OSControl Xtra Review
Added on 5/10/2001
Unlike Directors own controls these UI-controls are all non-DTS so you can move other sprites on top of it, and they all are drawn in the OS appearance as set by the user. Plus these controls are truly cross-platform: on a Macintosh they look like Macintosh controls, on a PC running Windows they look like windows controls. These controls are ideal for rapid prototyping, making 'real' looking cross platform applications and many other projects.
A selection of the many features:
· Easy to use; no more faking controls with home-made artwork and clunky scripts.
· Set of behaviors to do common tasks are included.
· Controls are NOT drawn Direct to Stage: other sprites (even animations) can be on top of controls.
· Boxes with various styles and an optional text label.
· Push buttons with an optional default ring.
· Bevel buttons with three sizes of bevels and optional image on them.
· Checkboxes with three states: on, off or mixed.
· Radio buttons with three states: on, off or mixed.
· Progressbars in two variations: plain and 'barberpole' style.
· Sliders with three styles of thumbs and a user-defined number of tickmarks.
· Little arrows to control a decimal entry field.
· Vertical and horizontal scrollbars can be used to scroll text, fields, images and other content.
· New: Popup menus (Dropdown listboxes on Windows).
· New: Contextual menus (Shortcut menus on Windows).
· New: Multi line Static Text members.
· Push buttons, radio buttons and checkboxes can have focus under Windows.
· Controls can have text labels in the system font of the playback machine.
· All control properties can be set at member level and sprite level.
· All controls have a GroupID so you can manipulate entire groups at once.
· All interactions with a control are asynchronous (threaded), so other operations like animations will continue while you interact with a control.
· Systemsounds on MacOS.
· Can be used for CD-Rom, harddisk and Shockwave (web) projects.
· Works in Shockwave and will work under Mac OS X, when Director/Shockwave will be carbonized!
· Small download size: only 38 K on Mac and 56 K on Windows.
And many more features...
One of my continuing frustrations with Director is the fact that some things that seam to be so natural to include in the product simply are not there. OSControl fills this void nicely for many standard OS level window and control items. Imagine the time you will save not having to code your own progress bars, custom buttons, check boxes, popups, etc.
My initial reaction was very positive. The Xtra is very easy to use, and very well documented. Simply by using the insert menu in Director you can quickly add buttons, check boxes, text, background and group boxes, scroll bars, arrows, popup menus, and even progress bars. Now a lot of features that used to take a lot of lingo to mimic are as easy to add as a simple field member. There is also a great level of lingo control as well. Virtually every property can be set at the sprite level. This is an added bonus as you can set up one initial element for buttons, check boxes, etc and then reuse the same member multiple times on the same frame.
Virtually all items include group properties allowing very simple group interactions. All the elements respond like any other sprite to mouseUp, mouseDown, etc. Buttons also have the added feature of supporting a bitmap "icon" with transparency on the button itself. Users will love the simplicity of the scroll bars and progress indicators. Scrollbars auto-detect if they should be formatted vertically or horizontally. Similarly the "little arrows" make for the easy addition of standard OS spinner controls.
Boxes are another interesting addition. At first glance they appear to be simple box areas with no apparent use, but layered with other members you can mock up a VERY realistic interface that will look like a standard window on either OS including borders, properly graying of overlay text, etc.
When I first started this review on version 1.0 I kept looking for drop down menus. Before I even finished writing, it had been added. (Not bad for the first update 1 month after launch.) The drop downs look like a standard combo box menu (like that in browser forms). The menus are also very nice as they can be used for both popups as well as file menus in an application without all the bus and hassles of the director menu command.
It was hard to find areas to suggest improvement. I would like to see multi level menus (sub menus, etc) since currently you can only do 1 level menus, as well as combo/multi-select boxes. Overall though this Xtra is an outstanding product.
One of the best parts is how OSControl takes element from the OS (including all custom colors, etc.) and brings them beautifully into Director. The fact that they are also non-Direct-to-stage gives this a massive amount of power and possibilities. At $129 (for both Mac, PC and Shockwave) this Xtra is a real bargain. Documentation is well written and support appears to be top notch. If you have any extra cash in your software budget I would definitely buy this gem.