Here are my top ten new features in Xcelsius 2008 that any Xcelsius developer will be excited about. I highly recommend that you go in and find each one of these. I will certainly post some articles in the upcoming weeks showing you how to use these and tricks to build some cool applications.
1. Xcelsius IDE Interface Revamp with Embedded Spreadsheet
No more re-importing my Excel sheet a million times. And yes, the bindings do hold true if you insert an extra row or column. In addition you can now pin your toolbars which is certainly nice. I had become so accustomed to manually moving my properties window that it almost feels weird to have it in one location.
2. New Object Browser
With the ability to group and ungroup components just like Photoshop, I will be twice as efficient when I build complex models. I heavily suggest that you spend some time playing with the new object browser. You can drag and drop components in and out of groups and have much more control over the components on the stage.
3. Copy Paste from 1 Xcelsius instance to another
I am sure marketing won’t bring this one up, but for those of you who have longed for this feature, you can now re-use compilations of components from one XLF to another by simple copying and pasting.
4. Color Scheme Creator
They did an amazing job at letting someone adjust the color scheme at a basic level for non-designers, or in great detail for someone like me who wants to globally control how all components look. The color scheme designer in 4.5 made a mess of things, but the new color scheme creator in Xcelsius 2008 is a thing of beauty!
5. Alerts in Selectors
This is an amazing idea and yet another powerful differentiator for how selectors work. What better way to know what to click on then by telling the end user. This feature is only available for the basic selectors, but I already have several good ideas for how I can use this feature. Also, you can now bind your alert thresholds which was a major limitation in 4.5.
6. Panel Container
For the age old problem of not having scrollable content within a dashboard, this is a great way to visually group information together without having to worry about dynamic visibility.
7. Bindable Default/Selected Value for Selectors
This is more of a power user feature but for those of you who build multi-layer (nested) dashboards, integrate Xcelsius into other applications, or have complex navigation paradigms built in this is a big win for us. I will have several examples on how to leverage this one coming soon. Unfortunately they did not enable this feature for checkboxes or icons.
8. Data Manager
The data manager is a central location for managing and configuring all connectivity options including Flash Variables, and XML maps. No more digging around for connection options and buttons within your dashboard. Xcelsius feels much more like a dashboard design tool, now that we can manage connectivity from one place. You still do have the option to use a button to refresh from the connectivity folder.
9. New Connection Trigger Option: “When Value Equals”
For those of you who build complex connected dashboards, this trigger key will now provide all of the flexibility you need to trigger queries based on the value in a cell and not just on change. Those scenarios where you want to trigger queries based on the user or screen are now possible without writing complex logic, or running queries unnecessarily.
10. Insert Filtered Rows
Here is a strong tenth best feature for existing Xcelsius designers/developers that fills in a limitation of no “insert range” selector option. The Xcelsius dev team listened to our pains and provided us with a nifty insert filtered range option. I will cover this in more detail in my next article but you need to check this feature out if you hate using lots of Excel logic to lookup multiple rows of data.