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RM Incubator Visual Sketch Editor

About the Visual Sketch Editor

The RM Incubator Visual Sketch Editor is an experimental replacement editor for the standard RM sketch and parts graphical editors. It uses web based technology which does not require the installation of a browser plug-in. In addition, it provides many enhancements that are not available in the standard graphical editors.

The Visual Sketch Editor is installed to an existing RM 4.0.3 and can not be installed independently. Once installed, each RM user can then decide whether to use the standard sketch and parts editor or the new editor. Users can switch back and forth between editor versions at their convenience.

Both versions of the editor provide the same base functionality and the artifact data stored to the RM repository is compatible between either editor version.

NOTE: Although the artifact data created by the new Visual Sketch Editor is compatible with that stored by the standard editor, it is not recommended for use in a production environment at this time. This incubator release is for evaluation purposes only.

Overview of New Features

The Visual Sketch Editor provides several new features that are not available in the standard sketch editor:

  1. No longer need to install a browser plug-in to edit sketches
  2. Support for additional browsers and operating systems platforms
  3. Improved tools palette that supports drag-and-drop of widgets
  4. Zooming capabilities - zoom in/out, fullscreen mode, mini-map for faster navigation for larger sketches
  5. Undo and Redo capability
  6. Widget alignment and distribution features
  7. Theming support - initially supporting 2 themes
  8. Ability to view / create links and comments to sketch elements from read-only mode

RM Browser Addon Plug-in

The RM Browser Addon Plug-in that is required for graphical artifact editing is not needed or used by the Visual Sketch Editor. However, if you continue to need to edit Process Diagrams, Use Case Diagrams or other graphical artifacts, you should not uninstall the RM Browser Addon Plug-in. It is still required for those editors.

Support for Additional Platforms and Browsers

The Visual Sketch Editor is supported on the following Operating Systems:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS/X
  • Linux

The Visual Sketch Editor supports the following browsers:

  • IE9+
  • FF10+
  • Chrome14+
  • Safari

Improved Tools Palette

An entirely new tools palette, designed to reduce the number of clicks, will increase the efficiency of creating user interface sketches.

Ease of access to all widgets

Tools Palette

Widgets are now immediately available for you to choose the correct one quickly. Commonly used actions, such as styling and aligning widgets, are also more directly exposed.

Drag-and-Drop Support

Palette drag-and-drop example

We've created several ways to add widgets to the diagram, one of the simplest being drag-and-drop. Simply click and drag the widget from the palette to the location of your choice in the diagram and release the mouse button.

Size on create

palette size on create example

If you have a particular size in mind for a widget, you can size the widget when you create it. Start by clicking one of the widgets in the palette then place your mouse in the diagram where you want to create the new widget. Click the mouse button down and drag to size the widget to the desired dimensions. You'll see feedback as to how big the widget will be when you release the mouse button.

Zooming and the Mini-Map

Both the editor and the read-only view of sketches and parts provide a toolbar for zooming the elements of the artifact.

zooming and minimap toolbar view

The zoom in icon and zoom out icon icons allow you to zoom in or out, while the return to normal zoom icon icon will return you to the 100% view.

There is also a mini-map available in either mode. The mini-map shows a full view of the entire sketch or part and allows you to quickly navigate to other areas that may not be visible on the screen. You an drag or click to any area of the sketch in the mini-map and that area will become visible in the editor or read-only view.

You can enable or disable the mini-map by clicking on the toggle minimap icon icon.

Undo and Redo Feature

The Visual Sketch Editor provides the ability to undo and redo changes to the sketch during your editing session. Each change to the sketch is tracked and can be undone by clicking on the "Undo" icon. If you later decide that the change was correct after all, you can re-do the change by clicking the "Re-do" icon.

Theming Support

When developing sketches, you may want to represent a sketch at varying levels of fidelity. With the theming support, you can visualize what your diagrams will look like at a low or high fidelity using the two built-in themes; Simple and XP.

simple theme example

The Simple theme above represents a lower fidelity sketch. This will help you get a rough idea of a user interface. When you want to move to a higher fidelity rendering, you can switch the theme to XP.

XP theme example

Themes are currently not saved with the diagram and remembered only for the current viewing of the diagram. In the future, we plan to support saving the theme with the diagram as well as additional themes.

Installation Instructions

Installation of the Visual Sketch Editor is performed by a System Administrator who has permissions to start and stop the RM application server and modify the RM server directories.

NOTE: Installation of the Visual Sketch Editor must be made to an existing RRC or DNG 4.0.3 server.

The Visual Sketch Editor files will be installed to:

$INSTALL_LOCATION/server/conf/rm/sites/com.ibm.rdm.web.updatesite

This directory will be referred to as $web_updatesite directory for the installation instructions.

Follow these steps:

  1. Download and unzip the installation zip file (visualsketcheditor.zip) to a temporary directory
  2. Make a backup copy of the $web_updatesite/features/com.ibm.rdm.web.editors.feature_4.0.3.v<qualifier>.jar file to $web_updatesite/features/com.ibm.rdm.web.editors.feature_4.0.3.v<qualifier>.jar-backup
  3. Copy the com.ibm.rdm.web.editors.feature_4.0.3.<timestamp>.jar file from the unzipped directory to the $web_updatesite/features directory and rename it to the same name as the original jar
  4. Copy the com.ibm.cef_4.0.3.<timestamp>.jar and com.ibm.rdm.web.sketching_4.0.3.<timestamp>.jar files from the unzipped directory to the $web_updatesite/plugins directory
  5. Stop the RM server
  6. If the RM server is running on Tomcat, you need to delete the $INSTALL_LOCATION/server/tomcat/work/Catalina directory
  7. Start the RM server

To verify that the installation was successful, you can navigate to an artifact of the Sketch or Part artifact format and you should now see a "Next Generation Editor" icon in the artifact toolbar as the left-most icon.

enable Visual Sketch Editor

Click the icon to enable using the new editor (it will reload the page). Whenever you go to a Sketch or Part artifact from now on, you will be using the new editor until you click the button again.


About the authors

Terry L Caudill is a technical lead for Rational Requirements Composer. Please direct feedback and comments for Mr. Caudill to tlcaudil@us.ibm.com.

Marc Baumbach is a Staff Software Engineer for Rational Requirements Composer. Please direct feedback and comments for Mr. Baumbach to mabaumba@us.ibm.com.

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