Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Juicy Tidbits

If you haven't been following my work for the last couple of weeks, I've been letting little things out about the work I'm doing to make working proof-of-concept apps to accompany my document on my vision for Haiku's R2. First was a screenshot of a settings app launcher to replace the current scheme. Instead of navigating up to a submenu that is shallow and wide, i.e. one level deep and what seems like 30 choices, the user clicks on one menu item which spawns an app that better organizes the preferences apps. The large buttons look pretty good and also make it easier to launch an app. It's very much like the preferences launcher in OS X, which adds some familiarity for people from that camp.

The second screenshot (posted on the 18th) was one which I left as a bit of a puzzle. Pieter, the only commenter, was correct. It is a package builder, and simple enough to pick up and use. All that is needed is to point it at an executable and, optionally, the topmost folder to use for the package. The developer provides some additional basic information about the app, click Start, and voila! A package is created in a process that is so easy it makes a man speak French against his will. ;-)

What was not in the screenshot is something equally important: an package runner. Doubleclicking on one of these packages runs the app. While I can't claim originality in the idea, no one has implemented it. One file for the entire program. Want to delete the program? Delete one file and you're done. It's also done in a way that you can use queries with them.

It's incredibly simple and works for most apps, but not all. Just as OS X has disk image files (.dmg) and package files (.pkg), Haiku will need them, too. Most of the code needed for regular packages is already there, and I released something like it some years ago. It still needs some tweaking and thought, but it won't take much work.

My current project is much more complicated than the settings launcher and the utilities for program bundles, but it will be worth it. I'll be forthcoming with the details once it's finished, which will probably be a couple of weeks -- I'm currently writing this from out-of-town and I won't be returning until 7/31/08. Until then, I guess we'll all have to wait.

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