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Today is Testing Day 6!
22 Feb 09 - 13:03
Today on 22 February 2009 we are having testing day 6!
Our Developers will be providing live feedback and help in IRC for the next 12 hours. We need your opinion about the shell and all crazy ideas you have how to make it better!
Join us in #SharpE on and help to improve SharpE!

Everything you need to know how to get started:
(Make sure to read the the information pages below before getting started!)
Testing Day 6 Main Page
Download and Setup
Frequently Asked Questions and Known Problems

Testing Day 6 - Coming Soon to a deskop nearby!
08 Feb 09 - 16:44
Nearly everything is done and so it's time to announce the next SharpE Testing Day! Due to all the changes which have been done it is necessary to do TD6 as a full 12 hour testing day with live IRC support.

For the whole time developers will be present in IRC to answer your questions and solve possible problems. Detailed informations where to get the release will be posted when the testing day begins.

Date: Sunday - 22 February, 2009
Time: 12:00 to 24:00 (GMT)
Place: #SharpE on

So what are the changes that make this release so big and important?

SharpCenter and Configs
The plugin system of SharpCenter along with all configs has been completely rewritten. Everything is a lot more stable now and the overall design of the configs has improved a lot. Besides this all the remaining configs which where still missing in TD5 are finished now!

SharpBar and Modules
Similar to SharpCenter the complete plugin system has been rewritten. The result of this is less memory usage and improved performance and stability. As a result of the rewrite the amount of flickering in the bar has been reduced furthermore. In addition to this many small and rare bugs are fixed now. This includes those annoying access violations one could get when attaching an additional monitor to the system or when just changing the screen resolution.

Skin System
Getting left behind during the last releases the whole skin system received some improvements for TD6. Besides just fixing some bugs several improvements have been made. It's now possible for a skin developer to dynamically adjust the lightness of any color directly in the xml file. With this a skin author can use different variations of the same color directly without having to define new colors or using differently blended images. Another big improvement is the possibility for a skin to color blend and lighten icons similar to the icon blending of SharpDesk. To demonstrate and test those new features a new Skin ("Minimal 2") is included in TD6.

Notes Module
The for many people most important and loved module of SharpE is going to be improved a lot for TD6. Not much to say here, except: check out the screenshot below!

Application Bar Module
TD6 will include the new "AppBar" module. This module is a combination of the "Button Bar" and "Taskbar" modules which makes it possible to monitor and manage your most used and favorite tasks. Similar to the Button Bar you can add applications to the AppBar module. Those applications are then monitored, which means that their running state will be indicated at the button associated with the application. If you click an applications button while the application is running it will simply switch to this application (like in the Taskbar), but if the application is not running yet - then a click on the button will start it (like in the Button Bar). If the application is started several times or if it's using several windows then a popup menu showing all windows associated to the application will be shown when the applications button is pressed. Of course this new module is fully integrated into the shell, which means that you can hide all the applications which are part of the AppBar module from your taskbar. This makes it possible to easily manage often used applications and to stop them from filling up your taskbar.

Everything Else
These where only the big changes which you might instantly notice. Besides this a lot of fixed and improvements have been done all over the shell. The dll file behind the theme system was rewritten completely and a lot of other crucial bugs are gone. This includes the login screen on Vista not staying visible for too long anymore and SharpE no longer crashing when used from a directory with a very long path. In fact so many changes have been made that at some point we failed to keep a complete changelog.

Some screenshots of the whole shell in action:

As you can see a lot of stuff has changed and improved since TD5.
And to test all these cool new things we need your help!
Join us on Testing Day 6!

We asked and they came
08 Jan 09 - 00:18
So then after the news about the next release being delayed a few months I thought I would share some good news with you.

Firstly let me introduce two new members to the team.

You may know yay from helping quite a lot in the forums, and showing off his proud status of supporter. He will be working on adding content to the new site, acting as a forum moderator and banning anyone that mentions Astonshell in any one sentence on the new site! He is already proving a valuable addition to the team by populating our naked site with much needed content and creating a lovely NSIS installer!

Brum has proved himself far more than adequate with his latest commits of SVN. He has even outshone mc in the CIA stats, and that is not an easy task! He even commited code over the Christmas break, "now that is dedication we would love to have on the team". The crunch of the deal for me was when i saw tons of module configs converted during the Christmas holidays...

The good news? This is the kind of help that makes TD6 come even quicker!

[ comment(s): 8 Newspost by pixol]

Another Year has Passed
31 Dec 08 - 16:07
Another year has passed without version 0.8 of SharpE getting released. As usual we where unable to follow our imaginary time plan for the past year. There are several reaons for this. One being that the development team once again shrank to the size of two active core developers. The other thing is that with getting ready for 0.8 we realized that we have to take care of some ugly things which have been pushed away ever since. Our goal for 0.8 is it to bring out an overall solid and stable shell. For this to happen we recently started to rewrite and improve some older core parts of the shell. We where also still not satisfied with how SharpCenter and the configs turned out, thus making it necessary to rework the configs.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel and hope for the upcoming 2009.
Most of the still ongoing rewrites are nearly complete and two users (Brum74 and Yay) are actively helping us out on several fronts. There has also finally been some development on the new website and we are hoping to bring it online during the next 3 months.

So what will happen next?
Before we can go for 0.8 RC1 another testing day (TD6) will be done. This is simply necessary to test all the recently made changes for stability on different computer and system configurations. After TD6 we will directly go for 0.8 RC1. It's really hard to estimate when TD6 will be done. I don't think that we can make it in january, so I would roughly estimate end of february or march.

stay tuned and
Happy New Year

Lost configuration a thing of the past?
22 Nov 08 - 02:09
Have been working on something very cool tonight and as we get closer to a date of TD6 I am going to share more of our development process with you

For a long time we have had a lot of configuration data within SharpE, and sometimes this xml data can go *pop*. I have had it happen a few times in the last year or so... So what do we do about it? Well as you may or may not know we made a huge deal about interfaces and what It could mean if we switch over. Well that's what we are doing now... right? So I have created a new interface that wraps up all of the loading and saving of configuration data. The benefit being that every single file that uses it, will now have a backup automatically created when you save something within the environment. So when the XmlBaseInterface loads, if it fails for any reason... it will now load the backup if there is one. Which in a nutshell should mean, no more lost xml configuration files! Hurrah!

I hope some of you are rejoicing over this :P It also allows us to make sure every error while loading is logged to SharpConsole, which makes it much easier for us to debug issues. This is one of many ways how interfaces are helping us improve SharpEnviro I can't stress enough how different SharpEnviro will seem when we kick out TD6 sometime next month!

[ comment(s): 4 Newspost by pixol]

TD6 in December
18 Nov 08 - 11:43
Unfortunately it does not look like we will get 0.8 out for Christmas, never say never, but it's unlikely. We still plan to have another TD out sometime in December though, which I am sure will introduce some new bugs due to the massive changes we have made to the code structure. Although sometimes it might seem our release cycle is a little too optimistic, we do try our hardest to push out releases in a timely manner. We have been thinking about the future after v1 for quite some time these days, whether to keep the platform as Delphi or push to another development platform such as .Net C#. This is one thing im sure is open for debate, but SharpE running with hardware accelerated graphics and WPF really excites me.

Next year it will be 10 years since the development began. 10 years and we have not got out a v1 release... I think our versioning needs to change :P I have a feeling the road to v1 will not be very long, our plans for multi-language and online updating may be pushed back until after v1 so that we can concentrate on making it as compatible and stable as possible. I hope you all agree but TD5 for us, is one of our most stable releases to date, but it's not without issues. I also think our current system for reporting issues is over complex, and am debating whether a move from Trac would be a good move.

I have been assured that our new website will hopefully go live in less than two weeks. The current release of the site will be very basic, and then over time new functionality will be added including addons support. The site is very simple in functionality and is based on WP... and I personally think it looks really great. It's a shame our web dev likes to slack so much with real life work and play. Unfortunately we all have lives outside of SharpEnviro, and this does affect our performance sometimes. Personally though, I can see myself coding for this shell for a few more years yet

Please feel free to contribute your ideas and feelings about the shell, whether that be the fuure of SharpE, features, what you hate. We don't bite (much). It is this information though that we use to plan future releases of SharpE. See you at the next TD!

[ comment(s): 14 Newspost by pixol]

The latest release ...
28 Oct 08 - 22:52
We would like to present the newest member of the SharpE team, and the latest release in our long line of fine products. I present ...

[ comment(s): 6 Newspost by glacialfury]

A Never Ending Story
08 Oct 08 - 00:26
Oops! We did it again,
As usual we find ourselvs unable to stick to any imaginary road map or time plan. But this time we have a pretty neat reason!

Recently our user sx2008 has pointed out to us that we could improve the plugin systems used all over the shell by switching to another coding technique called interfaces. After some investigation and testing we came to the conclusion that using interfaces will enormously increase the capabilities of the plugin systems. Right now I'm completely rewriting the SharpBars plugin system while Pixol is doing the same for SharpCenter. Unfortunately this means that all modules (30% done) and configs (15% done) have to be converted too. Alltogether this will take about one month time to get everything working like it was before.

You might now want to ask what the advantage is if it's taking this much time to recode everything. That's actually not easy to answer without going into detail about how interfaces work and how the whole shell is written. The most important thing is that the whole source code beneath SharpBar and SharpCenter is a lot smaller and easier to maintain by using interfaces. We came up with a combinations of classes and interfaces which now makes it easily possible to extend the plugin systems at any later point. And this without having to change all previously created modules (or at worst with only minimal changes). Besides this all the previously existing restriction of using dll based plugins are completely gone. Dlls and host applications can now freely exchange any type of data without going through needlessly and slow messaging methods. The host applications can now fully control their plugins thus making the applications work a lot more efficient. In the end maybe even some bugs related to the previously madly used message sending between host and plugin will be fixed. And for SharpBar the memory usage should go down by about at least 20% (maybe even a lot more).

Due to these heavy changes the next release will be TD6 which will be held as a full 24hr testing day in IRC.
Right now it's sheduled for the end of october.

TD5 Release & Status Report
19 Aug 08 - 16:12
After way too much waiting it's time for another release. Due to lots of changes I made the decission to not continue with R5 of TD4. This new release holds TD5 as version and the next releases will go under R1/R2/etc. of this TD5 build. Another reason for this rather unexpected jump to TD5 is that I wanted to try out another default build with a different theme and bar setup.

This also means that the intended jump to 0.8 RC1 is delayed. But this is mostly due to Pixol and mc not having time to work on SharpE lately. The Problem is that two important parts of 0.8 RC1 (DDE Service and a few missing configs) are to be developed by Pix and mc. While we wait for this to eventually happen I'm going to continue fixing up the rest of the shell.

The Changelog for TD5 is pretty big and mostly contains a lot of bug fixes. Especially the taskbar module and exec service have improved a lot. But also some new features like dragging task items and volume control for Windows Vista managed to sneak in.

We received a lot of feedback for TD4 and this helped a lot to improved the shell furthermore. Please continue giving such amazing feedback for this release. The more feedback comes in the more I get an idea what to work on.

TD5 Download: http://trac.sharpe-
TD5 Changelog: http://trac.sharpe- TD5Changelog
Please post feedback and bug reports into this forum thread

It's summer and were slacking!
23 Jul 08 - 00:12
Yes it's true... mostly due to tradition. Summer is a period when we are known to slack. With one month since the last commit were all uber busy getting sunstroke and drinking far too much!!! Oh but it gives us time to chill and prepare for... the new site maybe... 0.7 R5 and 0.8 RC1... and hopefully 0.8 this year!!! The team will be back in August! Kicking Ass!

[ comment(s): 3 Newspost by pixol]

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