Inspection Panel

The Inspection Panel provides the means to browse and edit various Interface objects as well as to create and control Sessions. This page describes the Inspection Panel feature set, and details how to use it to perform a variety of tasks.


Each Interface has an associated Inspection Panel that can opened or closed as desired. Some operations, such as setting the Page order, can only be accomplished by using the Inspection Panel, while many others are duplicated elsewhere (such as viewing or setting Page properties.)

Fig. 1 - Inspection Panel Modes

As shown on the left in Figure 1, this panel provides three modes: Browse, List, and Sessions. Browse, presents Processors and viewable objects such as Windows, Pages, and Displays in a hierarchical view. This view is actually comprised of three parts: a Predicate Editor in the top pane, the objects in the middle, and a Settings pane in the bottom (explained in depth below).

The List view is similar to the Browse pane but presents its items in a sortable list—this mode makes it much easier to view all pages or displays of one type together.

In the Sessions pane you will see a list of all Session Managers. There you can create new Attached Session Managers as well as open, close, control, and observe Sessions under their control.

From this point, you can just continue reading, or navigate immediately to a section of interest by clicking below:

Browse View

Fig. 2 - Exploded Browse View

The Browse view presents an outline view of an Interface's Processors and Windows (with their Pages and Displays), presented in the center pane. At the top of this pane is a popup with a prefix of View, which lets you distill the all items to a subset using a variety of criteria (more on that later).

Two ancillary panes support additional functionality: the top Predicate Pane (shown in figure 2) lets you select a subset of objects by a combination of their types and/or matches of a pattern to the object's name. The bottom Properties pane, also shown in Figure 2, let you select a single object and view or set its properties.

Referring again to the center pane of Figure 2, you can see a slice of the outline, with two Pages visible. Clicking in the disclosure triangle to the left of an item expands or contracts the items that it contains. Note that if you hold down the option key when clicking a disclosure button, you can expand all sub items under it.

Browsing, Creating, and Deleting Objects

In the center pane you can rename Processors, Windows, Pages, and Displays by double-clicking the name and keying in a new one. The order in which Pages list can be changed by selecting a Page, then using the Move Up and Move Down button pair at the lower right of the window.

You can also add and delete items (see the three buttons on the left bottom of the center pane). The leftmost Add button inserts a new Window into the selected Interface, or a new Page into the selected Window. The center Add button inserts a new Window or Page into the same container as the selected item. Any Display or Page can be removed by selecting it and pressing the Remove button on the right.


The viewable items depend on the selection of the View popup menu above the list; the default, View: All, lists all items. You can elect to see just those items under say one window; to do this, select the window, then choose the third menu item, which will show the term Window followed by the window's name.

Were you to select a specific page, then look at the menu, you would see Window followed by the window name and the page name—this format makes it clear both before and after exactly what object your are examining.

When you select the second View menu item, or drag open the top divider down, the Predicate pane opens, and you can set one or two predicates. The first item defaults to Type; set the desired type and click Apply to see just those items (and the object that contains them). The second option, name, will attempt to match either an exact string, or a pattern, to object names (if used alone, it looks at all object names). The final text option only looks for pattern matches in Text objects—however, it can come in handy if you need to find all text items that contain some specific term.

By clicking on a + you can get an additional predicate; the pair have an implicit logical and relationship. If you have created two, but wish to only have one, then click one of the + buttons.

Viewing and Editing Display Properties

If the selected item has editable properties (as the Level Meter does in Figure 2), you can drag open the bottom divider or press the Show Properties button, which exposes settable properties. With this Display, you can set four properties; after doing so you might want to save the Interface so the changes are not lost.

List View

Fig. 3 - List Pane.

The List Pane has much in common with the Browse Pane, except that objects are presented in a list instead of a outline format. Looking at Figure 3, you can see the three list columns: Name, Type, and Path. By clicking on a column header, you can sort the list based on the strings in that column (click twice to reverse sort).

A new concept is presented here in the third column: Path, which is analogous to the way the View popup menu presents the third choice. Every object can be located by traversing the objects that contains it, starting from the Interface. What the Path column shows is actually the reverse path, starting with the nearest container, up to but not including the Interface.

For example, looking at the Level Meter display, we see that the first container is First Page (the specific Page), then Window 1, (the specific window), then Windows (telling us its a window object, not a Processor).

Both the Predicates and Properties panes work exactly as they do in the Browse Pane. However, as you can see, there no mechanisms to add, delete, or otherwise modify objects in this pane.

Sessions View

Fig. 4 - Session Manager observing a Test Session.

The Getting Started help page has a nice How To section on creating, connecting, and running Sessions. What follows is a recap of that material. In addition, you can press the ? button in the lower left Session Manager view to get short overview on how to manage Sessions.

First a quick note on terminology. Sessions are data sources that run under the control of a Data Center (the most common Data Center is Local, which every instance of VisualCommander provides). In some ways, a Session is similar to a computer daemon (faceless background process). To create, control, and observe these Sessions, VisualCommander provides Session Managers. These objects offer a visible control interface to actual Sessions. Session Managers also store a Session recipe, and can thus recreate their Session when requested.

At the top left, we first see that this is an Attached Session—the other possibility is Referenced (or Temporal) Session (topic covered elsewhere). The center light green box displays the Session's time (in either elapsed or calendar mode) along with a three button control to start, stop, or reset the Session. The lower left time is the date at which the Session started, and the right the time of the most current data.

Just below the control box is a three segment control: Open, to create and name a Session, Configure, to run the Session configurator and to set Session Manager options, and Close, to archive or dismiss Session and for archive management.

You use the bottom three popup menus to define the Session's data source type and configurator as well as the Data Center to host it (Local is persistent - other options are covered elsewhere). Current Type options are ControlDeck, ControlDeck2, DSim, DSim2, Flat File Reader, and Test.

Finally, the "?" button provides Session specific help, the box a visual indication of the Session state, and a button to switch between elapsed and calendar modes.

The Configure menu has three settable options worth mentioning. Create Session When interface Loads controls whether the Interface will automatically create the session when the interface file is opened. If it and Start Session When Ready are both checked, and the session either has saved configuration data or does not require it, the Interface will create and start this Session when opened.

Save Session Configuration When Closed instructs the Interface to store the configuration anytime it's changed, and reuse this data whenever a Session is started.

Start when ready, is the equivalent of the Quick Start option in the Data window; it tells the session to begin running as soon as it can, rather than waiting for an explicit user action.

The New Attached Session button creates a new Attached Session Manager (i.e., associated and saved with the Interface). And at the very bottom of the window, the Show Properties button opens a pane where you can fine tune the displayed time (just like the Time Control panel) and enter or edit the Session Manager's comment text.


When a Session produces data, that data is locally stored by the Session to provide fast access to historical data. To save this data for later use (such as comparing it to older or newer data sets) you can optionally archive it.

Choosing to archive the data from a session is analogous to saving a document before closing it. However, in this case, the document is wholly managed by VisualCommander behind the scenes on your behalf.

The Getting Started help page has a nice Hands On treatment of archiving.

When a Session is running, and you click on the Close menu, select Archive Then Close instead of Close to create an archive. Once created, the Open menu only offers a Unarchive choice. To remove an archive, you can use the Remove Archive option in the Close menu, or if you have already unarchived the data, use Close and Remove Archive. See the Getting Started guide for a more in-depth coverage of archiving.

Interface Properties

Fig. 5 - Inspection Panel Properties

Finally, the Interface Properties can be changed by pressing the i button; Figure 6 shows the resulting sheet that appears.

There are controls to change the grid size, spacing, and color. Likewise, you can define default characteristics for new Groups (which can be subsequently modified using the Options:Show Properties menu item). The Printing options are placeholders for a future release.