Orange Hill Workplace Solutions

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By Ron P. Lamb

Contents

(The non-intrusive solution)

Have you ever installed a software product only to find that after applying one of those small IBM service packs, the product no longer works? Have you ever seen one of those black screens of death, only to later find it was caused by one of those nifty utilities that cling to your operating system like gum clings to hair. If you have, or if you are looking for a cool set of OS/2 utilities, Orange Hill's Workplace Solutions (OHWS for short) may be something worth giving a try.

OHWS includes six utilities (GIF, 10.8k), 450 true OS/2 icons, an icon manager, and a set of folder and icon starter templates that add flash to your Desktop and make you more productive using OS/2. This product contains so much that this review covers only the major pieces of it in an attempt to give an overall picture of what OHWS can provide for you.

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Program Portfolios- A cool way to manage your program objects

Program portfolios are a fast and convenient way of organizing and accessing program objects. Program portfolios are created by adding program objects using the Program Portfolio editor and then saving the portfolio. Once objects are added and the portfolio is named, objects can be accessed from either the PGMLISTS folder, the Program Portfolio viewer or Rover (more on Rover later). The program portfolio is an excellent program object grouping metaphor.

I found using OHWS's Program Portfolio Editor and viewer to create, modify, and delete program portfolios both easy and intuitive. Adding objects to the portfolios is as easy as selecting the object you want added and pressing the add button. The program objects don't even need to be in the same folder, drive, or location. Once I added my objects, I was able to launch the object, start a second instance of that object, open the object's settings notebook, create a shadow of the object, and apply an icon from the icon library. I found many actions just a mouse click away.

In addition to the viewer and editor, OHWS includes a utility, "All available programs", that lists all program objects on your system. This is by far the fastest way I have seen to get a list of all the objects on a system. In doing some simple testing, I was able list about 400 objects within 2 to 3 seconds. All actions available to program portfolios can be performed using this utility.

I discovered that one of the many uses of program portfolios is grouping reference books. For example, on my Desktop I have created three program portfolios to store my PM, REXX, and C reference guides. After creating these portfolios, I was able to remove a number of objects from the Desktop and organize them into categories such as Games, Home applications, and Development and Research.

Another use I found for this feature was to store all my program objects needed for a particular project. Then when I was working on a particular project I did not need to keep searching for programs that could span across numerous folders. Once quickly set up, everything I needed was right on the Desktop , including my most heavily used reference books (cool). Though this can be accomplished using shadows, I find the program portfolio uses less space, is easier to access, and provides more functionality.

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Folder Portfolio - Program Portfolio's brother

Folder portfolios are my favorite part of OHWS because they are a great way of organizing heavily accessed folders in a nice, easy, manageable object. Configuring a folder portfolio is as easy as dragging and dropping the folder or any object within that folder onto the folder portfolio's list box. Once the portfolio is configured, a number of actions can be performed, including the following:

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  • Opening the folder object in any view including tree, icon, detail and settings.
  • Opening its parent folder.
  • Opening a Dos Full Screen, Dos Window, OS/2 Window, or OS/2 Full Screen session at the folder's location.
  • Performing a disk space analysis on the folder and its sub-folders.
  • Creating a shadow of the folder.
  • Applying an icon or icon scheme to the folder.

I have found one of the best uses for the folder portfolio is keeping all directories I use for a particular project together. Since I am a heavy OS/2 and DOS command sessions user, I find folder portfolios are a great way of keeping my Desktop clutter-free while, at the same time, allowing me to quickly launch an OS/2 or DOS session at my desired folder location with just a few mouse clicks.

Though I found OHWS's folder portfolios a great productivity tool, there are a few areas where I would like to see some enhancements. First, I would like the ability to issue a REXX command script when starting my OS/2 command sessions. Second, currently the space analysis only works on local drives. I would like to see this expanded to include network and floppy media. Finally, I would like to see a portfolio that combines the folder and program portfolios into one portfolio -- a "Super" portfolio.

Icons are the things you buy when you have nothing else to buy!

I heard this comment once during the launch of OS/2 WARP. Though this may seem true to some people, I feel it is totally incorrect. Icons, besides giving your Desktop pizazz, perform a valuable function by giving a pictorial view of what a file/folder contains or what a program object does. OHWS provides you with 450 great OS/2 icons to do just that. These icons (GIF, 10.5k) are not the typical icons downloaded from the Internet or a BBS, but are icons that support all major OS/2 formats including:

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  • SVGA and VGA formats
  • Independent small icons for each resolution
  • Open and closed icon animation forms

Having 450 icons is great, but what is even better is that OHWS provides mechanisms to manage them. Utilities are included to apply an icon to an object, add your own icons to your personal library or create an icon scheme. Currently in OS/2, changing an icon requires opening an object's settings notebook, finding the pages containing the open and closed views of the object and dragging both the open and closed icons to those pages. In OHWS, I can change an icon by simply dragging and dropping the object on the Icon Central's icon or the Icon library and selecting the icon of my choice.

When adding icons from the Icon Library, both the open and closed views of the icon are added to the object. Where appropriate, the closed view often reflects the nature of the open view. For example, the lamp icon shows the lamp lit when opened and off when closed.

To apply icons to multiple objects in a folder automatically, OHWS provides a Scheme editor. Creating a scheme is as easy as dropping a folder onto the Icon Central icon and selecting an icon for each file specification. For example, all files beginning with OCT could automatically have a pumpkin as their icon and all objects containing NOV could have the Thanksgiving turkey. Once a scheme is created, the Scheme editor's options provide a way to manually or automatically apply icons to the main folder or the main folder and its sub-folders. Updates can even be performed across a series of folders. I found this feature to be a wonderful companion to the already powerful OS/2 file association feature.

Though I found the icon utilities exceptional and well done, I found myself occasionally wishing for more icon categories. In the future, I would like to see more developer-related icons and some for the insurance and banking industry. Maybe there could even be a bonus or plus pack of icons. OHWS does provide a the ability to add your own icons, and although this is a welcome feature, it does have a limitation of not allowing you to select both an open and closed view (open view only). Providing this functionality would be a nice addition to an already full bag of goodies.

Task Bars

If you like speed or task bars, OHWS provides a fully pre-configured launching bar called the SpeedBar that opens, with only a few clicks, 50 of the most used OS/2 objects. From the Multimedia folder to the Start-up folder, you never have to remember where an object is located again.

If you are moving from Warp 3.0 to Warp 4.0, you will find the default system objects have moved. With the SpeedBar, finding the new location of the CD player or seeing the new version of the MACAW movie is only a few mouse clicks away. I found that the SpeedBar works with both Warp 3 and 4 flawlessly.

Now for the real kicker: the SpeedBar includes an easy way of accessing program and folder portfolios by allowing any portfolio to be added to the SpeedBar. I found adding my portfolios to be very simple. Anybody who has forgotten where the REXX or C++ programmers reference books are and has had to search for them would understand how cool it would be to have your reference books sitting on a menu on your Desktop. Definitely a great feature.

Here Rover! Here Rover!

Having the pleasure of seeing a demo of this product more than once, Rover (GIF, is undoubtedly the most popular piece of the product. Rover is an alternate view of the original SpeedBar with some additional functionality. It takes up very little real estate and has the uncanny ability to be there when you need it. If Rover is obstructed, he will 'rove', or move, to an open area of the screen, waiting for your command. In addition, Rover is trained to heel, sit, stay, and go away. Of course, if you tell Rover to go away, like any real dog in a few minutes he will be back wanting to play. Like all the other utilities included in OHWS, Rover is highly configurable.

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OS2ness (Is it a true 32 bit OS/2 product?)

In this category I have to give OHWS an A+. This product supports Drag and Drop, is heavily multi-threaded, and provides right mouse button support where appropriate. The product works great with OS/2 Warp 3 or higher. For example, when using the SpeedBar with Warp 4, the SpeedBar will locate itself above the new Warp Center, adding to the Warp Center's functionality instead of taking away from it.

Conclusion

I am sure you are thinking by now, "It sounds like a great set of stuff, but how well does it work?". In one word, great! OHWS is one of the most stable products I have used. The installation was simple, the on-line help was extensive and well done, and the program was quick, very user friendly, and extremely stable.

Since using the product for the last year and a half, I don't know how I did without it. It has allowed me to clean up my once cluttered Desktop and has increased my productivity using OS/2. This product offers a lot for the developer, power user, and even the person who is just simply wanting to become more productive. If you are looking for a bag of tricks that makes you more productive, is highly reliable, and will not intrude into your OS/2 system, OHWS is the product for you.

A limited version of Orange Hill Workplace Solutions is included in Warp 4 application sampler CD and I highly recommend anybody who has not already purchased the product to try it. The version included in CD application sampler is a functional version, but has limits on the number of portfolios you can create and the number of icons included in the library. Also, not all components are included, but the version is definitely usable and if you feel the need for more, the upgrade is only a phone call away.

How was it reviewed?

Orange Hill Workplace Solutions was reviewed using the following hardware and ran flawlessly:

  • 486 33MHz with 8MB RAM running OS/2 WARP (Red Pack)
  • Pentium 133Mhz with 32 MB RAM running OS/2 WARP CONNECT (Blue Pack) and OS/2 Warp 4.0.
  • Cyrix P166+, 64MB RAM running OS/2 warp 4.0 & OS/2 Warp Connect.

Orange Hill Workplace Solutions v2.5

by Orange Hill Software download a demo from Ron P. Lamb's web site Voice: (714) 524-5851 MSRP: US$35.00