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Welcome to Helix 6.2
Helix 6.2 is Intel-only (Helix Client remains Universal)

Helix 6.2 is our first generation of Intel-only database application development and deployment tools.

Helix 6.2 was formally introduced with the release of Helix RADE on June 10, 2013. During its development, Helix RADE 6.2 was code named Europa after one of the moons of Jupiter. Its production was funded by a subscription effort known as the Europa Pioneer Program.

The release of Helix RADE 6.2 also included the debut of a new Helix Utility application for Intel-based Macs (more about which below). These releases were followed by the introduction of the three remaining Helix products, Helix Server, Helix Client and Helix Engine in version 6.2.1 on November 6, 2013.

That release was followed two months later by version 6.2.2 on January 6, 2014. This free update brought Mavericks (macOS 10.9) compatibility to Helix Client/Server and included the return of the PowerPC Client, to help make the transition smoother for users still running PowerPC Macs. Versions 6.2.3 (April 25, 2014) and 6.2.4 (June 19, 2014) brought additional enhancements along with many bug fixes.

The saga of our progress to the release of Helix RADE can be recounted by reading The Latest Word beginning with the June 10, 2011 edition.

Documentation

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive Helix RADE 6.2 User’s Manual, or even a single “what has changed since Helix 6.1” document available. Helix RADE 6.2 was a ‘journey’ and changes were documented along the way. Every feature update that is part of Helix RADE 6.2 is found within these release notes. (Many of these notes also contain bug fix references that are no longer of interest.) If you are willing to dig, you can find documentation on every change on the following pages:

Also, we have a YouTube channel where we demonstrate some of the changes visually.

We have been working on improved documentation via the macOS help viewer. We had hoped it would be available for Helix 6.2.4, but now it appears this will not appear until Helix 7.0, or later.

New and Enhanced Features

Helix RADE 6.2 features a greatly rewritten (and improved) Design Mode experience, featuring the debut of the Inspector and the Element Panel, a pair of floating palettes, along with complete design capabilities via AppleScript. Improvements in most of the Design Mode ‘editors’ and tools enable collection designers to create database applications faster than ever before.

The power of making changes via AppleScript is demonstrated by the ever-expanding list of free scripts that automate time-consuming or tedious tasks. For users who want to dig deeper, but have no previous scripting experience, we also introduced a tutorial that teaches AppleScript using Helix as the primary tool.

Intel-Native Helix Utility utility icon

Available as part of the Server, RADE and Engine installers, as well as in a separate installer of its own, Helix Utility 6.2 puts a new face on an old friend.

Having gathered years of feedback on Helix Utility — listening to people struggle to understand it, or complain about it requiring multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks — we took stock of the situation and chose to give it something it never had before: an honest-to-goodness user interface.

As the image on the right shows, instead of sitting there waiting for you to somehow know that your next step is to go to the menu bar, Helix Utility 6.2 presents the complete interface in a single window.

The new Helix Utility remembers your collections! No more navigating through your hard drive(s) looking for your collections. And it automatically sets the ‘collection buffer’ to the optimal setting, so you never have to worry that you aren’t getting maximum performance.

Taking cues from Apple’s Disk Utility, the various functions of Helix Utility are grouped into tabbed panels on the right. First Aid — which is what Helix Utility is used for 99% of the time — provides buttons that replace the old menu commands, but in a cleaner, safer way. The old Data Damage Check which could leave a collection ‘half-repaired’ is replaced with the Verify button that reports on the health of your collection without altering it. For the times when repairs are needed, one click on the Repair button is all it takes to complete the process.

The Activity Log section brings what was formerly buried in “diagnostic mode” out into the open, where we can see what is happening as it happens. Hopefully you’ll never see red text here, but if you do, the problem and solution are shown right there. (And this data is written into a permanent log file, so you never have to worry about capturing the output before taking another step.)

All in all, the new Helix Utility is a major leap forward.

Semi-Backward Compatible

When a major upgrade is released, Helix has historically blocked the ability to open updated collections with older versions. This is done because the introduction of structural changes to the underlying Helix database make it impossible for older versions to understand the new database structure.

However, because of the transitional nature of Helix 6.2, we have not blocked backwards compatibility. You can still open Helix 6.2 collections with Helix 6.0 and Helix 6.1. However, once you have begun making Design Mode changes with Helix RADE 6.2, we do not recommend going back to earlier versions. This is principally because some of the constructions that can be created with Helix RADE 6.2 will not be properly editable in RADE 6.1. In addition, longstanding inconsistencies that earlier versions interpreted in ways other than the code intended have been fixed. Those earlier versions may not always properly display data formatting.

We encourage all Helix users to upgrade fully to Helix 6.2 and embrace the future.

Reporting Bugs

Of course, all software contain bugs — this software included! To streamline the reporting process, we have created a complete bug reporting database in our online Helix database: techdb. For those who have never used techdb before: accessing techdb means using Helix Client to log into our own Helix Server from anywhere in the world. This is a great demonstration of the capabilities of Helix Client/Server. You can get your free copy of Helix Client on our download page.

Reporting bugs through techdb has many advantages:

  1. Report Discussions — communicate with our staff and other users. Help us identify the root issue behind the bugs.
  2. Search Capabilities — find out if others are experiencing the same issues.
  3. Feature Votes — indicate how important a fix is to you. More votes = higher priority.
  4. Document Exchange — submit collections, scripts, diagnostic logs, etc. Helix’s document management capabilities make it easy.

For more on using techdb, please visit this page.

Before you enter a new report, please look at the existing reports to see if the bug you have found has already been reported. We have added a Europa Reports item to the Reports menu, so you can quickly find just the reports that pertain to Helix 6.2. This form also has options to filter the list only to show the reports in which you are personally involved.

Because we are trying to get the most visible and productive work done in the shortest possible period, we reserve the right to “condense” reports. If a report you entered seems to have disappeared, rest assured it isn’t a Helix bug. We routinely remove duplicate reports. Please don’t take it personally if your report is removed in favor of another. Either way, we do appreciate your contribution.

Sample Scripts

Sample scripts, showing how to accomplish specific tasks in AppleScript, are being developed. Some of those scripts are available on this page, while others are being made available exclusively to customers who have signed up for the Learning AppleScript with Helix self-paced training course.