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SuperNTF In-Depth: Notes Custom Color Setting Tool


One of the great things about working on a project like SuperNTF is the opportunity it affords to do things "right", taking the best ideas I can find (many of them yours, thank you) and putting them into practice.  In some cases, such as Julian Robichaux's OpenLog, very little changes in the implementation.  In other cases, great features have been conceived out of seemingly humble origins.  This is a story of one such case.  Even though this particular feature isn't what you might call "essential" to the functioning of SuperNTF, I still think its cool and I didn't see a reason not to put it into the template.

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Showing that it pays to stay on top of the Domino Blogosphere, I found inpiration for this particular gem on the Datatribe Softwerks Blog back in March.  The gist of the post was pointing out how these custom color selections are stored on the user's system.  As Mark Barton says:

Ever created your own custom colors in notes? Then lost them between sessions?

It turns out they're stored in your Notes ini as the following - CustomColor1=FDF5EE, CustomColor2=F0D9C2 etc.

How cool is that? It means you can have your corporate colors rolled out via your ini file

...the Red and Blue are reversed. Why I don't know.  So if you want red it needs to be FFFF00 rather 00FFFF

Anyone who has ever tried to use the custom color features of Notes when developing a database has probably felt pretty frustrated with how clunky and unintuitive it is to define *multiple* custom colors.  One of my biggest headaches was trying to add a second custom color only to have my first one overwritten instead.  Nevermind adding the allotted 16 colors.  I only recently figured out how to use the tab key to change the focus in the dialog box to prevent this, but I doubt that is how it was intended to be used.

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Click Read More to learn about a tool I created around Mark's insight that helps streamline the use of custom colors...

So taking a cue from Mark Barton's contribution on the Datatribe Softwerks site, I whipped up a custom color settings form that would allow users to specify up to 16 color values on a Notes document, and then allow these choices to be written back to the user's Notes.ini file (with the appropriate conversions). There is even an "import" feature such that you can pull in your existing settings and save them in a new color settings document. These custom color settings documents then allows users to save, and share, complex color selections, and easily switch between them.  This will really help a developer switching back and forth between projects, or a team of developers trying to ensure everyone's using the same colors for a given project.

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The color selections even show up at the view level!

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"So where do I get the code?" I hear you ask.  This tool and much more Show-n-Tell-Thursday-worthy cool stuff is all part of my SuperNTF project on OpenNTF.  The initial release (0.9.4) did have an incomplete and buggy version of this tool, but the version that works is in SuperNTF 0.9.5 and above.  As of this writing I have not posted that release yet, but will do so by tomorrow.  If you can't wait, send me a note and I'll send you the parts you need for this feature.  As always, I welcome and encourage feedback, good or bad, so don't hold back your criticism and/or suggestions.  The easiest way to do that is to submit a bug report or feature request on the OpenNTF project page for SuperNTF.


1 - I can answer some of the "why" questions about the Windows color picker. The reason RGB is reversed on Windows is because the byte order on Intel CPU's is little endian. Microsoft decided that Red would be 255 (0x000000FF as a 32-bit hex number), so this forces the R component to be the rightmost byte of a color value. In order to get the internal representaion to mimic a big endian system, Red would have to be 4,278,190,080 (0xFF000000).

2 - Kevin, this is a fantastic idea. What would friggin' rock is if you could integrate something like this:
{ Link }

3 - Gentlemen...

If you REALLY want to do kick ass color work, it's...

{ Link }

If you're going to include a generalized palette control, go there.

4 - Thanks Tim. If that site allowed for the color schemes to be saved, it would be easier. Of course, if you have a bunch of hex color values in a list you could modify this tool to allow them to be simply be pasted into a field and then parsed into the various fields, or alternately add a different "Import" function that would accept such a list and do the same thing.

Working to get the release out soon Emoticon...

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