Everybody knows the LightSpeed designer is full of awesome — so full of awesome, in fact, that it’s easy to lose track of some of the cool features we’ve stuffed in there. We’re sure lots of customers have their own favourites, but here are our top five overlooked features.
1. Quickly create properties without taking your hands off the keyboard.
The usual way to add properties to an entity is to right-click, choose Add New Entity Property, type the name, mouse over to the Properties box, select the data type, mouse back to the entity and repeat until done. BO-RING!
If you’ve got a bunch of properties to create, you can rattle them in using the keyboard alone. Press the Insert key, type the C# data type and the property name, press Enter — and then press Insert again to keep going. Speedy!
2. Solution-wide rename.
One of your doltish co-workers — not you, of course — has been creating entities or properties and has given one of them an unhelpful name, or misspelled it, or otherwise made a pig’s ear of it. And by now there’s lots of code that uses this wrong name. Too much effort to change it? Not with the LightSpeed Refactor command! Just right-click the offending property, choose Refactor > Rename, and watch the new name being applied throughout your solution! As an extra bonus, LightSpeed can automatically set up a database mapping to the existing name in case you don’t want to modify the database schema at the same time.
3. Quickly switch between views of your model.
Working with large models can be fiddly — lots of entities, lots of overlapping arrows, lots of visual clutter. One of the ways LightSpeed helps with this is visual filters — for example, you can tag your entities and then filter by tag so as to hide the entities that aren’t interesting to you right now.
It turns out that you can also save these filters, and easily switch between the saved filters. So you can quickly go from a Customers view to a Logistics view and back again. The filters are saved with the diagram, so everybody else working on the project can also take advantage of the saved views. Just right-click in a filtered view and choose View, then choose Save Current as QuickView to save the current view, or the name of a saved view to snap back to that view. Even handier, all your tags are automatically presented on the View menu so you don’t even need to set up those views!
4. Grab an image of your model.
Strange though it may seem, there are people in the world who just don’t get Visual Studio. If it’s not PowerPoint, they say, it’s too difficult. We call these people your boss. How can you get your LightSpeed model into PowerPoint or Word or Microsoft Bob or whatever these people use to do their ‘work’?
Well, give me a Ctrl+C! Give me a Ctrl+V! Give me a… no, that’s it actually — job done. If you do a Copy, we’ll copy your model as a bitmap onto the Clipboard and you can paste it into Office or Paint or wherever. What’s more, you can select a subset of the model and just copy that. Does it work with filtered views so that you can easily grab a diagram of just the Logistics entities? Need you ask?
5. Add notes to your diagram.
This one isn’t very well-hidden, but we haven’t really talked about it, so let’s do so now. If you hop over to the Visual Studio Toolbox, you’ll see that you can drag Reminders onto the diagram. These serve as comments, so you can add notes, to-do comments, or complaints about your co-workers spanking you at Starcraft to your model.
As a handy bonus, you can also enter a URL on a reminder via the Properties box. This will appear as a “more…” hyperlink on the reminder shape, which you can click to open the link. For example, you could link a “to do” reminder to a bug tracking system. Or you could link your biting satire to a suitable supporting graphic.
And no, don’t even bother asking. I have no idea why penguins would be wearing army boots.
All this and extensible metaobjects too
So that’s my top five overlooked features for the LightSpeed designer. There’s lots more in there that I don’t have time to talk about, but if you’ve got a favourite feature that you think other customers should know about, why not leave a comment?