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Blog: DesktopX 3, Photo albums, furniture, and ObjectBar 2

The calm before the March storm..

Sunday, February 27, 2005 by Frogboy | Discussion: Community

Tomorrow is a big day for us. It's the release of Multiplicity which we've been working towards for over a year. It's one of the most useful programs I've ever used and we made it! Hopefully with a trial version of it available, people will be able to see why it's not the same as some open source program or whatever alternative one might imagine. We'll see.  I'm using it right now to do this blog. I have one machine that doesn't have hardly anything on it (not even WindowBlinds) which I'm using to test things and then this one which is my "work" machine which is currently running the Dream theme update.

Spent a lot of time going over Galactic Civilizations II's alpha. Lots of good stuff but we have our work cut out for us. Luckily we have time but as a very lazy guy, I lament how much work is in store for me and the team to get through.

Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we'll be able to hand out betas of DesktopX 3 to key developers.  I've been trying out different things today to see what can be done.  I think one of the biggest features is the ability to have preferences dialogs in your widgets (and no XML is needed to do this). 

Personally, I wish more of the samples used JavaScript. I positively hate VB Script. It's so..yucky. But I'm biased since I come from the C++ world of things.

I got a new internal build of ObjectBar 2 to play around with. The Mini Skin editor for it is ready and I'm going to try to reproduce the OS/2 Control Center exactly - pixel for pixel.  DesktopX 3 widgets/gadgets can be seamlessly embedded into an ObjectBar bar.  And ObjectBar 2 can export its bars as EXEs as well.  So you could make your own Longhorn bar or Mac Finder bar or whatever and then have it be a program you can distribute with the user only needing the ObjectBar run-times to use it (i.e. you don't have to load up ObjectBar and fish for the .obtheme).  The combination of being able to use DesktopX 3 widgets and being able to export its content as a program should hopefully be pretty compelling.

Imagine it - instead of people having to write complicated plugins or wait for the "bar developer" to come up with some feature (RSS feed, MP3 player, weather, etc.) like you do with other bar programs, you can just stick in there a widget. Widgets, in essence, take on the role plugins do in other programs except anyone can make a widget.  And it's a lot easier to "Skin" a widget than it is to make a skin for some bar program.

The final touches on ObjectDock 1.11 and WindowBlinds 4.51 were finished up and we're just waiting to catch our breath to release those. We also have a fantastic new skin pack from Essorant that is about to be released. Same as the others, we're just waiting to catch our breath. March is going to be crazy.

My wife had a scrap booking party. Those primitives with their paper and scissors. ;) Canon bundles (or used to anyway) this wonderful program called "Photo Record". Has both Mac and PC versions (I have both) and it's just fantastic for creating your own photo albums.

Of course it doesn't have the social aspect of scrap booking parties or the tactile satisfaction of actually making stuff. But I still find it pretty neat to use and the results are fantastic.

I have a bit over a month to find a new car. No luck so far.  I currently have a Bonneville and they've discontinued that. So I'm off looking for something else. Want something with GPS, adaptive cruise control, and heads up display.  Not terribly price sensitive on the issue but I'm pretty cheap.

Speaking of being cheap, Stardock is going to be moving to a whole new office this May.  It'll have twice the square footage as what we currently have and we'll own it (we currently lease).  But the interior decorating bill..oye.  We're looking at around $150k to do what we want to do.  So we're going to be cutting out some things. Quite a few things.  Note that this doesn't include carpeting, wallpaper, acoustical ceiling tiles, natural lighting, and all the other fancy stuff we're doing to make our new office really slick.  The $150k range is just for the desks and other furniture.  We're going to get rid of some stuff that was mostly cosmetic and hopefully by the time we're done we'll be closer to $100k.  We want to get everyone new furniture since what we have now is kind of falling apart except for the central development lab furniture which we're keeping and the WinCustomize team will upgrade to that.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 57, Zip File

Last "file" for awhile.

Saturday, February 26, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 57 (Zip File)

Now we come to the last of the default supported file types, the Zip file. I like to do this one as a folder, because the way I use zip files is more like a folder than a file. And Windows, by default, shows them as "compressed folders". This is also an excuse to get us pointed back toward the Folder icons for awhile. Well lets see what we can do.
 
Step 1:

First I am going to go way back to our Word Document, and copy it. I also delete the Word logo overlay.

Step 2:

Next I copy the file in the folder and make 3, with different colored files. This is to imply that there is a lot stuffed in the folder.

Step 3:

Now I put my new folders inside the folder by placing them behind the Folder front.

 
Step 4:

Now I need a zipper. I draw some simple shapes and duplicate them to make the zipper "track"

Step 5:

Using the Perspective tool I slant the track back to fit on the folder front. Then I give it a "poor mans bevel" (see the Contour Tutorial for more on that).

Step 6

Now I draw the zipper handle with 3 rectangles and the mesh fill tool.

Step 7:

I spend a little time with the mesh tool giving the handle some detail.
I also give the different parts of the zipper their own shadows, to give the handle a more natural look.

Step 8:

Now using our
Shadow techniques I give the zipper head a new shadow.

Step 9:

Last with the 
Reflection Techniques to do a nice reflection of the entire image.

Completed Icon Image.



Click here to download the finished icon.

Tomorrow we will dive back into the folder icons, so check back in then.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icons #55 & #56, RTF & Write Files

Little used and little loved, but need to to be done.

Friday, February 25, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 55 & 56 (RTF & Wight Files)

Today we will take care of two of the least glamorous and seldom seen File Type icons supported in the default types. The Write file is almost never used anymore, so I have decided to not place the extension in the title area, this will allow people to use it for just about any simple word processor.

The RTF file is more or less a slightly fancier copy of our Text file, on it we have some formatted copy with different colors.

Lets see how we came up with these in some very simple steps.
 
Step 1a:

I start  with the Text File, and remove the copy and lines. And I change the Title to RTF.

Step 2a:

Now using the Artistic Text tool I make some formatted text and place it on our file.

Step 3a:

Now to say that this is an editable format, make a copy of our Pen Overlay and place it in front of our new file.

 
Step 4a:

Last with the 
Reflection Techniques I create a new reflection of the file.

Finished Icon Image.

Step 1b:

For our second file I simply copy the RTF file and edit the copy to make room for a picture.  I sold the picture from our BMP file.

Step 2b:

Last thing is to copy the pen back in front of the file.

Completed Icon Image

 




Click here to download the finished icon.


 
 

Tomorrow we will finish of the last of the Default File icon types and do the Zip file. So check back in soon.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 54, Video Clip

The stand in video file.

Thursday, February 24, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 54 (Video Clip)

As we polish off the default file icons, we come to the Video Clip icon. This icon is used by windows for several types of files; if we don't do the WMA, and AVI file types separately they would show up as the Video Clip icon. I like to do this a bit different than the MOVIE icon. This time I decided to do a "Clapper" in the Glassy style we are using elsewhere in the pack. Ok, off we go.
 
Step 1:

First thing I do is copy our
WMV file and remove the WMP Logo, and all the shadows and reflections. I also delete the title.

Step 2:

Now I want to make a "Clapper" So I draw it with the rectangle tool.

Step 3:

Now I take our clapper and lean it back against our file with the perspective tool.

 
Step 4:

Now I duplicate the bottom of the clapper twice and use the original image to trim the edges from the duplicates to get the edges of the clapper.

Step 5:

Now using the mesh tool and a few circles I make a clasp to hold on the top of the clapper.

Step 6:

Now I make some text to go on the clapper, and using the perspective tool fit it on the bottom.

Step 7:

Now I give the clapper some subtle gloss since it is glassy.

Step 8:

Now using our
Shadow and Reflection Techniques  I put a reflection of the clapper in the film, and a nice shadow under the clapper.

Step 9:

Last with the 
Reflection Techniques I new refection of the file and clapper together.

Completed Icon Image.



Click here to download the finished icon.

This is the last of the Default Video icons, we will do some bonus Video Type icons before the pack is done. But for now this can stand in for just about any type of Video file.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 53, The Media File

Little bit video, little bit music.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 53 (MEDIA File)

We only have 5 default file types left in our package. We will however do more File type icons before our pack is done, but since I am sort of on a File Type roll, I figured we should just push on thru and polish of the default file icons over the next few days.

Today we will do one of the most obscure file icons; the Media file. This one can be many either video or sound (I think) and so it has become my habit to make it some kind of mix of our Video File style and our Music File style. Today we will do the same thing.
 
Step 1:

I start by copying the MIDI file, moving our notes off to the side, and deleting the graphics from the front of the file.

Step 2:

Now I copy one of our video files over. I set the outside of the Film to black, and the center to a Rainbow-like gradient. Then I make both a bit transparent.

Step 3:

Now I move our Notes back in front of our file. and make sure they look ok.

 
Step 4:

Now using our
Reflection Techniques I make the new graphics a nice reflection.



Completed Icon Image.






Click here to download the finished icon.

Tomorrow we will polish of the last of the Default media type files and take care of the "Video Clip"

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © 2005 Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 52, GIF File

The last of the default Image File icons.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 52 (GIF File)

Today we will polish off the last of the Default Image file icons. The GIF File. This one is usually pretty simple in concept for me, since GIF's are almost exclusively used for the internet, and when I think of Internet GIF files I think Smileys. So for the last few of my icon packs, I have gotten into the habit of doing something with a pixilated smiley graphic. Today I will do it again. but a bit differently than I have before.
 
Step 1:

First thing we do is copy the BMP icon from yesterday and delete the page contents, as well as the reflections. I also change the title to GIF

Step 2:

Now in the last icon we had the brush going behind the icon. We will stick with that, (I am going to end up redoing the JPG file, I just know it). I also use the Mesh tool to change my swoosh to yellows.

Step 3:

Now since I am tired, I take a Screenshot of my MSN instant messenger and crop it down to just one of the smileys. I will use this as a guide to make my own.

 
Step 4:

No using a .03 pixel box and the Nudge settings, I make my own version of the smiley, with a bunch of colored squares. (Note, I want this to look pixilated)
Step 5:

When I am happy with my new smiley, I size it and place it on my page. I select all the squares and give them a Multiply Transparency set to 0.


Step 4:

Our last step is to use the Reflection techniques to give our new images that final polish.

Completed Icon Image.



Click here to download the finished icon.

This is the last of the 3 Default Image icons, BMP, GIF, and JPG. But have no fear, I will be doing several more image format icons before the pack is done. I just want to polish off the default icons before I go off on we move on into more bonus file types.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © 2005 Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 51, The Bitmap File

This one makes me crazy.

Monday, February 21, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 51 (BMP File)

Today we get back to the default file icons and as long as we're at it lets take care of the first one on the list: the Bitmap file.

This icon is one of those icons that drives me crazy. It is exceedingly simple in concept, yet always leaves me wanting more. For
the JPG file I almost always do a photograph of some kind, since JPG's are most well known for saving digital "Pictures". For the GIF file I like to do a smiley, or some other pixely net image since Gifs are best know for the web, and emoticons. Bitmaps or BMP files are perhaps best known for wallpaper, but it would seem odd to put a monitor on a file. (Note to self, try this someday, might work). What I tend to end up doing is some sort of generic image, a "Bliss" like image, or a sunset. This is why I am never exited to do the BMP icon, and I tend to put it off. But since I promised a file icon to day I have decided to get this one checked off the list.
 
Step 1:

Once again we will start by copying a base icon, this time the
JPG file. I delete everything but the main file and its title. The title I change to BMP.

Step 2:

Now I grab the brush from our
My Pictures folder and move it down in front of our file. To add some depth I move the handle of the brush to the back.

Step 3:

Now with the
Mesh Tool I go in and edit our Paint "swoosh". Making it fade from blue to green to red.

 
Step 4:

Now I copy one of the images from the photos in our
My Picture folder and crop it down. Then I place it on our folder with a Multiply Transparency set to 0. I also draw a black box around it to act as a frame.

Step 5:

Now to make this a bit more interesting I want to do a little palette on the bottom of the page, so I draw some boxes and line them up flush under our picture.


Step 4:

Now using the eye dropper tool I sample some colors from the picture and assign them to the palette squares. One row the greens, one the blues.

Step 4:

Now we are back to our standards; we give the new file and brush a
Reflection.

Step 8:

We need a new
shadow for the brush handle so we take care of that.

Completed Icon Image.




Click here to download the finished icon.
 

That's one more of our staple icons out of the way. And I must say it turned out much better then I was thinking it would. Since that went well I think tomorrow we will finish up the Default Image file types and do the GIF. See ya then.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

Icon-A-Day, Icon # 50, iPod Mini

A quick side step for the fun of it.

Sunday, February 20, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 50 (iPod Mini)

Yesterday I said I would be doing another File Type icon, however I have decided to take a little detour out of the default icon pack icons and do something purely for the fun of it.

About a month ago, I finally cracked under the pressure and bought an iPod. I went in to by a 512 iPod Shuffle, but somehow walked out with a 4G iPod Mini. This has, however, worked out quite well for me and I have become a big iPod Fan, mostly for its Audible.com support. The long and short of this story is that my iPod is almost always attached to my computer these days, and when it is it shows up as a removable drive. Since I am me, when a new Drive shows up on my computer I have to make an icon for it.

I was holding my mini the other day, and thought, it would be pretty easy to make an icon for this. As it turns out I was right. The only problem is that the final image ended up looking a bit too realistic, and I could have probably just used one of the many bitmap images from the Apple site and saved myself a bunch of time. However this dose make a nice tutorial on what you can easily do with techniques we have already established. So off we go...
 
Step 1:

Now if you have ever seen an iPod you will know they are pretty simple. our entire Icon can be made with just a few shapes.
Step 2:

The most difficult part of or image with be the main back of the pod. This I will do with the Mesh Tool. You can see here how I rounded the corners a bit. And placed some nodes where my shadows and highlights will be.

Step 3:

Now I simply change of the Mesh node colors. We do a light grey for the center 4 nodes, a dark grey on the left, and a light grey on the right.

 
Step 4:

You can see here our how our mesh created the illusion of dimension.
Now using the techniques from the Transparency 201 Class, I give the iPod a bit of texture.  Very subtle.

Step 5:

For our touch wheel we simply use a series of 6 circles with gradient fills.


Step 4:

To finish of the touch pad I put the controls on using the Text Tool and some simple shapes.

Step 4:

Now for our display I use 3 boxes, 2 for the outside of it to give it a slight lip and fill them with gradients.
The main part of the display is a Mesh Rectangle, with some darkened and lighted areas to make the display seem set back.

Step 8:

It might not really need it, but for consistency with the rest of our pack I go ahead and give the display a bit of gloss.

Step 9:

Lastly I draw a little Apple logo and place it in the display behind the gloss. I also use our Shadow and Reflection techniques to give us our Icon-A-Day style reflections and shadow.

Finished Icon Image




Click here to download the finished icon.

Well, that was fun, tomorrow we will start back into our supported icon pack icons.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com
All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

CorelDRAW For Skinners: Part 6

Mesh Tool 201, Makeing a Folder form scratch.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

 CorelDRAW for Skinners. Part 6: Advanced Mesh Tool 201
 
I have gotten a lot of requests for an Advanced Mesh Tool Tutorial, so today I am going try and help. Today's tutorial takes us from a blank page to a competed folder icon, almost entirely created with Mesh Fill objects. One new thing this week is that I am also posting the CDR file that I made doing the tutorial. So you can play with it yourself.

Note: This tutorial is very long, (32 minutes) sorry about that, and I ramble a bit, but it is a good example of how to use the Mesh Tool, to "do" something, rather then just how it functions. Hopefully that part will be there as well.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Stardock for hosting these video files, as I know they must take up quite a bit of precious bandwidth. Hopeful the people who are enjoying them appreciate it as well.

This weeks videos:
  
Mesh Tool 201 (Making A folder from scratch)
Stay tuned for more. Requests encouraged, and appreciated.
 
Video #10: Mesh Tool 201

Mesh Tool 201 Sample CDR (CorelDRAW 11 Format)


For all the CorelDRAW for Skinners tutorials visit:
The CorelDRAW for Skinners Index

To see these Techniques in use visit:
The Icon-A-Day (Index)

Don't forget to check out all my Icons, Skins, and more Tutorials at my Skinning Homepage Mormegil.wincustomize.com.
All Images, Videos, and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.
 

Icon-A-Day, Icons # 48 & # 49, BAT and Application Files

I like to have these two go hand in hand.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 by mormegil | Discussion: Icons

Icon 48 - 49 (Application & BAT Files)

Over the next few days I would like to polish off most of the remaining default icons supported in a standard icon pack. Today we will take care of two of them.
Yesterday we did the INI file, and in the process we created a gear that is leaning on a file; today we will put that to good use.
 
Step 1a:

First I copy our INI File from yesterday. I Nudge the gear out of my way, delete the text copy and lines from the page, and change the Title to BAT.

Step 2a:

Now I change some colors. I am going to make the page Black for these two icons. To make them look more "Command Prompt-ish". I also paste some text in. In this case it is a copy of an Autoexec.bat file I found on the Internet. (So very retro).
Step 3a:

Now I Nudge our gear back in place. Since I have not moved the file and I have my
Nudge set up the way I showed in the "Setup" Video, I know it is exactly in the right place. So I am done with that.
 
Step 4a:

Now using our
Reflection Technique we give the and page gear a new shadow.
Step 5a:

Since this is a Bat file it is more or less just text, so I want it to reflect that it is editable. I copy our pen from the My Documents folder and place it in front of our new icon.
Just to make it stand out a bit more I use the Mesh Tool to go in and edit its color, making it Blue.

Finished Icon Image

Note: As you can see I changed my mind, as I often do, about the color of the title bar. I changed it to the color I have been using for the System File icons.

Step 1b:

Now for the next icon we copy the Bat file we just made. Nudge the gear off, change the title to C:\, as well as fill the page with Some 1's and 0's to indicate that it is a binary, or compiled file.

Step 2b:

Now as before I simply
Nudge the gear back in place.

Step 3b:

As Above I give our new icon a new Reflection using our
Reflection Techniques
 
Finished Icon Image.


 




Click here to download the finished icon.

I think tomorrow I will stay in the realm of File icons. Now I'm off to do this weeks CorelDRAW for Skinners.

Read the other Icon-A-Day Articles:
(Icon-A-Day Index)

Check out the CorelDRAW for Skinner Index, for links to all the related Video Tutorials.

And don't forget to check for all the Icon-A-Day icons as they get made, in the
Miscellaneous Icons Gallery at Wincustomize.com

All Images and Text in this tutorial are © Paul Boyer, and may not be reused without written permission.

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