RISC OS Select 3 unveiledBy Chris Williams. Published: 4th Mar 2003, 04:10:41 | Permalink | Printable
Provisional feature list eye openersRISCOS Ltd., developers of the desktop version of RISC OS, have this week issued to Select users a "provisional highlights" list of Select 3, the next release of the OS under the Select subscription system. They stress the word provisional here because features may be added to the final release and some features may be pulled for various reasons. RISCOS Ltd. are also tentively aiming for an online release in about two weeks time with a finalised release penned in for the end of April, as is usual practice with Select releases. Wise move aiming for the end of April as the first of April is always consumed with insensate news, if you know what we mean.
As always, new versions of RISC OS Select endeavour to bring as many updates and enhancements to users of 26 bit systems; an operating system provides standard routines and an environment for software that a user can use and Select does boast quite a few new APIs for third party developers to use to get the OS to do the hard work for them - one key example is the ImageFileRender subsystem and the colour map module. Below is a run down of the provisional feature list, the original announcement can be read here.
Provisional highlight list for RISC OS Select 3 [Select features in italics, our wafflings in normal]
'IconBorder' plugin system allows the default slabbed borders to be rendered in a customisable manner. FilterManager has been updated to support multiple icon border filter clients. Example bordering source code will be supplied.
The new icon borders apply to all normal desktop icons and buttons and are highly configurable in terms of appearance, roundness, egde thickness, blending and colour; they can also be switched off if you prefer. Third party developers can write their own icon border clients to provide alternative icon styles. Here's a screeen shot to give you an idea:
We're already quite fans of these new rounded icons as they do inject a lot of colour into the desktop and help make action buttons more obvious. It probably won't be for everyone but we suspect you'll quickly warm to it if you like customising your desktop.
OS_CLI is handled by an external module, CLIV. Some calls have been moved from the kernel to a new module called LegacyBBC.
The RISC OS Select developers have been moving elements out of the kernel in order to streamline it.
Internet, ShareFS and Freeway have had issues relating to large file transfers addressed. InetConfigure can now configure static IP addresses properly. Previous versions would retain the addresses stored in CMOS rather than using the new addresses supplied by the user. Internet module has had a fix for interfaces with no addresses never issuing service calls. DHCP client now supports address changed due to its deletion of the interface address. Previously this was not an issue, because Internet never issued service for address deletion, but now that this has been done it is now aware of this case. LanManFS has been improved, resulting in faster resolution of names on local networks.
We recall that the first Select release featured a lot of networking updates and it appears the aftershocks from this are still coming through with various updates and fixes to the networking side of RISC OS. A number of Select users on the user mailing list became unstuck with ShareFS problems, hopefully this can be cleared up in time for the final April release. Also, LanManFS's
Transact SWI has been extended to include more communication types, such as WinPopup messaging. Finally, a new tool for configuring internet proxies has been added and changes to the interfaces can take immediate effect, if desired.
DragASprite no longer uses a 'drop' shadow when translucency is active. SpriteExtend would fail to generate code when translucent sprites were rendered in paletted screen modes where the eigen factor was EX0 or EY0. This allows sprites to be visibly dragged in such modes.
The translucency of DragASprite is a nice touch and the drop shadow was getting in the way.
Attempting to delete !Boot will now raise a warning from Filer_Action. Attempting to copy a directory called !Boot over your !Boot directory will now invoke the boot merge tool.
Remember, the !Boot now stores the softloaded ROM images of Select, (as well as all the user choices and shared resources, as usual), hence the stepped up confirmation system. Similarly, the system now automatically installs new components into the !Boot when their dropped over !Boot from the Filer.
When in EY0 modes, Pinboard now correctly sizes its background window on a mode change. The Pinboard configuration application can now be accessed from its main menu on the pinboard.
In Filer, the Help option is now greyed if a directory and application combination are selected. Filer windows have been updated to be more style-guide compliant and to address issues raised by the use of icon bordering.
The Sprite Pool has been updated with a number of slight modifications:
- RAMFS icon now fits in with the new style of icons
- JPEG icon now follows the bitmap style
- Shared CD discs now look more like the CDROM icon
- Addition of GIF, PNM, XBM, Sun raster, and BMP sprite icons.
- LanManFS icon updated to fit better with currect style.
Various tweaks to the appearance and consistancy of the desktop.
ParallelDeviceDriver is now capable of reading Device IDs.
This allows the autodetection of the make and model of a printer connected to the computer.
Filer now offers to share directories as read only by default, rather than read-write. It makes sense not to share folders as public read/write by default. RAMFSFiler will share the disc as read only by default.
FileSwitch is now able to reference path variables (pseudo filesystems) through $, eg Music:$ for <Music$Path>. Writing to a path variable with multiple entries where a <path>$Write variable exists will now use the <path>$Write directory for the operation.
This is a logical change, seeing as files on your harddiscs are of the form
ADFS::MyBigDisc.$.MyStuff.Moose. You can now use for example
Photos:$.Jan2003 to refer to a directory that could be deep inside your harddisc, like
TextGadget Scrolling list boxes now display associated sprites more sensibly when selected; previously these would be displayed lighter than the rest of the line. The text is now positioned a little further across the window, away from the sprite in order to reduce the tight look that had been created. Toolbox slider gadgets would respond to clicks and scrolls over the wells, of the gadget even when the slider was set to be display only. They no longer react to such events.
And other toolbox updates.
ImageFileRender now provides *ImageFileRenderers command for listing the supported renderers. This is mirrored in a new SWI to enumerate the renderers.
ImageFileRender is the very useful module that uses plugins to render graphics files via a straightforward SWI interface for third party programmers. This reduces the need for each application to carry a separate JPEG, PNG etc. decoder as the OS can do this now for you. An image viewing application is also now supplied which can render any graphics files IFR is aware of.
New ImageFileConvert module is used with the Convert* modules to provide a generic conversion method, allowing conversion between different file formats through a number of SWI calls.
This means any graphic format IFR can handle (JPEG, Draw, PNG, PNM, BMP, Sun Raster, Artworks etc etc) can be converted in to a RISC OS sprite and then if desired, back into another suitable format. This opens up, for example, an OS provided Sprite-to-PNG and PNG-to-Sprite conversion. Incidentally, a ConvertGIF module is present which plots a dummy image instead of performing any decoding and conversion due to the otherwise requirement of a Unisys patent for the use of the LZW algorithm.
Our advice anyway is: Don't use GIFs. GIFs suck. Use PNGs.
New ColourMap module allows generation of colourmapping descriptors without recourse to assembler. Currently supported mappings are : Blend, Brighten, Contrast, Gamma, Identity, Invert, Monochrome, Monochrome and scale and User. Colour map descriptors can be chained together to create more complex effects.
Colour map descriptors can be used when plotting graphics and allow developers to in their software get the OS to malnipulate the appearance of the image without having to fall back onto complex assembler language to do the adjustments.
PCI memory reservation has been removed from the kernel, freeing 256MB of logical address space for use by dynamic area.
Never needed it, never will do either and we'll have you note that this a complete mirror image of Castle's campaign to significantly minimise the role of dynamic areas in RISC OS 5. 1GB of application space, whatever next.
The sprite file DesktopBanner$File is now loaded by the Desktop module, if it is present, and used as the welcome banner on entry to the desktop.
This means it's even easier to set up a desktop banner now simply by setting the
DesktopBanner$File system variable before the RISC OS GUI kicks in after boot up - we particularly like our own custom banner (scaled):
Wimp now supports a 'priority' sprite pool which is able to forcibly override anything in the other sprite pools.
As it says on the tin, the desktop sprite pool is split into two halves - a normal pool and a priority pool. Icons and images in the priority pool take precedence over sprites in the normal pool. When a user adds sprites into the sprite pool (via
*iconsprites), they can specify whether they want to add to the priority pool or the normal pool; this enables the user to force RISC OS to use sets of icons that may otherwise be replaced by applications loading in new sprites.
ScreenBlanker now supports a second-level blanking using DPMS. ScreenBlanker no longer uses CMOS to get its initial settings and defaults to 'off'.
This means the screensaver can kick in after say, 5 minutes of inactivity and then DPMS can kick in after, say 10 minutes of inactivity.
TaskWindow now includes a fix for 'The MessageTrans Bug'.
That old chestnut. Is now gone. Three cheers.
Plus more additions we've left out in our list to save space, the full list can be again found from the link at the end of the article. Also, we're told that the system configuration components of !Configure have been updated to indicate changes to the configuration of the computer by, as usual, noting a * in the title bar. RISC OS Select also now includes Darkhorse and Hangfire sets of screensavers, all configurable as expected.
Phew. My RiscPC will be pleased, see you late April, fingers crossed.
Select 3 provisional highlights
RISC OS Select
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