I was having a discussion with some colleagues recently about the Design tab for XPages in IBM Domino Designer 9.0. This visual editor, while useful in certain limited situations, is also the source of any number of problems in Designer itself. The most important thing to know is that the visual rendering is highly responsive to everything happening elsewhere in Eclipse. For instance, if you’re typing a new URL as the source for an image on your Xpage, the visual editor is checking whether it can resolve the URL on *every keystroke,* even when those keys are being press while the cursor is in the Source pane.
Consequently, this means that the Design pane has a lot to do with bizarre Designer behavior, and if IBM allowed us to get rid of it and deal only with Source, then we could have a much more stable and performant XPages Designer experience. Of course, you can accomplish something similar by switching your default editor in Eclipse to use the standard XML editor for .xsp files, but then you’ll lose access to the Properties and Events views that show up for various Xpages components.
In the conversation, I made the assertion that for applications of any sophistication, the Design pane becomes useless, simply because it tries to present such an overwhelming amount of visual information. To illustrate this point, I have compiled a screen shot of the mobile.xsp design element from the Teamroom template in Domino 9. It’s over 8900 pixels long. I cannot imagine any circumstance in which navigating a design of 8900 pixels would be useful. Maybe if the editor had very good zoom in/out controls, but the Xpages editor clearly doesn’t.
This is a visual representation of an XML tree that creates an enormous amount of work for the CPU with a result that seems somewhat less than useful. I can accept that there’s some learning curve for Xpages that this visual editor helps with. But that curve, while steep, is also short. And once a developer has climbed it (in about 30-60 days) they really should be able to turn off this needless burden on the performance and stability of their IDE. Just a right-click on the Design tab and a “hide Design tab from XPages editor” would be sufficient to trigger a disconnection from the text editor to the visual editor.
Alternatively, we could get a new editor that extends the standard XML editor (including it’s “design” pane) but also binds to the property editors that we see in normal Xpages. Thanks for reading!