2. Interface

1. Getting started | | 3. Data

LD4DStudio is all about objects. An object basically is a data container. For the moment I will keep the concept of objects a bit in the dark, because to explain it fully we need more objects then a empty project provides.

The object approach makes the main interface a bit different from most Windows applications. The screen will look something like the picture below.

workspace layout

In the picture I have divided the screen into areas. At the top of the screen there is a toolbar with buttons for the most basic global functions (area 1).

Directly beneath there are tabs for current desktop selection (area 2). By default one desktop is created (it's called simply "desktop"). More on desktops will follow.

At the left of the screen you'll find the object selection and mutation panel. This panel is divided into two parts: The current object inspector (Area 3) and the object tree (Area 4).

At the bottom of the screen there is a status panel with some global information on it (area 5).

The remainder of the screen is the current desktop window space (Area 6)

Workspaces, desktops and windows

The whole screen is called a Workspace. By default it will be kept maximized on your first (or only) screen. If you use multiple screens you might want to enable additional workspaces (one per screen). This can be done in the configuration dialog which will be handled later on in this manual.

All workspaces can have multiple desktops. A desktop is nothing more then a container for open windows. A window is basically a view into the world of an object and provides a user friendly way to edit it.

To explain things better, let's open a window. For this we need to select an object that can have windows. Take a look at the Object tree (Area 4). There are only four items in it at the moment (Tools, Input devices, Library and Project). These are the highest level objects in the application. All of them can be 'expanded' by clicking on the (+) in front of them. This is why it's called an tree because all objects can have 'child' objects. You can look around in the tree but keep in mind that most objects in there will be discussed in other chapters. You will learn more about objects, the object tree and object inspector (Area 3) in later chapters. For now we will focus on the 'Tools' object only child 'Logbook'.

I use the logbook object in this chapter because it's the only object that's always available that also can have open windows. You open an object's window by double clicking it in the tree. After doing this the desktop space will be filled with a window displaying the application's logbook.

Opening the first window on a desktop will also cause the appearance of an extra bar at the top of the desktop. This bar will have tabs for all open windows on this desktop. At the moment there's only one, so let's double click on the Logbook object again, now there are two tabs. By selecting one of the tabs you can change the current window. Except in this case nothing much will happen because the two windows are identical. But it does demonstrate the fact that most window-enabled objects allow multiple open windows for them.

The current way windows are displayed means that only one window can be viewed at a time. This is fine for windows with lots of information, but sometimes you want to see multiple windows at once (especially if you've only got one workspace). You can can do this by setting the desktop in 'windowed' mode instead of its current tabbed mode. This is done by clicking button #13 in the top toolbar (see picture below for button number references).

Workspace toolbar

A background pattern will appear and two floating windows for our logbook will be placed on it. You can now move those two windows around just like applications on the Windows desktop. If you want to go back to tabbed mode press button #12. Don't worry about the position and size of the windows, as they will be restored if you choose to go back to windowed mode again.

Naturally, any windows you don't need anymore can be closed. This is done by clicking button #16 or, if the desktop is in windowed mode, by clicking the X on the window caption bar. When you close a window it's state will be stored, so when you open the window again (by double clicking the same object) it will be restored to its previous state. When you have multiple windows for the same object open, the state of the window last closed will be stored. The key thing to understand here is that every object 'owns' its window(s) but will only remember one state. So when all windows of the object are closed, opening a new one for it will have the position, size and internal state of the last closed one.

Managing lots of windows

The thing with animating is you always seem to run out of desktop space. Especially with large projects you can wind up with dozens of open windows, to make this less of a problem you can create multiple desktops. A desktop can be added by clicking button #7 or by pressing CTRL+ALT+D. A new desktop will be added and it becomes the current desktop. The open logbook windows will disappear because they belong to the first desktop. You can now open windows just like before, except they will be added to this desktop. To work with the windows on the first desktop click on its tab in the bar directly beneath the toolbar (the aforementioned area 2).

The second desktop will be named 'Desktop 2' but you can rename any desktop at any time. First make sure the desktop you want to change the name of is the current desktop. After that click button #9. A dialog with the desktops name will appear, and you can change the name to just about anything, as long it remains unique among all desktops. It is a good practice to create desktops for specific tasks and name them accordingly. This way you can quickly navigate to needed windows without worrying about on which desktop they are on.

Of course desktops can also be closed. This is done by making it the current desktop followed by clicking button #8. A confirmation dialog will open. When the desktop has windows on it and there are other desktops available a second dialog will appear after selecting 'yes'. This dialog gives you the chance to move the windows on this desktop to another desktop. If you choose 'Move them' (by clicking its bullet) a third dialog will appear were you can choose a target desktop. If there are no windows on the desktop or it's the only desktop, the windows on it will be closed without further notice. Windows closed by closing a desktop will also store their state just like closing them one at a time.

While working you might want to move windows from one desktop to another. This can be done by using the right mouse button menu of the workspace. Go to the desktop with the logbook windows on it. Right click the mouse on the window tab bar. Choose 'Windows' followed by 'Move current'. At this point you can choose a target by first choosing a workspace, followed by a desktop (the current desktop will not be listed). After you clicked a desktop the current window will disappear - it has been moved to the selected desktop. You can do the same with all windows on the desktop at once by choosing 'Move all' instead of 'Move current' in the menu. Please note that this option is only available if you have more then one window open on the current desktop.

If you have multiple workspaces you can also move entire desktops among workspaces. This is done by selecting 'Desktops' followed by 'Move current' and selecting a target workspace in the right click menu. This option is only available if you got at least two workspaces.

By now it should be clear that with multiple desktops and multiple workspaces you can have a fair amount of open windows while remaining quite organized. But should you 'lose' a window, you can always locate it by opening the window overview dialog. This is done by clicking button #18. This dialog will display all your open workspaces, desktops and windows in a tree. By double clicking on any window's name you will bring that window to the foreground.

Toolbar recap

In closing let's recap the toolbar buttons and also explain the buttons I haven't mentioned.

Workspace toolbar

1Exit LD4DStudio
2Opens a sub menu for accessing information resources (like the license, help and about).
3Open the configuration dialog
4Start new project
5Load a project
6Save all open changed files
7New desktop
8Close current desktop
9Rename current desktop
10Goto previous desktop
11Goto next desktop
12Tabbed desktop
13Windowed desktop
14Goto previous window on current desktop
15Goto next window on current desktop
16Close current window on current desktop
17Close all windows on current desktop
18Open window/desktop overview dialog
1. Getting started | | 3. Data
Best viewed with Firefox 2, Seamonkey or IE 7 at 1024x768 or higher resolution.
LEGO is a registered trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, endorse, or authorize this website.