Launchpad

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Last updated: 26/11/2014

Launchpad version 2

A new desktop GUI for QDOS/SMSQ systems!

Click here to visit the Launchpad Download Page (Trial versions, Upgrades and Accessories)

Launchpad is a program launcher and general GUI (Graphical User Interface) written by Dilwyn Jones for computers running the QDOS or SMSQ or SMSQ/E operating systems. Icons and menus can be set up for the programs, there's a dual window file handler, a MyQL and a System menu, Screen Savers and all sorts of things to make your QLing easier! Launchpad requires Pointer Environment, Toolkit 2 and expanded memory.

There are two versions of Launchpad at the moment. The original version runs on just about any system with expanded memory, Toolkit 2 and pointer environment. Version 2 demands a system with Window Manager 2 and is totally rewritten in response to user feedback and to make better use of the facilities available on modern QL compatible systems, and will continue to be developed and maintained in response to user feedback.

Launchpad in green!

There is a link at the bottom of this page to allow you to download a trial version, limited only by the number of programs which can be installed on it. All the little Accessory programs (calculator, calendar, picture viewer, text viewer, screen saver program, games, file handler, screen snatcher, character map and system status utility) are freeware and posted on this site to download and use independently of Launchpad if required.

In the information blocks below, I have not put any screen dumps in the page itself so as not to slow down page loading. I have inserted links to pictures (which are 512x256 pixel GIF files) - simply click on the link if you'd like to see the screen dump for that particular facility in order to learn more about it. The screen dumps are from version 1 of Launchpad, version 2 is generally similar but more colourful and has some additional facilities like the shortcut toolbar for quicker access to file handling, job control etc.

The Desktop

Launchpad provides a desktop containing the program icons, system icons and the operating menus. Programs are added to the desktop either by using the Add New Program command from the file menu, or by right-clicking on an unused icon location. An Item Definition Form appears, allowing you to specify an icon to represent that program, a name to appear on the desktop and any DEV, SUB, xxx_USE settings, DATA and PROG defaults or command lines required for the program. Although this looks horrendously complex when you first meet it, few programs need more than 3 or 4 lines entered and even those are usually an icon, filename and job name (if you use the file selection menu, it will usually even fill in the Job Name for you so that you can later pick or remove the job from a menu if you have several active programs in your computer). Right clicking on an icon brings up an Action context menu which lets you alter the settings for this program, move the icon, copy it, remove it and so on.

There can in fact be up to four different desktops, all with their own program icons. You can switch between them simply by clicking on the menu names at the top right (called MENU 1, MENU 2 etc by default), or by using the Menus menu (which also allows you to rename the desktops - e.g. one could contain your games, one could be for QPAC2 menus and Things, one could be utilities and the fourth could be used for anything else).

The desktop normally covers the full screen, but it is possible to use the usual pointer environment resize icon to make it use less display area if you prefer (minimum size 512x256 pixels). Launchpad will go to sleep in the QPAC2 button frame if required (e.g. if you are using it alongside Jonathan Hudson's excellent Qascade program launcher).

The Menus

Launchpad tucks away the less used facilities in menus, which are accessed by a small number of commands top left of the display. These provide a File menu, Launch menu, Utility menu, MyQL system menu, a Menus menu, Jobs menu and the Help system (an online version of the manual).

The File menu lets you add new programs to the desktop, save the current system settings manually (normally done automatically), make a printout of the current settings, create new directories, logoff from the current user settings if another family or office member wishes to use the computer, setup new users or modify passwords etc or even exit completely from Launchpad.

The Utility menu lets you manually start programs, start the supplied little accessory programs, pick or remove a program, and QPC2 users can even launch a DOS or Windows program or file via the QPC_EXEC facility built into QPC2. The program has a "Quicklaunch" menu, somewhat akin to the Qascade or Start menu systems, as requested by users of the early alpha test versions, plus a Command facility from where you can send commands to S*BASIC. And you can even start a little digital clock running on the Launchpad desktop - you can even make it appear every time you start Launchpad if you wish!

The MyQL menu (blame Darren Branagh for the name, he thought of it) is a system menu which lets you access and set all sorts of facilities controlling the computer, display, time, mouse, keyboard, network etc.

The Menus menu lets you change the names of the four desktops or to switch between the four as required.

The Jobs menu lets you Pick and Remove jobs as required - useful to be able to select a job from a list if you have a number of jobs running in the machine at the time.

Users

Launchpad allows up to 16 separate users to have their own desktops and settings. Each user may have his/her own user login name and password (stored encoded for security). All desktops may have completely separate programs and settings, users can configure their logins to set their own preferred display resolution, colour depths, mouse, keyboard etc settings where supported by the computer system in question, of course. This is potentially very useful in any situation where a number of people may wish to use the computer with their own settings, e.g. all family members can have their own logins and setups, or workers in an office may have different settings. To change users, simply logoff the existing user, and login under the new user's name. You can change the password at any time. If only one user and no password exists, the login box does not appear at startup. If more than one user is defined, or passwords specified, the login screen appears.

Accessories

The Accessories menu lets you access the various little programs supplied with the Launchpad system. At the moment these include:

The trial version of Launchpad, which limits you to 4 launchable program icons (6 from version 2.10) on the desktop and a small number of Quicklaunch menu items, can be downloaded from the page at the link below. Apart from the number of programs you can use with it, it's a fully working version complete with full manual, so you can experience what it's like before venturing to buy it!

Launchpad is a commercial software package, price 20 pounds. The program is available from the Quo Vadis Design website or direct from me. Your local QL reseller may be willing to order it for you on request - no harm in asking! Remember that the new version 2 needs Window Manager 2 to run, whereas the original version 1 will run on just about any system with pointer environment, expanded memory and Toolkit 2. If you are using an older version of SMSQ/E or QPC which does not have Window Manager 2, ask your local SMSQ/E reseller for an upgrade, it's well worth it in general as new software comes out, not just for Launchpad 2!


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