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Object Desktop Tips 'n Tricks- by Alexander Antoniades

Control Center vs WarpCenter and Reader mail!

Last month's column about using Control Center instead of WarpCenter sparked the interest of a number of readers who wrote me with their comments from both sides of the issue. So this month I thought I'd respond to their comments and publicly address some of the letters in the old PMMail-bag.

First: let me say that I appreciate everyone who's sent in their opinions. While I may not agree with all of you, we're always glad to hear suggestions about how we can improve our product and what you think about it. Now, on to making the Control Center behave like WarpCenter.

Starting from the left on WarpCenter and working our way over, I'll give my best example of what the Control Center can do to replace that functionality. By all means, if any of you have tricks out there that can do this better, please let me know.

Obviously the first thing to do is reorient the Control Center so that it's horizontal. Then, in the properties notebook, set it to not show the title bar. Snap to the desired screen edge, and reduce Desktop size to position.

The first component too add is the Start... er... Warp menu. This is basically the same as having the Desktop in the Control Center browser. Control Center has this option set up by default so all you have to do is position it on the left hand side and you're in business.

Next to the Warp menu on the WarpCenter is the 'Switch to Other Application' button. The best way the Control Center has of dealing with this is to drag the Minimized Window Viewer into the browser. (Note: you can drag any regular Desktop object into the Control Center browser by dragging it into a neutral (non drop target) area of the Control Center and then positioning it on the Sections tab of the Properties notebook.)

After that are the Shutdown, Find and Lockup buttons. To integrate those into the Control Center, take the objects with the same names that are in the Object Desktop folder and simply drag them into the Control Center browser. You can also use any other programs that provide similar objects, such as Process Commander's shutdown object.

The next step is to implement the area where WarpCenter displays various "monitors". Control Center offers all of these system status indicators, but instead of cycling through them one at a time, Control Center allows you to place as many of them as you want on the screen at the same time. Don't forget to change the CPU_NOFILL=0 line in the Control Center's object settings (accessible either through Object Package or Object Inspector in Object Desktop Professional) to "=1", if you want to get the pulse effect of Warp Center's system monitor.

The next item, the trays, were a source of controversy with some e-mails I received. Some readers such as Scott D. Taylor felt that Control Center's solution to replacing trays was inadequate for what he used trays for. Before I respond to that, let's talk about how you can get tray-like functionality with Control Center.

The solution that I've found is to either create new folders that group your current objects or use folders that already exist, such as the Applications folder, to organize your objects into groups that you can easily launch applications from. While some people object to this approach, my take on it is that this is a truly object-oriented approach, and as such is more in line with the way OS/2 and Object Desktop work. Because you're not grouping your objects into some artificial category, you're essentially creating a series of shortcuts that reflect the way your Desktop is actually organized. I realize this column won't be the final word on this matter, but it does offer the same functionality and it does work.

Lastly, is the clock which falls all the way on the right hand side of the WarpCenter. While Control Center has a number of clocks to choose from, I think that the text clock, especially when modified with drag and drop colors, provides the best solution for this configuration.

Finally, you can make the width of the "ControlWarpCenter" just the height of the smallest icon, the same size as the real WarpCenter.

There you have it. Here is a screen shot of a ControlWarpCenter (GIF, 7.7k) that I made for this article. The ordering is not the way that I would arrange it, but it does mirror WarpCenter's layout. I've added three monitors instead of the usual one, and I've placed four virtual Desktops between the "monitors" and "trays".

Also, I should mention that Control Center isn't the only program launch mechanism that can handle virtual collections of programs and folders the same way the WarpCenter can; Tab LaunchPad can as well. That said, some readers said that this wasn't a solution for them because of Tab LaunchPad's size and structure (because it doesn't map off the screen or stick to the edge), but those of you looking for a "tray" holder might want to consider this as well.

And now comments and questions from our readers:

Michael Jenkinson wrote:

Funny that you wrote that article for OS/2 e-Zine! just as I was bringing the Warp Center to my Desktop for the first time. I still use the Control Center, but only for the virtual Desktops. The reason why I changed over to the Warp Center (and abandoned the Tabbed LaunchPad in the process) was real estate/screen space. I much prefer the trays in the Warp Center... and I would move back to the Control Center as my mail program handler in a flash if Stardock could find a way to a) allow CC features to be added to WC or b) vice versa. For instance, why not redesign the CC with trays? Or allow the virtual Desktops to be added to Warp Center?
We won't be doing this any time soon. The article above shows that Control Center can duplicate the functionality of WarpCenter but since we don't have access to WarpCenter, we couldn't do anything with it even if we wanted to.

Bill Costlow wrote me to say:

I saw the winners of the Desktop contest and have a question:

How do I configure the OD "X" close-window icon in Warp 4? I like that a whole lot better than the OS/2 close-window icon but can't find a way to replace it.

This only happens with earlier versions of Object Desktop. Object Desktop 1.5.2 (AKA Object Desktop 1.5 with FixKit 2 applied) fixes this conflict with OS/2 Warp 4.0, so the solution is either to upgrade or update your Object Desktop version to this level.

Anders Gjerløv (one of the winners of the Object Desktop screen shot contest) offered the following comments about creating transparent Control Centers:

Actually, the "transparent" look in the Control Center is not really that difficult, if you make sure that the following conditions are met:

1. Use a bitmap that's the same size as your Desktop -- it shouldn't be scaled.

2. Have the Control Center "Snap to screen edge" on the left or on the bottom.

Then one can just define the same bitmap for the Desktop background, and for the Control Center background to get the transparent effect.

There's no need to cut the image, unless you want the Control Center somewhere else.

Thanks, Anders!
Alexander Antoniades is the former Associate Editor of OS/2 Magazine and the current Vice President of Marketing at Stardock Systems.

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