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Author Topic: Windows 7's Taskbar....Err.....Circle Dock for the DC Programming Contest  (Read 69226 times)
VideoInPicture
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« on: July 12, 2008, 07:24:41 AM »

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YouTube video of the program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bXbj_LdS80

Download the Program and Source Code at: http://circledock.wikidot.com/


This is my second submission for the Donation Coder Programming Contest. It is the world's first open source circular and spiral dock.


What Circle Dock Allows You to Do:

Drag and drop your files, folders, and shortcuts onto a circular or spiral dock.
Rotate the dock with either your mouse wheel or the keyboard arrow keys.
Change the image shown for the icons and change the skins (compatible with icons and skins for Rocket Dock, Object Dock, etc.)
Ability to run the program from a portable USB memory stick and have the links in the dock point to the documents on the USB memory stick.
Ability to synchronize the links on the dock with the files, folders, and shortcuts on your desktop or other folders in real-time.
The dock appears where your mouse is by pressing a hotkey.
Works on computers with multiple monitors.

The Idea Behind Circle Dock

The idea behind Circle Dock is that the dock should appear where your mouse is instead of you having to move your mouse to the dock like with other programs. This is accomplished by making the dock a circular or spiral shape so that it can be placed anywhere, even near the edge of the screen. The offscreen portions of the dock are easily reached by just scrolling with your mouse wheel or arrow keys.

A user defined hotkey combination is used to make the dock appear and disappear. By default, this combination is CTRL-WINDOWS KEY. You can change it in the settings area of the program.

If you have a mouse with extra buttons or you want to make one of your mouse buttons activate the dock, I recommend you use the program from http://www.highrez.co.uk/...s/XMouseButtonControl.htm and use it to remap your mouse buttons. This makes it very convenient to toggle Circle Dock.

The current version of Circle Dock is 0.9. It is not feature complete when compared to the full fledged docks out there, such as Rocket Dock and Object Dock, but this program was coded in under 2 weeks for a programming competition at www.donationcoder.com so there was not enough time to investigate every standard dock feature and code it. As the program develops, more standard dock features will be added.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 08:30:36 AM by VideoInPicture » Logged

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cranioscopical
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2008, 08:14:09 AM »

Wow!
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Chris
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2008, 08:53:23 AM »

interesting.  Nice webiste too.
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tomos
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2008, 09:28:01 AM »

great idea VIP
great video too - the dance of the icons  Grin [what is that piece of music?]
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Tom
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2008, 09:36:07 AM »

Beautiful.
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fenixproductions
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2008, 09:47:14 AM »

Very nice idea.
Being honest: I've always wonder HOW can people find anything quickly with so many icons on theirs desktops? I know that in real life I am a bungler but you cannot find such behaviour in my PC. Everything is clearly organized. Even "Start" menu programs are put into sub-folders and my Desktop contains 5 icons only!
There is something called "folders" to keep things clear. I don't really understand why so many people have so much mess Wink
« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 09:52:13 AM by fenixproductions » Logged

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Armando
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2008, 10:27:10 AM »

[what is that piece of music?]

(Beethoven Symphony No. 7, movement 2 -- a beautiful piece!)
Nice work videoinpicture!
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2008, 04:18:01 PM »

I have reports from some users that the program crashes when they try to add a icon/link to the dock and no useful error message pops up. Others aren't having this problem (like me) so I'll have to investigate this. It is really baffling me what is wrong. If someone here has the same problem, please download the source code from http://circledock.wikidot.com and run it using Visual Basic Express 2008 (free). Then, when the program crashes, you'll know where it is crashing and what the error message is.
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2008, 05:19:52 PM »

I don't really understand why so many people have so much mess Wink
They have a good memory, so don't need to spend extra time organising things or putting them away or clicking through a hierarchy. Grin Wink
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 05:27:29 PM »

Very nice idea.  Cool
Downloading it now.
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2008, 05:42:15 PM »

I have reports from some users that the program crashes when they try to add a icon/link to the dock and no useful error message pops up.
Yep, I've got this.
Also seems to have disabled ObjectDock (but not RocketDock) and my taskbar (True Launch Bar) is not accessible when Circle Dock is active.

Later Observations
Well, behaviour a bit inconsistent. Have been able to add icons/links - sometimes it crashes CircleDock, sometimes it doesn't. ObjectDock returned when I restarted it and seemed to function fine then (I have noticed previously that ObjectDock seems to crash/disappear more often than RocketDock), but usually won't open when CircleDock is active. TLB never opens when Circle Dock is active.

Memory usage seems high though, and rotating the circle/spiral seems to make a huge hit on the CPU.

Still seems very nice though. Especially for a 0.9.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 06:19:15 PM by Dormouse » Logged
VideoInPicture
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2008, 12:02:34 AM »

I have reports from some users that the program crashes when they try to add a icon/link to the dock and no useful error message pops up.
Yep, I've got this.
Also seems to have disabled ObjectDock (but not RocketDock) and my taskbar (True Launch Bar) is not accessible when Circle Dock is active.

Later Observations
Well, behaviour a bit inconsistent. Have been able to add icons/links - sometimes it crashes CircleDock, sometimes it doesn't. ObjectDock returned when I restarted it and seemed to function fine then (I have noticed previously that ObjectDock seems to crash/disappear more often than RocketDock), but usually won't open when CircleDock is active. TLB never opens when Circle Dock is active.

Memory usage seems high though, and rotating the circle/spiral seems to make a huge hit on the CPU.

Still seems very nice though. Especially for a 0.9.

Okay, I'm going on a hunch here but I think I may know what is causing instability for some people. I think it may be the version of the .Net Framework you have on your Windows computer. I have the latest version of .Net, which is 3.5. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/net/DownloadCurrent.aspx and install the latest version of .Net and try running Circle Dock again. Tell me if it helps. Some people say the program works fine while others seem to be having a lot of trouble.

As for Circle Dock disabling other programs, I have no idea how it is even doing that because it doesn't interact with other programs or lock down system resources other that what's inside its own folder. On my computer (Vista 32 bit premium, .Net 3.5) I can have Object Dock, Rocket Dock, and Circle Dock all running together at the same time without problems.

On my computer, Circle Dock uses about 20-30 megs of memory running, depending on the number of icons. I think this is acceptable for now but I think there is room for improvement. The architecture of the program isn't really optimized for performance right now. It is basically redrawing an image the size of your screen everytime it needs to refresh because that is the simplest way to do it. Circle Dock 0.9 is basically a proof of concept since it is the first release. There is a lot of room for improvement, but it will take me time to plan it out and carry it through effectively.
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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2008, 05:04:16 AM »

I have .Net 3.5; XP Pro, fully patched.

I'm not that surprised that there appear to be interactions as all these progs potentially call the same processes at the same time. I have Object Dock, Rocket Dock, True Launch Bar, RecentX and Vista Start Menu all installed. Object Dock disappears the most often, but occasionally all the others do too. Just restarted the machine, so will see how it goes now. Will also see if I can start acquiring error messages.

Have started Circle Dock again. Rocket Dock continued to work. TLB & Object Dock did not. However, when I clicked somewhere on screen, they both started working again even though Circle Dock was visible. Problem with Circle Dock sometimes crashing when adding icons remains.

Very much appreciate it is at proof of concept stage
ATM, on the Process Explorer lists,
Object Dock takes 120820k Virtual Size & 10676k Virtual Set
Rocket Dock 77796 & 17436
RecentX 114696 & 30936
Vista Start Menu 123116 & 31668
All fairly typical values; Rocket Dock has rather more icons than Object Dock & is what I use most often.
Circle Dock has 161476 & 40040. I agree that looks OK for its state of development when compared to the others.
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wreckedcarzz
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2008, 05:08:27 AM »

OMG, this is exactly what I wanted the Vista "start" button to look like! You click the button and it expands into this circular menu of options! Except, this is better because it is a constant dock! Absolutely amazing!!! Kiss
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2008, 05:27:24 AM »

First of all, it works flawlessly here, and it's very cool and extremely impressive.

You've produced now two programs that are technically excellent, and as has been pointed out it's not just the programs themselves but the accompanying websites, demos, documentation, etc. that are all really top notch and professional.  And they are open source as well. Wow!

Eric I hope you won't take this the wrong way -- but I really cannot wait until you decide to sink your teeth into a project that has a little more practical use and is little less of a proof-of-concept thing.  I think you are going to knock the socks off everyone when you do.  Thmbsup Thmbsup
« Last Edit: July 13, 2008, 05:30:18 AM by mouser » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2008, 06:06:08 AM »

Eric I hope you won't take this the wrong way -- but I really cannot wait until you decide to sink your teeth into a project that has a little more practical use and is little less of a proof-of-concept thing. 

I have to say, I would like this project developed beyond the proof-of-concept stage as I see it having a lot of practical use for me. I can see that I might no longer 'need' Object or Rocket docks. OTOH, I do understand that keyboard whizzes might not see the point at all.

PS - the rotation with the mouse scroll button is very, very cool when it is on the edge of the screen. Cool Cool thumbs up

PPS - I have to agree with Mouser. Seems incredible to me (admittedly a non-programmer) that you can do this in 2 weeks. Not just for the technical skill, but the quality of the ideas behind the program & its implementation.
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VideoInPicture
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2008, 01:10:17 AM »

I've compiled a new version of Circle Dock to try to solve these mysterious crashes. I have compiled Circle Dock 0.9.1 to be used with the .Net Framework 3.5 instead of the older 2.0 version so this should help with stability for those that are having trouble. This also means that you must now have the .Net Framework 3.5 or later installed on your computer to use the program. Instructions are on the download page: http://circledock.wikidot.com/download-circle-dock

Let me know if this new version helps out.
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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2008, 01:21:28 AM »

Eric I hope you won't take this the wrong way -- but I really cannot wait until you decide to sink your teeth into a project that has a little more practical use and is little less of a proof-of-concept thing. 

I have to say, I would like this project developed beyond the proof-of-concept stage as I see it having a lot of practical use for me. I can see that I might no longer 'need' Object or Rocket docks. OTOH, I do understand that keyboard whizzes might not see the point at all.

PS - the rotation with the mouse scroll button is very, very cool when it is on the edge of the screen. Cool Cool thumbs up

PPS - I have to agree with Mouser. Seems incredible to me (admittedly a non-programmer) that you can do this in 2 weeks. Not just for the technical skill, but the quality of the ideas behind the program & its implementation.

I'm going to be rewriting Circle Dock from scratch with a better program design because I've learned a lot about what needs to be done for a dock in this first version. I'll be addressing the performance and modularity issues of the current version and I'll be designing the program so that you are able to use current Object Dock docklets in Circle Dock. It might take a while though. Anyone interested in joining the project? The language to be used will either be Visual Basic .Net or C#.
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2008, 03:09:49 AM »

Let me know if this new version helps out.

I'de downloaded and installed it (had to copy across the settings from 9.0, but that seemed to work fine).

I'm not having any problems with it. Can't be totally sure that is because of the upgrade as I downloaded .Net 3.5 from scratch (repair installation) which put it back to default, unpatched settings and didn't seem to have any (many?) problems after that.
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2008, 03:17:26 AM »

I'm going to be rewriting Circle Dock from scratch with a better program design

Sort of very good to hear this (keen on a better design  thumbs up, slightly impatient for developments  undecided). Very, very happy to hear that you will continue developing it  Kiss.

It's very nice to have something entirely designed around the mouse for those of us who use the mouse most of the time.

One suggestion I would make for the future is hierarchical folders of applications, which can either be opened or closed (as on a folder tree). This is partly as a way of only having the icons I might use right now being visible, but also as a way of grouping icons (otherwise the prog seems to move them about every time the settings are changed).

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VideoInPicture
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2008, 04:58:33 AM »

I'm going to be rewriting Circle Dock from scratch with a better program design

Sort of very good to hear this (keen on a better design  thumbs up, slightly impatient for developments  undecided). Very, very happy to hear that you will continue developing it  Kiss.

It's very nice to have something entirely designed around the mouse for those of us who use the mouse most of the time.

One suggestion I would make for the future is hierarchical folders of applications, which can either be opened or closed (as on a folder tree). This is partly as a way of only having the icons I might use right now being visible, but also as a way of grouping icons (otherwise the prog seems to move them about every time the settings are changed).



Suggestion noted. I'll keep this in mind as I plan the architecture of the program. I'm going to do lots of detailed planning and more code research this time so that I can keep the program flexible and modular.
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2008, 06:33:57 AM »

Eric,

Circle Dock doesn't like to move from one monitor to the other on my two-monitor system.
It will move around on either screen but will not cross the boundary from one to the other.
In the attached image the vertical green line represents the division between my screens.

Windows XP Pro SP3.



* OffSide.png (4.46 KB, 169x334 - viewed 608 times.)
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Chris
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« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2008, 07:51:49 AM »

Eric,

Circle Dock doesn't like to move from one monitor to the other on my two-monitor system.
It will move around on either screen but will not cross the boundary from one to the other.
In the attached image the vertical green line represents the division between my screens.

Windows XP Pro SP3.



Hmm, that is a weird problem. I don't have a multi-monitor system myself but if you are able to have Circle Dock show up on either monitor, I would expect you to be able to move it across the monitor boundaries. I wonder what the problem might be. I'll need a multi-monitor system to test it out but I don't know of anyone that has one so this might be an issue that will take a while to sort out unless I can just spot it in my code. I just wish that .Net treated a multi-monitor system as a single entity and kept things simplified so these things wouldn't happen. Most programmers just don't care how many monitors you have, just the pixel sizes.
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« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2008, 07:54:14 AM »

I think we need to help Eric (VideoInPicture) get a second monitor.  All programmers need at least 2 monitors.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2008, 08:50:19 AM »

Hmm, that is a weird problem. I don't have a multi-monitor system myself

No worries, just reporting the circumstance.
Presumably others with multi-mon systems don't have this issue.

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Chris
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