|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DISQUE ★ EASYDOS DESKTOP ★|
|Easydos Desktop System (Amstrad Action)||Applications Disque|
JERRY GLENWRIGHT gets stuck into another gargantuan grab-bag of public domain goodies -including a clever little program that makes your CPC look like an Atari ST...
Haven't you ever looked at the Atari ST in the window of your local electronic gadget box-shifter and wished the CPC had an easy to use WIMP GEM interface?
Sure, the CPC command line is fast and powerful, but sometimes, when it's late and you're tired, wouldn't it be nice to just point at a program icon, click, and have the application fire up?
Instead of typing in huge command sequences to get through CP/M's User directory configurations in which you've attempted to sort important files, you could simply open a GEM-style window on any folder and there will be your files and programs, all of which can be run by simply clicking, DW Software of Withernsea, North Humberside, is a PD library written, owned and run by David Wild. This guy is single-handedly writing his own public domain library - and Desk, a quite unreaJ copy of the GEM front end for CPC micros, must be the flagship of the range. It has to be seen to be believed.
Getting it up and running, Desk consists of 22K of BASIC, 7K of machine code - presumably to draw the windows, update the screen and so on - and various configuration and .INF files necessary for the program's operation. There's probably not much more than 50K of "code, so you're not going to lose much by including the program on your disks.
Initialising Desk is easy - just type run"desk from the CPC prompt. Within half a second you're presented with a WIMP (Windows Icons Mouse Pointer) desktop on screen. At the very top there's a menu bar with Desk, File and View options, and below that a large window covering the entire screen, with a filing cabinet icon representing disk A in the top left-hand comer, and a dustbin icon representing the wastebasket below it at the bottom of the screen. A pointer cursor is positioned somewhere on the desktop. You can select keyboard, joystick or AMX mouse control for the pointer, giving you the full feeling of GEM.
Clicking on Desk in the menu bar (for those of you who haven't used a mouse, 'clicking' means moving the on-screen pointer to a word, icon or whatever and pressing the mouse button to make a selection. Double-clicking involves pressing the mouse button twice and is usually used to run a program), brings up a menu offering Desktop Info, Catalogue, Control Panel and Exit.
The first provides a copyright message and, as the prolific Mr. Wild asserts, "It's useless, but if it's good enough for the ST, it's good enough for me!". Catalogue brings up a window containing an AmsDOS-style Cat of the disk in drive A, showing files, sizes and the like. Control Panel offers control over paper and ink settings so that you can choose the colour of the desktop and text, a printer on/off toggle, drive A or B toggle and selection between mouse, joystick and keyboard control of Desk.
Moving along the menu bar to File, you can inspect (i.e. print to screen) text files, rename or erase files, get information such as start address in memory of programs you've highlighted, their sizes etc.
The final menu bar choice is View. Clicking on this enables you to choose whether to sort files displayed on screen alphabetically by name or by type.
Moving the pointer to the filing cabinet icon and clicking opens a window displaying files present on the disk in drive A (unless you've selected drive B in the Desk/Control Panel menu, in which case the files from drive B will appear). Folders, represented by card index dividers, are tree-like directory structures, which are actually patched into CP/M User0, Userl etc, code in order to create a true directory structure. And they really work. You can store files such as word processor documents in a folder called WordPro or whatever you wish, programs in a Programs folder and so on, clearing the desktop and making file and program selection quick and easy.
Programs are represented by little 'computer1 icons, and text files by paper sheets with lines across them and one corner folded over. If you want to run a program, move the pointer to its icon, double-click the mouse button (...or joystick button or return key or copy key), the screen will clear with the words "loading...filename" on the top line and then your chosen program will be loaded and run.
If you wish to read text files, move the pointer to the desired text file's icon, click once to highlight the file and select Inspect from the File menu - a window will open and the file will scroll through the window. When you've finished reading, click the window to close it and you'll be back at the desktop.
All windows appearing on-screen are high-resolution, extremely professional-looking and fast. If you perform any naughty actions, a win-dow will appear with a genuine ST-like STOP sign and a message detailing the error. The typeface used on the desktop is very similar to that of the ST and the whole thing feels as though - with a little work - it should have been bundled as a front end by Amstrad, it really is that good.
One moan is that after running an application you're returned to the Amstrad command line rather than Desk, and must run Desk again if you wish to use it. Unfortunate, but jeez, it's free!
Anyway, I have confidence in this guy, If there's enough demand, I just know he could write a patch to get the start of Desk instead of the Amstrad BASIC screen to be bunged into the correct spot in memory. Can you hear me DW?
If you adore your CPC, but would like it to have smart new coat to wear, then invest a few quid in a disk containing a copy of Desk - I guarantee you won't be disappointed, but do it soon, because software houses everywhere are going to snap this program - and it's author -up and pay large sums of money. More programs from David will appear next month.