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Published on August 28, 2006 By Frogboy In ObjectBar

ObjectBar 2.0 is finally complete. Stardock will be releasing ObjectBar 2.0 on September 12th.  So what is ObjectBar and what has taken so long to go from 1.6 to 2.0?

What is ObjectBar

ObjectBar is essentially a GUI construction kit. With it, users can create their own alternative interfaces of Windows XP (and soon Windows Vista).  After all, Apple and Microsoft aren't the only ones with ideas on how the desktop interface should be done. 

ObjectBar can pretty much emulate virtually any existing desktop interface out there as well as add new twists to them or enable users to create their own.  Creations can be exported as actual programs that others can use (or the bar theme itself can be exported for those who want to trade and modify each other's designs).

ObjectBar: Two groups of users

ObjectBar content is much more involved than what is the norm in skinning.  ObjectBar content can be split up in two pieces: The actual bar theme and then the skin for the bar.  One could imagine the Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista or the Start Bar or the Mac finder as being examples of bar themes.  But beyond that, those themes can also be skinned independently.

ObjectBar skins are best when designed for the bar in question but ObjectBar can also automatically inherit your WindowBlinds skin.  The bar themes themselves are very customizeable. If the person who creates the bar theme exports it as an EXE, the user of the EXE (as long as they have ObjectBar installed) can use that bar theme as a stand alone program with a much simplified interface for adding content and tweaking what's there.  It's powerful and yet simple.


ObjectBar 2: Years in the making

For a long time, ObjectBar 1.x was quite popular with power users.  The problem Stardock ran into was one of support and expanding its market and deciding where it should go.  It seemed to be stuck between worlds.  Google, Microsoft, and tons of other companies have gotten into the "sidebar" business.  That is, having a vertical bar on the right side of the screen that users can insert various things into (clocks, gadgets, RSS feeds, short cuts, etc.). 

Such specialized programs tended to do what they did very well.  ObjectBar, by contrast, has been a generalist -- you could create a Sidebar with it. A fully skinnable sidebar at that.  And since ObjectBar 2 supports embedding DesktopX widgets, you could create some pretty spectacular sidebars.  But here's the problem with that -- the widgets and skins would have to be made with that particular sidebar theme in mind.

So what Stardock has done is re-imagine how ObjectBar is likely to be used.  First off, it made it so that the people who spend the time to create the bars can export them as programs.  Secondly, it has begun to try to separate the skinning from the bar creation part.  To that end, Stardock has made creating new bars somewhat more technically challenging but resulting in far more powerful and interesting bars.  On the other hand, customizing and modifying those bars has been made much easier.  Before, it was just somewhat hard to do most things but  never easy to do anything. 


The ObjectBar 2 Strategy

With ObjectBar 2, Stardock intends to provide a series of high quality template bar themes created by Jeff Bargmann and Treetog.  Then make it relatively easy for users to create skins for those bars.  The WinCustomize gallery will be set up so that users can upload skins that are distinct from bars.  A skinning guide has been developed and will be made available.

Since ObjectBar is a super-set of anything that any sidebar or similar program can do, it is our hope that by focusing initial effort on a handful of bar themes and then branch out from there as others create new bar themes that we can build a strong customization community for ObjectBar 2.

The key is for users to recognize that there are two elements at work here: Bar themes and skins. And while a bar theme will include a skin (by default) that users can create skins on their own.  So picture dozens of Sidebar skins or Finder bar skins or other types.

ObjectBar 2.0 on September 12th. Stay tuned!

Comments (Page 1)
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on Aug 28, 2006

Will those themes be included with 2.0?
on Aug 28, 2006
on Aug 28, 2006
Great work.

on Aug 28, 2006
Looks great Brad!
on Aug 28, 2006
This was definately worth the wait.  
on Aug 28, 2006
Is this, since Right Click is part of Object Bar, going to help Right Click? I love Right Click.
on Aug 28, 2006
Right Click already can use widgets and skins. So I thought think it will continue to be a subset of ObjectBar. On its own, yet can work in conjunction with Objectbar.
on Aug 28, 2006

now just update objectdock! In the mean time cant wait to start using it!
on Aug 29, 2006
I am so looking forward to OB 2.0 -
From the Screenies this looks fantastic!

Great work all
on Aug 29, 2006
This... THIS is the one I've been waiting for...
on Aug 29, 2006
I like ObjectBar, but haven't been a regular user. That appears to be soon to change.

Hot dang!
on Aug 29, 2006
Thinking ahead about avoiding confusion: Perhaps you might rename the 'ObjectBar theme' to 'ObjectBar construct' to better communicate that it is not simply a thematic variation, like a skin, but actually a new design.

'ObjectBar skins' will only be able to change the appearance of existing constructs; but constructs, as the name implies, can take any shape or form.

Please give 'construct' some consideration, as I think it is a clearer term than 'theme.'
on Aug 29, 2006
Excellent development!! You guys seem to have really nailed this one. Can't wait.
on Aug 29, 2006
Stardock should hire me! I designed this years ago in the DesktopX newsgroups

Cant wait!
on Aug 29, 2006
i'm definitely very excited for this release.

sidebar... (get it, sidebar? )... bad joke. sorry. where can i get that green wallpaper shown above with what looks like cave drawings? i love that!
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