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== Workbench Vision By: Katherine Nelson ==
I had a vision of love...
In order to circumvent any complaints, I'd like to say now that my outline
of what a future Amiga should be like is based upon my experience using
one, the answers that I received to my survey about Workbench improvements,
and my experience selling software to the PC-clone and Macintosh using
consumers. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but I needed the money.)
If anyone disagrees with what I say here, feel free to mail me. I'm aware
that probably not everyone will agree with my ideas, which is why I've
placed them in the Opinion section.
This'll be a long one, so I'll get started.
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First off, hardware.
I personally have no opinion as to which processor would be best suited for
the Amiga, although using the PPC would help issues of cross-platform
compatibility as that processor becomes more and more popular. However, I
think we could manage just fine with a different one if we tried (and if it
were cheaper...). Also, I don't plan on addressing the more technical
aspects of hardware design, since I'm definitely not qualfied to do that.
Video: I realize that many people have 1084s or like to hook up their
televisions to their computers. Especially in the larger European market.
However, this causes a problem for those who would like to buy the *much*
cheaper and easier to find VGA and SVGA monitors. So, what I would propose
is to have a 24-bit flicker-fixer, similar to what is built in on a 3000.
This would enable the use of those cheaper monitors. Plus, a SVHS and/or
composite output for the TV users. The 23 pin port would be dropped.
Obviously, the graphics capability would be 24 bit or greater.
Sound: 16 bit, of course, with 8 voices. The machines would keep RCA
output for the sound.
Joystick/Mouse: From what I have seen, almost no one wants to switch to a
serial mouse, so I would keep the joystick and mouse ports as they are,
with one exception. A third port would be added that would fit the
IBM-style analog joysticks. It would just make things easier.
Keyboard: I would change the port to be compatible with IBM/AT keyboards,
to give the user a broader choice. The Amiga special keys would be
emulated by software in the OS. Of course, the computers would be shipped
with a standard Amiga-style keyboard.
Drives: Disk drives would be 1.44 standard on ALL machines, and perhaps
even 2.88 if they could be had for relatively cheap. Hard drives would
also be standard. We can't convert anyone to our machine if we show them
a floppy-only system. Also, the floppy drive needs to be faster, and
SHOULD NOT CLICK.
External SCSI port: There would be one on all machines. Even low end.
Cases: The 4000 case reminds me of an internal CD-ROM drive. The front
plate is a different color than the rest of the case. Cases should be
white or black, or a combination of the two. No more beige. It's
friendly, but doesn't look serious enough.
Final note: The mouse/joystick ports would not be "left-handed" like the
A4000 is. The ports would be in the back.
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Second, operating system.
If we can have popular operating systems ported to our machine, that's
great, but we need to have a powerful OS of our own to make people choose
the Amiga over any other machine that will eventually be able to run other
The basic structure should remain the same, I think, with both a GUI and a
powerful shell. However, the GUI would become easier to use (A beginner
can get lost easily when trying to get something they downloaded to
work...), and the shell would become more UNIX-like. In short, the Amiga
would have to be the perfect machine for Joe User who can't type, and for
Joe Hacker who won't touch a mouse.
Without going into great detail about the shell, some features it needs are
a move command (Come on! It's about time!), and dir, pipe, and the *
wildcard built-in and fast. We don't want to confuse someone who's used
MS-DOS for the past 7 years. Also, file-name completion, cut and paste
within the shell, and a scroll bar, to name a few things.
The look of the GUI would be more configurable, with the ability to change
the width and height of the window borders, scrollers, titles, and gadgets.
This would also combat the problem of strange aspect ratios in different
screen modes. Also, the actual style of the gadgets could be changed, such
as in MUI. However, as this would be directly written into the system
code, it would be a negligible time lag. I think about 3 different sets of
gadget looks should be included. There's no point in including a neat
option if we don't let the user play with it right out of the box. Of
course, other sets could be added.
Prefs would get a huge overhaul. I personally feel there should be only
one prefs icon, and it should bring up a colorful GUI interface (much like
a Mosaic-viewed HTML document). Each type of prefs would have a button on
this interface, with a one-word description, and perhaps even a small
picture representation. There would only be one pref button for each type
of prefs. (i.e. *one* Printer prefs button, one Screen button that would
replace Monitor and Overscan)
The Screen prefs would include more screen modes that are compatible with
the PC-clone world, such as 640X480, 1024X768, and 1280X1024. One of these
(probably one of the first two) would be the default screen mode, and would
be in 16 colors. Also, RTG would be used, in order to support superior
graphics cards as they became available.
In the Palette prefs, *any* color in the palette could be edited, any pen
could be locked, and any color could be used for different parts of
Workbench, including more options such as Active Window Title and Inactive
Window Title, as long as separate options for the text of each. Also, the
border color of the Workbench could be selected here.
The Background option would be slightly different as well. The options for
Pattern would be removed. Most people use pictures, and they're what's
really impressive. Several (15+) nice textures and patterns would be
included, suitible for many different color schemes.
The Sound prefs would remain the same except with additional options,
allowing one to specify different sounds to be played at different system
events. Several different sounds, most professional, some amusing, would
There would be an Icon Prefs, from which one could decide what style of
icons they wish to use. Each set would be a single file, and when a set is
chosen, Icon Prefs would install the separate icons it contains where they
belong. This includes updating all drawers recursively on selected
partitions, and replacing the images (not the tooltypes) of program icons.
Although Icon Prefs would be able to find most system programs, a requester
would appear when an icon for a 3rd party program or a missing/misplaced
utility was reached. There would be an option to give it the proper path,
or to cancel the operation of that particular image change. Default icons
could also be updated in this manner. 3 different icon sets should be
Furthermore, there would be an Edit button, where icons could be changed or
created. This editor would be more powerful than the current one, with the
features of a basic paint program. (Incl. brush operations, graduated fill).
Icons would behave much as the NewIcons icons, with color guessing.
However, there would only be one image file, since all people with this
operating system would be using the advanced type of icons.
The Pointer prefs would use the exact same editor, but be restricted to the
usual number of colors unless something were done to change that
limitation. The current pointer editor is simply not enough. Also, there
would be built-in support for animated busy pointers and perhaps even
animated regular pointers. At least 3 pointer styles should be included.
Hopefully somehow designed to match the 3 different icon sets, and even the
3 different system gadget sets.
The Font prefs would show the entire font. Better fonts would be included,
as well. An Edit button would be included, and the font editor would be
the same program as the icon and pointer editor. And Topaz-8 would be
completely, totally, forcibly removed from any system the new OS comes into
A Mouse prefs would be created, which would handle standard mouse options,
plus SunMouse type options, and the operation(s) to be performed by the
middle mouse button. (3 button mice should be standard with the Amiga.)
Other new prefs would include a Dock prefs and a Menu prefs, which would
allow users to easily create menus/menu items and dock/dock items. The
default prefs would include the prefs and some included utilities in the
menus and the dock(s) as examples.
Moving from prefs (I know, it's about time), Multiview would be streamlined
and improved. It doesn't necessarily need to be as slow as it is. Some
datatypes (for the same type of file) are faster than others, and this
shows the room for improvement. Also, it shouldn't be terribly difficult
to be able to save in a different (but similar) datatype than what was
opened. (Graphics conversion, sound conversion...)
And whoever gets the Amiga: PAY COMPUSERVE FOR THE USE OF THE GIF DATATYPE.
Yes, jpeg is better, but people use GIF, and we don't need another Medhi
Ali vs. the blinky cursor type of deal again. Please.
Luxuries like Memory Protection and Virtual Memory should be included, but
if they were not, Guru's should once again say "Guru Meditation Error", and
give you the error message in some human language instead of just numbers.
(And don't send me mail telling me you speak numbers just fine, and can
identify any guru.)
Anything included with the OS should be font-sensitive.
Windows, screens, and programs should be able to be iconified, and anythin
should be able to be moved to its own screen.
We should either convert from AmigaGuide to HTML, or make AmigaGuide look
much more like HTML and have inline graphics.
When copying files, there should be a progress indicator, such as when
disks are formatted.
I'd like a multithreaded Workbench, but could get by I suppose without it.
And the text-editor should be more useful, at least up to par with
Microsoft's Edit, but preferably much nicer. Ed just doesn't cut it.
Now, this is the bare-bones system software. For an additional small sum
of money, for those who want it, more pack-in software should be available.
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On to pack-ins.
This is what's needed:
- A small paint program, like Paintbrush in Windows, except it can take
advantage of all colors available. This would have a feel remarkably
similar to that of the icon/pointer/font editor.
- An Address/Phonebook. A sleek, small one that looks simple, yet
professional. To be oh-so-cyberspaceish, it would include space for
e-mail addresses, as well as beeper, fax, home, and office numbers.
- A simple terminal program. It would support ANSI, zmodem, etc. It
could use the Address/Phonebook for it's own.
- A simple directory utility. Even smaller than the shareware DirWork
versions, but along the same lines. Move/Copy/Delete/Rename/View Text
would be necessary, but Lha X, UUDecode, and others would be nice as
well. (LHA and a uudecoder would be included, as well as unzip.)
- TCP/IP software. Now, to keep the internet from scaring the masses
(although I can't help to shiver at the prospect of hundreds of
thousands of new users on the internet), this software should look and
feel comfortable. Therefore, the client programs should be accessed
from a button bar.
Sending e-mail would be done through a much similar interface as the
Address/Phonebook, where you could either click on a name and the
e-mail address would automatically be used as the destination, or a
new one could be inputted. The editor would be user-defined, with
the included one as default.
The Telnet client and the IRC client would use the terminal program
as an interface, but the IRC client would have an additional button
bar, much like Grapevine.
The FTP client would make use of the directory utility for great ease
and comfort of use. Of course, rename, move, and delete would not be
allowed of remote files without proper access.
The Mosaic client would be familiar because it would resemble the
Prefs menu, and because AmigaGuide documents would either look like
Mosaic HTML documents, or HTML would be being used instead. Either
way, it would be familier.
Gopher would use the same interface as Mosaic.
I'm not sure how Usenet would be accessed, but perhaps with a
combination of the directory utility and the text editor.
- A simple word processor. This wouldn't even need to be as complex as
Final Copy II, but would need nice fonts w/many sizes and styles, the
ability to include pictures, and paragraph and page formatting options.
- A mod player
- A virus checking program
- Disk utilities such as DiskSalv
- Screen Blanker, with documentation on how to write additional
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Well, that's it. Feel free to write to me (my address is behind my
button), and tell me what you think.