Editing grids and cells

The band editor is used in lists, windows, and reports. It looks like this:


Why does it restict placement to a grid?

The band editor is a layout tool designed for very rapid layout. The concepts may be new to you so it does take some getting used to.

It is fast because:

  • Many of the commands are available as easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts.

  • It maintains vertical and horizontal alignment of cells even if you change the size of cells.

Because of these features, you will not find yourself selecting groups of controls and dragging them to achieve precise alignment, as you would with many other tools.

Basic points to keep in mind

  • Each cell can contain only one object - a prompt, data cell, text, image, or parameter. Cells that don't contain one of these are empty. (The term "cell" refers to both cells containing an object and empty cells.)

  • If you want backgrond colors or borders on empty cells, you create a text cell with blank text. Backgrounds and borders cannot be applied to empty cells. (If you apply borders to empty cells, it will create blank text cells automatically.)

  • The grid is always shrunk to the minimum possible size while accomodating the size of each cell. While editing, two rows and columns are added on each side so you can add new cells.

  • Other than very simple layouts, you will need some cells to span rows and columns. The blue cell in the example above is spanned over three columns.

Inserting cells

Press Insert or select Insert from the context menu to insert an object (data, text, etc) into an empty cell.

  • For data cells inserted into lists, it will ask which columns of the available data table to add. If you choose to add the labels above (grid format), the selected columns are added in the currently selected cell, then going to the right in any unoccupied cell that is found until all data cells are inserted. If you choose to add the labels to the left, the first selected column prompt is added in the currently selected cell, and the first data cell is added in the cell to the immediate right, then the remaining data cells are added going down from there.

  • For parameter cells, it will ask which parameter to add (unless there is only one). The parameters should be defined within the same building block, in order to add them to the grid.

Sizing and positioning cells

  • To select a rectangular range of cells, you can click and drag, which draws a yellow highlight. Or you can use the arrows and Shift-arrows to select the rectangle.

  • To move a range of cells, you can click and drag (note the highlight is pink). Be careful to drop the range over the cell that you intend for the upper left corner. Or you can use the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands from the context menu.

  • To re-size cells, hold down Ctrl and use the arrows.

  • To merge cells, select the occupied cell and any number of empty cells to the right or below, then press Space. The object will remain the same size, but it will now occupy more cells. If you select multiple cells, it will expand all of them as much as possible.

  • To split cells, select an object that occupies more than one cell, then press / (slash). The object will remain the same size but occupy one less cell horizontally and one less cell vertically. You can press the slash key a few times to return to a single cell.

  • To add rows or columns, hover the mouse over the peach colored border until it changes to the insertion cursor. Click to insert a new grid line. This also makes any object that spans the point clicked on become merged with the additional cell.

  • To delete rows or columns, click on the red X in the peach colored border. The X's only appear over rows and columns that can be deleted. Rows and columns that contain any objects cannot be deleted.

  • To align text within an object, use the shortcut keys Ctrl+L, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+R or use the context menu.

Fonts, colors, and borders

  • To change the font of one or more cells, select them, and press Ctrl+F or use the context menu. Use the Clear Font command to undo the changed font. Cells that have no font will use the font of their containing cell.

  • To set the background color or borders, press Ctrl+B or use the context menu. Each cell has its own border on all four sides. If you have two adjacent cells, there are effectively two places you can add a border. If there are borders on both, the effective border will be the combined width of both borders.

  • Use the Clear Background/Borders command to clear backgrounds and borders. However, this does not remove blank text cells, which may have been created when backgrounds or borders were applied to empty cells.

Data controls and formulas

When you insert data or prompts, the objects are inserted without asking any questions. You can open data cells (one at a time) by pressing Enter or using the context menu. You see a window like the one below. If you insert a formula, you get this window with blank entries.


There are three things you can change in this window:

  • The column name that the cell is used to edit. In the example above, when the user goes to data entry mode, the cell will show and allow editing the column named "PLUTO.customer.status" in the data table. (By default, columns are named with the Axis ID, record type name, and property name, separated by dots.)

  • An optional display expression. If you leave this blank, the edit column is shown - which is the expected behavior. In the example above, that behavior is changed by adding an expression. For help on writing expressions, see Expression syntax.

  • An optional display type override. Normally this will not be overridden, because it is better to create display types at the database level (see this topic) and attach them to properties of record types. Then the default display type of the property takes effect. However, you can override it here.

In the example depicted above, when the user is in browse mode, he or she will see the expression result, for example "Status code X". When the user switches to data entry mode, a drop-down entry field will appear with the choices A, P, and X.

Hyperlinks and nesting

There are two other commands on the context menu - Nest/link Properties, and Open Nest/link Item. These are discussed here.

(c) 2014-2015 Divergent Labs, Inc.