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Mastering user's Desktop

INTRODUCTION
This article covers various Desktop customization techniques and the way our Desktop and Drag&Drop Xtras can assist. This article is not a replacement of the official manuals that are supplied with demo versions of the Xtras, but it provides some useful tips on how to make your desktop applications more efficient and appealing to users. This article will be useful for those developers who want to easily customize Windows Desktop with their Director or Authoware application.
WHY?
Why would one ever need to customize the default Windows look? For many people this question sounds like why doesn't everyone wear the same clothes. That's just a matter of taste. Millions of people spend 8+ hours a day in front of their computers and they do vastly different things on their machines. An IT manager is using their computer in a totally different way than a graphics designer and have a totally different Desktop look. Your application can customize user Desktop in many ways, changing the default icons or adding various productivity tools like tickers, clocks, calendars or shedulers. Your can completely transform the machine in all sorts of different ways making the Desktop environment more friendly, productive and funny.
ACTIVE DESKTOP
Desktop Xtra for Macromedia Director and Authorware allows to customize Dekstop in terms of changing screensaver, default system icons, wallpaper, system colors, cursors and creating shortcuts. Desktop Xtra version 1.4 brings the Active Desktop technology to multimedia developers. What does that mean? The machines that have Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher installed, or are running Windows 98 or higher don't have just a plain Desktop, they have an Active Desktop. Instead of just hosting icons and shortcuts, Active Desktop can host any HTML item, such as Web pages, Java applets, ActiveX controls, images and, what is the most important, Shockwave movies.
INTERACTION
Desktop item is a great way to display your application permanently in background mode. Users will be able to access all the application's features like they would do for a regular shockwave movie. You can tell the desktop item how often it should update itself, display content there depending on time so your customers are always stay informed and much more. But how to allow a shockwave active desktop item to interact with other Desktop elements and applications? Our Drag&Drop Xtra provides this functionality - user can just drag items to your Active Desktop shockwave movie and drop them, the movie can also read and write data from/to clipboard. Drag&Drop Xtra is marked as shockwave safe itself so it works fine being placed to Shockwave Player's Xtras folder. So, to make all the drag and drop features available for your active desktop shockwave application all you need is to copy the Drag&Drop Xtra there.
HOW TO
For Shockwave Players 8 and 8.5 (Macromedia Director 8, 8.5, MX)
the Xtras folder is C:\Windows\System\Macromed\Shockwave 8\Xtras
for Shockwave Player 10 (Macromedia Director MX 2004) it is
C:\Windows\System\Macromed\Shockwave 10\Xtras.
Note, user's machine may have Windows installed into a different directory, it can or can't be "Windows". To get the Windows directory name use the dtGetWindowsDirectory() function provided by the Desktop Xtra. To copy the Drag&Drop Xtra's file to Shockwave Player's Xtras folder use the dtCopyFile() function that is also provided by the Desktop Xtra.
When the Drag&Drop Xtra has been placed to the "Xtras" folder feel free to launch shockwave movie as an active desktop item, all drag and drop functionality will be available.
Last revised: August 7, 2004
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