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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:40 am 
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Actually, I have to agree with SteamHammer.

I use NS/WS on a pretty sophisticated system, with a lot of background processes and massive foreground CPU usage for much of the time.

So I really notice Workshelf and NextStart are always in the top 10% CPU users no matter what processes are running; and this is verified by the aggregate CPU time allocated to NS/WS : over a 24-hour period, Workself gets around 15% of the CPU, and NS gets around 12%. This is consistent, and with a usage pattern of about 15 activations over a 4-hour period, doesn't really add up.

I realise some (probably most!) of this is due to WS needing to keep control of the Z-order, and to monitor the edge bumps/activation mouseovers, but I use almost no other "stay on top" windows, and the ones I do use (actually, only one, HDDLEd) are nowhere near the WS items - so there shouldn't be a need to re-order every few timer ticks. For example, I have the CPU load and clock and weather on top, and all workshelves, nexus docks, and internet meters are standard (I'll refresh them when I need to).

It's reached the point where I have to shut down NS/WS when I need unrestricted CPU activity. That's not the fault of WS/NS, don't get me wrong, but it would be really useful if maybe a mechanism existed for "sleeping" WS/NS, with the understanding that stay-on-tops or mouseovers may not work while in "sleep" mode.

Does this make sense to anyone else?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:12 pm 
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SteamHammer is talking about instant CPU usage when, for instance, you mouse over a magnifying dock, while you're talking about CPU utilization over time.

Replying to SteamHammer, I also have a 1.7 GHz P4, which is what I use as a development machine. It's very low end by today's standards, which is fine by me, because, if Winstep Xtreme runs fine on this system, it will certainly run great on the core duo machines of today.

The NeXuS magnifying animation is no speed demon here, but it's certainly fast enough although it does peak CPU usage while mousing over the dock. The funny thing is that I also have a 500 MHz P3 machine and I see NO difference in speed regarding the NeXuS magnifying animation between the two machines (if anything, the animation on the 500 MHz PC actually feels faster!).

This said, and since we are talking fundamentally about graphics, I would say that the single most important factor for the speed of the NeXuS magnifying animation (and other animations) is the graphics card. Most modern cards provide hardware acceleration for layered windows, which helps a lot.

Unfortunately it looks like some laptop manufacturers try to 'cut corners' in an effort to make their machines less expensive, either by using low end graphic cards or by using special versions of a graphic card that use main memory instead of on board video memory to store the graphics. This will obviously result in a huge performance hit.

When I run Winstep Xtreme on the standard core duo PC's of today, even the low end ones, the NeXuS magnifying animation does not even come close to maxing out one of the CPU cores (maybe 15% CPU usage tops? Can't remember). This means that the animation is running at full speed - i.e.; it can't get faster than that - with still plenty of CPU left for other tasks. Not that the later really matters, because if you are actively mousing over a NeXuS dock then you're obviously not busy doing other stuff, plus, unless you're playing with the animation, you only mouse over a NeXuS dock briefly when you are about to launch an application.

Regarding PC Pete's post about CPU usage over time, I seriously doubt NextSTART is on the top 10% of CPU users. Here NextSTART even comes AFTER AsusProbe, whose only function is to monitor CPU and Motherboard temperatures.

WorkShelf, on the other hand, might be at the very end of that list, but you have to keep in mind WorkShelf is actually several mini-applications in one, so it's not really fair to make comparisons.

Each module you have open or running on the background consumes a small slice of CPU time. Obviously, the more modules you have running, the more CPU will be consumed: meters need to be updated every second, text that doesn't fit must be scrolled on the Weather desktop module, CPU, Net and RAM usage must be monitored on the background, tasks and task snapshots need to be updated, NeXuS task icons demanding attention need to blink, etc, etc... And, if you use WorkShelf and NeXuS a lot (as you should :wink: ) then the open, close and magnifying animations might also take a momentary big chunk of CPU usage.

The latest Winstep Xtreme version (7.11) should have improved things a LOT in terms of overall CPU usage, but if you really want to keep CPU usage down to a minimum, then try closing all the modules you don't need - and this also means DELETING the in-shelf and in-dock versions of those modules - and disabling animations.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:32 pm 
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Hmmm, another idea to save CPU time: if you open and minimize windows a lot, or you have some windows running all the time that constantly change their titlebar text, try disabling the task snapshot function in both NextSTART and WorkShelf to see if that makes a difference.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:36 am 
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Jorge, I'm sorry I wasn't clear. And please don't think I'm arguing just for the sake of it, I'm too new to WS/NS to do that! :(

On this system, I see WS in particular, and NS to a much lesser extent, use extremely large amounts of CPU time (taken over a long period), and peak up to 70% per core on mouseovers and animation changes.

I do understand that it's my "fault" - I shouldn't put so much stuff on top and keep so many modules updating, but that's how I like to use Winstep.

In my case, I have NS docked and collapsed to the bottom of both screens, and a nexus dock collapsed on the left edge of the left monitor, and the "default" WS dock collapsed on the top edge of the right monitor.

I have the clock, the internet graph, the CPU graph, and the weather module visible on the desktop, all partially transparent (which is probably the biggest CPU cycle-eater, I haven't characterised that yet!)

And Workshelf is the single biggest CPU user taken over a 24-hour period, and consistently runs about 0.3-1% all the time.

Here's a shot of my tasklist, taken with no special tricks or anything, this is just the top few tasks taken in order of total CPU time.

Image

This is about a 43-hour sample period, with normal usage patterns - I haven't triggered the docks or NS particularly heavily.

So I am seeing a large chunk of CPU resource use, consistently, by Workshelf.

I should point out that the two Audition tasks are (at the time of the snapshot) recording 192k/32 bit audio streams. The top Audition task spent 22 hours applying noise reduction to a 6.2G audio file at a peak consistent usage of 68% across 4 cores, which gives you some comparison in terms of long term vs. peak usage.

I'll try playing around with transparency and individual z-ordering and see if that helps reduce the load a bit.

It's not a big deal, and I know I have a workaround, and I'm truly not trying to be argumentative. I'd much rather figure out a compromise on this system between having all the WS/NS features I'd like and ensuring CPU allocation doesn't become an issue from time to time.

And I do apologise for hijacking this thread by confusing the instantaneous CPU load with consistent CPU load. :oops:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:58 pm 
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Quote:
And please don't think I'm arguing just for the sake of it, I'm too new to WS/NS to do that!


Oh no worries, I am as concerned about performance as you, obviously, and sometimes it's remarks like this that prompt me to go one step further in my never-ending quest for CPU bottlenecks. :wink:

However, note that, on your screenshot of Process Explorer, WorkShelf has been running over 24 hours more than Audition. For an always-on process which is being asked to constantly monitor your system, that is a lot.

The major problem, in terms of CPU utilization, is that it really depends on a huge list of factors, from how many modules you are running to the complexity of the theme you're using (the most complex themes can use bitmap overlays that need to be applied every time a desktop module is updated, bitmap gauges/needles that need to be rotated, etc, etc...). Speed is also affected by factors external to WorkShelf, e.g.; wether your graphics card hardware-accelerates a particular graphics operation or not, etc...

There is also a LOT going on in the background for such a complex application like WorkShelf, which basically includes 2 major applications (the Shelf and NeXus) and 9 mini-applications (the modules) in a single process.

While I try to identify and fix major CPU bottlenecks, most of the time this can only be accomplished by trading memory for speed (e.g. caching graphic items in memory, for instance).

Quote:
I do understand that it's my "fault" - I shouldn't put so much stuff on top and keep so many modules updating, but that's how I like to use Winstep.


See, but there you go, there is always a price to pay... If each module in WorkShelf was a separate application, you wouldn't notice CPU usage so much because it would be divided between all the intervenient processes. Dividing the modules into separate processes, however, is not the answer, because not only would this solve nothing (if you addded up the CPU time used by all the individual processes you would end up with the same overall CPU usage) as you would end up worse than you started because processes are 'expensive', i.e.; each process has a heavy overhead in terms of memory and system resources.

With WorkShelf, all you have to do to stop all monitoring activity for a given module (i.e.; 0% CPU usage for that function), is to close that module's desktop version and delete all instances of it from the shelf and docks.

Quote:
I'll try playing around with transparency and individual z-ordering and see if that helps reduce the load a bit.


I don't think playing with the z-order will achieve anything, but I'm curious if changing the transparency setting to fully opaque helps...

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 Post subject: Ideas/Suggestions
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:05 am 
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Edit: Text formatting didn't stick of course :( I can email the list to you if this is too hard to follow.


Hi Jorge, this is my first post here, but you may have seen me around the Windows customization/skinning community before. Just to let you know, I'm an idea man (most of them good IMO) Smile Anyway , when I start using an application (especially ones that are actively developed by attentive and interested devs) I make a text file and start adding suggestions/ideas/observations.

Well, I've been using the trial of WSX for about 3-4 days now, so I thought I'd hit you with my text Wink This is a great software in general but for someone like me ideas just keep popping up.

One thing I didn't really get into in my list yet is, I've been having trouble with the systray.
Jaggies on the icon edges
Slow open and close
What appears to be shadows left behind for a second after the tray closes (even with shadows disabled)
And it has disappeared all together , I closed NS and the systray was missing from the windows taskbar also. I've never seen that happen before completely smooth taskbar no icons or clock not even the systray background.

I won't be able to use WSX without a perfectly functioning systray Sad

and without further ado...


Suggestions For Winstep

General


Skinning
1. Configure offset for Text Shadow Effect for each text item throughout WinStep
2. Ability to skin the InfoTip "ballons"

Recycler:
1. Animation on mouseover when "carrying" a file.
example: The Recycler is a garbage can, when you drag a file over it the lid opens.
2. Animation on file drop.
example: The Recycler is a fireplace, when you drop the file the fire flares up.


Modules
1. The ability to export only modules as a theme. Users could then put this folder in their theme directory and change their modules. This would allow people to make module skins for themes that don't have them, without having to reupload the entire theme.

Email Checker:
1. Add arguments to the email client path. I want to be able to tell Firefox to open the logon page for the mail account.
2. Seperate client paths for each account. Combined with 1 allows you to easily access your webmail accounts.
3. Auto-login for the webmail accounts would be great.
A: I know there are different forms for login on webmail accounts, maybe you could do the most common ones.
a: Maybe you could have it use the scripts for the Webmail Firefox extension so people could add the login scripts for the less common ones.
4. I noticed when the email module annouced my Gmail (which displayed 105 emails) it didn't say "one hundred" only "five"

New Module Idea

RSS Feed Reader:
1. Skinnable as a "ticker" which scrolls the headlines or a "window" which displays a specified number of headlines
A: Ticker
a: Scroll speed
b: Feed switching interval
c: Infotip would display first few lines of article
d: Scrolling would pause when you mouseover a headline
B: Window
a: Scroll speed
b: Feed switching interval
c: Infotip would display first few lines of article

StartBar
1. Better Systray display.
A. Alpha icons.
B. Can you do anything about the black "ghost images" left behind for a second after the tray closes?
C. Opacity adjustment for the icon shadow

WorkShelf

1. Have the "Open Folders as Menu" configurable on a "per-shelf" basis
2. Have "Show # of Icon Rows When Open" configurable on a "per-shelf" basis
3. Scroll wheel support for in shelf is cool, but do you think you can implement the "tilt wheel" of newer mice to switch from shelf to shelf? It would be very handy if you could do this while dragging, to move things to different shelves.


Nexus


Integration
1. You should be able to add an item from a NS menu to a shelf or a dock. Drag and Drap would be nice, but if that's not possible, maybe a context menu item "Add to Shelf" The Add to Shelf could open a submenu with a list of all current shelves, click on one and BAM! the item you right clicked is now in the shelf you want it in. If you could implement both methods, that would be great. Same thing for Nexus Docks.


These are my ideas 3-4 days into my trial period, I'm sure more will come to me before the 30 days is up. If you need any further explanation/clarification of these thoughts, just ask.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Jeremy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:36 am 
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Quote:
I've been having trouble with the systray


Unfortunately the systray is a bit of the 'Achiles heal' of Winstep software. This is because what you see is NOT a replacement of the Windows systray, but a 'hack' that manipulates the Windows systray into 'submission'. It's not a perfect hack, as you can see.

The alternative, judging by the posts I read on the Stardock forums, is a lot worse than a few graphic glitches, with missing tray icons being the rule rather than the exception.

You can blame MS on this, with their complete lack of support for anything that replaces the systray - other than actually switching shells, that is.

Quote:
Ability to skin the InfoTip "ballons"


Hmmm... You're not the first one to ask for this. Rats. :roll:

Quote:
Recycler: Animation on mouseover when "carrying" a file.


That feature is already there, but it's up to the theme designer to implement it. Check out the Cabal Xtreme theme.

Quote:
The ability to export only modules as a theme


Already there too, kind of: you can SAVE the theme settings for a single module; in the Themes Manager tab just select the Module you want from the pull up menu at the top. The problem is that the Export function will then export *everything* in that module's folder, including the files for other modules, etc, which, I guess, is your point. Sigh. :wink:

Quote:
Add arguments to the email client path


Just use quotes for the filename, with the arguments outside the quotes, e.g.:

"c:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe" /example

Quote:
Seperate client paths for each account. Combined with 1 allows you to easily access your webmail accounts.


Hmmm... first time I associate using what is essentially a POP3 email checker with webmail access. You might have a point seen from that perspective.

Quote:
Auto-login for the webmail accounts would be great.


That's a browser function, sorry.

Quote:
I know there are different forms for login on webmail accounts, maybe you could do the most common ones.


See? This would start getting way too complicated and outside the scope of the email checker module. If a web mail account allows POP3 access, why not use a single email client to access ALL your accounts? The email client would then take care of loging in, etc... Makes a lot more sense to me.

Quote:
annouced my Gmail (which displayed 105 emails) it didn't say "one hundred" only "five"


:oops: Limitation of the sound files, there is no sound file provision for more than 59 pending emails. The sound files were initaly added for the clock only, and they lack sounds for the '60' to '90' prefixes, plus the 'hundred' suffix. God knows where the people who did the original sound files are these days. :(

Quote:
Have the "Open Folders as Menu" configurable on a "per-shelf" basis


Instead of using that option, just use the 'click and hold' feature on folder items, i.e.; click on a shelf/dock folder item and keep the left mouse button pressed until the contents of the folder are displayed on a menu.

Quote:
Have "Show # of Icon Rows When Open" configurable on a "per-shelf" basis


I think you will find it easier to just double click on a shelf's tab to display the entire contents of that shelf.

Quote:
You should be able to add an item from a NS menu to a shelf or a dock.


And you can, but menus require you to press either SHIFT (move) or CTRL (copy) to initiate a drag & drop operation.

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 Post subject: Wow
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:31 am 
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That was a quick response. You addressed most of my ideas to. Thank you!

I kinda figured the systray thing would be a problem, I know the guys at Stardock have problems with it to. That's why I still use the taskbar. So is there an easy way for me to disable the taskbar in NS, and just use the menu?

What about the animation on file drop on the recycler?

All webmail doesn't allow for pop3 access for the free accounts (yahoo, msn...) that's why I wanted the seperate client settings. My gmail I definitely want to use Firefox for. I guess I can find another email checker to use.



Quote:
Limitation of the sound files, there is no sound file provision for more than 59 pending emails. The sound files were initaly added for the clock only, and they lack sounds for the '60' to '90' prefixes, plus the 'hundred' suffix. God knows where the people who did the original sound files are these days.


Maybe you should put out a call for new voice bites. Try this site alsoSoundsnap I know I saw some numbers there. You could also try requesting it in the forums if you don't find what you need in the gallery.



What did you think of the "tilt wheel" support idea? I don't even have one myself, it just seemed like it would be a great fit.

The control of the text shadow offset would really help by being able to create an "etched in" look. 1 pixel offset

Any thoughts on the RSS ticker module?

Thanks again for such a quick response! :)

[/url]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:28 pm 
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Quote:
So is there an easy way for me to disable the taskbar in NS, and just use the menu?


Sure! In NextSTART's Global Preferences panel, Misc.Options, turn off the 'Enable Task Management' option. You'll lose a lot of improvements over the Windows taskbar just because of a couple of graphic glitches with the systray, though, like the ability to re-order tasks around with simple drag & drop, task snapshots under XP, task icon customization, improved tasks context menu, etc...

Quote:
What about the animation on file drop on the recycler?


Well, there are only a couple of themes providing animation for the Recycler and the Recycler animation features have been there for a long time... Not sure if it is worth the effort...?

Quote:
All webmail doesn't allow for pop3 access for the free accounts (yahoo, msn...)


Ah, but the email checker, as all email checkers, is not meant to work with webmail-only accounts. It works based on standard protocols (POP3, although the Winstep Email Checker is also able to work with the IMAP protocol, which I think is unique for an email checker).

It's unpheasable to make it check webmail-only accounts over HTML, because each provider uses their own form format, and, more likely than not, will keep on changing it as time goes by. :roll:

Quote:
What did you think of the "tilt wheel" support idea?


Sounds really nice and useful, but, for the moment, I don't have a mouse with a tiltable scroll wheel either... :wink:

Quote:
The control of the text shadow offset would really help by being able to create an "etched in" look.


I think it would be better to just provide that extra effect rather than add a shadow offset setting everywhere (Looooooooooooooots of really, really, boring work, belive me! :wink: ).

Quote:
Any thoughts on the RSS ticker module?


I like the idea, and, as with all valid suggestions, it has been noted down for later, when the time comes to add an RSS ticker module - and it will, eventually. :wink:

Quote:
Thanks again for such a quick response!


:D Usually I try to respond as fast as possible, but don't forget I'm also human if one day I don't reply as fast as people would like me to... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:04 pm 
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dragonmage wrote:
Maybe you should put out a call for new voice bites.

I'm an audio engineer, and I'd be happy to help create/optimise/package any recordings you'd need.

I used to be a PC System guru in another life, now I specialise in audio and video restorations - so I know how to work with sounds and sound files, and how to make sure they sound great on all devices.

If it makes (or made!) a sound, I can pretty much capture it, fix it, optimise it, and package it (and yes, that includes "unrecordable" audio :twisted: ). Plus, I know pretty much everything about different options and alternative file formats, etc, and where they'll work and where they won't.

I'll be happy to work pro-bono if you think it might be useful. Just yell, I'm lurking.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:56 pm 
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Thanks! :D

For now I'm not worrying much about the sound bites, I have bigger fish to fry at this point, like a completely new, modern and organized GUI for Winstep Xtreme - with multi-language abilities. That and a bunch of new modules. :wink:

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 Post subject: Game mode?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:58 am 
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I don't know if this has been suggested elsewhere, but...
A "Game mode" or "Silent" setting would be incredibly useful to be able to stop mouse triggers from activating NS/WS.
I use a multi-display editing tool that I have to drag stuff around on, and when I get near any monitor edge with mousebump or mouseover triggers, the darn drag operation gets aborted. I can work around this by either a) being really, really careful about dragging near a screen edge, or b) disabling mouse activation for Nexus docks, WS shelves, and NextStart objects, or c) shutting down NS/WS entirely and restarting them when I've finished...
On a dual-display configuration, I'd be happy to have a big, friendly button to say "Click me to return to normal mode" or something similar. I'm not sure about single-monitor people... maybe a hotkey combination like Win+M to toggle mouse activations?
Anyone else find this of interest? Or is it already possible? :oops:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:06 pm 
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Winstep Xtreme automatically disables edge bumps, hotspots, activation keys, etc, and enters reduced functionality mode to save CPU usage when it detects a full screen app is being run. A full screen application, however, is NOT the same as a maximized window, which I think is what the application you're running does.

Still, a edge bump and subsequent shelf/dock/menu activation does NOT interfere with regular drag & drop. Looks like the app you're using doesn't like focus being taken away from it, though.

This said, you can always disable edge bumps and hotspots manually while running the application by right clicking on the NextSTART and WorkShelf tray icons.

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 Post subject: Grouped Tasks and Deleting Shelf Items
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:05 pm 
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Me again...

Grouped tasks do not activate the window on mouse hover. I often move files by dragging over the taskbar button to bring the target window foward. This works fine for single window buttons, but grouped buttons will not bring a window forward without a click.


When deleting an item from a shelf you lose the ability to scroll with the scroll wheel. Items still "raise" and you can hover over the scroll buttons to scroll, but you cannot scroll with the wheel until you click on an empty area of the shelf. Even clicking a scroll button does not return wheel control, you must click on a shelf.

Thanks.

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 Post subject: Font replacement
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:44 pm 
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Big registered Winstep fan here. Pet peeve: I often find that a particular theme's fonts are not ideal for me and I want to tweek them, which means going to every setting location and manually doing this (which, between NextStart and Workshelf is like 15 different locations to edit). Usually I can't find all of these locations and miss one or two, and when I save the modified theme and fonts, the old font file is still there in the directory, and still embedded in the .xtreme file, taking up unneeded spacem, despite me having erased it previously (example, "dungeon.ttf"). There seems to be no way to do a quick font replacement of all fonts in WS and NS, which would be handy! I've basically given up on editing fonts in themes because it's so time consuming and frustrating - I can never get rid of the old font, it's always buried somewhere in some setting. Or is there a magic way that I have not yet found?


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