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Issue 3.4


Profile: Macabinet

Issue: 3.4 (March/April 2005)
Author: Greg Fiumara
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,887
Starting Page Number: 9
Article Number: 3405
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Apple has always promoted organization throughout its years of existence. The Mac OS has always come bundled with software that provides virtual sticky notes, icons that snap to a grid, and "spring-loaded" folders. Mac OS X brought Macintosh users new ways to keep organized, mainly the Dock and the column view. There was one important organizational feature Apple dropped with the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X: pop-up folders. Thanks to the power of REALbasic and the programming efforts of RadicalBreeze, a formidable substitute called Macabinet is available.

Macabinet functions like a pop-up folder of old, except on the sides of the screen. Bring the mouse cursor to the specified side of the screen or press a key combination you set and Macabinet will pop out, ready for you to pursue files from its listbox.

Macabinet shows off many great things one can do in REALbasic. The most obvious example is Macabinet's skinnable interface. Users can specify what the main window of Macabinet should look like. The program ships with eight themes and users can download more. Through a canvas control or possibly by the use of a third-party plugin, RadicalBreeze is able to change the appearance of the frame of the window and even have the window create a realistic drop shadow.

Skinning is not the only interface goodie Macabinet radiates. RadicalBreeze has included effects for the showing and hiding of the main window. Users can have the window "slide" or fade into view. Users can also make this main window have different levels of transparency, as the window floats on top of all others.

Macabinet allows users to store frequently used folders in one window. It provides them as an extension of its listbox. Click on the ellipse of Macabinet's upper right corner, and out pops a list of your favorite folders.

A listbox, or perhaps a custom class, is used to display the contents of folders. RadicalBreeze designed this listbox around the user. The user can customize all aspects of the appearance of the listbox via preferences, including everything from icon size to space between entries.

Drag-and-drop is a feature taken for granted day-to-day, however it is not enabled by default when building REALbasic applications. RadicalBreeze has enabled drag item support to Macabinet, allowing users to move documents and folders to their new pop-up window quickly.

A final power Macabinet has that many people may overlook is its ability to catch keystrokes and mouse movements in any application. Normally, an application has to have the focus in order to accept keystrokes and mouse movements. Macabinet creates global commands, similar to the Command-Option-Escape global force quit command. No matter which application has the focus, moving the mouse cursor to the specified side of the screen or typing the specified key combination will activate Macabinet.

When usability matters in an application, the little things make one program better than another. With the power of REALbasic, RadicalBreeze has created a very usable organizational solution.

End of article.