Wednesday, January 11, 2006

RB CodeHelper Lite: Finishing Up the Features

Previous blog entries have discussed some of the things that RB CodeHelper Lite can do. This entry attempts to consider briefly most of the other features (but be aware that although RB CodeHelper has seventy-seven different tasks it can perform, RB CodeHelper is expected to have even more: about twice that number!).

RBCHL can display (properly indented) source code on the screen for the entire Project or for a particular Method. The code can be saved to disk or printed out if so desired. The size of the indentation can be increased for greater readability (or reduced to the normal amount). And a search feature (including "whole word" search) is also available.

Some programs contain deadwood, such as Properties that are defined but never used or Variables that are DIMensioned but never used. RB CodeHelper Lite can tell you if you have any such in your Project, and can also tell you if you've used the same name for a Property and Variable (not good programming practice!).

You can have some fun "obfuscating" and "unobfuscating" your source code. The fuller CodeHelper program has a number of ways to do this (switching existing names, using randomly created meaningless names, randomizing upper/lower case). RB CodeHelper Lite has simply one example: switching the names of controls around (so that what was called EditField1 may now be perhaps called PushButton2, and so on). This feature has no practical usefulness that I can see, but it can be fun to pass along the "obfuscated" source code of a program and watch someone struggle to try to make some sense out of it.

RB CodeHelper Lite also makes it easy to change the name of a control, method, property, variable, etc., throughout a Project. It can do other miscellaneous tasks, including checking nested For/Next loops for the same counter name used on different levels. You can combine partial source lines (i.e., those which make use of the "_" line continuation character). And you can remove all highlighting, placing the cursor in the top left corner of each Method (thus avoiding the risk of accidentally deleting selected code).

You can remove comments or comment symbols, and differentite between the different types of comments, using different symbols for different purposes. (RB CodeHelper Lite does have one arbitrary convention: it regards comments preceded by "///" to be "permanent" comments and thus will not remove them.)

Finally, you can use RBCHL to work with Dim statements in various ways. You can put individual Dim statements on separate lines, you can alphabetize Dim statements after you have separated them, and you can combine adjacent Dim statements (same kind or different kinds). (If they are not already adjacent, RB CodeHelper can arrange for that as well.)

I'm still looking for some people willing to beta-test RB CodeHelper Lite, which I expect to be releasing shortly (if I can get some beta-testers) as freeware or perhaps "donationware," with source code included. (If you are willing to try it out and provide me with some feedback, no further donation is needed: you've already donated your time!) I'm also looking for people to test the fuller RB CodeHelper, which will probably be released as shareware. (Beta-tester who provide me with helpful feedback will be entitled, of course, to a free copy.)

If you are interested, please send me a private email My address is rb at ix dot netcom dot com (with the appropriate symbols substituted for the "at" and the "dot").

Barry Traver

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