Fortunately, you don’t need to learn a sophisticated programming language, like Java or C++, to use VisualNEO Win’s Actions. Although VisualNEO Win’s syntax resembles a traditional programming language, it’s significantly less complex and much easier to learn. In fact, most Actions can be inserted by selecting the desired command from a list and filling out an easy to understand questionnaire.

To create Actions for your publication, display the Properties screen for the item you want to assign the Action to. For example, to add an Action to the current page, select the Page Properties command from VisualNEO Win’s Page menu. To add an Action to an object, select the object and choose the Object Properties command from the Edit menu. (You can also display an object’s Properties screen by placing the mouse pointer over the object and clicking the right mouse button.) Once a page or object’s Properties screen is displayed, select the Actions icon located along the left side of the screen.

The Action screen contains a large editor window, a tool bar and set of tabs just across the bottom. If the item you’ve selected has the ability to respond to multiple types of Action events, the tabs will contain the names of these events. If needed, you may specify a separate set of Actions for each event by clicking the tabs.

Action commands may be typed directly into the editor, but most authors prefer to use the Insert Action button instead. The Insert Action button (located at the right just above the editor), will display a list containing all of VisualNEO Win’s Action commands, plus commands belonging to any third-party Plug-Ins that have been installed. (See Install Plug-Ins)

Actions are separated into categories indicated by icons along the left side of the screen. Clicking an icon will display Actions belonging to that category on the right half of the screen. A short description of each Action will be displayed in a small window as your mouse pointer passes over it. To select an Action, click the desired item in the list.

If the Action you’ve selected requires additional information (such as a page title or a file name), a short questionnaire will appear, allowing you to provide the necessary details. These additional details are called parameters. For example, an Action called GotoPage requires a parameter that tells VisualNEO Win the title of the page you want to go to. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, VisualNEO Win will format and insert the Action code into the editor.

The questionnaire for the GotoPage Action lets you select from a list of pages.

You may insert additional Actions by repeating the steps above. New Actions will be inserted into the editor at the cursor position. Multiple Actions will be executed in the order that they are listed in the editor. Once inserted, you can edit Actions manually using your keyboard or display the questionnaire again by double clicking the line containing the Action’s code.

When Actions appear in the editor, they must be formatted using a specific syntax in order to be understood by VisualNEO Win. When using the Insert Action button, this formatting is handled automatically. However, if you enter or edit Actions manually, you’ll need to make sure that you adhere to a few simple formatting rules.

The Action’s name must appear first, followed by the required parameters, if any. Each parameter must be surrounded by “quotes” and separated by spaces. Each Action and its parameters must fit on a single line in the editor. If more space is needed, the editor window can be scrolled horizontally to accommodate additional text. For Actions that can display multiple lines of text (like AlertBox and MessageBox), line breaks must be marked within parameters using a special character called a pipe ( | ) and not by pressing the keyboard’s Return key.

For example, an Action called AlertBox displays a Windows-style dialog box with a custom message. AlertBox requires two parameters: one for the dialog box’s title and one for the message. The proper syntax for this command looks like this:

AlertBox "Greetings" "Welcome to my publication."

When executed, this Action will display a dialog box like this:

Any lines appearing in the editor that begin with a period "." are ignored by VisualNEO Win. These are considered comments. For example:

.this is a comment

AlertBox "Greetings" "Hello world."

You can use this feature to add comments to your Action scripts or to temporarily disable commands for debugging purposes.