics objects on the dialog box
  • Thermometer column tag
  • Multiple animation objects moving at the same time
  • Improved Help system
  • Ability to run on all current Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
  • And many more improvements.
Of course posting information like this always leads to the inevitable question, 'when will it be available?' At this point, our best response to that is it'll be available when it's done.