Hints and Tips

by Greg Burd

Placing a picture within a topic. This may seem trivial, but think about it: When looking at the Slide View, subtopics aren't separated so as to allow room for an image. Also, if you're moving topics around in the Outline View, you don't want to reposition the picture all the time.

Here's the way around this. First, drag the file from the work-space into a topic. The picture will move with that topic and will separate that topic from the following one. Next, move to the Slide View (if you don't have one, create it) and select the slide representing the topic with the picture. When you select the text in the topic in the Slide View and look at the Inspector, you are offered the option to view the picture file as its file icon or as the actual file. There are some limitations: You cannot resize or move the picture. If this is a problem, either wait for 2.0 or drag-and-drop the image as you did in the past, straight into the Slide View.

Demo documents. Ever wondered why the Diagram demo documents with all the handy pictures of computers are not shipped with the application? Don't despair. You can find them on the Net in the normal archive servers. These are great, but don't forget that you can create your own PostScript pictures in any drawing program and import them to create your own palette. And when you have something that's really cool, put it on the Net for the rest of us.

Tricks with objects. For a good time, choose Make Spline in the Splines/Lines option of the Object menu. Suddenly your chances to experiment are exponentially larger: Instead of being able to only change the size and shape of an oval or rectangle, you can take one of the handle points and modify the line as if it were a spline. If you really want to go off the deep end, try the Animate selection in the same menu and watch as your spline comes to life. To stop the mutation, simply click the document.

There are all kinds of surprises like this in Create and other Stone Design applications. Try holding down the Command, Alternate, or Shift keys while doing some mundane task. Sometimes the best features are the forgotten debugging tools.

Modifying the File Viewer. It's surprising to me how many people simply don't go exploring in applications. This is not only the best way to learn but is also great fun. One thing that most people overlook is the Workspace Manager's Preferences panel. This is the perfect place to customize your work environment and make it more useful.

Call up the panel by selecting Preferences from the Info option in Workspace Manager's menu. If you maintain a huge File Viewer to have more Shelf space, here's a handy solution that will free up valuable workspace real estate. First select Shelf from Preferences's pop-up menu, then click the check box for Resizable Shelf. You'll notice that you now have a dimple in the center of the shelf. This acts just like the Librarian app, so drag it down a few steps and you've just doubled your Shelf space. You can also shrink the width of file and folder names in the same Shelf panel. This is done by dragging the arrows on either side of the text field. At its smallest, you can fit at least one more item into the Shelf for every three columns in your File Viewer.

Another way to conserve space is to shrink the default width for the File Viewer, which also affects the width of the Shelf. If you have problems recognizing the names of files because your File Viewer is too small for the name, then you can use this method to expand the width of the File Viewer's columns.

Greg Burd is president of the Albuquerque NeXT User Group.