Dojo 1.3 includes a new tool for working with data stores. The Dojo data API is a pervasive part of Dojo; there are a variety important widgets that use the API and numerous data stores that implement the API. However, often data stores are only accessible through the application that is being built, and developers are dependent on working UIs (that are constantly under development) for store interaction. The StoreExplorer is a new development tool built by Ben Hockey and I, designed to debug and interact directly with data stores to make it easier to understand the data provided by the stores, directly interact with that data, and thereby pinpoint issues in the widget-store stack.

Using the StoreExplorer module is intended to be very simple to hook up to a data store. Generally you would create a simple test page that you can use for store interaction. You create your store and then you can simply connect to it with the StoreExplorer:


The StoreExplorer utilizes the Dojo grid and tree widgets to view your data. The grid is automatically configured with appropriate columns for you data, and the tree can be used for view individual attributes of each item in the store and easily edit the values in place. The StoreExplorer also provides an interface for easily entering queries for the data store, and the grid provides sorting as well.

The tree part of the StoreExplorer allows you to introspect individual attributes of an item, and with hierarchical data stores, one can drill down into the nested items. Multiple values can also be viewed from the store as well as various other JavaScript data types like nested objects, dates, and functions. You can also modify data in the items from the tree view. Click on an attribute to change its value with the property editor. The property editor allows you to enter any type of JSON or JavaScript value, including strings, numbers, dates, arrays, etc. The editor also allows you define a value to a reference to another item in the store. Back in the tree view, you can right click on attributes in the tree to delete or add new attributes.

In the DojoX data tests directory (/dojox/data/tests/stores/) there is an explorer that is connected to an ItemFileWriteStore. You can use this as a starting template for connecting to your own data store.

It should be noted that connecting a tree directly to a data store will appear much different than the tree in the StoreExplorer. The tree in the StoreExplorer is not a per-item tree, but rather is a view of the attributes of each item, similar to the way that Firebug and other debuggers give you a view of the properties of an object. StoreExplorer is a developer tool. Also, the tree view is actually a self-contained module itself called the ItemExplorer. This could be used standalone to introspect a single store item.

Here is an example of using the StoreExplorer to interact with the ItemFileWriteStore:
ItemFileWriteStore

Persevere’s Database Explorer

One of our other projects, Persevere, is now using the StoreExplorer as its foundation for its database explorer for inspecting tables and their data and metadata, complete with the ability to create complex deeply hierarchical objects, arrays, and even functions:

persevere1.png

Front-end for Databases

The StoreExplorer provides a great base for developing a user interface to databases, particular databases with hierarchical capabilities. The StoreExplorer would make an excellent foundation for other databases as well. The StoreExplorer uses a self-configuring grid with a familiar table-like view of the data and has intuitive in-place editing for modifying data. This new module provides a great web-based database front-end, with a view of data that precisely aligns with the API that is available to developers through the corresponding Dojo Data store.

Store Explorer is another tool available for rapidly developing robust data-driven applications using Dojo’s data infrastructure. This tool can help test and interact with your data stores to help modularize the task of application development with the Dojo data framework.