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TClock3 0.3.5

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#1
WildBill

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After months of work I have a new version of TClock3 available for people to play with. It's been re-architected from top-to-bottom and should be a *lot* more stable. I don't claim it's bulletproof, but it's very very usable. It even runs on XP, though task buttons and the system tray don't paint correctly there (something I haven't yet figured out). I've tested this on multiple Win2k boxes and it works very well. I encourage people to give it a try and send feedback, if you're inclined (and post screenshots if you really like it :yes: )

Here's a basic list of what's new:
- partial Start Menu skinning (not perfect, but ok for a first try)
- better font rendering
- support for min/max/close button halos if you're also running WindowBlinds (because WB4 doesn't do them)
- start button overlays
- you can have different fonts for the clock, taskbar buttons, start menu, and desktop if you use the full skinning option
- optional multi-line text on task buttons (make the font smaller and give it a try)
- if the global hook option is on, moving windows under the taskbar repaints it on the fly so it really behaves like glass (make sure you have at least a decent video card for this).
- you can save your settings to an .INI file (and load them back). It makes switching skins easy...
- supports start button bitmaps that have animated frames after the usual five (no, it doesn't animate them yet but it can read them properly if you tell it how many frames are in the image).

The start button overlay requires that you turn on the "global hook" option and restart TClock3 (if you don't, the overlay won't repaint itself properly). If you also want to try button halos, you have to turn on the "skin other windows" option as well.

The program isn't perfect, and I still consider it alpha (maybe almost beta), but it's very usable IMHO. I really need feedback if I'm to really improve it...

Download link edited to newest version

New version (0.2.9)
- Tried to remove some race conditions that could cause the clock area to be much wider than it should be.

New version (0.3.0)
- Added command-line option -loadini=filename where filename is the name of an .INI file that is in the same folder as TClock3Test.exe (JUST THE NAME, DO NOT INCLUDE ANY PATH). This will force TClock3 to load the .INI file at startup.

New version (0.3.1)
- Made some changes to the startup code that should improve stability

New version (0.3.2)
- Fixed a bad bug where some apps would refuse to close if TClock3 was running.
- If Explorer crashes, TClock3 will also exit rather than remain running.

New version (0.3.3)
- Added ability to skin window borders
- Massive changes to internal structure and user interface

New version (0.3.4)
- Fixed a TON of divide-by-zero bugs that could cause crashes
- Added code so it will cooperate with SmoothText 0.1.7 or greater.

New version (0.3.5)
- Made some major architectural changes (with more to come) squarely aimed at improving stability. The program is MUCH more stable now.
- Lots of other bugfixes (e.g. the start button overlay and button halos work better)
- Improved and expanded skin importing
- Had to change the way this works with SmoothText (stability issue). You'll need to upgrade to SmoothText 0.2.2 to use SmoothText with this.

The PC I tested Win98 on has a really crappy video card and driver, so I don't know if the visual glithces I saw are Win98 issues or driver issues. While TClock3 runs, sometimes the clock background, system tray, and taskbar buttons wouldn't paint properly. I'm posting it because I think it needs more Win9x testing beyond the old laptop I used.

Unfortunately, subpixel-aliased text won't work for desktop icons in Win98 since it can't read the desktop background in Win9x. Transparent taskbars also aren't possible in Win9x for the same reason. However, it can perform subpixel-aliasing on taskbar text since it doesn't need the desktop background for that.

If the clock background doesn't paint properly, try using a .BMP image for the system tray skin (I only tested alpha-blended .TGA files). In general, if you see visual glitches in Win9x, try using .BMP images instead (with alpha blending set to either None or MagicPink). TClock3 itself comes with a MagicPink.bmp file for just this purpose of getting the clock to paint correctly if all else fails.

You can get TClock3 0.3.5 here:

Edited by WildBill, 14 August 2008 - 08:41 PM.



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#2
ricktendo

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Awesome thanks WildBill

#3
WildBill

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I've made a couple of enhancements and uploaded TClock3 0.2.4:

- Added a checkbox to the Desktop tab that lets you hide desktop icons in addition to icon text (though if you click on where the icons used to be the desktop still acts as if they're still there -- I haven't figured out yet how to prevent this).
- For the desktop icon text, taskbar button text, and start menu text (but not the clock text) you can specify a width percentage in the range 25..400. This lets you make your font appear thinner or fatter.
- Fixed a couple of bugs where I was calling code that wasn't thread-safe instead of the thread-safe version.

You can get TClock3 0.2.4 here. Has anyone tried TClock3 yet? Anyone have any feedback to offer/help needed/etc? Any screenshots? ;)

#4
WildBill

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I guess no one has tried it yet? :(

#5
bristols

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I guess no one has tried it yet? :(


Before I consider it, could you tell me anything about its compatibility (potential or otherwise) with Windows 9x?

#6
WildBill

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It's mainly intended for Win98 through Win2k, but I've only tested it on 2k and XP as that's all I have running. It has a lot of code inside to try to accommodate 9x but as I haven't tried it I don't know how well it will render. The API calls it relies on exist since Win98 so I don't expect major problems. Of them all, XP has the strictest memory protection so since it passes that test I would think that it should run fine on 98.

#7
MGadAllah

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I guess no one has tried it yet? :(

Number of Download: 19 ;)
I've downloaded a .zip file but after extract it I did not find any .exe file !!??
How we can use it?
Note:
May I suggest you to keep all versions together on the 1st post, and edit it later on with the new release?

Thanks

Edited by MGadAllah, 15 December 2006 - 12:06 AM.

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#8
WildBill

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Good idea. I've edited the initial post to point to the newest one. The main executable is TClock3Test.exe, and it's in there (though I agree it's not obvious -- I need to rename it when it nears completion).

TClock3 skins the taskbar for Win2k and earlier, and it also spruces up the desktop icons. Here is a screenshot I took of my laptop last month that uses it (on Win2k):

Posted Image

It uses WindowBlinds skins, though you don't have to have WindowBlinds installed to use it. If you don't have WindowBlinds, there are just a few steps you need to take to get a skin:

1. Go to Stardock's WinCustomize site.
2. On the left side, click the WindowBlinds link to go to the WindowBlinds section.
3. Find a skin you like and download it. You should download a file that has a .WBA extension.
4. .WBA files are really .ZIP files. Rename your .WBA file to .ZIP and extract it in a directory somewhere (warning, they usually contain a LOT of files, so you should extract it in its own directory).

Then you can use TClock3 with the skin. Start TClock3, right-click on the taskbar clock, and choose "TClock3 Properties" from the popup menu. All tabs but the last one (the one that says "Full Skinning" affect everything EXCEPT skinning, with the exception of the Start Button tab (where you set the start button image). These tabs are just as they were in TClock2, with just a few additions.

To skin the taskbar, go to the Full Skinning tab and enable it with the check box. Then, for each subtab, browse for the appropriate image file in the folder where you extracted the WindowBlinds skin. If the image is a .TGA file then the "Alpha" checkbox should be set to "Alpha", and if the image is a .BMP that uses pink areas to denote transparency then the checkbox should be set to "MagicPink". If it isn't either of these things (such as for the taskbar's main image) then leave the checkbox to "none".

When everything is set, click "Apply" to tell TClock3 to set everything or "Ok" to have it set everything and close the popup window.

The software is alpha and (I know, I know) isn't all that user-friendly yet. I eventually want it to be able to directly read WindowBlinds skins but I haven't done that yet. Here is an earlier MSFN thread where I first introduced TClock3 that has a lot more info on getting it to skin everything.

Edited by WildBill, 15 December 2006 - 03:50 PM.


#9
Stoic Joker

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Zoiks!

Looks we're both doing a TClock3, but mine's still in pure C. I cuts out the legacy OS code, so it only runs on 2k/XP/Vista now. I have an x64 version also.


Let me know if you want to swap notes, I love that clock.

#10
WildBill

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I have my 0.2.5 version directly reading WindowBlinds .UIS and .SSS files and I've implemented tiling for the main taskbar image and for rebar grippers (the tiling code is generic but I haven't implemented the UI or registry settings yet for tiling other images). I post my code in each version I release, but no matter what I did I couldn't get VC98 to compile the original TClock2 code :/ I'm mainly a Delphi programmer and when I decided to make TClock3 I ported TClock2 over to Delphi first.

One of the things that has driven me crazy in the past has been stability (or the lack of it). I did a lot of rearchitecting for 0.2.3 and converted it to at least a partial object-oriented design. The thing that really helped stabiliy was adding a TWindowManagerAccessor class that manages lots of things for the purpose of thread-safety (like access to images). All of my classes are contained in clock.pas, if you're interested.

At the moment I'm trying to get TClock3 to correct some of the deficiencies of WindowBlinds 4 on Win2k and earlier. For instance, if you use a WindowBlinds skin that has alpha-blended .TGA images for the close, minimize, and maximize buttons, WindowBlinds 4 doesn't render them properly (you get black areas around them where it should be alpha-blending). So far I have TClock3 painting them properly when you move windows but not otherwise, and it's driving me crazy.

Edited by WildBill, 17 December 2006 - 06:24 PM.


#11
Stoic Joker

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That sounds familiar, and had a lot to do with the version checking as I recall. I don't remember if it was a change in the (parent child)relationship in the windows Clock Win->Notification area Win->System Tray Win->Task Bar Win, or a change in the Window class name but it was a pain to get it working with the XP skins, & Vista was a real bear to deal with.

I ended up stripping all the 9x stuff out and just setting transparency as the default for the clock window, 2k ignores it and it runs just dandy on XP/Vista with the default MS skins.

I know what you mean about the project being hard to get setup (I mainly code pure Win32 API C++) on VS, but I've got it as a MSVS2005 project now, and can compile for both x86 & x64 out of the same source pool.

I don't want to start a competition so I'm not going to post any links here, but if you pm me I'll give you access to my code so far. I've been playing with it on and off for about 7 years, but finally got serious about it when I started planning on switching to XP x64 and discovered you can't inject a 32 bit hook into a 64 bit process ... Well Duh! (hehe)

Let me know I'm happy to share.
Stoic Joker

Edited by Stoic Joker, 17 December 2006 - 09:47 PM.


#12
WildBill

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New version (0.2.5)
- Fixed sub-pixel aliased text rendering
- Lots of bug fixes
- Lots of new full skinning settings
- Supports tiling the main taskbar and rebar gripper images
- Added a big button to the Full Skinning tab to import WindowBlinds skins
- Trying to fix deficiencies with WindowBlinds 4 where close/max/min buttons don't render properly if they're alpha-blended .TGA files (so far I can only fix it when you drag the window)

I've updated the download link in the top post to point to it...

Edited by WildBill, 25 December 2006 - 01:42 AM.


#13
Drugwash

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Tried 0.2.2 and 0.2.5 on a Win98SE machine. SetLayeredWindowAttributes is missing from USER32.DLL. I presume this may be one reason for it crashing on start. Error message is:
TClock3 Properties
Access violation at address 00000001. Read of address FFFFFFFF.

After that, the settings panel shows up, options can be changed, but neither OK nor Cancel would make the panel go away. Process must be killed from Task Manager. No skinning is taking place however.

TClock2 v1.2.0 and TClock Light (2004 as well as 2006 builds) run fine, but they both have their own pros and cons. So, any news on this project? Any chance of bringing it back to Win9x? If you need more info and/or testing, I'd be glad to help.

#14
WildBill

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I added code to make sure that only Win2k and newer can call SetLayeredWindowAttributes, and I updated the download link at the top of the thread (version 0.2.6). Form what I saw, I doubt that was the problem, but you never know. I'd hate to have to wipe one of my extra hard drives and install Win98 just to try it, but I will if it still fails for you. If you care to try it again, please keep me posted on how it works out.

Edited by WildBill, 09 February 2007 - 09:10 PM.


#15
Drugwash

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I just tested 0.2.6. First time I got the same error as above. On second run and subsequently, after enabling Dr.Watson, I got "External exception C000001D". Settings panel behaviour is the same: cannot be closed, needs to be killed. Interesting thing is Dr.Watson didn't move a finger. I tried Dependency Walker to see if I get some details and here's what it gave me.

#16
WildBill

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I took a look at it but it doesn't help me much. It looks like the global hook is on, which is strange since it should default to off. What happens if you run noglobal.bat instead of starting TClock3 directly? That should force TClock3 to start with the global setting off.

Also, did you have TClock2 previously installed? I'm wondering if you might have had something turned on from TClock2 that might not work properly in TClock3, like the something from the Alarm or Synchronize tabs (which I've never tried).

Edited by WildBill, 09 February 2007 - 10:04 PM.


#17
Drugwash

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No change, except for the DOS window that remains open. Should have two more commands: CLS and EXIT at the end of the file.
Dunno what else to do, I don't have an IDE set up and either way, I'm not a coder, so options are limited. However, if there's anything else I could do...

Yes, I have all kinds of versions installed. However none of them has any synchronization option enabled, nor any alarm set/enabled. And the first version I ever tried was TClock3 v0.2.5, so there were no previous settings to presumingly screw things up.

Edited by Drugwash, 09 February 2007 - 10:11 PM.


#18
WildBill

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TClock3 shares the same registry settings area as TClock2. I suppose a brute-force method of ensuring a clean install if you had TClock2 installed previously is to delete the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\TClock2 key in your registry, but it would mean that you would lose all your TClock2 settings as well (or perhaps just rename the key so you don't lose the settings).

Edited by WildBill, 09 February 2007 - 10:15 PM.


#19
Drugwash

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I renamed the registry key, renamed the ini that I had previously saved - nothing would work. Access violation pops up again and as before, no setting gets applied. There must be more to it.
Well, it's way past my bed time here, so I'll leave you think of other possible workarounds while I have a well-deserved sleep. Thank you for looking into the issue. Laterz!

#20
WildBill

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I wiped an old hard drive and set up Win98SE with a development environment. The two things causing crashes were the links to SetLayeredWindowAttributes and the CPU monitor. I now have TClock3 running in Win98, but there are still some visual glitches. I think these are solvable and I'm working them one at a time. As I type this I have everything but the tray window being skinned, with some glitches in the task buttons. With luck I might get everything resolved tonight now that it's running.

#21
WildBill

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I did some testing on a Win98 box and made some changes that get it to run (see the top of the thread for an updated download link). It's not as good as it is under Win2k, but it's worth testing. I have a whole new respect for Win2k now; Win98 is WAY more fragile. Compared to Win2k it crashes if you just breathe on it wrong.

Edited by WildBill, 11 February 2007 - 02:12 AM.


#22
Drugwash

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Thank you very much for working on it. I just tested 0.2.7 and it does start now. The options panel briefly flickered on start but it did not stay open. It opened fine from the clock's context menu. One thing I noticed immediately was that the taskbar has lost its auto-hide property, staying always on top, over the other windows' titlebars.

Another thing was that neither the tray icons nor the clock were visible; they were all covered by the skin (I use a WB skin), but the tray icons section was flickering when getting updated or hovered with the mouse.

One other thing I noticed is that the Start button caption wouldn't change to what was set in the preferences. After I tried to change and apply a few combinations, explorer crashed (short report below).

However, the whole taskbar was completely skinned, which never happened with older versions of TClock2 or TClock Light Unofficial (dunno if it was supposed to happen with those, though). That's great. :)

So - all in all - things are going the right way; you're doing a great job! :thumbup

EXPLORER caused an invalid page fault in
module TCLOCK3.DLL at 0187:014d1e83.
Registers:
EAX=015dfff0 CS=0187 EIP=014d1e83 EFLGS=00010206
EBX=015b3610 SS=018f ESP=0080f098 EBP=0080f0c4
ECX=00000000 DS=018f ESI=0002c9ec FS=252f
EDX=0002c9ec ES=018f EDI=015b3610 GS=0000
Bytes at CS:EIP:
89 70 08 81 fe 00 10 00 00 7f 37 8b d6 85 d2 79 
Stack dump:
015dfffc 015b3610 0002c9ec 014d2449 0080f0d4 014d2472 0080f0c4 015debfc 015b3610 0002b5ec 00000000 0080f0f0 014d1ced 014d1f33 014d23e5 0080f100


#23
Drugwash

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More feedback after some more testing (not intended as criticism - just reporting):
• A "ghost" taskbar button flickers when hovering folders in the Start menu (Programs, Documents, custom ones, etc).
• The start menu tries to get skinned, but all it happens is it gets black, with only icons visible - no text (black on black, possibly). That is not because of transparency, it wasn't enabled. Showing menus and submenus is painfully slow.
• Rebar arrows are not being painted.
• Clock tooltip doesn't show anymore (probably because of some skinning settings or because it's set to multiline).
• The whole desktop refresh is much more slower now when TClock3 has enabled icon label transparency and text shadows. However, machine specs are low - 800MHz CPU, 240MB RAM, 16MB video onboard (SiS630 chipset).
• Still unstable - explorer crashed again after changing a few settings. The options panel remained visible and functional, however no settings were being applied anymore. The TClock process remains in the memory and needs to be killed, as there's no other possibility to close it gracefully. After disabling Start Menu skinning, there was no more crash, and I made sure to play with settings a lot, so that must be the source of crashes.
• All in all, it's quite a memory hog - I couldn't even open MSPaint at one point, so I had to exit TClock3. One cause may be the cache, which was enabled. :)

Here's a screenshot of what I've been able to achieve so far:
Posted Image

#24
WildBill

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LOL, you're testing with the same skin I did.

WindowBlinds skins don't normally come with rebar or start menu arrows, so I made some of my own and they come with TClock3. They use MagicPink transparency if you decide to use them.

I'm seeing the black-on-black problem as well, both on the start menu and on the taskbar buttons. It appears to be a problem with the subpixel anti-aliasing code and Win98. When I turn it off they draw properly and a lot faster. I haven't seen the ghost taskbar button yet or the memory usage. Is there a way to get a proper task manager in Win98? I've been using Win2k since 2001 so I'm not really familiar with Win98 anymore.

The problem with TClock3 still hanging around when Explorer crashes is a known problem. One of these days I need to get it to exit when that happens but to date is just hasn't been a high priority.

I have a lot of other things that I have to do today so I can't guarantee much but I'll try to learn what I can.

One other thing: you should turn the cache setting off. I had it disabled in the code since it was causing all kinds of instability issues in Win2k as well. I don't know if it's related to memory usage or to something else. I saw on the Win98 forum that there is another program that does some pretty incredible Win98 skinning, with "native skinning". I don't know if that technique would help me or not, but if someone could explain to me what is meant by native skinning I'd appreciate it.

Edited by WildBill, 11 February 2007 - 01:21 PM.


#25
Drugwash

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Here I go:
• I reported the rebar arrows issue precisely because I tried with one of yours (the white one) and it didn't show up under any circumstances.
• Subpixel antialiasing is (and always was) disabled here.
• The ghost task button appears only for a split second and is probably noticeable only on slow machines. It can be seen better when there are one or two task buttons on taskbar and the start menu folders are hovered continuously up and down (I have 10 custom folders in the start menu, including a cascaded Control Panel).
• For advanced task managing you could try CodeStuff Starter (freeware). FreeRAM XP Pro (freeware) can also monitor CPU, User and System resources in a simple way (can be seen in screenshot).
• I'm not sure what you're referring to by "native skinning", but in case it's about Tihiy's Revolutions Pack, maybe you could talk to him directly, it'd be much easier to exchange impressions and ideas.

Now to the news. Measurement of System | User | GDI resources (using FreeRAM XP Pro):
- 90 90 94 at startup
- 86 86 92 after ScreenGrab started
- 84 84 92 after Metapad started
- 53 53 79 after TClock3 started
- 25 25 79 after Explorer crashed
- 81 81 89 after killing TClock3 process
After more testing, the following problems were found:
• Task buttons are not properly resized when taskbar is moved from horizontal to vertical position and back (a few times).
• Clock tooltip will not show year unless it's using capital Ys (could be so by design).
• Left mouse clicks on clock are not detected; only right-click, opens the context menu.
• Tray/Clock Fill -> Fill Style shows clock only when set to "Fill tray" or "Skin tray"; other modes hide/cover the clock.
• After half an hour of enabling start menu skinning and tweaking settings: resources are 25 25 72. Just hovering the start menu and submenus a few times: 20 20 70. Cache is disabled. This may be a sign of GDI/resources leak.
• A very weird bug with a 2px horizontal line at the bottom of the start button is being drawn (modified) by the CPU and LOAD progressbars in FreeRAM XP Pro 1.52 when its window is open on desktop (see screenshot).
More weird is that the said line wouldn't act up if there's a tooltip showing for any of the icons in either taskbar or any custom toolbars.
It also wouldn't show if there's ScreenGrab open (so I can't take a quick screenshot). It also appears occasionally when other windows are open or when typing in a text file; could be a video memory issue?
• Custom toolbars on the side of the screen are not completely skinned: only icon backgrounds are skinned, the header is unchanged and the rest of the toolbar is transparent. Shouldn't be, in 98SE (I think), but I replaced gdi32.dll with the ME one and that added some previously nonexistant functions, including transparency (see screenshot).
• Submenus in the start menu are not getting skinned until hovered. However, large submenus (the cascaded Control Panel with 32 items and a custom one under Programs > Uninstallers, with 35 items) do get skinned instantly when shown.
• One separator in the start menu doesn't get skinned; probably there's no entry for it (between SymmTime and Programs, top-left in the second screenshot).
• The Task Manager entry in the context menu does nothing.
• When icon text is set to transparent and an icon is selected on desktop, the text background turns dark blue. Could this color be changed, at least to the default background color set in display properties if not to a custom one?
• Hmmm... just when I thought everything was OK and tried to close TClock3, it crashed Explorer. Maybe start menu skinning is not a good idea, for now. ;)

That's about all I can think of, right now. Gotta go to sleep. Cheers! :)

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