Chapter One:
Customizing Your DADiSP System

No software is complete without special facilities for customizing it to meet specific user needs. DADiSP is an extremely powerful tool with a wide range of functionality. In addition to standard features, it also has a set of specialized functions and features that meet the needs of sophisticated DADiSP users.

This manual describes the tools to help you customize your DADiSP system. In the chapters that follow, you will learn to:

  1. Create new Worksheet functions using SPL, DADiSP's Series Processing Language

  2. Create new Worksheet functions with DADiSP's macro facility

  3. Design your own pop-up menus

  4. Create and use DADiSP command files

  5. Run external programs using the DADiSP pipeline

  6. Communicate with external programs using ActiveX and Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)

Sooner or later, almost every DADiSP customer begins to make use of these specialized features. Usually, the process begins with the creation of a few keystroke-saving macros. Often, the software has been specifically bought with a custom application in mind, like the automated nightly analysis of factory data. Either way, DADiSP has several features which will help you make it the most efficient tool for your data analysis.

The Demo

For an understanding of what is meant by "customizing DADiSP," consider for a moment the DADiSP demo (If you haven't looked at it in a while, run it by selecting Help -> Demo / Tutorial…). The demo was created by DSP Development using only the customization resources available in the product. Considering the goals of DSP Development and how we have used the customization features may give you some insight into how best to tailor DADiSP to suit your needs. The demo needed to be mostly automated, but, since the scope of DADiSP applications is very broad, it needed to allow some user interaction so a busy potential customer could focus on his or her area of interest. Finally, it needed to show off some of the power of the DADiSP Worksheet.

Command Files

Command files, like batch files in DOS or scripts in UNIX, comprise the DADiSP facility for automation. The demo was created by designing and implementing command files. Since the demo needed to make choices available to the potential customer that are unnecessary in the purchased product, special menus were created using the custom menu features. The menus make it simple for someone completely unfamiliar with DADiSP to navigate through the demo. Demo menu choices activate further command files that show off a particular facet of DADiSP.

Macros

In order to demonstrate the power of DADiSP, many standard features are invoked by the command file. Macros were created to allow the user to quickly access modules in an interactive DADiSP session: for example, "AD" invokes the main menu for the Advanced DSP module. Macros allow you to combine or abbreviate Worksheet functions so they may be called quickly and more easily. Also, a custom toolbar button labeled "DEMO" allows the demo user to return to the self running demo from any session. The demo is a customized application of DADiSP created to suit the needs of DSP Development. It makes use of command files, custom menus, macros, and custom toolbar buttons.

Custom Dialogs and Menus

Use of the customization features available in DADiSP can make your analysis extremely efficient. It is even possible to customize DADiSP to the point where new users can perform routine analysis by simple menu choices, or import a day's worth of data with the click of a button. This has tremendous advantages when employees are getting paid to perform research, not learn software commands. One group member can write a menu that everyone can use.

Programmability with SPL

DADiSP also includes features which allow the user to add or access completely different functionality. SPL, DADiSP's Series Processing Language, allows users to create new functions that are not necessarily combinations of pre-defined DADiSP functions. DADiSP includes a "Pipeline" to allow users to run external programs from within DADiSP. Virtually any external program can be run from the DADiSP command line.

Finally, under Windows, DADiSP supports both ActiveX and Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) as either a client or server. If data is being collected into a database and DADiSP is being used for trending analysis, for instance, ActiveX or DDE could be the ideal solution for having the two programs share data.

With these facilities for tailoring DADiSP to suit your needs exactly, you can turn DADiSP into a tool that gives you the results you want as efficiently as you want them. Every user can make use of SPL variables, SPL functions, and macros. Many will find command files a time saving way to automate repetitive tasks. For those working in groups, customized menus and toolbar buttons can minimize the effort it takes to make the power of DADiSP accessible to all. SPL, ActiveX, DDE, and the Pipeline can expand the scope of DADiSP for some users' specific application.