Saturday, February 9, 2008

Neo Dockstation

After successfully implementing the Iconbar plugin, I wanted to do more. Unfortunately, the way the Neo interface is designed, it does not leave much room to hook more than one plugin. The only way that remains is to go and edit the files and load different plugins in place of the top status bar...not a practical way!! So, here it is - the Neo Dockstation!!


The Neo Dockstation is an assimilation of different aspects of the Neo interface (plugins, dynamic layouts and interface build up...) that finally enables one to load different plugins at the click of a button. It sits on the Neo interface like any other tab and shows the different plugins that can be loaded in the top 27 pixels of the home screen. I call it the "dockstation" because it lets you dock different plugins at the top. I won't pull it long and get to the details.

As the Neo interface uses both up and down key strokes to explore the different tabs, non-selectable plugins are most useful on the dock. That does not mean selectable plugins are not loadable, but its just that pressing the up key on the D-pad will not take you to the tab above, but to the plugin. The down key is what you will only have at your disposal to move between tabs...tiresome if you are at say the second tab and want to go to the first one!!! Feel free to try it though!

Currently, I have three custom made plugins bundled with the dockstation -
  • The Colored Iconbar - Most of you already know about this. Read this if you don't!
  • A Windows Media Player "Now Playing" status bar
    • displays current track information (Song Title, Album Title, Original Artist), total and elapsed time, and a graphical elapsed status bar.
  • A Weather dock powered by Yahoo! Weather
    • displays temperature, feels like and wind speed for a US Zip Code or Yahoo! Location ID, today and tomorrow forecast with lows and highs, customizable update frequency, color codes and units.
The bundle also includes the required files to incorporate the Shadow default status bar.

Please note the dockstation is made specifically for the Neo interface. If you are using a theme other than Neo, then it would not make much sense to install it. Here's how to get started:

1) Download this zip file - Rinku Neo Dockstation. Inside is a cab installer. Copy it over to your phone and open it. Install to the "Device". Reboot upon completion. No, you will not see any changes as yet!!!

2) Once the device restarts, goto Start>Settings>Home Screen and change over to the NeoDock theme. To begin with, this theme is same as the T-Mobile Default theme, but has some markers inside to make it compatible with the dockstation. Many of you are perhaps using Freddy's themes. Right now they are not compatible with the dockstation. You can start using them as soon as he makes them available. You do not have to go through this setup process again!!

3) The bundle installs the NeoDock Manager and the aforementioned plugins on the system. The NeoDock Manager is the utility that lets you build the Neo Dockstation. So, lets do that next. From the Start menu, open NeoDock Manager.



4) The Manager will search for available plugins (more on this later), and give you the options to add them to the dockstation. Play with it...its a simple utility! Once done adding the plugins, hit Options>Build NeoDock. The Manager will ask what position do you want the dockstation to be placed in on the homescreen. Once done, and everything goes well, the Neo Dockstation will be created. Exit the program to load it on the homescreen. Do not panic if your screen turns white for a second or so!!


5) You should now see the plugins you just added on a tab on the home screen - Neo Dockstation tab. To load one at the top, hit the center button. If there is a configuration utility available for a particular plugin (for e.g. the Weather Dock), then you can access it from the right softkey.

You can now switch back and forth the plugins at any time!!!!

That is it!! Well, it is as far as what I am offering in the bundle. Read "Configuring the Weather Dock" if you have questions on how to configure the weather plugin. As for those who want to add more plugins to the dockstation, read "How to make NeoDock Manager see my Plugins?". To make your custom themes (Neo only) NeoDock compatible, see "How to make a theme NeoDock compatible?".

WMP PLUGIN: The Windows Media Player plugin requires frequent redrawing of the homescreen. This can make the response on the home screen somewhat slower than usual when the plugin is in use (a song is playing). The color of the text is specified in the fontcolor attribute in \Program Files\NeoDock\Plugins\WMP\wmpplugin.xml. The format is 0xBBGGRR - a little different than usual, but helps avoid an extra processing in the plugin. The color is current set to 0xFFFFFF - white.

COLORED ICONBAR: The dockstation bundle includes all files required for the colored iconbar. You can remove earlier installs by deleting all files beginning with CHome_Iconbar_ and the iconbarplugin.dll file in \Windows. If you have made changes to the icons then copy the CHome_Iconbar_*.png files over to \Program Files\NeoDock\Plugins\Rinku Iconbar\Icons before deleting. Do not copy the dll.

PLUGIN BACKGROUND: The background for the plugins bundled with the dockstation is customizable in the xml files. Each plugin has a folder of its own in \Program Files\NeoDock\Plugins. You can see two .xml files in there - one of them is always named setup.xml. The other filename varies. You can edit this other file to specify a background for the corresponding plugin. Just change bgimage to the full path of the image you want to use as the background for the plugin. Currently, all plugins included use \windows\CHome_framework_status_bar_bg.png as the background.

I am very excited with this work since it opens up all the avenues to develop more and more custom plugins for Neo. But as always, this is no professional quality code. So, errors might come up. Please do let me know if you happen to come across a weird situation while using the bundle. It would help me polish things better. Until then, Happy Docking!

37 comments:

Bipin Sen said...

Great work Rinku! I will try this out right now. Well.. first I'm backing up my stuff in case I need to uninstall, and that doesn't work too well... :-)

Bipin Sen said...

Tried and tested! Works well so far. I probably need to read your explanations on how to get the other plugins working. Yahoo weather is nice, but I really want Fizzweather back. I've read some other of your posts about how it behaves differently, so I'm not sure if it will work. Thanks for this though - certainly a nice addition.

Anonymous said...

i have a problem with the neodock station when i try to build the neodock it says build unsuccessful what do i do

Rinku said...

"Build Unsuccessful" is an error message that would show up if the program is not able to modify the registry settings. Do you have the phone app unlocked?

Abe said...

I don't know what to say Rinku you are really awesome. Thank you very much. The NeoDockstation is great i really love it.

Anonymous said...

how do i get app unlocked

Rinku said...

Try SDA Application Unlock - http://www.gpcarreon.com/SDA_ApplicationUnlock.zip

abe said...

hey Rinku the dockstation is not working in vibrate mode it. My phone stops responding so i have to remove the dockstation and reinstall it every time.

Rinku said...

Abe, Did you try to do a soft rest when this happened? Because, I do not have any problem switching plugins in vibrate mode. Are you using the usual Quick list to enforce the vibrate mode, or using some other software?

Abe said...

No I am not using any other software I am using the Quick list. I will try it once more and I will tell you later.
Thanks For the Help Rinku

Anonymous said...

I'm having the same problem with error build unsuccessful. I have the registry unlocke with ceregistryeditor

Rinku said...

What about app unlock? Do you have that done too?

Abe said...

Hey,Rinku It still stops responding the screen goes white and only the start menu works I tried again and again I don't know what is wrong.

Rinku said...

Abe, What theme is in use when running the Manager?

Abe said...

I am using the neodockstation but after it stops responding it changes to windows simple

Rinku said...

Abe, You are doing the right thing. To begin with you should with the NeoDock theme (or a compatible one). One you start switching themes, the layout files are dynamically changed, and hence no pre-defined theme exists. Windows just shows it as "Windows simple". I am at a loss at this point, unable to figure out why is it happening with you. I have not heard from anyone else about it yet. I must add that as soon as you exit the Manager, the white page will appear momentarily before showing up Neo again. If you are just switching plugins from the interface, then the white page should not show up at all. Hence, once you see the white page, and Neo does not show up on its own, switch back to the NeoDock theme. Thereafter, see if the dockstation showed up. Also, please post a line on your problem in the Neo Dockstation thread at allshadow.com. Perhaps someone else is also encountering the same problem, and we might have better pointers to when exactly is that happening. I wish I could recreate your problem for debugging!! :(

Kermit Woodall said...

Rinku,

I ended up uninstalling Dockstation but it still shows the entry for dockstation in my Neo interface. There are no tools in there and the toolbar is fine, but I still have place where tools would show.

Help!

Kermit

Rinku said...

Look into the Plugins entry in \HKLM\Software\Microsoft\CHome. Remove CDock from the semi-colon separated list.

Abe said...

Hey Rinku. I did a hard reset on my phone and tried the dockstation once more and finally it's working. I don't know what was work before because I just did hard reset before I installed the neodockstation. Anyway thank you very for you help.

Abe

Rinku said...

I am very glad to hear that Abe. Great!

Anonymous said...

Rinku, docking station is great! my only issue is when i run pocketnester my shadow locks up?
Before installing the docking station I never had this issue. Also is there a way to hide myfaves after using them. Before when you did't have the house icon you could easily minimize or hide the my faves. any suggestings thanks

Rinku said...

The dockstation do not have any background processes running that would hinder the execution of PocketNester. Did you check with the guy who developed pocketnester - there is a known issue of it "freezing"! Worst case, uninstall the dockstation and see if it helps. Reinstall if required. About MyFaves, could you please post your query in the forum. Unfortunately, I do not have myfaves and do not have a way to check the problem you mentioned. Someone with MyFaves might be able to help. Please do let me know how things go!

Anonymous said...

I updated my shadow after I got it (2 weeks ago) on the tmobile site, I'm not sure if that has to do what is going on, but I followed the instructions perfectly, and after it "builds" the dockstation, nothing changes on the home screen... Any suggestions?

jmastera said...

I suppose that with most weather apps that the yahoo one requires a "full" data plan. I am using the $5.99 tzone plan and cannot get it to register my zip.

Rinku said...

Anonymous, after building the dockstation, you should see this series of actions -

1. Neo screen disappears, and you only see the background.

2. Neo reappears.

Did you see that happening? If not, then perhaps the theme file you are using is not NeoDock compatible....shouldn't be the case if you are using the supplied theme to begin with.

Rinku said...

jmastera, I am sorry I will not be able to answer that question very precisely. The only way I have tried the plugin is through wifi access (I donot have any data plan). I would suggest posting that query in the thread at allshadow so that somehow with a data plan can reply. As far as I understand, internet connectivity to Yahoo! is what is required. If TMO does not allow that in the $5.99 t-zone plan (could be that it only allows it through t-zones) then I am afraid it will not work.

Mac said...

Rinko, thanks for developing this excellent little app! Your work is well appreciated.

Installation went smoothly for me, except that it deposited itself in the top slot (above the home menu, myfaves menu, etc). Not a big deal as I justed updated the plugin order in the CHome reg folder and now it's situated below myfaves.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Will it work in samsung I600 ?

Tarek Atef

Rinku said...

Tarek,

I am afraid the dockstation is an application for use with the Neo interface, which as far as I know is available with the Shadow only for the time being.

Anonymous said...

I installed on my HTC Tornado and it worked. However, the weather still shows yesterday's. Why is the weather not automatically updating eventhough I am on GPRS/EDGE?

Thanks

Rinku said...

I am not certain why that is happening. I am also not sure how the dockstation is functioning on the Tornado..do you have the Neo Plugin installed on it?

Anonymous said...

Looks great, I enjoy the icons and plugin feature. What would be nice is if it did not switch from the colored icons to the monochrome ones when on a call, or checking email, or in the start menu, etc... did I misinstall it?

Rinku said...

That is something I haven't been able to resolve...tried to find a way to get it done but with no luck. Sorry!

christbeliever17 said...

when i build the thing a message comes up and says the build is unsuccessful. what do i do and how do i fix it

AdemPozhari said...

i am having the same problem as you and my phone is unlocked but I still have this 2build is unsuccessful".
please Rinku send or upload your NeoDock.home.xml !!!! iwill try to use it as it is !!!

note : i am using 176x220 windows mobile 6 standard

Anonymous said...

im not seeing the neo dock theme that comes with this but everything else is here. what should i do? the theme is not there an i reinstall it 2times already

Anonymous said...

im not seeing the neo dock theme that comes with this but everything else is here. what should i do? the theme is not there an i reinstall it 2times already