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First Public Beta Of The Winstep Nexus Dock Released! (free)

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Introducing the Winstep Nexus Dock

The Winstep Nexus dock is a FREE, stand alone, version of the Nexus dock that is part of the Winstep Xtreme suite of applications, although it has no support for multi-docks and multi-level sub-docks, unlike its bigger 'cousin' in Winstep Xtreme.

This first public beta release features a new User Interface with multi-language support that will also become part of Winstep Xtreme later this month. Because of this, and ONLY until then, if you click on the Winstep Xtreme link in the About tab of Nexus Preferences you get a nice 50% off promotion.

So, if you want to put your hands on Winstep Xtreme for only $19.95 (and still get the same cool Nexus-style UI before the end of the month), now is your chance!

Live Icon Reflections:

Reflections.jpg

Automatic Glass Blur effect for semi-transparent dock backgrounds (Vista/Win7):

BlurDock.jpg

Modern and super intuitive User Interface:

nexusUI.jpg

Watch Nexus in action:

On YouTube click on the HD button for a 860x480 pixel, high definition, version of this video.

The free version of Nexus is backed up by Winstep Software Technologies, a commercial company. Winstep has been actively involved in the customization business since early 1999 - for you, this basically means that you get real, professional support, detailed documentation, the assurance that it won't mess up your system, and, more important, that the free version of Nexus does not get abandoned like it happens to most freeware projects once the author loses interest and/or gets a real job.

Nexus Features:

  • Live icon reflections.
  • Dock magnification, swing, bounce, afterglow and many other incredible mouse over effects.
  • Water ripple, fluid surface, fluid reflections and many more dock animation effects.
  • Automatic Vista glass blur for semi-transparent dock backgrounds.
  • Dock auto-hide and auto-collapse to take up as little screen space as possible.
  • Built-in clock, weather, recycler, fortune cookie reader, email checker, net, cpu and ram meter docklets/widgets.
  • Over 80 useful internal commands.
  • Ability to prevent maximized windows from overlapping the dock.
  • Supports drag & drop of virtual file system objects (My Computer, Control Panel, etc...).
  • Completely customizable - thousands of backgrounds freely available.
  • Fully compatible with skins for all other docks.
  • Full drag & drop support with extremely easy to use and intuitive interface.
  • Multi language support (supported languages on this beta: English, French, German, Portuguese).
  • Includes Update Manager to look for, download, and automatically install new versions.
  • ... and many, many, other incredible features!

Winstep Website: http://www.winstep.net

Registration: FREE

You can download Nexus from HERE (12.3 MB).

Nexus is fully compatible with Win9x, ME, NT4, 2000, XP 32/64 bit, 2003 Server, Vista 32/64 bit and Windows 7 32/64 bit.

vista-ready-logo.jpgwin7-ready-logo.jpg

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Thanks for the release announcement, new stuff like this is always welcome here.

Hopefully one of our newsposters will do a small article too, highlighting it to a wide audience.

Straight out the box this looks good. I've only been playing around with it for a short time and I'm liking it already. Not too heavy on resources, lots of options to adjust, very user friendly, liking the reflections too, I've never been a great fan of them, even in OS X, too showy for my liking. ;)

The dis-likes are the spacing of the icons, too much, I'd like to close the gap. Not being able to minimizing to the dock, this a big one for me. Lastly I'd like to be able to remove the NeXus icon, I've checked the setting and I can't seem to remove it, dragging out doesn't work either.

I would like to see this portable too, running it from my flash drive would drive the guys at work nuts. :blink:

I'll keep playing but I'm a great fan of RLK and it will take a lot to move me completely away it.

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Spacing of the icons: seems to be a popular request, expect to see that on the next release (oh yes, please keep those suggestions comming!)

Minimize the dock: not sure what you mean. If you double click the dock's control icon, it auto-hides into the screen edge. You can also turn auto-hide on in Preferences. If you undock the dock from the screen edge, you get a floating dock which you can drag anywhere you want - in that case, double clicking the control icon collapses the dock so only the control icon is visible.

Remove the NeXus icon: right click on the control icon -> Appearence and Sounds -> Hide Dock Control icon.

RLK: Keep playing with Nexus. Oh, and it has a quite complete User Guide. Just click Help in Preferences. ;)

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Good to know it's not just me that requesting the icons spacing.

What I mean about minimize to the dock, when using RLK and I minimize any window it goes to the dock, instead of the taskbar, I can also exclude what application minimize to the dock, this is how the OSX works too.

Thanks for the tip as to how remove the Nexus icon. ;)

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Looks good, but before I download...does it support stacks (like XWindows dock)?

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Looks good, but before I download...does it support stacks (like XWindows dock)?

I don't think docklets can be created in the same way as XWD, including stacks, however after playing around I've managed to get the standalone stacks version from Chris'n'soft to work with Nexus.

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Yes, you can use the stand alone stacks version with Nexus.

3rd Party docklets are not supported (yet) but Nexus has some pretty good ones built-in: a speaking, Internet-time server synchronizing clock, a recycle bin, weather monitor with 5 day forecast that supports both METAR and Weather.com codes (choosing a location is as simple as selecting Country, State (US) and City, though), a multi-account, POP3/IMAP, Email Checker that supports SSL encryption (and can thus be used with Gmail accounts), a net meter able to list currently active connections, a CPU meter, a RAM meter and, finally, a fortune cookie reader (Wanda) inspired on an applet of the same name very popular in the Linux world.

This said, Wanda is probably the most useless docklet ever coded - but she's cute. ^_^

Here are some more things you can do with Nexus:

  • Customizing icons in the dock is a simple matter of dropping an ICO, PNG or TIF file on top of the dock item you want to customize.
  • Nexus supports over 80 internal commands. Internal commands are items you can add to the dock which perform useful actions such as:
    • Hide/Show Desktop Icons
    • Hide/Show Taskbar
    • Power Off Monitor
    • Start Screen-Saver
    • Clear Recent Documents
    • Eject Drive x:
    • Close CDROM x: Door
    • Search
    • Run
    • Show Volume Control
    • Show Start Menu
    • and, many, many more...

    [*]Unlike other docks, Nexus doesn't need to be 'stuck' to a screen edge. It can be left 'floating' on the desktop, in which case it can be 'collapsed' into a single icon by double clicking the control icon (and expanded again by doing the same thing).

    [*]If you right click on a dock item that points to a file, you get a useful 'Show Container' entry which opens the folder where that file is located in Explorer.

    [*]If you drop a document/image/video file onto the dock, you get a thumbnail of the actual file.

    [*]Say you have a shortcut to Winword on the dock. You can open an HTML (or any other document) file in Word simply by dropping the HMTL file on top of the dock's Winword shortcut.

    [*]You can drag URLs from your favorite Internet browser into Nexus.

    [*]If you are showing running tasks in Nexus as grouped items, left clicking a grouped task icon opens a menu showing the individual tasks (you can also set things up so the menu opens automatically on mouseover). When you mouse over each task, you get a close button on that menu entry which allows you to quickly close the window (a la Win7).

    [*]The context menu for running tasks on the dock allows you to do useful stuff to the associated windows such as setting their opacity level.

    [*]I could go on and on, there are hundreds of little nice touches like the ones above in Nexus. :)

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Judging by some of the uninstall survey comments, I would like to add the following:

Some people don't seem to be able to read. :rolleyes:Nexus is FULLY compatible with skins for ObjectDock, RocketDock, MobyDock, Y'z Dock. You have THOUSANDS of skins to chose from.

If you think Nexus doesn't do something you want, READ THE PROVIDED DOCUMENTATION FIRST (just click the Help button in Preferences)! 9 times out of 10 you will be wrong. :P Or just email Winstep support. I answer every question, no matter how silly it is - provided it's Winstep related, of course, so please don't go asking me about the meaning of life. :rolleyes:

Some of the things that showed up in my inbox:

There is no easy way to change an item's icon.

Yes there is. Just drop an ICO, PNG or TIF file on top of the item you want to customize. Doesn't get any easier (or quicker) than that.

Alternativelly right click on the item, select Dock Entry Properties and then click 'Change Icon'.

There aren't enough customization settings.

The new UI was build on purpose so it can be used by BOTH expert and non-expert users, which means the least used/more advanced options are buried in secondary dialogs. There are Advanced buttons scattered all over the place - click them to see what they offer access to.

It asks for confirmation when you want to delete something instead of just deleting it.

So does Windows. Anyway, right click on the Recycler module and select Settings. Turn off the confirmaton prompt.

I will also add that setting to the Behavior or Preferences General tab in the next release.

It takes too long to hide in auto-hide.

There are Auto-Hide delay settings for that in the General Preferences tab, so it hides as fast as YOU want it to! There are also Animation Speed settings there and, if you click on the Effect Settings button for the Magnify animation in the Effects tab you can also set how smooth (or fast) the magnify animation is!

It's still buggy.

Thanks. Now if only you had bothered telling me what the bug was, I would probably have fixed it by now. Assuming it is a real bug and not some strange expectation on your part, of course. :)

Doesn't have a system tray.

No other dock currently does, and the systray in ObjectDock is not working either (at least not in Vista).

This said, you will be able to put the systray on your dock in the next beta (and customize it to hell). I just didn't have time to add systray support for this BETA release (although it's already there in Winstep Xtreme 9.5).

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The dis-likes are the spacing of the icons, too much, I'd like to close the gap.

Your wish has been granted. ;)

Just implemented this feature, which will be available in the next release.

If anybody has more feature requests, as long as reasonable and generaly useful, please feel free to post them here! :)

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Good news and nice app, but... is it possible to decrease somehow the distance between the icons and the lower edge of the background without distorting the background image (in the case of the Leopard theme)? Now the icons are placed too high - this does not look very good. And the icons are a little bit blurry; what is the best file format and size to replace them?

Anyway, thanks! Waiting for the next release...

Edited by Kamil
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thanks for changing the spacing, or giving us the option to- that's a huge one for me as i've pretty much filled up the dock already & i don't want the icons to get any smaller.

the standalone stacks are quite nice since you can navigate within them (i don't think that was possible with the original stack applet but a bit of a chore to create, so it would be cool to have some xwindows like inbuiilt options. tiny things, i also like the effect of objectdock's flyout menus (pointless, when a stack does as well or better, but fun). & xwindows gallery & graphics options.

the other problem i have is relatively minor, but seems like it would be easily fixable, & is to do with the magnification setting - i posted about this to youtube but i'll try to explain it again - it's too jumpy, as if it's too easy to move off the icons that trigger the zoom. i like the smooth, slick feeling you get when you run the cursor along objectdock or rocketdock, & i think it's because they have larger target zones or something. with this dock its too easy to drop low or swing the cursor too high, causing the effect to start/stop rapidly & giving it a jittery feel.

edit - ps: running indicators!

kamil, i got the icon problem fixed by changing their size, looks like mine are at 55 pixels right now. also as i said on yt, the taskbar open windows are very blurry & pale in comparison to say objectdock, which are high-res & live.

Edited by yanquis1972
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Good news and nice app, but... is it possible to decrease somehow the distance between the icons and the lower edge of the background without distorting the background image (in the case of the Leopard theme)? Now the icons are placed too high - this does not look very good.

Unfortunately probably no, but feel free to experiment with that particular theme settings in the Leopard.nxs configuration file. Skinners will easily understand why, but I'll do my best to explain:

First of all, this is NOT a Nexus problem - this will happen with that type of background on ANY other dock due to the way background bitmaps are rendered.

Essentially the Leopard background is a 2D representation of a 3D background (i.e. a flat panel seen somewhat from above, which results in the edges of the dock running into the 'horizon'), which is fine provided the y axis (hight of the dock) remains constant.

Unfortunately, when you change the height of the dock by doing something like changing the non-magnified size of the icons, the 'older' perspective no longer applies and thus, when Nexus tries to 'map' the 3D background into the new 2D surface, the bitmap gets distorted.

In the KTEK4D1 to KTEK4D2 themes that ship with Nexus you will notice that the rounded discs are also 3D. In those particular cases Nexus is able to prevent distortion as the icons magnify because those themes use a setting specific to Nexus called 'Keep Proportion'. Alas, it cannot be used for whole backgrounds like Leopard.

To successfully draw a 3D background under all icon sizes and conditions, a dock will have to actually 'work' in 3D and recalculate backgrounds in real time. Not only would this imply using DirectX or similar technologies to get the GPU to perform the calculations for us (otherwise 'slow dock' would have a whole new meaning) as it would imply skinners making vector themes with background textures.

I don't think we are quite there yet. :)

And the icons are a little bit blurry; what is the best file format and size to replace them?

Hmmm, I don't really notice any blurriness, but, there being some, I would say it's a by-product of how GDI+ rescales the icons (which is done in high quality but can result in a little blurriness as pixels are averaged from those who surround them to prevent blocky/chunky graphics).

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thanks for changing the spacing, or giving us the option to- that's a huge one for me as i've pretty much filled up the dock already & i don't want the icons to get any smaller.

I added a 1 to 16 range (which results in the icons having between 2 and 32 pixels between one another), is the upper range sufficient? Yes, I do realize the primary reason for the icon spacing request is to actually decrease the current spacing, which is set by default at 8 (or 16 pixels between each icon), but someone else might actually like their dock icons to be as far apart as possible. ;)

the standalone stacks are quite nice since you can navigate within them (i don't think that was possible with the original stack applet but a bit of a chore to create, so it would be cool to have some xwindows like inbuiilt options.

Eventually I might do my own, native, version of the Stacks docklet. But since stand alone Stacks can be used with Nexus and seems like a pretty good implementation, a native Stacks docklet kind of lost the priority it once had.

the other problem i have is relatively minor, but seems like it would be easily fixable, & is to do with the magnification setting - i posted about this to youtube but i'll try to explain it again - it's too jumpy, as if it's too easy to move off the icons that trigger the zoom. i like the smooth, slick feeling you get when you run the cursor along objectdock or rocketdock, & i think it's because they have larger target zones or something. with this dock its too easy to drop low or swing the cursor too high, causing the effect to start/stop rapidly & giving it a jittery feel.

Did you know that the magnification effect actually *accelerates* (starts slow, increases in speed as it goes) as the dock starts magnifying to prevent those 'jumps' when the mouse pointer accidentally passes over it?

Try the following: go to the Effects tab in Preferences and click the Effect Settings button for the Magnify effect. Now slow down the magnification effect (Magnification Smoothness) and let me know if that solves the problem.

edit - ps: running indicators!

I seriously don't understand the usefulness of such a thing other than another eye-candy factor.

also as i said on yt, the taskbar open windows are very blurry & pale in comparison to say objectdock, which are high-res & live.

And also very slow. Although NextSTART provides live window tumbnails in the taskbar, I chose to use static bitmaps for window thumbnails in docks and shelves (which is why they appear a little blurry, the original thumbnail is actually 256x256 pixels in size). If I go for the 'live' bitmaps in the dock, you will no longer get an application icon in one of the corners of the image (at least not without resorting to image overlay trickery), and the whole thing slows down tremendously.

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I like running indicators....lots of times I'll quit Outlook or IE, and their window closes, but their process is still running (for whatever stupid reason)...the running indicators in Objectdock let me know that even though I "closed" the app, the process is still running and I need to kill it.

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yes, i find running indicators especially useful because i use soulseek, & it hides tucked away in the taskbar when running. if i forget i'm running it & click the button to launch it, it starts a separate instance, disconnects my old one, & changes the port# (which i've specifically opened up via port-forwarding) - so it'd actually come very much in handy for me!

re the magnification, i still notice the jumps even at slow speeds...but then, i've also grown to quite like the 'plain' zoom effect so it doesn't bother me...however, re 'target size' or whatever it's properly called, i do notice that objectdock expands the zone considerably when the icons are magnified, so for example i can scroll along a horizontal line extending from the very bottom (or top) of an icon smoothly (even if the cursor is about an inch away from where the icons are at normal size). with nexus, i have to keep the cursor in the same place it would be if the icons where at normal size, even with magnification, which is both a little unnatural & difficult. i think this is the primary problem; if there's an easy fix it'd be nice, but otherwise not much of an issue.

as for the windows, i've never had any problem with objectdock's speed, but i realize every program is different. what i've actually done at the moment is run nexus as my dock but let objectdock run its taskbar function at top right of screen, because i like being able to see all the open windows right in front of me, which neither windows nor nexus does (yet anyway).

and i could swear i thought of one other thing to incorporate that would make life a bit simpler but my mind is blanking right now. :D

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i do notice that objectdock expands the zone considerably when the icons are magnified, so for example i can scroll along a horizontal line extending from the very bottom (or top) of an icon smoothly (even if the cursor is about an inch away from where the icons are at normal size). with nexus, i have to keep the cursor in the same place it would be if the icons where at normal size, even with magnification, which is both a little unnatural & difficult. i think this is the primary problem; if there's an easy fix it'd be nice, but otherwise not much of an issue.

If I understood correctly, that's not how Nexus behaves at all (or at least not how it's supposed to behave).

When the dock is magnified, the area that can be moused over without losing magnification is the same area you would have if ALL icons were magnified at once (you can test this out by switching to the Flat Magnify effect). Another example: if you are using the Aero LowRes theme with an horizontal dock attached to the top of the screen, when the dock magnifies you can run your mouse pointer OUTSIDE and BELOW the background of the dock. It's only when you move the mouse pointer outside the area of maximum magnification that Nexus returns to normal size.

If that doesn't happen to you, what theme are you using? Is your dock vertical or horizontal? Is it floating or attached to a screen edge? If the later, which? Any other particular settings?

Edited by JcRabbit
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"when the dock magnifies you can run your mouse pointer OUTSIDE and BELOW the background of the dock. It's only when you move the mouse pointer outside the area of maximum magnification that Nexus returns to normal size"

yeah, that's how i tested it (though typically i have it on the bottom of the screen, resting on top of my taskbar, which is probably what made it really noticeable for me, since if the cursor was either too high or too low it wouldn't work properly), & it definitely doesn't extend to the top of the magnification field. im running leopard theme, all effects settings turned on, magnify at 158 pixels.

aha: it's the theme. cancelling the fx & lowering the mag does nothing but as soon as i switch to aero low res it works perfectly.

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aha: it's the theme. cancelling the fx & lowering the mag does nothing but as soon as i switch to aero low res it works perfectly.

Ah-ah indeed! Thanks for helping me figure out what the problem was - I haven't been able to look at it properly yet, but you can think of it as fixed for the next release. :)

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I don't want to be that guy, but, when do you anticipate the next release. Due to the icon spacing feature, this will be my new dock :D. I remember using Winstep in 1999, time flies.

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I don't want to be that guy, but, when do you anticipate the next release. Due to the icon spacing feature, this will be my new dock :D. I remember using Winstep in 1999, time flies.

Good question, it's already working here, but I want to add some more stuff before I make a new release. :-P And the new additions/changes need to be tested first too.

Hmmm... Maybe I should start a private beta testing program somewhere so people can try/test new betas/releases before they go public (being private betas, it would be at their own peril, of course. Then again, a lot of people likes to live dangerously, hehe).

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Sign me up man. After ten years of using Winstep's products on and off, I'll take that chance. This is the first Windows dock that has reflections while not sacrificing the smooth animations associated with Windows docks.

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sign me up as well! i've also been anxiously awaiting the icon spacing feature.

oldschool, i noticed that as well. and it really doesn't use any resources even with the effects maxed out. i was really surprised at how smooth it is (barring that glitch i mentioned of course). mostly though for me, it's the dock that acts the most naturally integrated into the OS.

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update?

Sorry, still working on it and on the next version of Winstep Xtreme with the new UI (they're tied together).

But the wait will be worth it, believe me. :)

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