In the past two years since Atari first showed its 68030-based TT workstation, there has been By 1989, almost all of its features had become common knowledge, and many in the ST Community anxiously waited for its release. In its 1988 and 1989 Annual Financial Reports to stockholders, Atari had promised to ship the TT "in Late Autumn". This announcement brought renewed "vaporware status" to the Atari TT.
However, the ST community has recently gotten several items of good news concerning the TT. In July 1990, the ST Community was pleasantly surprised when Atari's European branches announced that the TT would use a 32 MHZ 68030 chip. In Early September, the US ST Community was glad to discover that Atari has begun shipping the TT in earnest. Now, Atari has announced that TT TOS features a new version of the GEM Desktop, with many new features. This alone is good news. However, the fact that TT TOS's new capabilities were unknown before Atari's release of the TT is a stunning sign of Atari's successful efforts to reduce its "vaporware".
The TT's new Desktop is 22K larger than the Atari ST's GEM Desktop, and Atari has confirmed that it won't appear in future versions of the 192K TOS ROMs used in the Atari ST. But the Atari STE uses 256K TOS ROMs (30K of which isn't used up), and programmers at Atari's Systems Software Division have indicated that Atari will bundle the TT Desktop in future versions of the STE's ROMs. Here is some current information on the TT Desktop's new features:
One can load a separate *.INF file (like DESKTOP.INF) after boot-up, in order to change the look of your desktop.
Most menu options can be invoked with a single keystroke.
You can assign a full pathname to the function keys. This allows you to run ST applications by selecting a function key.
New Desktop Icons, representing available printers. For example, one could print a file with an SLM804 laser printer by simply dragging the file's icon to the SLM804 printer icon.
Most of the operations in the desktop work with more than one file at the same time.
For example, if you select four items inside a disk's window and then drag them to a printer icon, then the printer would print the contents of the selected files, in sequence.
A HELP menu has been added, for additional descriptions of the TT Desktop's features.
An improved, faster version of GDOS has been incorporated into the TT TOS ROMs. In this version, Atari has eliminated many of the bugs found in previous versions of GDOS.
A completely new Control Panel Accessory is now available for the TT Desktop. Many of its features are actually modules (or Control Panel Extensions), which can be loaded and taken out of memory at will.
Previously, disk windows had a "file mask" of ., so file windows would display all files available on a disk.
SELECT ALL menu option is available, allowing TT Users to select all files inside a disk window.
In a file operation, selected icons will stay selected until the operation is completed.
For example, if you are moving files from a hard disk to a floppy disk, and you run out of room on the floppy disk, then the files that have NOT been moved will remain selected. This means that you don't have to select files all over again, when you move the rest of the files to another floppy disk.
Scrolling a window's contents will not deselect items that have been previously selected.
One can scroll through a window's contents by using the ST's Cursor keys.
The TT Desktop can print a directory listing of all files inside the the active Disk Window (called the Top Window).
The number of maximum desktop windows has been raised, so TT Users can have up to seven disk windows open at the same time.
You can select the background color of the TT Desktop. In addition, TT Users can have different border patterns, typefaces, and background colors for each part of a Disk window.
The TT Desktop features a SIZE TO FIT menu option. This allows you to automatically reposition all icons, so they fit inside the set width of a window. This means that you don't have to use the left/right Window Scroll Arrows to find files.
Like the Macintosh Finder and NeoDesk, TT TOS allows you to place file icons anywhere on the desktop.
TT TOS uses a file called DESKICON.RSC to load in user-designed icons when the system is started up. Like DESKTOP.INF, it is loaded from the root directory of the boot device.
Atari has said that it will be releasing some Public Domain utilities which will allow TT Users to create their own icons for particular files. These utilities may also allow TT Users to edit the existing Desktop Icons for system disk drives and printers.
The INSTALL DEVICE menu option can be used to both install a new disk drive partition (and its Icon), and to replace the Icon that represents an existing drive partition.
The drive path of all files represented by Desktop Icons (or icons that reside on the desktop) will be updated when a file is deleted, renamed, or moved.
TOS loads "AUTO folder programs" and desk accessories in the order that they are physically stored on this. As such, this option is excellent for arranging the placement of these utilities on a disk.
The TT Desktop features a DELETE ITEM menu option, which deletes all files that have been selected in a window. It could be very useful if a disk's window is covering the Trash Can Icon, or if one's Desktop is cluttered with Disk Windows.
A Find File option has been added. A dialog box pops up, in which you type in the name of the file/folder that you are looking for, and select the disk partitions that you want to perform the search in. If the search is successful, then a Window opens, showing the file/folder.
ALTERNATE - # opens a new window, which shows the contents of disk #.
For example, if you want to see what is in Disk B, then you can press ALTERNATE and the letter 'B' at the same time. This will open a new window containing the contents of Disk B.
For example, let's say that the active window on your desktop is showing the files on Disk A. Now, if you want the SAME active window to show Disk B's files INSTEAD, then you simply press the CONTROL key and letter 'B' at the same time.
A new DESKTOP CONFIGURATION menu option has been added, which replaces the SET PREFERENCES menu option. Among other things, it also shows the amount of system memory currently available for use. Other configuration features of the TT Desktop are:
You can select the background color of the TT Desktop. In addition, TT Users can have different border patterns, typefaces, and background colors for each part of a Desktop window.
You can switch resolutions with a single keystroke.
When doing file copy operations, you can choose whether you want to preserve the file's date or not.
The INSTALL APPLICATION menu has also been improved, to include a "GEM - take parameters (GTP)" option. This allows programmers to write GEM programs that can accept command parameters. For example, one could write a GEM version of ARC.TTP that could read the parameter:
and respond to them by displaying the contents of STR638.ARC in a resizable GEM window.
One can also pass file parameters to a program by either using the file's full drive path, or by only giving the file's name.
For example, let's say that a TT User assigned the pathname, 'A:\TERMINAL\FLASH.PRG to the F1 key, so he/she could run FLASH.PRG by pressing the F1 key. Now, imagine that when the TT User pressed the F1 key, the Top Window was showing the 'C:\STALKER\' directory.
With this feature, that TT User could determine whether Flash's default directory was 'A:\TERMINAL\' (since that was the directory of the FLASH.PRG application), or 'C:\STALKER', which was the directory of the Top window on the GEM Desktop.
Thanks to Allan Pratt of Atari Corp., for providing much information needed for this article.