Tech

GameMaker Studio 2 IDE Hints and Tips, part 2

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Posted by Mike Dailly on 3 April 2017

So, since the last newsletter quite a few folk have asked for more hints and tips, and so I figured the best way for now would be to simply do a Tech Blog and start listing them. That way, newcomers always have a reference to fall back on. The previous newsletter listed ways of changing the size of the layout and resource tree, as well as how to easily collapse the docks to maximise space when you need it, but what other hidden gems are there?

Skins

Many folk don't know that you can actually change the whole look ("skin") of the IDE. It currently ships with 2 skins: Dark (the default) and Light. You can change this by finding the skins option in Preferences. Also, many users are now creating their own skins and uploading them for others to use. For example, HERE is a very nice Visual Studio style skin, which many of us had to look twice at to realise it wasn't actually Visual Studio!

We do have plans to make skinning easier in the future, so we expect lots of user skins to start popping up as time goes by.

Sprites

Do you always set your sprite's origin to the centre and get annoyed that you have to keep picking the drop-down all the time? Well, you're in luck, as there's a Preference to let you pick your own default origin value.

sprite origin

Help

The manual pops up inside the IDE, but many (myself included) prefer it to open up externally in my browser. These are still the manual files on your PC, it doesn't use your internet connection, but it means it doesn't take the focus away from the line of code I'm looking up. Again, you can change this Preference:

External Help

Code Editor

There are a stack of options for the code editor - not just for editing the code, but where things open up also. If you prefer to edit in the full screen text editor then there are options to always open code up in this mode. There are even options to let you open each event in its own chained window instead of tabs. If you haven't used it yet, full screen text editing is very cool. Not only can you maximise your workspace to far more code than normal, but the multi-column view (using the right-click menu inside the code editor) lets you spread things out so you can see far more. You also have the flexibility of dragging code TABs around the entire workspace.

Code editor preferences

For example, create 3 scripts and open them. If they open into a workspace, drag the tab from the code editor up onto the tab of the workspace (or you can click the maximise button on the code editor) and this will create a full screen code editor. Now click back in to the workspace and drag the other tabs onto the new code editor workspace tab also. These should then appear inside the full screen code editor alongside your first tab.

The freedom to move things around to let you lay out things how you want them to be is a key element of GameMaker Studio 2, and we try to make sure this flexibility is in as many areas as possible. You can then rename workspace tabs to something meaningful to the contents - for example: "Player", "Loading", or "Collision"- and this will make it much easier to jump to the chunk of code you're wanting to work on next.

Code editor preferences

IDE Navigation

We've added several shortcuts to make getting around the IDE simpler and faster, so I thought I'd list them here, as most people just don't know about them.

First is resource searching using CTRL+T. This opens up a search dialog which will quickly allow you to open a resource (or jump to it if it's already open). This is super useful if you know exactly what you're after - especially if you're in a script, as your hands never have to leave the keyboard in search of the mouse.

CTRL_T

Next up is CTRL+TAB. This magic combo allows you to easily navigate workspaces and the windows they contain.

CTRL_Tab

One of the most underused items in the IDE is also one of the most powerful: Bookmarks. In 1.x you could bookmark lines of a script, allowing you to jump directly to them even if they were closed. In GameMaker Studio 2 we've increased what you can bookmark to almost anything, and this lets you fly around the IDE without having to click a button.
If you open an object window, then press CTRL+SHIFT+1, you'll see a little tag being placed on the window (as shown below). Once you've done this, you can close the window. If you now press CTRL+1 this window will reopen and jump to it at whatever point you bookmarked.

Lets try another. Open up a script with some code in it, now go down a page or so and bookmark a line using CTRL+SHIFT+1. You'll see now not only a tag in the window title bar, but also on the line you've marked. Close the window then use CTRL+1 again and see this will open up the window and jump directly to that line. You don't, of course, have to close the window for this to work, as it'll jump there from anywhere in the IDE as soon as the bookmark has been created.

This also works with room instances, creation code in a room - pretty much anything that's inside a workspace! There are 9 bookmarks available and if you use the same one twice it'll reassign itself to the new location. For IDE hopping this is by far the fastest method.

Bookmarks

Tutorials

This one is for those doing tutorials and who are trying to follow the video while in the room editor. As you go into the room editor, your tutorial tab will obviously disappear and will usually mean you have to continually flick the dock tabs back and forth so you can see what you're supposed to be doing. However, you can just drag the video out and re-dock it in the room editor tab, allowing you to watch and edit at the same time. Like this...

Tutorial videos

Multiple Monitors

So, last one. If you're fortunate to have more than one monitor you can spread your work out even more and make use of all your desktop space. Simply create a new workspace tab, then click and hold it, and drag it out. This will create a whole new window that you can then put on another monitor if you like (or dock it to the side of your primary monitor for a split-screen view). I use this a lot when editing tilemaps, as it lets me have the room editor open so I can see the tiles, and while I edit a tile I can see what it looks like in the room in real-time! You could also just use it to get more script and coding space, allowing you up many more columns of text over your whole windows desktop.

Once you're done with the new window, you can either just close it, or simply drag the tab and re-dock it with the original window.

Multiple desktops

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