When we last looked at Dock extenders (NeXTWORLD, Summer 1992), we found Millennium Software Labs' Engage! to be the best of the lot. Now a new version, Engage! Desktop, provides an alternative not only to the Dock and Shelf, but also in general replaces many of the functions of the File Viewer and workspace.
The most important new features are the desktop and Smart Levels. The desktop metaphor will be familiar to users of other GUIs: You place applications, documents, and folders anywhere on the desktop. These are fully active icons that you can drag, drop, and link with other icons and documents. Double-clicking a folder opens it in the File Viewer. Double-clicking on a document opens it and, if necessary, launches an application. An option allows the display of graphics files as thumbnail views. The mail and fax-reader icons are active and show incoming mail.
Engage! has always offered a multilevel dock, enabling you to group applications, folders, and documents. The new Smart Levels feature automatically activates all items running on a given dock level when you switch to it, simultaneously hiding all other items in the workspace. This, in effect, allows you to a have a multidimensional desktop.
Both of these features take on added value when used on a portable NEXTSTEP computer. With Smart Levels, only the applications and files related to a given task clutter up the screen.
Also included in Desktop are tools for changing the background color or image on the desktop and a built-in screen saver that accepts BackSpace modules. Desktop is designed to work with its sister product, Millennium's NoteBook, to organize bookmarks and page bundles.
As a whole, Desktop functions as an alternative file system, which will reap dividends for users who take the time to set up and maintain the system. It is great for people who respond to systems and organizational schemes. Others may find that it is more structure than they want or need. Even so, the quality of the product makes it well worth the risk for general users and almost essential for portable NEXTSTEP users.
by Dan Lavin
Millennium added desktop icons and Smart Levels to its already useful Engage! utility to create a product that can change the way you use the workspace on a daily basis. Its value to a particular user will depend on personal preference.
Millennium Software Labs,1010 El Camino Real #300, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
415/321-3720; 415/321-3650 fax; firstname.lastname@example.org.