Workbench

The workbench plugin, found in the envisage.ui.workbench package, provides a style of user interface that is often (but not exclusively) found in integrated development environments (IDEs). Note that this does not mean that all of your user interfaces must fit this pattern – just that if they do, then we have done a lot of the work for you.

Workbench user interfaces are based on 3 simple concepts:

  1. Views

    Views are primarily used to present information to the user to help them perform their current task.

    In an IDE application, views might be:

    • file tree
    • class outlines
  2. Editors

    Editors allow the user to manipulate data and objects to perform their current task. Editors are really the focus of users attention with the views used to provide supporting information. Editors are grouped together geographically in what is known as the editor area.

    In an IDE application, editors would contain the source code that a developer is currently working on.

  3. Perspectives

    A perspective is a particular grouping of views (usually around the editor area) that correspond to a user task.

    For example, in an IDE, I might have the following perspectives:

    • Coding perspective

      This is the perspective that the user (in this case a developer) would be in when they are actually writing the code. It might contain views that show the files in the current project, the outline of the current class etc, and the editors would contain the source code that they are actually working on.

    • Debugging perspective

      In this perspective, the user would still see the source code in the editors, but the views might show things like breakpoints, variable watches, stack information etc.

In keeping with the Envisage philosophy of making code as reuseable as possible, the workbench plugin is just a thin layer over the PyFace Workbench widget to allow views, editors and perspectives to be contributed via plugins.