posted on April 19, 2006 11:54
Deploying ActionStudio actions
Since version 3, FinalBuilder provides an easy way to create your own actions. Within version 2 you had to use the run script action and put all your script (either VBScript or JScript) into that. It was powerful but the reusability was very poor. Another option was writing an executable that could take command line parameters and call that with the execute program action. With both options people needed to know how the program or script worked to amend it to their needs. ActionStudio came along with FinalBuilder 3 which is a development environment for creating your own actions.
With ActionStudio I was able to convert my script actions into real looking FinalBuilder actions within minutes. The big advantage I gained was that other people could use my actions similar to the built in actions. They provide properties on tabs when viewing the action details. People don't need to know the internals. They just fill in the properties, whether the underlying mechanism is an executable or a script, they don't care. It just works.
I won't dive in to writing a tutorial on how to write ActionStudio actions. There is quite a bit of documentation provided with ActionStudio.
When you have a site license and a whole bunch of developers using FinalBuilder or you just want to contribute to the FinalBuilder community by sharing your actions, you need to deploy them. And deploying them is not hard. It is copying the project file and maybe a bunch of quick help files to go along, but I don't want to do that on every PC that is using FinalBuilder.
First off I hate writing documentation. The good think about ActionStudio is that it provides a few fields to document your actions. Once you have nicely filled in the information you can generate your quick help files to go along with your ActionStudio project. The ActionStudio projects are just XML files, so with the proper stylesheet it is very easy to generate documentation. Luckily FinalBuilder 4 has a built in action to generate quick help from your Action Studio project.
So what I always ended up doing is create a new FinalBuilder project add a single action to generate my documentation and then copy all the files needed to wherever I needed to. Suddenly that felt very stupid. It was like standing next to a car with the car keys in your hand and still deciding to walk 15miles to work every day. So I had everything there to make it really easy, but every time I went the hard way. Not anymore... I decided to create a FinalBuilder project to do the work for me.
The project is actually very simple, took me less then half hour to create and test.
This FinalBuilder project will let me select my ActionStudio project to deploy. It will generate the quick help files, zip it all up and email it to all the users that are in the email list. The users just unzip it to their FinalBuilder directory without having to know where all the files need to go. I might easily expand the project and add a post to newsgroup action to post the package to the FinalBuilder newsgroups. You can download
this sample script and give it a go yourself.
There are a few conventions you need to know. The help files will be copied to a new sub directory with the name of your ActionStudio project in the FinalBuilderHelp folder. You obviously need to set this path in ActionStudio. I also amended the xslt from the generate documentation action to use a stylesheet that is located in the same directory as the help files and I also copy the stylesheet to this directory. You can obviously change it to your needs and make it do whatever you want. In the end it is just an example.
I hope I showed you a bit of FinalBuilder's power and that it makes you aware of its capabilities. This script definitely makes my life a bit easier.