Monday, June 29, 2009

Dock Sites

Yesterday I came about problems with complex host dock sites, caused by a stupid copy of Delphi VCL code. When a control adds and removes *itself* to the FDockClients of the dock sites, this behaviour is not proper OO design. Instead the control should *ask* the dock sites to add or remove itself.

The consequences of that misdesign become obvious with complex dock sites, like notebooks for themselves or as part of an dock tree. In this case we have two nested dock sites, the notebook and its container dock site. On a ManualDock into the container dock site, the controls will add themselves to the dock clients of that dock site, what certainly is wrong. In an drag-dock it depends on the proper determination of the Z-order, whether a control is docked into the notebook or into its enclosing container dock site. But in either case the dropped control must become a dock client of the notebook, so that undocking the notebook will not leave references to the notebook clients in the old host dock site.

Now a redesign of the docking procedures and methods is required, which eliminates any guesses about the structure, contents and management of dock sites. The most important change must remove all external references to the DockClients list of a dock site. Effectively DockClients should be managed by an DockManager only. Without an DockManager there exists no need for handling dock clients different from other components in a dock site, and the related methods (GetDockClientCount...) can be removed entirely. When a DockManager is removed, the existing DockClients must become ordinary controls of the dock site. In order to prevent the introduction of new methods, for adding and removing dock clients, the operations have to be moved into the appropriate methods. In that move also the currently unconditional undocking has to be removed, that leads to inconsistencies when a control is re-docked within the same dock site.

Furthermore the drop alignment and target controls have to be determined by the dock manager of a dock site, what already is required for notebook docking, and also is required for docking models other than tree-docking. In fact the DropOn control and DropAlign are applicable *only* to tree docking, and no control, drag manager or drag performer should assume anything about the docking process (DockRect...), at least when DropAlign=alCustom.

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