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Enhance your desktop with NeXTBar: Paul Vigay's desktop friend

By Chris Williams. Published: 21st May 20:27:46 | Permalink | Printable

One of RISC OS's strong points is its productive and down to earth desktop. However, it is fair to say that after extended use your desktop can find itself cluttered and untidy. So cue Acornuser's PD column editor Paul Vigay and his NeXTBar application launcher and all round desktop enhancer.

With the aim of being very simple and very effective for beginners to NeXTBar and RISC OS in general, NeXTBar places a NeXT style bar down the right-side of the desktop screen. Icon buttons can be assigned to various applications on your RISC OS computer and clicking on a button will start up the relevant application. Nextbar doesn't stop there though..

  • Up to 20 buttons per 'page' (depending on screen size)
  • Nine pages, easily switched via coloured tabs or CTRL-function keys (1-9)
  • Vertical or Horizontal configuration.
  • Password protection to stop unauthorised people editing the buttons or hotkeys.
  • Optional display of free memory.
  • Optional display of time or date.
  • Ability to lock screen position of bar.
  • Each application can be set to be 'seen' or even loaded automatically when NextBar starts up.
  • Each application can be assigned a 'hotkey' to simplify application launching.
  • Relatively compact (only 128K)
  • Supports Acorn's interactive help.

We got in touch with Paul, who is respected by many RISC OS users for his support towards the platform over the years, and this is wat he had to say for himself.
"I mainly wrote it [NeXTBar] because I've been using ExtraBar and Menon for years. I've thought of writing an application launcher for a few years but never really got around to it because I always considered it 're-inventing the wheel' as there are loads of others around. however, I could never really find one that did everything I wanted, in the way I wanted. Menon was quite nice, and would load things automatically plus assign hot keys to them etc, but I've found that it's become increasingly unreliable since adding RISC OS 4 and Kinetic etc."

NeXTBar actually came about after Paul's Dad urged him to simplify his desktop.
"He's a relative computer novice and really only knows what hes used to, so doesn't delve inside the machine or fiddle about too much", comments Paul. Usually Paul would resort to visiting his Dad with a bundle of utilities, like !PDF, to install on his harddisc to help out. However, with all this new software it became a problem of locating and managing these utilities.
"Hence NeXTBar. It needed to be simple to operate, would permanently display favourite applications and I could install it on his machine (password protect it so he can't accidentally delete things from it) and then know that if he phones up I can simply say click on the PDF (or whatever) application on the button on the right hand side. The reason for the coloured page selectors (rather than numbered or radio icons) was that I can simply say over the phone, click on the red button at the top and then the relevant button."

As Paul wanted NeXTBar to replace his existing desktop enhancers, he set about filling it with various utilities and functions to allow NeXTBar to do just about everything he needed for his desktop.

"After all that I thought I'd share it with other people. As with most of my applications, the original inspiration comes from a particular personal need."
NeXTBar is by the way Shareware, so if you find NeXTBar useful you can register by sending Paul 12. People overseas or people who don't like sending cheques through the post can order via a secure credit card ordering page on Paul's web site.


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