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Review: Directory Opus 5.6 Magellan
By William Near
Magellan, back in orbit!
The latest version of Directory Opus is 5.6 Magellan. This is much more
than a simple bug-fix and superficial rework. Many of DOpus' features have
been enhanced to allow easier access, configurability, and power. There is
an abundance of new features too.
Considering the Amiga's situation over the past three years, it's
refreshing to see that some companies are continuing to update their
products. GPSoftware has been with us through thick and thin -- let's hope
they continue to do so in the future.
Magellan now comes with built-in support for NewIcons. You can enable
NewIcons' support with a click of a mouse button, or discourage the use of
NewIcons if you come across any and you don't currently use them on your
machine. There are also options to dither the images down to the number of
colors you are currently using and the pen precision can be selected too.
There is support for using NewIcons' images for all system images and in
your button banks as well.
You can turn off icon borders on a global or individual basis, the
accidental movement of an icon's position while double-clicking it has been
remedied, and the ability to split long icon names into two lines has also
been added. An area of the Desktop can even be defined to designate where
newly appearing icons will be placed, and with what priority.
Magellan offers a new icon information requester with pulldown menus for:
icon border (on or off), icon label (on or off), display NewIcon image,
display original icon image, strip NewIcon image, and strip original icon
image from the current icon. The icon's complete path is also shown within
a window in the information requester.
A new Command Icon option has been implemented. You can define a command
and have an icon assigned to the command and left-out on your Desktop. By
clicking on this command icon, the assigned command will be executed.
The Environment GUI has been enhanced to allow greater control over DOpus'
DOpus now has the ability to display any image as the Desktop backdrop, in
Lister and Group windows, and in Requesters, as long as you have the
appropriate Data Type for the selected file type.
The Hidden Drives list has been revamped so that when you enter the
Environment GUI a device's entry will not be deleted upon resetting, even
if that device is not always present on your system.
The setting of a Lister's default size and position, colors, fonts, and
status bar text have all been moved to a separate Environment area.
There are two great new features available in Listers that you may find
quite useful. The first feature is in-line editing of a file's name,
comment, date, and protection bits, from a name-mode Lister. To accomplish
this, all you need to do is click the mouse button(s) that you specify and
a cursor will appear on the line of the selected file. Moving the cursor
with the cursor keys allows you to directly edit any of the aforementioned
attributes without pulling up a single requester! Hitting the Return key
will immediately execute the changes you've made. The second feature is a
Free Space Gauge option, similar to the old Workbench type, that adds a
fuel-gauge to Listers. The fuel-gauge shows the free space available in
relation to the used space on the specified device. The color of the gauge
can also be adjusted.
Magellan introduces a new turn on the old left-out icon routine. Instead
of just placing a reference to the file or drawer on the Workbench, as the
original Workbench does, Magellan takes this a step further by actually
leaving the real file or drawer's icon out on the Desktop. However, you
must exercise caution when deleting a file or drawer from the Desktop
Folder because the actual file or drawer will be completely erased from
your hard drive or other device.
There are two ways to move files or drawers to the Desktop Folder. The
first is to right-click on the file or drawer's icon to activate the pop-up
menu and then select the Copy/To Desktop option. The second is to drag 'n'
drop a file or drawer's icon to the Desktop, which causes a pop-up menu to
appear (if enabled.) The pop-up menu gives you four options: make the icon
a normal left-out, copy the icon to the Desktop (leaving a copy in the
original location too), move the icon to the Desktop (this will physically
move the icon to the Desktop, and is the option that requires the most care
when deleting), or Cancel.
The default action for a Desktop Folder operation (Create Left-Out, Copy to
Desktop, Move to Desktop, or None) can be defined from the Environment
requester. The default action will automatically occur whenever you drag
an icon to the Desktop, or you can enable the pop-up menu so that it
appears every time to ask you what you'd like to do with the icon in
FTP from the Desktop!
The FTP module has undergone quite a bit of reworking. More efficient
memory usage by the module has resulted in faster remote directory listings
and transfers that are up to five times faster than before.
You can even do direct transfers between remote sites, so you can copy or
drag 'n' drop files between remote machines.
The FTP Address Book has been updated so that double-clicking on an entry
will connect to that site, or you can single-click on an entry and then
delete or edit it.
A NOP function has been added to help keep sites active with an idle timer
mechanism. This will allow you to stay connected without actually doing
anything at the site; thus eliminating time-outs.
Let's get Started.
Start menus were included in DOpus 5.5, but they weren't exactly jumping
out at you -- they are now a full-featured addition to Magellan.
Start menus appear as a single button on the Desktop and have pop-up menus
attached to them. A Start menu can be created by drag 'n' dropping a
directory onto the Start menu editor. This will create a pop-up menu
containing all of the items within that directory. Drag 'n' dropping files
onto a Start button will add them to the existing pop-up menu. You can
also create a Start menu the old fashioned way -- by manually editing the
menu items from the requester. Images can be added to any of the Start
menu's items, and submenus are also available.
Workbench can be replaced!
Using Magellan in Workbench Replacement mode is like having a new version
of Workbench installed, your productivity and ease-of-use will at least
triple. Just being able to do more than one Workbench operation at a time
is well worth the price of admission. The ability to copy files from one
device to another, launch your favorite application(s), and scan a
directory all at the same time is quite a departure from the normal
Workbench's modus operandi -- no more waiting for a busy pointer to return
before being able to do anything else.
I would not recommend using Workbench Replacement mode if you have a slow
Amiga, or if you're short on RAM. If you have at least an '030 and an
extra 2 MBs of RAM to spare, then you should be all set to go.
You can always boot your computer back to the normal Workbench mode by
holding down the shift key as it reboots. This will execute your standard
loadwb command, instead of the DOpus Workbench Replacement mode's loadwb
Extra bits and pieces
Directory Opus Magellan includes several other features and additions.
Here are a few of them:
Improved CyberGraphX support will be a welcomed addition for all you
graphics card owners out there. The CyberGraphX enhancements include:
faster icon dragging and display speed routines (even with 24-bit
backdrops), a rewritten Text viewer that allows faster access to your data
and better scrolling on CyberGraphX screens.
The Magellan version of Directory Opus has greatly improved compatibility
with MUI, MCP, and Datatypes.
There is full NewIcon image support for Buttons and Images, plus better
animation file support for DPaint IV and PPaint AnimBrushes.
I am impressed with the latest version of Directory Opus and I wouldn't
want to compute without it -- using it in Workbench Replacement mode is
As a longtime supporter of Directory Opus, I can only say that
each new release never ceases to amaze me with its new features
[Bill is one of DirOpus 5's betatesters. -Jason]
PO Box 570
Ashgrove, Brisbane, Australia 4060
Phone/Fax +61 7 33661402
(c) William Near 1997