XControl (Extensible Control Panel)/Utility/freeware (?)

From: Doug Wokoun (aa384@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/30/91-07:07:37 PM Z

From: aa384@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Doug Wokoun)
Subject: XControl (Extensible Control Panel)/Utility/freeware (?)
Date: Wed Oct 30 19:07:37 1991

Taken from: ST Report online magazine, issue #730 (July 26, 1991):

 > XCONTROL STR Spotlight               "Extensible Control Panel"


 by: Lloyd E. Pulley, Sr.

 After  months of rumors and promises,  Atari has finally released  their
 new Control Panel for the ST and TT lines to the general public.  I have
 only one thing to say, "Wow!! This was worth the wait!!"

 When the rumors about the new Control Panel started, it was thought that
 it  would  only work with the TT's and MegaSTe's,  but according  to  an
 Atari representative, "It will work on all ST, Mega, STacy, STe, MegaSTe
 and TT systems.   Basically, if it is a TOS machine, it will run the New
 Control Panel."

 The new Control Panel is known by 2-3 different names;  the New  Control
 Panel,  XControl,  and Extended Control Panel but according to an  Atari
 representative, its official name is "Extensible Control Panel". For the
 sake of our sanity, I'll just call it XControl in this article.

 XControl is a replacement for the old Control Panel.  Like the old  Con-
 trol Panel, it allows you to configure your systems - double-click rate,
 key repeat rate,  colors, printers, modems, etc.  XControl can do all of
 that and more!   What makes XControl different is that it loads in indi-
 vidual CPX's as it needs them (for the non-technical,  consider a CPX  a
 module) instead of having everything in one program like the old Control
 Panel did.   And once it's done with that CPX, it unloads it.  That way,
 it's not tying up memory when you don't need it (like accessories do).

 XControl  comes  with one CPX that sets the mouse  and  key  parameters,
 another that sets printer parameters, another that sets modem parameters
 and another that sets colors - just like the old Control Panel. But with
 XControl you're not limited to just those choices,  you can add CPX's to
 do other things. Things like mouse accelerators, special sound CPX's for
 STe  owners,  special color CPX's for TT owners,  CPX's for laser  prin-
 ters,etc.   Developers can program CPX's to handle the configuration  of
 their  software or hardware from the XControl Panel - ICD already has  a
 CPX that will allow you to configure their hard drive software from  the
 XControl Panel and another for the AdSpeed owners.

 You might ask, "why do I need a CPX when I have accessories?"  As I said
 earlier, accessories tie up memory all of the time, whether you're using
 them or not.  When you're done with a CPX, XControl will 'disconnect' it
 from the system,  thus not tying up precious memory.  Also,  CPX's don't
 tie up accessory slots.  With normal GEM, you're limited to a maximum of
 6 accessories,  with XControl,  you can have 100 different CPX's on your
 boot  disk,  all of them at your beck and call any time you're in a  GEM

 The default mode of the XControl Panel is to load/unload CPX's,  but for
 the floppy drive users,  it can be configured to make all CPX's resident
 and not free'd up until XControl is shut down.  That way the floppy user
 doesn't have to worry about putting in his boot-disk every time he needs
 a CPX.

 One problem that popped up with XControl is a bug in TOS14FIX (the  ver-
 sion of TOSFIX 'fixed' by the German developer) kept the Modem Setup CPX
 from working properly. Atari has already distributed a TOS14FX2.PRG that
 corrects that problem (they 'fixed' the 'fix').

 One drawback to XControl is that it uses almost 66k more memory than the
 old Control Panel and almost 86k more memory that ROCP. That's not a big
 deal to a 2.5 or 4 meg user,  but it could be very decisive to a 512k or
 1-meg user.

 One interesting sidenote, the power and ease of use of CPX's has already
 started some controversy. Atari feels that, "The purpose of the new Con-
 trol Panel is to come up with a standard way that Atari and third  party
 developers can configure various aspects of there system and in the case
 of the General CPX...to report what the configuration is. Basically, the
 idea  is  that  the Control Panel is the place you go  to  "control"  or
 configure your system."

 While Atari might feel that the XControl Panel is just "a place that al-
 lows you to configure your systems",  many of our ST developers are  al-
 ready working on ways to expand that definition.  In the brief time that
 XControl has been out,  we've already received some nice CPX's from Ger-
 many. CPX's that will format disks, serve as calendars, ASCII converters
 and  more.  There is little doubt that our own U.S./Canadian  developers
 won't be far behind with their own CPX's.

 I  might not need a calendar enough to want to tie up an accessory  slot
 and 30-50k of memory, but it is nice to have one that I can call up when
 I need it, but when it's not in use, it isn't using any memory.

 One way to look at it is,  a company might make a product that according
 to  the  company's  'guidelines' is only  a  stapler.  But  third  party
 companies might make a staple puller and a small straight edge to add to
 it.  So now, it's more than a stapler.  In my opinion (and some others),
 as long as the add-ons don't effect the original purpose of the  stapler
 and how it works,  I can see nothing wrong with them.  It will be inter-
 esting to see how this controversy comes out.

 All-in-all,  I have to give Atari a big 'atta-boy' for the new  XControl
 Panel.  John, Ken, all...you did good!!

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