How to be a Pinboard power userBy Peter Scheele. Published: 20th Aug 2006, 13:39:34 | Permalink | Printable
Pin the file on the donkeyPinboard power user Peter Scheele reveals an interesting approach to pinning files and applications to the RISC OS desktop's backdrop.
Welcome to the pinboard
There are usually two ways to start a program on RISC OS: you can either go to the filer window where the program is stored and double-click the left mouse button to launch the program, or you can 'pin' the program's icon on the pinboard and start it from there. The advantage of the second method is that you can conveniently put all the icons you need to the pinboard which makes it easy to find them.
Putting too many icons on the pinboard can create a cluttered desktop, so here we'll look at a neat trick that will allow you to switch between collections of pinned files and applications. First, a quick tour of the pinboard.
The interactive help for the pinboard says you can "drag files, directories or applications to the pinboard to install them as icons". After doing so, you can save the layout of the pinboard, with the position of its icons, as a file to your hard disc. Click the middle mouse button over the pinboard and go to the Save sub menu. The interactive help says you can "move the pointer right to specify a filename under which to save the pinboard, or click Select to save the pinboard under the current filename". Once you have found an appropriate place on your hard disc to store this pinboard file, every time you add or move an icon, you should remember to save this file again.
To make sure your pinboard layout is present every time you start your RISC OS computer, double click on !Boot on your hard disc to open the system's configuration options. Then select Boot, then Run, and drag the aforementioned pinboard file onto the dialog box and click on Set. This means your custom pinboard file will be executed automatically during start-up.
How to design a pinboard menu structure
After putting more and more icons onto the pinboard, things can get out of hand. However, you can group icons in a visual way to make them easier to find. For example, you can put all the icons that belong to writing documents together, and all the icons that belong to programming or games or internet. It's like ordering books on a shelf according to subjects.
First think about the subjects. What are the main things you do with your computer? Writing, programming, making web pages with HTML, gaming, making pictures with ArtWorks or PhotoDesk or similar. And what are the main programs, files or directories you want to open? A list like the one below makes things very clear.
You can also make a menu-like structure as well. Here's the plan: you have a main menu which can open a number of separate sub menus. From any sub menu you can go back to the main menu. When you open a sub menu, the main menu disappears and is replaced with the sub menu's contents. When you return to the main menu, the sub menu disappears and the main menu reappears.
In the filer, make a new directory and call it Pinboards. Open its directory window. Now you need to put an empty file called 'Main' in this directory. The filetype should be Obey. The quickest way to do this is to take an editor like Edit, StrongED or Zap, and click the middle mouse button over the editor's iconbar icon. From there, open the 'Create' sub menu, and make an Obey file. Save this empty Obey file into the Pinboards directory and call it 'Main' - we'll fill it later.
The sub menus
First click the middle mouse button over the pinboard, go to 'Options' and tick 'Grid lock'. This keeps icons ordered into tidy columns and rows. Now drag the icon 'Main' from the filer window to a place on the pinboard - in the upper left corner, for instance. In every menu you make, Main should be in the same position. See the screenshot on the left.
Then drag all the icons that fit within a subject to an appropriate place on the screen. Save the lot from the pinboard menu, giving the settings file the name of the subject; for example, Admin, see the screenshot on the right. Then remove all the icons except Main, and start again with a new sub menu. You have to do this for each the subjects you want to have, saving each sub menu with an appropriate name into the Pinboard directory. To remove a pinned icon, click the middle mouse button over one and, depending on which version of RISC OS you're using, click on 'Remove' in the 'Selection' sub menu, or click on 'Remove icon'.
The main menu
When you're done, remove all the icons from the pinboard. Then drag all the Obey files except Main to where you want them, see the screenshot below, and save them as 'Main' from the pinboard menu. The original empty file will be replaced by the new one, which will link together your sub menu files.
Now the testing. Double click on Admin in the Pinboards directory, and you‘ll see all the icons belonging to Admin plus the Main icon will appear on the backdrop. Double click on Main, and you'll see the top level subjects reappear again. You can do the same with Apps, Files and all the other icons. And you see that you always can return to Main to make a new choice. If all works fine, make the 'Main' Obey file autostart as explained above.
How to maintain this all
Well, adding new icons to a subject is always possible, but you have to save it again with the correct menu name. And adding a new subject to the Main menu is easy too. But if you remove files from your hard disc, don't forget to remove the relevant icon from its menu.
Below is the text in the Obey file Admin as an example. The Pinboard command will remove existing pinned icons, and the commands that follow it will pin on the files relating to the admin subject.
X Pin ADFS::Iyonix.$.Pinboards.Main 60 1702
X Pin ADFS::Iyonix.$.Applics.!Schema2 27 1586
X Pin ADFS::Iyonix.$.Applics.!Organizer 212 1586
X Pin ADFS::Iyonix.$.Applics.DataPower2.!DataPower 392 1585
If the Schema2 program is moved to ADFS::Iyonix.$.!Schema2, you'll see that the Obey file will continue to refer to ADFS::Iyonix.$.Applics.!Schema2, but the operating system will not find it there anymore. After moving or deleting a program, you always have to update the menu.
|This shows where to drag the 'Main' Obey icon to the pinboard.||This shows how to add icons to the desktop from a filer window.|
|Here, the sub menu layout on the pinboard is saved to a filer window.||Next, the desktop is cleared except for the icon Main, and more icons are dragged from filer windows for the next menu.|
|This is the finishing touch. You drag all your previous sub menu Obey icons to the pinboard. Then you save it with the name Main back to the filer window again and that's it|
Although I initially wrote that there are two ways to start a program, there are actually a number of ways - you can use a program like WimpBar, NeXTBar, Director or some other other desktop utility. But using the pinboard is a trick that will astonish everyone.
Send us your news and article ideas
Previous: Castle considering open sourcing RISC OS
Next: CinoDVD project paused
DiscussionViewing threaded comments | View comments unthreaded, listed by date | Skip to the end
Please login before posting a comment. Use the form on the right to do so or create a free account.
Search the archives
Today's featured article
An introduction to IP networks
Part one of masking the 'net
10 comments, latest by Umair on 9/9/04 10:11PM. Published: 4 Sep 2004
Best of 2006 awards results
Here's to 2007
43 comments, latest by ROHC on 03/01/07 7:04PM. Published: 31 Dec 2006
News and media:
RISCOS Ltd •
RISC OS Open •
MW Software •
Advantage Six •
CJE Micros •
Liquid Silicon •
Chris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collection •
The Register •
The Inquirer •
Apple Insider •
BBC News •
Sky News •
Google News •