Animated Mouse Pointer for OS/2 v1.0- by Ryan Dill

Some of you may remember back in July of last year, when I 'raved' about Animouse from Australia's Sentience Software. Well, with all due respect to the folks from Oz, a new day has dawned, and it's even brighter than the last.

Animated Mouse Pointer for OS/2 (which I'll call AMPTR from now on to save myself some typing) is a little gizmo created by Christian Langanke of TeamOS/2 Germany; it gives your OS/2 Warp system animated pointer ability, much like that possessed by Windows 95 and NT. Your old static mouse pointers can now run, jump or dance a jig!

Why Bother?

"Well fine," you might say, "but Animouse does that; why should I use the one with the really long name instead?" Three reasons. Number one is the way it's designed; it fits into the Workplace Shell like a glove. Number two is the fact that it supports more types of animated pointers than Animouse. And number three, unlike Animouse, which is about US$20 from Indelible Blue, AMPTR is absolutely FREE! You can't get a much better deal than that...

Unlike Animouse, AMPTR is not a separate program with an executable. AMPTR uses IBM's SOM (System Object Model) technology to seamlessly integrate itself into the operating system -- If you didn't know you had installed it, you'd think its features were part of OS/2. (SOM is a powerful way to add functionality to your existing OS/2 system; one of the best-known examples of SOM can be seen in Stardock's Object Desktop, considered by many to be a natural upgrade to Warp 3 and 4.)

AMPTR builds upon the existing OS/2 pointer classes and Mouse object so you lose nothing by installing it; you can still use all your old pointers without any problems. AMPTR adds, however, the ability to replace one or more of OS/2's nine mouse pointers with an animated version. AMPTR also makes this change as simple as drag'n'drop! Just drag any valid pointer onto the Mouse object and drop it on the pointer you want to replace, or, drag a pointer set into the window to replace the entire current set.

A pointer set may either be a directory (in which all the desired pointers (GIF, 17.4k) are stored as normal .PTR files) or an Animouse-style resource which contains multiple pointers in a single file (GIF, 9.7k). If you only want part of a set of animations to be animated (I myself dislike animating the text pointer) simply right-click on the specific pointer and select such from the menu. Simplicity!

AMPTR supports more formats. In addition to normal OS/2 .PTR files, it supports (as you've probably gathered) animations which use Animouse's .AND resource format. Perhaps the coolest feature though, is that it supports Windows 95 pointer formats, like .CUR and .ANI! Have you always liked that animated pointer that your friend with the Win95 machine has? Simply put it on your system and drag and drop it on your Mouse object!

This is perhaps one of AMPTR's best features because it means that we, as OS/2 users, immediately have a HUGE database of animated pointers to choose from. Simply doing a web search on 'animated pointers' will give you access to thousands of ready-to-use animations for your OS/2 system. (You can find over 3,500 at Dierk's List of Animated Cursors. note : Dierk's List of Animated Cursors will move to http://www.anicursor.com/ as of March 1st.)

AMPTR has other features too, such as the ability to use REXX to configure its settings (full details are available in the INF file). It also includes the ability to make your own .AND collections of animations, with both animated and normal pointers in the same resource! This version of AMPTR doesn't allow grouping of Window .CUR and .ANI into .AND files, but the author has promised this ability in a future version. The aforementioned future version will also include a utility to convert Windows cursor files to OS/2 format, so that you can edit them with OS/2's own Icon Editor.

Glitches

For a first release, AMPTR works surprisingly well on a variety of systems. However, a few anomalies in this version have been noted:

The program works under both Warp 3 and Warp 4, but a few people, myself included, can't get the drag-n-drop of pointers (which works fine in Warp 3) to work in Warp 4. This is confusing, since the author and others have no such problems. Still, the animations work fine under either OS, which is the main reason to use the program.

The installation program appears to have a problem installing to a directory with spaces in it (like "X:\Pointers and Icons"), but this will no doubt be fixed in the next release. (Also, since OS/2's own resource compiler, with which you would create .AND files, doesn't support spaces either, it's not recommended to install AMPTR to a directory with spaces in its name.)

When running under Warp 4, AMPTR appears to have a beef with the WarpCenter; while AMPTR is installed you can't access the Mouse object from the WarpCenter, you have to open the System folder and double-click from there. A fix for this has also been promised in the next version.

A minor glitch with Matrox cards; in certain resolutions, one pointer in an animation may be displayed a pixel higher than the others, causing the animation to 'jump'. My ATI card has no such problem.

Lastly, the author says that there is a typo or two in the REXX install script which, although it works fine under normal REXX, chokes if run under Object Rexx. Therefore, until the next version comes out, AMPTR should be installed with normal REXX.

Some of these glitches may have already been solved by the author by the time you read this, and fixes will be in the next release. He also plans to create a web page in the near future where all updates can be downloaded, along with additional useful and cool animations.

Just like Animouse, AMPTR looks and operates better in a decent graphics mode; IBM's regular VGA mode, especially, results in a lot of flickering. Myself, I'd recommend a graphics mode with at least 256 colors, as a lot of the cooler cursors out there may simply look unappetizing in less. As well, any application like this will perform better on a graphics card with hardware support for mouse pointers (pointers are stored in the card's memory rather than taking up system RAM). Still, the only way to find out what'll work for you is to experiment. If you don't like AMPTR, the included REMOVE.CMD script works quite nicely.

Conclusion

Animated Mouse Pointer for OS/2 is a great little application that I recommend in a second for anyone who wants to improve the look of their OS/2 Desktop. It comes with a stock of ready-to-use animations, and is available in both English and German versions. And because of its NLS support, new languages aren't that hard to add (French and Japanese versions are already on the way). If you like the program and think you'd like to help translate a version for your native language, let the author know...

Download the program and try it out!


 * Animated Mouse Pointer for OS/2 v1.0
by Christian Langanke
download from the OS/2 Supersite (ZIP, 333k)
Registration: Freeware
Ryan Dill is a student in Computer Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS. He is reported to be relieved that, with the advent of Warp 4, talking to your computer is no longer considered a sign of mental instability.

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