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Rectangle Styles in Helix 7.0

Later versions of Classic Helix (v4.0–6.1) added the ability to customize the width and color of the frame for some (but not all) rectangle types, along with other color attributes for rectangles.

In the transition to macOS, Helix stopped supporting most of these properties, due to limitations in earlier versions of macOS and our desire to get the functionality that a majority of our uses needed into their hands more quickly. In Helix 6.2, these properties are ignored, causing all framed rectangles to display and print as a black rectangle frame 1 pixel wide. For users of these collections, color ‘just disappeared.’

Helix 7.0 restores the color and frame width options from Classic Helix in many places. Most notable is that data rectangles, group boxes and command rectangles (buttons) remain under the control of macOS on screen, so these properties are typically not supported if macOS does not natively support them.* However, these properties are supported in print, since that is outside the direct control of macOS.

* One exception is button background color, which we have implemented as a transparent color overlay.

The Return of Color and Frame Widths

Helix 7.0 supports color and frame width as follows:

  • On screen:
    • Data rectangles: background color, plus frame color in lists
    • Label rectangles: background color, frame color, and frame width
    • Command rectangles: background color
    • Group rectangles: controlled by macOS
    • Repeat rectangles: controlled by macOS
  • On print and template Preview mode:
    • Data rectangles: background color, frame color
    • Label rectangles: background color, frame color, and frame width
    • Command rectangles: background color, frame color
    • Group rectangles: frame color and frame width
    • Repeat rectangles: frame color and frame width

Options that are not listed — such as setting the frame width of a data rectangle — were not available in Classic Helix either.

Changing Rectangle Properties in Helix 7.0

Users who have become accustomed to the ‘colorless’ look of Helix 6.2 may find the return of rectangle styles distracting when collections that were designed using the styling properties found in Classic Helix are updated to Helix 7.0.

Helix 7.0 does not have a color picker for changing colors, but collection designers can remove much of the unwanted color from a rectangle by setting the background color index to 0 (white) and the frame color index to 1 (black).

Furthermore, since the ‘frame color’ and ‘frame width’ properties were not functional at all in Helix 6.2, these properties are not even found in the Inspector. For these properties, the only method of changing them is through AppleScript. (We expect to address this in Helix 7.0.1.)

For command rectangles we have created a free AppleScript that can be used (while in Design Mode) to reset every button to the macOS default. Designers who would like a script to reset other rectangle types are encouraged to contact QSA ToolWorks technical support — we will create scripts for other rectangle types as demand warrants.