Bounty : Real Unity: Directory Opus Magellan II for all Amiga and Amiga-like systems. =
There has been a fair amount of talk recently about unity and co-operation between all of the Amiga camps (OS3, OS4, AROS and MorphOS). Many of us are tired of the divisions that cause many arguments and slow down progess. What we’d like to see is more co-operation between developers and users, just like we had in the good old days.
We now have an opportunity to make progress with this, by supporting the bounty that will open-source the well known and popular Directory Opus Magellan 2 desktop environment.
But please help to make it free and developed again.
Thanks to AROS Community for initative.
The purpose of the bounty is to collect sufficient funds to purchase the source code of GPSoftware’s Directory Opus Magellan II (version 5.82, AmigaOS) for free use on Amiga (and Amiga-like) systems, under the AROS Public License, a derivative of the Mozilla Public License 1.1.
The bounty will be completed when $5600 USD has been raised (now we have 1700, 3900 still left), which gives enough money to meet the price GPSoftware has set for the release of the program source code to a public SVN repository.
So what will the release of the Directory Opus Magellan II source code mean? Firstly, we will have the sources of one of the best pieces of classic Amiga software ever created, free for any Amiga fan to use.
Secondly, as the program will be open-source, developers from all of the Amiga camps will be free to work on a common desktop environment, progressing the cause of unity between us.
Here’s is a summary of the benefits, by separate platform, and in total:
Wanderer is the main desktop environment for AROS, but it’s still in the early stages of maturity. Having Directory Opus Magellan will give AROS users a mature desktop environment they can use straight away. This takes the pressure away from Wanderer, as well as giving another choice for AROS users.
Whilst Workbench on OS4 is more polished than Wanderer on AROS, there are still some gaps in functionality that Directory Opus Magellan would be able to fill. Worth noting that, when the sources are available in the public SVN, there is already some os4 devs who want to plays with, exploring what is necessary to port it to OS4.
Ambient is the most advanced of all Amiga desktop environments, but there are still nice features found in Directory Opus Magellan II that aren’t yet found in Ambient. Porting should be easy as the 68k version already works in MorphOS. To see how it looks running in MorphOS, check out jPV’s tutorial
Even though official support for OS3 has stopped, there are still plenty of people interested in it, as well as unofficial addons/hacks. It is clear that there will be much interest in having updates to Directory Opus Magellan as well.
—The bigger picture: Progressing together—
The ports to the separate platforms are only the start of the story. The best news is any improvements made to this software will benefit everyone. Magellan II is great now for those that run it, but having access to the sources means we can make it even better for _ALL_ amiga and amiga like oses.
Q: Why are we spending money on this when we can improve our own software instead? Isn’t it easier to implement more features in AmigaOS than to spend money replacing it? A: We don’t have many developers, and those we do have are too busy with their own projects to start making a cross-platform desktop. Directory Opus Magellan will be a great way to get this done quickly. Also, the work to improve AmigaOS wouldn’t transfer to other Amiga platforms, whereas this work would.
Q: Isn’t this software really outdated? Look at those ugly icons! A: It is no problem at all to replace the icons. As for the age of the software, even MorphOS users that have access to Ambient still sometimes use Directory Opus Magellan. AROS and AmigaOS4 users should enjoy having access to such feature-rich software, with many features not available in their current desktop choices (Workbench, Wanderer or Scalos).
Q: Why is it so much money? A: $5600 USD sounds like a lot of money for one person, but if we all work together, little by little we can raise the necessary funds.
Q: Who will port it to [insert OS of choice]? A: Porting software is much easier in comparison with writing software from scratch, pretty much any developer can do it sooner or later. A few developers have already expressed an interest in starting the porting work.
Q: This bounty will only open up the source code, why is this such a good thing?
A: Apart from the chance to port Magellan to all Amiga platforms, it also gives us the chance to improve it.
Q: If we don’t reach the bounty target, can we reuse the money elsewhere? A: Up until the point the target is reached, you always have the choice to receive a refund for the money you’ve donated.
Q: Has anyone signed a contract with GPSoftware, ensuring that the money we donate will be handled correctly? A: Power2People are the organisation handling the donations, and have proved themselves to be trustworthy, even with larger sums of money.
So let’s reach into our wallets, and show we really want to support unity in the Amiga community, bringing ourselves a great piece of software in the process. Here’s the bounty link again: http://www.power2peo…ects/profile/64
Directory Opus is probably one for the most popular programs for the Amiga and seems to be found somewhere on almost everyone’s machine. When GPSoftware upgraded DOpus (as it’s affectionately known) to version 5 they took a big step in abandoning the fixed two file list design of previous versions (and many other file managers) and changed to a much more flexible unlimited windowed design. Many existing DOpus users made the change but quite a few found it just too different. However the change did make DOpus attractive to many new
users, myself included.
The version of DOpus I’m looking at here is called Magellan II and version number wise it is actually version 5.8. This version is the culmination of 4 major upgrades since DOpus 5 was released.
DOpus Magellan II Is supplied on just 3 DD floppy disks and comes with a substantial manual for version 5.5 (2 versions ago) and an addendum manual for Magellan II. When you come to install the program you find that the disks like the manuals consist of version 5.5 and an upgrade to Magellan II even if you buy the full version. The means you have to install 5.5 and then upgrade it to Magellan II, however the installation is very straight forward and well explained in the manual so this isn’t much of a chore. Once installed you have to
serialise DOpus and this procedure has to repeated if you re-install or move DOpus on your harddisk.
One of the options you get when you install DOpus is if you want to start it in Workbench Replacement Mode (WbR). While you can run DOpus 5 like a standard directory utility, loading it when needed, it is really designed with the WbR mode in mind. If you choose to install DOpus as a Workbench replacement it loads as you boot your Amiga instead of Workbench (which contrary to popular belief is just another program (albeit and important one) loaded by the loadwb command in your s:startupsequence).
If for some reason you need a standard Workbench you can hold down Shift while you bood to disable DOpus. In WbR mode DOpus can be used in almost exactly the same way as Workbench but it’s file management power is always there when you need it…
Initially a DOpus screen (in either WbR or standalone mode) looks very similar to Workbench with icons for all your disks, DOpus can even use your WBPattern preferences for the backdrop and window patterns. It’s when you double click an icon to open a directory window (called a lister in DOpus) that the changes start to become apparent. In DOpus listers have 3 display modes: Icon mode looks and acts almost exactly like Workbench. Name mode has a list of files and directories like a view by name Workbench window but it also has a button bank and popup menus so common functions are just a click away.
The final mode is Icon Action which is a combination of the previous two adding name mode buttons to the icon view. As with Workbench you can snapshot any lister into a particular mode but DOpus goes much further with this functionality allowing you to set up what information is shown (in name mode) and even what buttons are on the button
bar for any directory.
Each lister actually runs as a seperate process which means that when one or more listers are busy you can simply open another one and get on with something else, this is very different from Workbench where you always had to wait for the current function to finish before starting another.
When you want to perform an action between two or more directories, for example copying or moving files you have to tell DOpus where the source files are coming from and where the destination is. Each lister has a box at the top right hand corner that displays SRC, DEST or OFF. If you click this box you get a menu so you can choose a different option for this lister. Normally you can only have one source and one destination but if you wanted, for example, to copy the same files to several directories at once you can lock several listers as destination and DOpus will copy the same files to all the directories. As you select different listers DOpus tries to guess which you want to be source and destination, making sure that the current lister with selected files is always the source. This means you soon get used to checking exactly what is selected before starting an operation. This automatic selection does drastically reduce the amount of source/destination setting you have to do manually.
Your Wish is my Command
When you click on a button in a Dopus lister or choose an option from the popup
menu you are actually causing an Opus command or set of commands to be executed. Lister buttons are only one of the many ways you can execute these commands. DOpus allows you to set up your own menus (similar to Tools Daemon), button banks (replacing utilities like Tool Manager). New in the Magellan version are startmenus which are buttons with a cascading menu ala Windows 95. But that’s not all (!!!!) you can setup commands to execute when you perform certain actions like inserting a disk or opening and closing listers (there’s about 30 actions to choose from).
Directory Opus provides a huge range of file management commands with everything from simple copy, delete and move to much more complex actions like encryption… whatever you want to do to files you’ll almost certainly find DOpus can do it. If it can’t then you’re free to use your own commands, these can be Workbench or shell programs and AREXX or shell scripts. What’s more you can define any combination of these so you could copy some files using the DOpus internal copy command then work on them with an external shell command with one click!
Whether you are setting up a command to be executed from a button, menu, double click or any of the other methods you’ll find you always use the same Function Editor so you only need to learn it once.
DOpus has a built in file type recognition system which lets it recognise a particular type of data file from its file extension (.jpg, .avi etc.) or internal structure.
Opus comes with a wide variety of file types it can recognise and there are several packages of file types available on Aminet (and the DOpus Plus CD, see boxout). If you can’t find one matching the file you want then you can make your own using the filetype editor. Once you’ve found or created your filetype you can specify the commands you’d like available for that file. When you right click a file you get a pop-up menu of basic commands like rename and delete but with the filetype editor you can add options to this menu specific to that type of file. For example you could add an Edit option to IFF ILBM files that loads them into your favorite paint program for editing. You can also specify commands that are executed when you double click or drag and drop files. As an example of this by default
DOpus comes setup to view the contents of an lha archive when you double click it and to decrunch it when you drag and drop it into another directory.
Replacing 3rd Party Hacks
After several years of development Directory Opus Magellan II is a very stable Workbench replacement and in about two years of use I haven’t found anything that won’t run because of it.
Because DOpus has functions like toolbars, user definable menus, NewIcons support and is much more configurable than Workbench you’ll probably find many of your current hacks and patches can be removed resulting in a more stable system.
As you would expect DOpus fully supports CyberGraphX so you can have a beautiful 16 or 24bit Workbench if you have a graphics card and also seems to run stably with hacks like MCP which some of us couldn’t live without.
A new feature of Magellan II is themes which allow you to save an Opus configuration complete with backgrounds, colours and sound effects to a theme file. You can then recall all those settings by loading the theme file. This feature allows you to build up a library of your favorite themes and have a random one each time you load Opus. You can also download themes from the internet or CDs to use (the DOpus Plus CD has many examples, see boxout) and DOpus can convert themes intended for Windows 95 so there’s a huge library all ready and waiting.
But it Can’t all be Perfect
I can think of very few bad things to say about DOpus Magellan II but I think it’s main problem is its sheer complexity. Although the concepts are the same all over the program (like the common Function Editor I mentioned earlier) there are still a huge number of options. GP Software are obviously aware of this as one of the changes in Magellan II is to place all the preferences in a single multi-page Environment requester instead of in two requesters which made it hard to find a particular option. However the new Environment requester now has 21 pages so it’s still a lot to search through. Personally I love the way you
can setup Opus to do just what you want and I think the huge number of options are inevitable to achieve this. If you’ve never used Opus at all before (as I hadn’t when I originally got it) you’ll probably find it takes some time (maybe a couple of months of regular use) to get comfortable with all the options that are available. Even then occasionally you’ll find new things.
The Opus manual is extremely through going through how everything works, all the commands that are available, and what all the options do. However it is very much a reference rather than a tutorial manual. It’s not the sort of manual you can take to bed and read (OK, I’m that sad I’m afraid). What would be great would be a set of tutorials to get
new users going (see DOpus Plus CD boxout for details of a tutorial set available) otherwise there’s a good chance some of Opus’ power will be left unused.
Opus is one of those programs which ake you wonder how you ever lived ithout it. For someone like me who oves to customise his environment and et up everything “just so” it’s great. The ork you have to put in learning it is well orth it for the rewards you get… previously complex operations are a snap. So if you don’t have DOpus 5 get it NOW… in a couple of months I think you’ll never want to give it up.
Another question is whether the Magellan II upgrade is worth the money, to be honest as you can see from the What’s New boxout the changes are mostly minor improvements, nothing that’s a real “must have”. For the upgrade price, which is well over half the new price, I would expect this to be a major upgrade. If all the changes to the main program and the FTP module are important to you then it’s probably worth it. In my opinion GPSoftware would have done better to put the Magellan II upgrade on the DOpus Plus CD and sold it as a bundle. This would give upgraders and new users the really useful tutorials and extras along with the minor improvements in Magellan II for a reasonable price. As it is I find it really hard to call this upgrade good value for money.
Configurable to the nth dgeree.
Expandable with commands
Intimidating for beginners.
Upgrade expensive for what you get.
It’s amazing what you can do with a DOpus lister but one of the cleverest features of DOpus which has seen its second manjor update in Magellan II is the FTP module. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a popular method of moving files between computers on networks and the Internet, for example Aminet is available on FTP sites all over the world so anyone with an Internet connection and an FTP program (often called a client) can access it’s massive archives of Amiga software.
The DOpus FTP module is an FTP client which instead of being a stand-alone program displays the content of the remote FTP site in an Opus lister. You can then use the normal Opus commands on the remote files even though the FTP server may be on the other side of the world. As an example when I update my website I copy the files onto the webserver using FTP. With the Opus FTP module I simply open a lister for the website directory on my harddisk and another for the FTP site and drag the files over.
For use with Aminet DOpus FTP doesn’t support the useful ADT (acronym alert: Aminet Download Tool) mode that AmFTP implements which allows you to view the most recent uploads since you last visited… however DOpus FTP does show you the short description of each file as you browse Aminet which AmFTP doesn’t so if you’re a regular visitor like me you might want to use AmFTP to check what’s new but for general Aminet browsing and FTP work I think Opus FTP now has the edge over its rival.
In Opus Magellan II the FTP module has been enhanced again (there were major improvements in the original Magellan). Some of the cool new features include:
Custom configurations for each site including custom tool bars for FTP listers.
Recursive copying and deleting so you can copy whole directory structures in one go, great for websites.
You can now use the new NEWER option of the Copy command with the FTP module to copy only files that don’t exist or have a newer file date than those on the FTP site. With the new recursive operation you can update a website with one copy command! DOpus FTP is cool and in many ways out does stand-alone FTP programs plus it has the advantage of being integrated into DOpus.
Along with the new Magellan II version of Directory Opus 5 GP Software have also released a companion CD for DOpus called DOpus Plus. On the DOpus Plus CD there is a collection of enhancements, themes, icons and images to help you customise your DOpus. The highlight of the CD however is the excelent set of HTML tutorials which can be viewed using any webbrowser (a cut down version of IBrowse is included). The tutorials are split into four sections: Starting – Explains the basics of Opus in a nice friendly style including plenty of information for users upgrading DOpus 4. Advanced – Once you’re happy using DOpus this section has loads of hits and tips to personalise DOpus just how you want it. Coding – How to program add-ons for DOpus in both AREXX and C. Extensive tutorials are included for both languages. Fun Stuff – This section includes lists of utilities that compliment DOpus and those that don’t work with it. How to navigate around Opus with the keyboard and a few tips and tricks you might not have picked up on.
The tutorials are really cool and will help you get going with DOpus much more quickly. Even long term users are bound to find many things they didn’t know about before. Along with the useful collection of add-ons I’d say this CD was well worth buying.
New in II
Lets take a look at what GP Software
have added to Magellan II:
Themes – See main text.
Improved Lister Layouts – Lister
information fields can now be resized.
A useful sort indicator in the title shows you which field the list isorted on and in which direction.
You can now use proportional fonts in your name mode listers too.
Amalgamated Options and
Environment Editor – The monster
preferences editor was born… it’s got even more pages than MUI preferences!
Background Pictures in Button
Banks and Start Menus
Outline and Shadow Desktop Font Options
Configurable Screen Title
Long Filenames – Support for file systems which support more than theAmiga’s 30 character filenames.
Improved Button Bank Editor – with a new layout and options for autoclose
button banks which close as soon as you choose an option.
Another useful new option are Active Popups which allow any button to actas a start menu.
Improved Lister and Group Pop-up
Menus and Improved Snapshot
Ability – More icon functions are now available in the icon information
requester allowing you to change theicon type (Disk, Project, Tool etc.) and
send the icon straight to the editor of your choice (IconEdit or Iconian forexample).