JDH Software Technologies

QDT : the QL DeskTop
 

Links:

Home Page

Introduction

 

The Sinclair QL systems have over many years grown and developed. Today, based on the original powerful but basic multitasking operating system, the QL user community has nearly everything that they could want. With the introduction over the last several years of true vector drawing capabilities, hi-color drivers and the soon to be introduced network access capabilities (my person conjecture and hopes), there is only one other major piece missing - a true modern desktop environment. This is where QDT - the QL Desktop comes into the picture.

First, it may be appropriate to explain what a desktop is. Think of a physical desktop at home where someone keeps items like:

 

  • papers
  • folders of like items such as bills
  • a favorite picture or two
  • tools such as a calculator, pens and pencils, etc.

Now move this idea to a computer. On the screen one might have:

 

  • a note or two always displayed
  • some folders which, when opened, contain documents of some type
  • another folder which contains programs
  • a folder with a certain type of programs inside it such as a calculator or notepad program
  • a picture of your significant other (or cats as in my case)

 

Looking at a few of today's systems, the current QL typical desktop (without QDT) can be seen on the left in the following image. Directly to the right of that is an image of a typical windows desktop.

 

Many of the components needed for a desktop do exist in the current QL systems

 

Windowing Environments
 

  • Pointer Environment
    - tools, pieces, and framework
  • ProWesS
    - vectored fonts, message passing

Utilities

  • File Managers
  • File Viewers
    - text and graphics

Components
 

  • Disk Directories
  • Hot Keys
  • Buttons
    - normal and menu
  • Q-Menu Pointer Drive Menu/File/Directory Selection
  • FileInfo2 File Associations

 

In the world of PCs and Macs, you find operating systems with built-in desktops such as Windows 3.1, 98, or XP, Macintosh 9 or X, OS/2, Solaris/X Windows, etc. These all include very comprehensive desktop features and capabilities. But of course they come with a price. I personally find the three worse costs associated with all of them being:

 

  1. the shear size and complexity of the code
  2. the overhead to run the large code base
  3. the difficulty to program for them

The concept behind QDT is to use as much of the existing pieces of code on the QL system as is possible and fit a wrapper around it, adding functionality where needed. QDT takes advantage of several shareware and commercial programs already available to enhance and expand its capabilities and usefulness.

The following sections will outline the major features and components of QDT.

Go to the Top


 


Major Features
 

 

The following is a list of major features and concepts included in the QDT architecture and design.

 

  • Folder/Icon Based Desktop Environment

  • Desktop - Icons and Folders : both are called ''objects'
  • Objects : each object has a prescribed behavior related to different mouse and key strokes

  • Folders - Standard : store other objects including other folders
  • Folders - Executable : same as Standard but can execute a program contained within
  • Executable Files : these can be directly executed
  • Text Files : these can be loaded into a QDT default or user defined program
  • Graphics Files : these can be loaded into a QDT default or user defined program
  • Unknown Files : these can be loaded into a user defined program

  • Common Look and Feel

  • Independent override per object/folder
  • Configuration notebook setup for desktop and objects/folders

  • Drag and Drop of Objects : includes moving, copying and dropping file objects onto executable objects (program)
     
  • Independent Windows/Jobs : takes full advantage of SMSQ/E multitasking

  • Each desktop object is its own job
  • Uses SMSQ/E message passing
  • Common items (windows/menus) are independent : can be moved anywhere on screen

  • Integration of Existing Software

  • file association : automatic launching of programs by file type
  • drag and drop
  • scratchpad : copy/paste text and images
  • QMenu

  • Updated look and feel of QLs to modern standards
     
  • Makes use of hi color and higher resolutions
     
  • Full set of support tools
     
  • Automatic and easy to install and maintain
     
  • Open architecture

  • fully documented
  • make usable for other programs/users

Go to the Top

 


Components

 

 

There are many components which make up the QDT desktop. Here is a short list and description of each one. For more information and image captures of each component, follow this link to the QDT Components Page.

Tabbed Config Notebooks

  • Configuration notebooks used to setup objects and to set/change properties
  • Can access :

  • QDT system and object properties
  • Config Block Properties
  • Global Properties
  • Program specific properties from a designated file

IconDraw Utility

  • allows a user to draw or modify icons
  • allows a user to import icons from different systems

Job Manager

  • Lists running and sleeping jobs
  • Filters can limit visible jobs
  • Allows job manipulation

Default Icon Manager

  • restores the default icon set
  • allows a user to override the default icon set with their own custom set

Theme Manager

  • allows designing of a desktop and folder color and background theme
  • allows users to import and share their theme designs

Installer

  • Automatically installs the QDT program
  • Can setup a minimal or expanded desktop automatically
  • Includes object (program) search and setup

Integrated Cross System Help

  • Hot key activated help for QDT and individual programs
  • Hot link and illustration capabilities built in
  • The QDT Manual will be based on the help system

Tab LaunchPad (tentative)

  • An alternate way to launch programs
  • Organized in tabbed groupings in an object/icon strip

I am also bouncing around ideas for additional components. Suggestions are also welcome. Here are a few specific ideas.

 

  • Association Editor
  • Emergency Desktop Repair Utility

In addition to the afore mentioned program components, QDT works with what are called objects. An object is simply an object (such as a file, a printer, etc.). Different types of objects can have different activities and properties assigned to them.

 

The following is a list of all objects currently being planned for.

 

Desktop Folder

  • this is the main desktop. It is the same as a standard folder but can't be deleted and always takes up the entire screen when open

Standard Folder

  • this is a folder that contains other objects (even other folders)

Executable Folder

  • the same as a standard folder but set up to execute an object within it without being opened.

Executable Program

  • this object can be executed

Text or Graphic File

  • these files can be set to execute a specific program and load them (system defaults)

Unknown File

  • these files do not have a system default but can have a program assigned to load them

Printer (planned)

  • this object allows the user to drop a file into it for printing

File Management { currently in development }

  • this object allows direct file handling (deletion, moving, auto-object build, etc)

Thing (tentative)

  • this one will allow the user to launch a preloaded thing
  • it may eventually be incorporated into the Executable Program object type

 

Go to the Top

 


Design Philosophy and Release Plans

 

Design Philosophy

Optimize for high color, higher resolution

  • back design for lower resolution [ 4 color option will not be supported ]

Make usable to wide range of users

  • but don't cripple to support minimum user scenario

Reuse and integrate as much of today's existing software as possible

  • take full advantage of built-in and available capabilities

Optimize for performance and code size

  • balance

 

Release Plans

 

 

The code release will be in phases. Here is a list of how I expect this to occur. The initial column will be the first release. Then, in approximate priority, the items and support in the follow-up column will occur. It should be noted that, even though some of the support will not be initially available, the architecture of QDT and code development is being done to ensure a smooth addition of capabilities during the release process.

 

Initial

Follow-up

Hard Drive Required

Flash-ROM support

High resolution and high color optimization

High resolution and high color optimization with themes

Base package

 

  • Basic Desktop (Folders and Objects)
  • Installer for QDT
  • basic Tabbed Config Notebook (not all features will be enabled)
  • Icon Draw

Add-ons

 

  • Drag and Drop
  • Tabbed Config Notebook - all features enabled
  • Job Manager
  • Objects (Printer, FileManager, Thing)
  • Theme Manager
  • IconBrowser
  • Tab LaunchPad (optional)
  • Integrated Cross System Help - QDT only
  • Integrated Cross System Help - other programs
  • Enhanced Icon Draw
  • Open systems documentation
  • Additional open systems code enhancement

 

Go to the Top


Updates

 

The major update mechanism being planned is through internet downloads and through the normal distributor floppy drive/CD update methods. The QDT installer has been enhanced to allow for updates without full installs each time.

 

Through 2005 (likely to be extended into 2006) all updates will be at no charge as additional functionality is added. The final functionality level at the end of this period will depend on the actual interest in QDT. There is a minimum set that is expected to be implemented, regardless.

 

Direct web updates (not full installs) are now available for the latest bug fix (1.02r) from the Downloads page. The required prior version must be previously installed and the env variables active for the upgrade to work.

 

Those needing full installs or upgrading from older versions should contact their distributers directly or send an email requesting an update (click on the link below). It is important that you supply the following information in the request to avoid any delays:

 

  • Current Versions - there are two different ones (select About from the QDT drop down menu)
  • QDT serial number AND name you bought QDT under - this is a requirement, no exceptions
  • Confirmation that you can receive emails with up to 1 MByte attachments

Go to the Top
 


System Requirements
 


For any capabilities this advanced, there will be minimum system requirements. Here are the QDT hardware and software requirements that are anticipated. Please note that the minimum requirements are just that - minimum.

Many of them will impact the quality of the user's experience with QDT but at least it will run.

 

Hardware

 

Configuration

Optimal

Minimum

Drive Type

Hard Drive

Flash ROM Drive

Drive Size

?

?

Memory

?

?

Resolution

800x600 +

540x480

Color Mode

Hi Color

Hi Color

 

Software

 

Type

Operating System

SMSQ/E v3.07 or higher

Windowing System

Pointer Environment

Included Software

QMenu

Freeware/Shareware

FileInfo2

Env_bin

unzip

 

Go to the top

 


Progress Report
[update 02-09-06]

 

QDT is a massive undertaking. Understanding the interest of many potential users and the amount of time that such a project takes, the following table will be kept updated as progress is made. It should be noted that the percentage values here are strictly subjective and only given to help show that progress is being made. Changes will be marked in red.


The plans are, when a section is ready for initial release, that the Version number will go to 1.00. Incremental releases will receive fractional numbers. It is possible for something to go from 0.05 to 1.00 in one jump or it may go through all 99 step (I surely hope not!).


Recent News: Work continues on the File Manager component. It is going slower than expected due to some technical difficulties but major progress should be seen in the march time frame. Also, a bug release has been made for a few items in the 1.01r release. The update (and demo) can now be downloaded from this site or from the distributers.

Section

% Done

Rev

Notes

Architecture

95%

Objects

 

  • Desktop Folder
  • Standard Folder
  • Executable Folder
  • Program
  • Text/Graphic File
  • Unknown File
  • Printer
  • FileManager
  • Thing

90%

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

00%

00%

00%

1.00

All first release objects are green 100%!
Two new objects added to the long term plans.

 

Desktop Builder

xx%

Removed from the plans

Tabbed Config Notebook

 

  • Page Designs
  • Building
  • User Response
  • Other Functionality
  • Config Block Page
  • Global Variables
  • Program Specific Pages

70%

 

95%

100%

100%

60%

00%

00%

00%

1.00

All the original designs are done
Adding some more pages into the desktop notebook
We have hit some
100% green
All features for first release are complete.

Installer

  • Expanding prog database
  • Final Feature additions
  • Update capabilities

95%

 

100%

95%

70%

1.00



1.02

Feature enhancement completed

Adding updating capabilities - enhanced.
 

IconDraw Utility

  • Finish Save by size
  • Misc Feature Cleanups
  • Importation
  • New Features and Func

95%
 

100%

100%

02%

05%

1.00

First release functionality completed

About to start adding some cool new features

Default Icon Manager

80%

1.00

Theme Manager

00%

1.00

Job Manager

04%

Tab LaunchPad

00%

Added note that this is considered optional at this point

Integrated Cross System Help

 

  • Viewer
  • QDT Help
  • Program Specific Help

00%

 

00%

00%

00%

Policy Statements

10%

Added:

- QDT Contribution and Included Software Policy

User's Manuals PDF

 

  • QDT Installer
  • QDT
  • QDT Notebooks
  • QDT IconDraw
  • QDT Quick Start Guide

100%

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

All manuals planned for QDT release v1.00r have been completed and are posted

User's Manuals Text

 

  • QDT Installer
  • QDT
  • QDT Notebooks
  • QDT IconDraw
  • QDT Quick Start Guide

100%

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

All text guides are completed and released.

Technical Documentation

  • Icons

10%

 

75%

Architectural Upgrading

  • Icons now use sprites
  • Implement WM updates
  • Color Mode Changes
  • Changes for Themes

90%

100%

95%

100%

50%

The major changes are complete and are not 100% green.
The major remaining items are the final implementation of the colors in all components and the rest of the theme capabilities.

New Features

  • Drag & Drop (Copy/Move)
  • FileManager

 

 

35%

40%

 


1.01

--



Moves are completed (v1.01r)

FileManager user interface completed

- work continues on file management functionality

 

Go to the Top

 


Policy Statements
 

QDT is very complex and involves the use of many externally developed components and the help of several people not associated with JDH Software Technologies. Therefore, in order to avoid confusion and to keep everything as up front and as clear as possible, several policy statements are being developed to address most of the expected issues and concerns. The following links will take the reader directly to the listed statements

 

If there are any suggestions or comments involving the statements, their content, wording, or otherwise, please address them to JDH Software Technologies directly. Contact information is included at the end of this web page

 

As the policies are written and made available, the links will be made active.

 

QDT Contribution and Included Software Policy
This discusses the types of software and individual contributors who are/will be involved
with the QDT project. It also includes the expectations and basic requirements.

Beta Tester Application and Agreement

Software Inclusion Application and Agreement

Non-included Software Database Inclusion Request and Agreement

QDT Warranty Statement

 

Go to the Top
 


Contact Information
 

If you have any issues that the document section or the release notes don't cover, or simply suggestions, comments, or requests, please feel free to contact us by clicking on one of the following icons. Be sure to read your code's readme files about the information that is required to support you with any issues that you might be having. For all non-problem related (comments, suggestions, etc), use the subject line of 'Comments'. This will help us sort out the e-mail and respond quicker (remember, we in this case is me, a one man operation so the help will be greatly appreciated).

 

The snail address is:

James Hunkins
JDH Software Technologies
58 Craigmore Cres.
Toronto, ON M2N 2Y7
Canada

Go to the Top
 


Authorized Distributers
 

The following distributers are the only ones authorized to sell and distribute QDT. Any updates should also be obtained from these distributers or directly from this website.

 

 

 

Jochen Merz Software    http://smsq.j-m-s.com/

 

Q Branch    http://www.qbranch.demon.co.uk/

 
 

[ Top | Home Page ]

 


 


 

Most recent revision: 09-Feb-06

Copyright  1999-2006, JDH Software Technologies [James D. Hunkins]
All Rights Reserved

 

This page was created with Freeway under OS X!