by Profusion Software Studios - Product Type: Application
Nantpad was designed to make authoring, browsing and executing scripts for the popular process-automating tool NAnt, quick and straightforward. NAnt is used widely in the .NET environment for automating the build process of software projects. The authors of Nantpad understand that writing and maintaining XML NAnt scripts by hand is not an easy task, especially for larger projects. Nantpad takes the hassle out of NAnt by allowing the developer to take control of their automated processes with the sophisticated features of this user-friendly tool.
Nantpad benefits the developer who is responsible for maintaining automated processes in the software development environment such as the nightly build or compiling releases. The Nantpad workspace allows the user to easily interact with the NAnt environment. New users of NAnt or developers who have the task of maintaining a legacy system would find Nantpad especially beneficial as Nantpad provides context-sensitive help for every task, attribute, function and property in their script.
Nantpad provides an explorer-type interface to the NAnt build script. User-friendly icons indicate targets, tasks, comment, code, and text entities. Context sensitive editors facilitate modifying NAnt entities such as tasks attributes, CDATA code, comments and plain text entities. A task editor allows the user to simply and quickly add, remove or modify task attributes and a code editor allows the user to modify CDATA code entities.
The user selects tasks and attributes from context sensitive drop-down lists for insertion into the working script. Child tasks for the selected task are shown first, however the user is also able to select from any task in the workspace schema. Likewise, attributes for the selected task populate context menu and drop-down lists for easy and quick insertion. The required attributes are inserted automatically when a task is added.
One of NAnt’s most powerful features is the use of expressions. NAnt expressions enable task attribute values to become dynamic and are constructed from numerous built-in functions and properties. Nantpad provides an Expression Builder in which complex expressions can be designed and inserted into a task attribute. The user can select from the list of built-in functions and help is provided for each function (including parameters and return value) and property.
NAnt is designed to be extensible and users can develop their own tasks to suit their unique requirements. Nantpad takes advantage of this by allowing the user to import any NAnt schema into the Nantpad workspace (usually generated using the “schema” NAnt task). User defined tasks become just as usable and visible in the Nantpad workspace as those defined in the NAnt schema. The Schema Manager allows the user to take control of the workspace and govern which versions of NAnt will be supported and which schemas to use.
Help for each task, function and property is available in real time in the Nantpad workspace. As the user writes or browses a script, context sensitive information and examples are displayed to the user. When the user selects a task in the script view, context and drop-down menus are automatically populated with that task’s child tasks. This allows the user to quickly complete the design of a particular task. Likewise, the optional attributes (or required attributes that have been removed) for the selected task populate context and drop-down menus for quick and easy insertion into the NAnt script.
A find dialog box enables the developer to search for text anywhere in the script. The search can be either forward or backwards from the currently selected task and can be case sensitive. The user also has the option of using regular expressions for the search.
The NAnt environment is dynamic. For each successive release of NAnt there are new tasks, functions, and properties. Nantpad ships with support files for the latest release of NAnt. However, support for past and future releases of NAnt is provided by way of .nantpad support files which can be downloaded from the Nantpad Web site. These files are imported into the Nantpad workspace using the Schema Manager. They are used extensively by Nantpad to provide context sensitive help, for populating task and attribute drop-down lists as well as help for built-in functions and properties in the Expression Builder.
Nantpad Express is also available, this is a cut-down edition of the full Nantpad product. This edition does not have an XML view, ability to run NAnt scripts and does not have the expression builder. The basic functionality still remains, but if you require any of the removed features then please purchase the Standard Edition.
The following is a summary of Nantpad's features.