GettingStarted

Web Tutorial

From Xojo Documentation

Learn the Basics: Xojo Web Tutorial

Geoff.png

Hi! I'm Geoff Perlman, the founder and CEO of Xojo, Inc. Believe it or not, I actually use Xojo (quite a bit in fact) so I know it well. Today you and I are going to take a trip through Xojo and see what creating a web app with Xojo is all about. This trip will only be about 30 minutes and honestly, what do you have going on that can't be put off for another half hour? If you've never written a line of code in your life, don't worry, we will take it slowly. If you're such an experienced coder that you can speak the binary language of moisture vaporators (and if you just got that Star Wars reference, you should be self-applying the word "geek" with pride) then you're still in the right place. This will be a good overview for you.

However, if you ended up here by accident, are already familiar with Xojo and really just want to quickly get a taste of what creating a web app in Xojo is like, the Web QuickStart is a good appetizer.


Getting Started

  1. Launch Xojo. After it loads, the Project Chooser window appears.
  2. Choose Web, since we're building a web app, and press OK. A new Xojo project window will appear.

Xojo Project Chooser Web.png

The Xojo Project Window

This window has three basic parts:

Web Layout Editor.png

Navigator: The area on the top left shows you all the items in your project. By default you can see WebPage1 (which is selected), the App object and the Session object. Use the Navigator to navigate within your project.

Editor: The center area is the Editor Area. Currently it's showing the Layout Editor. You use the Layout Editor to design the user interface for the web pages in your app. It shows the web page and previews how it looks when the app runs in a web browser. In this image, the web page is blank because you haven't yet added any user controls. The Editor Area however can also show other kinds of editors for editing code, icons and other things you might use in a project.

Library: The area on the right is the Library and shows the controls and interface elements that you can add to a web page. You design the web page by dragging controls from the Library to it. You can also add a control to the web page by double-clicking it.

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If your Library looks different than mine, that's because I like mine showing icons only. You can customize yours by clicking on the small gear icon near the top-left corner of the Library and then choosing a different setting.

If the Library is not visible, click the Library button on the toolbar to show it.

Inspector: Not shown in the above image is the Inspector, which allows you to see and change the various attributes (the height, width, name and more) of any control you've added to your webpage. This area of the window is shared with the Library. You can show the Inspector by clicking the Inspector button on the toolbar. The Inspector shows information about the selected item in the Navigator or Editor. The contents of the Inspector changes as you click on different items.

About the App You Are About to Create

In this tutorial you will create an app to track tasks because, hey, we all have a lot to do, right? Let's call it, "Task Manager".

Finished Web Tutorial App.png

Creating a Task Manager App

When finished, the Task Manager app will let you enter tasks in a field then click the Add button to add them to the Task list. You can click on individual tasks in the list to delete them or mark them as complete.

Designing the User Interface

Creating The Task List

WebPage1 is open in the Layout Editor. First, you need to add a TaskList (ListBox) to the web page.

  1. In the Library, click on the ListBox and drag it to the top-left corner of the Layout Editor. As you get close to the edges of the web page, you will see alignment guides that help you position the control to leave the right amount of space between the edge of the browser window and the control.
    ListBox Library Icon.png
    Web Tutorial Listbox Alignment Guides.png
  2. When the alignment guides appear, drop the ListBox.
  3. Click on the Listbox to select it and then use the handles to resize it. Leave about 1/4th of the webpage blank for the other controls you're about to add. Your project should now look like this:
    Web Tutorial Resized ListBox.png

Adding the Buttons and TextField

Now add the Delete and Add buttons.

  1. In the Library, click on the Button control Button control icon.png and drag it to the lower-left corner of the web page.
  2. Now drag a Default Button control Default Button control icon.png to the lower-right corner of the web page. This button is labeled, "OK" by default but we will change it to "Add" later.
  3. Last but not least, drag a TextField control TextField control icon.png from the Library and drop it next to the Delete button.
  4. Resize the Textfield so that its right side is aligned with the left side of the OK button.


After adding all the controls, your web page in the Layout Editor should look like this:

Web Tutorial Layout.png

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If on your computer the browser frame of the web page looks different from what you see in this tutorial, that's because Xojo draws a frame that is similar to the default browser of the OS upon which you are running Xojo.

Customizing Controls with Properties

Controls have various values associated with them such as their caption, height, and width. Because they help describe the control, they are called Properties. Changing property values allows you to change the look and behavior of the control.

Inspector

The Inspector is used to change web page and control properties. It shares the same area as the Library on the right side of the window.

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The instructions in this tutorial enclose values you will type in quotation marks. When you enter values in the Inspector, don't type the quotation marks. Mostly Xojo will ignore them anyway but if you use them, for example, in the caption of a button they will just look silly.

Web Page Properties

You need to change the Name and Title properties of the web page:

  1. Click the Inspector button Inspector Toolbar Button.png on the toolbar.
  2. In the Layout Editor, click anywhere on the web page where there is no control to select the page itself. The Inspector pane now shows the properties for the web page.
  3. In the Name field (located in the ID group), change the name from “WebPage1” to “TaskManagerPage”. Press Return to see the name change in the Navigator.
  4. In the Title field (located in the Frame group), change the name from “Untitled” to “Task Manager”. Press Return to see the name change in the title bar of the web page.
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The labels the user sees such as the title of a page or the caption of a button, can have spaces. The names of controls, however, are used to refer to them in code and cannot have spaces in their names. If you add a space, Xojo will get confused because controls prefer to have single names like Madonna, Sting and Prince.

ListBox Properties

So the ListBox can properly display Tasks, we need to customize the properties.

  1. In the Layout Editor, click on the ListBox to select it. The Inspector pane now shows the properties for ListBox.
  2. In the Name field (located in the ID group), change the name from “ ListBox 1” to “TaskList”.
  3. The ListBox has two columns, one to show the completed status and another to show the name of the task. In the ColumnCount field, change the value from “1” to “2” and press Return. The ListBox will not show two columns in the Layout Editor but it will when you run your app.
  4. In the Inspector, turn on the Has Header button.
  5. You want to change the column headers to "Completed" and "Task". In the Inspector, click the pencil button to the right of the Initial Value property. This will bring up the Initial Value Editor.
  6. In the Initial Value editor type "Completed", press the Tab key and then type "Task." Click the OK button when you're finished editing.
  7. Since the Completed column is only going to contain a simple checkmark when the task is marked as completed, it can be narrow. In the ColumnWidths field, enter “30,*” and press Return. Using “30,*” tells the ListBox that the first column should always be 30 pixels wide and that the rest of the columns share the remaining width.
  8. Lock the edges of the ListBox to the edges of the webpage so the ListBox gets larger or smaller as the web page size changes. Click the locks so that top, left, bottom and right are all locked.
    Web Tutorial ListBox Locking Properties.png

Changing Buttons

Next let's add properties to the Delete and Add buttons.

The Delete Button

The button in the lower-left corner will become the Delete button.

  1. Click on the button in the lower-left corner to select it. The Inspector now shows its properties.
  2. In the Name field (located in the ID group), change the name from “Button1” to “DeleteButton” and press Return.
  3. In the Caption field (located in the Appearance group), change the name from “Button” to “Delete”.
  4. Now you need to make changes to the locking properties so that the Delete button stays in the lower-left corner of the web page when the web page resizes. In the Locking group, click the Top lock to unlock it and the Bottom lock to lock it.
    Web Tutorial Delete Button Locks.png

The Add Button

The button in the lower-right corner will become the Add button. It's a default button which means that pressing the Return key will active it.

  1. In the Layout Editor, click the button in the lower-right corner to select it.
  2. Change the Name property from “Button2” to “AddButton” and press Return.
  3. Change the Caption property from “OK” to “Add” and press Return.
  4. Now you need to check the locking properties so the Add button stays in the bottom-corner of the web page when the web page resizes. Click the locks so that the right and bottom are locked and top and left are unlocked.
    Web Tutorial Add Button Locking.png

TextField Properties

The TextField is where your user will type the task to add to the list.

  1. In the Layout Editor, click on the TextField to select it.
  2. Change the Name property from “TextField1” to “TaskField” and press Return.
  3. To TaskField get wider/narrower as the webpage is resized, click the locks so that left, bottom and right are locked and top is unlocked.
    Web Tutorial TextField Locking.png

Final Layout

After adjusting all the properties for the web page and its controls, your layout should look like this:

Web Tutorial Layout.png

Saving the Project

Since you've done a fair amount of work at this point, save your project:

  1. Choose File > Save.
  2. Name the project “Task Manager” and click Save.

Running the App

Your user interface layout is now complete, so it’s time to try it out. Remember, you haven't added any code yet, so the app won't "work".

  1. Click the Run button in the toolbar to run the project. Because this is a web project, it runs in your browser. If your browser wasn't already running, Xojo launches it for you.
  2. When the Task Manager is displayed, you can interact with the buttons by clicking on them, you can type in the TextField and you can resize the web page to see the buttons and TextField reposition themselves.
  3. Close the browser tab or window to return to the Layout Editor. Xojo won't know that you closed the browser window or tab for several minutes.
  4. To stop the app, click the Stop button in the Debugger (which we will talk about more later).
    Web Tutorial Debugger Stop Button.png

Adding Functionality With Code

Add Button

The Add button adds tasks to the list. The code you add to the button needs to take what was typed in TaskField and add it as a new row to the TaskList ListBox.

Follow these steps to add the code:

1. In the Layout Editor, double-click the AddButton control. The Add Event Handler window appears. When a user presses a button, the Pressed event handler is called.

2. The Pressed Event Handler is already selected so just click the OK button to accept it.

This displays the Code Editor. Now you need to get the task that was typed into the TaskField. You might think you could get the task just by using "TaskField", the name of the field. That is close, but not quite enough. The name of the control represents the entire control with all of its properties. What you want is just the text in the TaskField. To do that you type the name of the control, followed by a dot, followed by the name of the property. In other words, you use this syntax: ControlName.PropertyName. This is something called “dot” notation and is commonly used in object-oriented programming. In this case the control is named TaskField and the property you want is Text (use the WebButton to find out about all the properties available to TextFields). The syntax looks like this: TaskField.Text

The ListBox control has a built-in function for adding a row to itself. That function is appropriately called AddRow. Functions like this in Xojo are more generally referred to as methods. The AddRow method can take multiple values allowing you to fill in as many columns as you want with a single call.

The first column contains the completed status of each task, so it is initially set to blank. The second column contains the name of the task.

3. Add this code to the Pressed event:

TaskList.AddRow("", TaskField.Text)

4. Run the app to test it out.

5. Type tasks in the TaskField and click the Add button to see them appear in the TaskList ListBox.

6. Close the browser tab or window.

7. The app is still running in Xojo, so click the Stop button to return to the Code Editor.

Marking Tasks As Complete

When the user clicks in the Completed column of the TaskList, the selected task should toggle between being displaying a checkmark (✓) and displaying nothing.

Let's add code to the TaskList in the same way we added code for the Add button:

  1. Click on TaskManagerPage in the Navigator.
  2. Double-click the TaskList control on your layout.
  3. In the Add Event Handler dialog box, select the Pressed event and click the OK button.

Notice that the name of the event (Pressed) appears at the top of the Code Editor. Along with it are the names of two values (row and column) that are automatically populated when the Pressed event is called. It also indicates they are both integers. Values that are passed into a method or event are called parameters. Like AddRow, the ListBox control has another method that lets you get and set the value in a cell. This method is called CellValueAt and it expects you to tell it which row and column to access. In this case, the Pressed event's row parameter provides us with the row number. Columns in a ListBox are numbered starting at 0 so that's the number of you Completed column in this project.

Enter this code for the TaskList's Pressed event. And then I will explain what's going on here.

If column = 0 Then
If Me.CellValueAt(Me.SelectedRowIndex, 0) = "" Then
Me.CellValueAt(Me.SelectedRowIndex, 0) = "✓"
Else
Me.CellValueAt(Me.SelectedRowIndex, 0) = ""
End If
end If

This code uses IF (a conditional operator) to make a decision. On the first line, it checks to see IF the column that was pressed was the first column (column 0 AKA the "Completed" column). If it is, then it continues to the next line that checks to see if column 0 of the selected row is blank. Let's dissect this line a bit further: Me.CellValueAt(Me.SelectedRowIndex, 0) = ""

Remember that to call a method, you need to start with the name of the control. A shortcut for this is a function appropriately titled, "Me". It simply means the control from which Me was called. This is convenient as well because if you change the name of a control you won't have to update any code in the control's events that refers to itself. Next is CellValueAt, the method already discussed. It takes two parameters: a row and a column. For the column, we are once again using Me and then calling a property of the ListBox called SelectedRowIndex. As you may have already deduced, SelectedRowIndex returns the number of the selected row. That value is then being passed as the first parameter to CellValueAt. The second parameter is 0 because the only column we care about is column 0 (the Completed column). Finally we compare the value from the cell at the intersection of Me.SelectedRowIndex and 0 to "" (which means an empty text value). If it's empty, we use nearly the same code to assign it a checkmark. If it's not, we go to the ELSE part of the code and set it to empty ("").

Now if you've never written a line of code before, that may seem like a long explanation for some code that simply toggles a cell. I can only say that computers can't think for themselves and need a lot of details to get the job done. The good news is that the more code you write, the easier it will get.

  1. Since you've already entered the code, run the app and add a few sample tasks.
  2. Now try toggling the Completed column by clicking in that column for one of your tasks.
  3. When you're done, close the browser tab or window.
  4. The app is still running in Xojo. Press stop in Xojo.

Delete Button

I'm sure you can guess what the Delete button does. The code you add to the button needs to determine which row is selected in the list and remove it.

Add code to the Delete button in the same way you added code for the Add button:

  1. In the Navigator, click the the TaskManagerPage to select it and show the Layout Editor.
  2. In the Layout Editor, double click on your Delete button to add the Pressed event handler.
  3. Once again we will be using a method of the ListBox. This one is appropriately named, "RemoveRowAt" and it does exactly what you think it does. Since it's removing an entire row, it only needs to know which row is getting the axe. Once again, we will be using the SelectedRowIndex method. This time, however, we can't use Me because we are calling the method from an event of the Delete button not the ListBox:
TaskList.RemoveRowAt(TaskList.SelectedRowIndex)

4. This is as good a time as any to save the project, you know the drill.

5. Run the app and add and delete some tasks to test it out.

Finding and Fixing Bugs: The Fine Art of Debugging

No matter how experienced you get at writing code, you're going to create bugs. Not sure what a bug has to do with coding? The blue box below is for you.

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Remember, computers can only do exactly what we tell them to do. If you tell them to do something silly, they will do it without complaint. Some bugs are obvious and easy to find. Others are sneaky little devils that love to hide in the dark corners of your projects so you can spend your precious time looking for them instead of creating new ones.

Although your app works just fine, believe it or not there is a bug that needs addressing. Do you know what it is?

Here’s a hint: What happens if you you click the Delete buttons but have not selected a task? Let's find out!

1. Run the app and click on the Delete button without selecting a task. Xojo didn't like that.

Web Tutorial OutOfBounds Exception.png

Xojo has switched to its Debugger and has highlighted a line of code where an error occurred.

Web Tutorial Debugger Error.png

You can tell where this error occurred but you can also tell by looking at the Stack pane of the Debugger. Notice that it indicates it's in the DeleteButton's Pressed event:
Web Tutorial Debugger Stack.png

The error occurred because you attempted to remove a row that does not exist. When no row is selected in the ListBox, the SelectedRowIndex property returns -1. Since this is not a valid row number, the CellValueAt method caused an error. Specifically, the value passed was out of bounds and thus the error is called an OutOfBoundsException. It's called an Exception because it's something exceptional that happened. Of course in this case, being exceptional is a bad thing. You can tell it's OutOfBoundsException by looking at the Debugger's Variables pane:
Web Tutorial Debugger Variables.png

2. Close the browser tab or window.

3. Click the Stop button in the toolbar to return to the Code Editor.

Nobody wants buggy code. Luckily it is easy to prevent this bug from occurring. We are just going to prevent the user from even pressing the Delete button if they don't have a row selected. That way SelectedRowIndex can never be out of bounds.

4. Click the TaskManager page in the Navigator.

5. Select the Delete button and then in the Inspector, turn off the Enabled property. Now the Delete button is disabled by default.

6. Now select the TaskList because we are going to add another event. This time, click the Add button Web Tutorial Layout Editor Add Button.png in the Layout Editor's toolbar and select Add Event Handler from its menu. You have to add the new event this way because you've already added the Pressed event so double-clicking on the TaskList would take you there instead of adding a new event.

7. Add the SelectionChanged event.

8. In that event, add the following code and then I'll explain, though perhaps you have figured it out on your own:

If Me.SelectedRowIndex = -1 Then
DeleteButton.Enabled = False
Else
DeleteButton.Enabled = True
End If

When the user changes which row is selected (which includes selecting no row at all), the SelectionChanged event is called. This code checks to see if the SelectedRowIndex is -1 which means no row is selected. If that's the case, we set the Enabled property of the button to False or otherwise to True. Bingo. No more bug. Your code can't fail if it can't be called in a situation where it could fail.

9. Run your app and enjoy the now error-free experience. When you're done, return to Xojo and hit the Stop button.

Finishing the App

Testing

A good developer always thoroughly tests their apps to look for possible problems. You already found and fixed one problem. Do you think there are other problems to fix? Run the app and play around with it a bit. Make a note of things you want to change. In the next section, you will add some improvements to Task Manager.

Improvements

Did you notice that the Add button is enabled even when you haven't entered a task? The user probably doesn't want to accidentally enter an empty task. And after you click it, the task you just entered is still in the TaskField. So first, we need to disable the Add button when there's no text in the TaskField and second, unless you're the type to do the same task over and over, we will need to remove the last one from the TaskField after we add it to the TaskList.

  1. Click TaskManager page in the Navigator to get back to the Layout Editor.
  2. When the text is changed in the TaskField, we decide whether or not to Enable the Add button. Double click on the TaskField to add the TextChanged event.
  3. Now enter the following code:
If Me.Text = "" Then
AddButton.Enabled = False
Else
AddButton.Enabled = True
End If

I bet you can figure out by now what this code does.

If you want to win friends and influence people, you can reduce the code above down to this:

AddButton.Enabled = (Me.Text <> "")

Let's make the Add button remove the text from the TaskField after it creates a task out of it:

  1. Select the AddButton in the Navigator to both display the TextManagerPage in the Layout Editor and select the AddButton at the same time. Pretty slick shortcut, eh?
  2. In the Inspector, turn off the AddButton's Enabled property.
  3. Next we need to update the Add button's Pressed event handler so double-click it to get to the Pressed event.
  4. Now you should be staring at the first line of code you wrote. Press Return to create new line.
  5. On that brand new line, enter this code to set the Text property of the TaskField to an empty text value.
TaskField.Text=""

Go ahead and save your code. Run your app to test out this newest version.

Deploying the App

There are several ways to deploy a Xojo web app. The easiest way is to use Xojo Cloud so that you can just click "Deploy" on the main toolbar to send your app to a web server where it can be used. You can also deploy your app yourself as a ''standalone application'' that is a self-contained app and web server which can be run on any computer or server. Users can access the app by using the computer's URL and port number.

To learn more about these options, refer to Web App Deployment Overview in the User Guide.

Next Steps

Congratulations, you have successfully completed the Web Tutorial and now have a fully functional app. To continue on your journey of learning Xojo, you should next move on to the User Guide, which covers Xojo in its entirety. You will also want to refer to the Language Reference Guide, which covers the specifics of language elements, classes and other details of Xojo.

Go to the documentation when you run into trouble, check out the example projects included with Xojo and hop on over to the Xojo Community Forum and start asking questions. There are lots of experienced Xojo users eager to help because they remember what it was like to be a newbie.

Feedback

What did you think of this tutorial? We'd appreciate your feedback, write to us.