Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pokeing around AmiStart configuration files

AmiStart is the custom toolbar placed on the bottom of Icaros Desktop's screen, allowing people to navigate with ease among filesystem and programs. From my humble point of view, it's the most modern and sofisticated application of its category, and it's also quite easy to customize, at least for its contents. However, since its introduction in VmwAROS 0.5, it has been criticized for being "too big on small screens" (sorry my friends, Icaros is not intended for 640x480 workbenchs anymore...), "difficult to customize" (why?) and so on. Recently, however, Haywirepc started a clear discussion on aros-exec about this topic, so we could finally track the main issues and choose a direction for fixing them. I poked around the sm.prefs file and AmiStart's right-click menus, in order to get a thinner, but nice and well contrasted look for Icaros toolbar. You can see the results on the top corner of this article, by clicking on it for a larger view. Here is a short list of the best improvements:

- bar is half high than before
- bar doesn't follow screens when you open new ones
- bar now covers 95% of workbench width (formerly was 90%)
- labels are placed right to images
- Directory Opus now works in his custom screen, even with AmiStart working
- menus are graphically identical each others
- bar closes menu when clicking outside of it (à la Windows)
- ugly task icon has been replaced. The same will be for screens in the final revision
- new basic color (whyte with 45% transparency) allow better contrast with labels
- analog clock and memmeters are gone, replaced by a simple digital clock
- calendar has gone away, but can be easily restored (read what follows).

You can download the new AmiStart revision by clicking on the following link:

> Download new AmiStart (1,4 MB, .tgz file format)

And here how to install.

1. Close AmiStart (even better: disable it with Services in Prefs and warm reset Icaros)
2. Download it with OWB, it will be placed in ram:T
3. Open a shell (rAros+W)
4. Type in
cd extras:
delete AmiStart
tar xvfz ram:T/AmiStart112.tgz
5. Enter AmiStart drawer and launch AmiStart (or, better, re-enable it with Services in Prefs, then warm reset Icaros)

Inside the AmiStart drawer you'll find a backup file for old default sm.prefs file, in the case you don't like the new look and you wish to restore the old one. If you want back analog clock and calendar, please right click on the bar, choose "open shape layer" and then "widgets". Please follow the mentioned aros-exec discussion to help or to give hints and feedbacks, this will help me finalizing a new look for AmiStart in Icaros Desktop 1.1.2.