Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Guide: Install & configure a lightweight dock

Many people which used OS3.9 in the past would have liked the AmiDock application.
It’s nothing more than a Dock application which you can use to have your favorite and most frequent applications you use easily.

Of course some might say… “Hey, you can do it by just using the Leave Out feature for your
favorite icons so they can be in the Workbench area just fine!”
This is why we all love Workbench by all means and I’d tend to agree with that aspect.

Most important reasons to install a Dock though are the following:
  1. It’s cool :)
  2. It doesn’t ruin your alignment of icons every time you hit a Clean Up on your
  3. Workbench screen
  4. All icons are together in a specific area which you can move without having to move EVERY button one-by-one
Surely there are some Dock applications in Aminet which can serve our purpose but I
personally didn’t find the usability of AmiDock to any of them.
An old Dock application ToolManager which is widely known in the community is a nice
Dock application (and not only) which I used from the OLD days on my A2000. Recently I
thought of using it again on my beefed A600 and it works like a charm :)
Since some people asked and because I know that ToolManager can be a bit tricky on
configuring I’ll try and cover most parts thoroughly in the following steps.

Step 1: Downloading the necessary files

First of all you need the following archives which you can find from the corresponding links
from Aminet.

Since ToolManager DOESN’T use icon files (.info) but Brush files (.brush) you need to
download your favorite icons from Aminet. Thankfully there are many collections available
for you to choose and test.

For example I’m gonna use an archive of mine that I collected over the years along with many dock brushes made by me :)
EDIT: If you want to use icon files instead, download the following archive and copy the
appropriate files (icon.datatype to /Classes/Datatypes and Icon to /Devs/Datatypes).

Anyway… once you get these archives transfer them to your Amiga. In my example I putted
them in a temporary folder

Step2: Installing ToolManager

After extracting all these 3 archives you’re gonna have 3 drawers:
  • ToolManager and
  • Brushes & Dock (which are my brushes collection)
Firstly we need to install ToolManager by going inside ToolManager drawer and then to the
Install drawer. Finally we run the installation by clicking on the english icon as the
screenshot bellow

Installation is pretty straightforward without any weird issues. It also doesn’t require any
specific installation drawer as it installs some Libs/MUI Libs/Prefs to the default locations
and the startup program to the WBStartup drawer.
For finalizing the installation a reboot would be nice for everything to load on startup as it

Step 3: Copying necessary Brush files for our Dock Icons

After we completed the installation it’s time to copy some Brush files that we’re gonna use
for our Dock icon images.

For our example I used the following files from the Brushes archive:
  • DOpus.brush: For DOpus icon
  • EaglePlayer.brush: For EaglePlayer icon
  • ClearRAM.brush: For ClearRAM icon
  • Drawers.brush: For Drawers icon
You can check them bellow

Step 4: Configuring ToolManager to our needs

OK everything is ready for starting the configuration.
Before we start let’s be sure that ToolManager is running.

We’ll head to our System partition and open the WBStartup drawer. If you see inside the
application ToolManager we’re good to go.

(If you double click the icon you should get a message that ToolManager is already running
and if you’d like to quit it. Apparently we don’t want to quit it, but I just wanted to you to
know how to disable it in case you need to)
Alright, everything’s set. Time to start configuring :)

The configuration program resides inside the System partition under the Prefs drawer and
it’s called (what else)… ToolManager...

Once you run the ToolManager prefs you’ll be presented with the window bellow
(if you get a message "Error in file - ENV:ToolManager.prefs" just ignore it by hitting the Cancel button)

The ToolManager Preferences program has the following tabs which in our example we’ll
  • Exec: This is where we declare our binary programs/scripts etc.
  • Image: This is where we declare our Brush images
  • Dock: This is where we declare our Docks (we can have more than one)
So… first step is to go to the Exec tab in order to create our list with the executable programs that we want on our Dock.
We make a new Group (for example MyPrograms) and then we create a new Object (for
example DOpus)

As you can see on the above screenshot, on the Command option we insert the path to our
application (and if different the Stack size).
We continue creating new Objects like I did (for example EaglePlayer, ClearRAM and Drawers).
Don’t forget that MUI supports fully Drag & Drop moves so if you wanna alter the order of
how your applications will show, you only need to select and Drag it accordingly :)

Next step is to head to Image tab.
Same as before, here we need to create a new Group (for example MyPrograms) and a new
Object (for example DOpus). The window that will open just needs a name and a path to
the Brush image we spoke about earlier.

Of course and same as before, we’re creating all the other image entries for our other
applications as well (EaglePlayer, ClearRAM and Drawers).

Our final step is the Dock tab.
Without changing anything on what we learned so far, we’ll create a new Group (for
example MyPrograms) and a new Object (for example MyDock).
The only difference based on the other tabs, is that here we’ll combine the info that we
created from the other tabs into this one :)
How do we do that? Easy stuff… by Drag & Drop!
While having the new Dock Object window open, you will navigate to the Exec tab and Drag
& Drop the DOpus entry into the Exec entry on the Dock Object.
You’ll do exactly the same with the Image (Drag & Drop IBrowse entry from the Image tab
into Image entry on Dock Object).

Once you’re ready, feel free to Drag & Drop the other entries as well (EaglePlayer, ClearRAM and
The options (ticks) needed are only “Activated” and “Images”. If you want text along with
Images on every button you can also enable “Text” option.
Finally, on the Columns option you setup how many columns your Dock will have. If you
setup 1 for example, the Dock will become Vertical.

The Position option lets you configure where the Dock will appear. As a hint, if you want for example to position the dock to the lower right part of the screen you must do the following
  1. Click the Drop Down menu on the position area in order for the white popup window to appear
  2. Click the Window tick box and make sure it's ticked
  3. A "Move me" box will appear to the top left of the screen. You move this window to your preferred position (where the dock will start appearing)
  4. Click again the Window tick box and make sure it's unticked. You'll notice that the X,Y text boxes will gather the preferred coordinates!
  5. Click the Ok button to save these settings

Once you're ready with everything just click the Use button.

Step 5: Testing our configuration and saving it!

Everything’s ready for the test.
Once you’ve finished configuring your Dock you can click the Test button to give it a spin.

If you configured everything correctly your Dock will appear in it’s full glory!

If something isn’t right, you can go back and correct it and re-Test it :)
Once settings are correct and based to your needs you only need to click Save and you’re ready!

It wasn't so bad was it?
I hope you'll enjoy your new Dock as much as I'm enjoying mine all these years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I got all the way to the end then got an error message when trying to save - Can't write to file ENV:ToolManager.prefs and no dock :(