RISC OS 6 in picturesBy Paul Stewart. Published: 18th Apr 2009, 21:09:16 | Permalink | Printable
Drobe writer Paul Stewart presents an illustrated round-up of his favourite features new to the RISC OS 6 desktop.RISCOS Ltd gets fired at from all sides, it seems. There are those who have RISC OS 5 and are fed up with RISCOS Ltd saying: "Yes, we want to do RISC OS Select on Iyonix, but..." Then there are those who have subscribed to ROL's Select scheme, but the features they want have not been implemented or they are frustrated by a lack of progress. It is fair to say ROL has made a large number of improvements to the OS over the years and many of these are 'under the hood' that are not always immediately obvious to users. There have been a few obvious user-facing improvements since the release of RISC OS 6, as part of Select 5, so let’s take a look at these.
Improved Filer thumbnails
The Filer thumbnail view been available since RISC OS Adjust (aka 4.39) and has provided the Filer with the ability to display thumbnails of image files without the need to use third-party applications.
A Filer window with thumbnails of image files.
The Filer thumbnails feature was improved upon with the introduction of RISC OS 6 to allow the user to configure whether or not all images should be displayed and cached by default or just the ones visible to the user - which is very useful for a directory with many hundreds of images. One of the more recent updates to the thumbnails system is the option to allow the Filer to automatically decide whether it should display thumbnails or not. This is called 'automatic layout' and is present in RISC OS 6.14.
The Configure menu option to control Filer's thumbnail system.
Filer layout saving
Something that has been missing from RISC OS for years has been implemented, finally - the ability to save the view settings of Filer windows. Not only can the Filer save the sort-by and display settings for individual Filer windows, it can also allow sub-directories to inherit their parents' layout. This feature was recently introduced with Select 5i1 (RISC OS 6.14) and can be activated via Configure.
In my opinion, these are long overdue. With RISC OS 6 came the ability to use the keyboard for many Filer operations. For example you can now delete files, create new folders, switch between open Filer windows and toggle the Filer window view, all at a press of a couple of buttons. No mouse interaction is required. Don’t forget to enable this from within the Filer applet in Configure. Staying with the keyboard, holding Alt and clicking on a file or folder name allows you to rename it, or you can use the shift-F3 shortcut. This is much easier than navigating Filer menus and it soon becomes second nature.
Paint and Draw
Over the past few years both Paint and Draw have been updated here and there. One noticeable update is that both can launch their own configuration panels from their respective iconbar icons. You can now easily set a large undo buffer in Draw and tweak many other options in both applications. The industry-standard Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V keyboard shortcuts to copy, cut and paste have been enabled. Thanks to the Image Filer Renderer system, both can import each other's formats as well as many others, a feature added to Select a few years ago.
Paint and Draw's new windows: from left, Paint's new toolbar along the top of the spritefile viewer, the supported formats menu list and the colour picker with the new CIELab model support, as used by Paint and Draw.
The spritefile viewer window in Paint now sports a seven-icon toolbar, which allow the user to save the spritefile, export a sprite, create a new sprite, delete a sprite, copy and paste a sprite and toggle the viewer layout. The colour picker has also been updated with the ability to choose from five different colour models: RGB, CMYK, HSV, CIELab or a user custom palette.
Gone is the old way of double-clicking on the Boot application to configure the system. These days the Pinboard choices applet can be opened by hitting the middle mouse button anywhere on the Pinboard. The Filer configuration applet can be opened from any Filer window too. The Configure application is now accessible via the Switcher menu and double-clicking on Boot will open the Boot configuration tool.
From left: the Pinboard menu, the Switcher menu and the Filer menu showing the new Configure shortcut menu items.
Note the keyboard shortcuts on the menus. Once memorised, you can use the mouse for fewer common tasks.
Since the early days of RISC OS Select, the ability to adjust the appearance of filer and application windows has been present for users to play with - such as changing the borders of windows.
RISC OS 6 also offers 64,000-colour screen modes, which use the same amount of video memory as the 32K modes by being clever with the way the system stores colours for each pixel in the VRAM. Sprites can also be created with 64K colours per pixel.
A raft of updated and new configuration applets - such as the display output control panel in case a machine has graphics hardware other than the built-in VIDC20 chipset fitted, such as a Viewfinder or a Vpod (if it turns out to be a graphics card).
More updated control panels in Configure, showing the configuration for the sliding menus and other settings. Menus can be made to slide to the left if they are open too close to the right-hand side of the desktop where there isn't enough space for them.
When keyboard shortcuts are activate in a Filer window, files can be selected using the cursor keys, as this Filer window shows.
Slowly but surely, the RISCOS Ltd branch of the OS is being improved, both front and back of house. With cash from RISC OS Select subscribers and those of you purchasing the RISC OS 6 upgrade CD - not to mention all you guys going virtual with emulators - it will continue to be developed. I don’t expect lots of amazing new front-of-house features in every release - I appreciate small programming teams take time to get things done. Sometimes they have to build the boring stuff behind the scenes before they can produce that new user facing feature that relies on it.
If I've missed anything out, post a comment below and share with Drobe your favourite new features.
RISC OS 6 website
Thanks to Andy Poole for additional screenshots.
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