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Going "multi-menu"?

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NathanJ79
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Going "multi-menu"?

Towards the beginning of last year it was real simple, you just had the PortableApps menu 1.1 (I think I came around after that, I don't remember a 1.0).

Then geek.menu and R34 came around (or at least, I found out about them in the latter half of last year). Tried R34, loved it, tried geek.menu, didn't like it, went back to official, then R34 again, and R34 remembered all my categories and settings, it was pretty cool.

When I installed 1.2 (the official one, came out last week) it deleted the R34 menu before installing. Not cool, but I figure it had its reasons. Went back to R34, and it's funny, my theme was gone, had to reinstall that, and categories were gone, but as soon as I put 7-Zip in the Utilities folder, *all* my Utilities-categorized apps jumped into the newly formed category. I just had to define the categories again and all the other apps just jumped right in. Cool!

Now I come back and 1.5 is out, but I'm hesitant to install it, at least without backing up my R34 menu (which takes over the official folder).

So I was thinking, especially with all these new versions coming out, there's got to be a better way to install a menu:

A menu is portable, just like the apps. So why should it necessarily "take over" the previous menu. CeeDo and PortableApps can play nice together, but they use different folders. Geek.menu and R34 are based on PA, so conflicts are understandable.

A menu (Official, R34, geek, etc.) should have a secondary install. Makes its own folder and behaves much like any other app. Only difference is, its launcher kills the other menu. Presumably you could have three menus on your drive, and each one would link to the other two, and you could jump from one to the other without consequence.

Only problem is, you'd need one to be the root menu, called by Autoplay. Here we have two options: First is, you pick one. The first one you install, namely, would be the root menu. You can call other menus from it, but it's going to be the one you launch first. Second, someone can make a tiny menu (yes, a fourth one) which only lists the menus. "Choose your interface" or something like that. I prefer the first choice.

John T. Haller
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Mod Problem

The problem is that the unofficial mod used the official X:\PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu directory when it should not have. So, of course when the next official PortableApps.com release came out, it upgrades its existing directories. The MOD menu should have had its own directory... something like PortableAppsMenuMOD, but did not. Why, I'm not sure... maybe to make it easier to drop in and replace part of the platform. But it's something that should never have been done.

It's the same thing if you tried to use another app called Super Ultra Browser but it installed to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox and it had files named the same... like firefox.exe, etc. When you went to install Mozilla Firefox, it would, of course, replace all those files.

This is one of the reasons why I've always stressed that whenever someone recommends one of these unofficial builds that they give the caveats that it is unsupported and that it may have issues when installing the PortableApps.com Platform. For the few hundred or thousand people running a MOD, they should be tech-savvy enough to know this and be making manual backups of it. For a user that was recommended the MOD and not warned, that's a sad situation. But there's not much we can do about it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

NathanJ79
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Not the same, but you're right

It's not really the same thing... it makes perfect sense for a modification to use the same directory. R34 doesn't even work on its own, I don't think... I believe at some point in my original story I tried to just unpack R34 to the right place, and something didn't work. So I had to install the official menu and then mod it. A modification, of anything, stays with the program it's modifying; it usually doesn't create a second copy of the program it's modding and then mod that, though, in some cases that might be preferable.

The folder name seems to be set in stone, though, at least with the .exe that's in the root folder of the device. Of course, it's just a launcher and AFAIK doesn't do anything but call the .exe in the app directory. So I could rename the directory to, as you say, PortableAppsMenuMOD and then install the official menu, and have the official menu as the primary and R34 as the secondary. A couple extra steps and I can have it the other way around, too. So it's not hard to do manually.

As for unofficial/unsupported, as long as conversation about a particular subject is allowed in a particular medium, it's supported, albeit unofficially, by the collective of knowledge in that medium. That is, someone asks about R34, maybe I can help, maybe someone else gets there first. Now you, or other developers, need not bother with supporting a project you're not working on and/or have no interest in, but as long as it can be done with respect to PortableApps.com, people who know about it can help those who need it. But they're not, like, "the enemy" or something, are they...? I wouldn't go on a Linux board and post problems with Windows as that would just be insulting, but if you were a longtime user of Ubuntu, say, and you were on their forums, and started talking about trying Fedora or Gentoo, I don't think that would be the same thing. Open source being more about collaboration and all.

That being said, isn't there a "share and share alike" rule in open source? I mean, PTC or whoever took the official menu and added a bunch of features. Couldn't you do the same? As long as a feature is good, works well, why not take the unique features of 1.5, the look of 1.5, and the features of R34 not yet implemented, and make 2.0 that way? Isn't that the point of open source? Also, some here have said the R34 people are now working with you on the official menu...? So wouldn't that be the way to go anyway? Or, am I missing something?

Oh, and I'm not too worried that I temporarily lost my R34 settings. That's part of the fun of trying new things. I actually had a pretty good idea something like that would happen but did it anyway. Worst case scenario I'd just have to re-categorize everything. No big deal. Not like thinking I could reinstall Windows drunk and formatting my 120GB external with all my music, pictures, and videos instead of the C drive... Oops, won't be making that mistake again. Wink

John T. Haller
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Not Quite

The MOD isn't an add on like say a Firefox extension or plugin, it's a full replacement for the PortableApps.com Menu. Like Flock is a fork of Firefox with additional features meant to be used instead of Firefox (and with them getting the money from advertising instead of Mozilla). It would be like Flock installing itself to the Mozilla Firefox directory and writing its own settings to APPDATA\Mozilla\Firefox and then expecting Firefox to have to somehow deal with them and respect them later even though they had nothing to do with what Flock was doing to Firefox's own application and data directories. The same thing happened here.

What I've always said is that we wouldn't support additional stuff from the forks. Folks would be free to use them, but we wouldn't provide a path to/from them for your settings, etc. The reason I've encouraged that warning to be attached whenever people recommend them to a new user is for instances like this.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

wk
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sooorry,but....

John´s first words on PAM 1.2 RC were about being careful because the app would delete all platforms, both official and unofficial! He clearly stated that it was for testing and everybody was advised to make a proper backup.
I think reading the release note should be the minimum when downloading a test release..
Don´t want to be rude, but don´t blame others for your neglect of good practice.

@John, perhaps a short note on the official download site like that you did on the test release page might make sure that official PAM users upgrading don´t loose their own themes. Something like Note that all former platforms are deleted, make a backup before upgrading...

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisici elit, sed eiusmod tempor incidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis .." Friday Next -
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NathanJ79
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Back to topic

After two replies showing a clear misunderstanding, I'd like to take the time to reiterate that 1) I'm not looking for help or support with the R34 mod or PAM 1.2 RC 3, and furthermore that 2) I pretty much knew that it was going to mess up the R34 menu. I just didn't care because I wanted to try 1.2 and knew it wouldn't be much effort to redo the categories in R34. I'm not looking for sympathy on that note at all. I've got it completely sorted now.

No, the point I was making was that, with all these new choices popping up (namely 1.2 RC4 and 1.5, and the forthcoming 2.0 as promised in a couple weeks), perhaps we ought to have a system where the menus install side by side. Just so they can be tested without disrupting anything. I mean, I can install AbiWord and OpenOffice and they don't fight, so why should the menus? After all, a menu is just another portable app with a .exe in the root folder that Windows can launch to start it all.

As another point, I'm starting to question the outright hostility to any mention of the R34 mod, taken to the point of putting words in someone's mouth, (blaming others for neglect of good practice? I said that where?) I mean, if we were all content with the defaults, would we even be here? We'd be using Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player instead of Firefox and VLC. I'm not saying the official menu is bad or anything, but Firefox and VLC are two great examples of programs that people use because what they were given wasn't good enough, didn't have a feature or two or more that they wanted, so they moved on, and after enough did it, the default apps got better. Microsoft added tabs and better security to IE, for one example. I mean, no offense, but the story of how someone took PAM and made the R34 mod kind of mirrors Firefox coming up as an alternative, and to develop a Firefox alternative (Portable) and openly criticize those who look for greener pastures with their software, it's kind of a contradiction, no?

And this is where I usually put "I'm sorry if I'm missing something" but I've said that before and nobody's told me what I'm missing, which in turn tells me that I understand the situation perfectly, so I'll just say that I'm sorry if I sound disrespectful (as it's not my intention) and that I completely respect what y'all do here.

Jimbo
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You could always...

As a knowledgeable user, you can always rename your menufolders (post install) to whatever you like, which should be enough to prevent the autodeletion of them by newer installs, but it is unlikely that there will be a change to the distributed menu app, since one of the things being tested is that the installer does what it is meant to in a wide variety of situations.

So, given that the installer is meant to remove the old version (remebering that this is a test of how it will be in the final release) it is necessary that it does what it currently does, so that JTH can make sure that that aspect of it actually does what he is expecting.

If the MOD menu had installed into it's own separate folder in the first place, there wouldn't be any trouble now. For example, I still use geek.menu because of its TrueCrypt handling, and the new 1.5 release leaves that alone perfectly.

wk
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perhaps I still don´t get it..

I still use R34 in a separate folder since I have started using it.
I can´t feel hostility against the mods but a growing reluctance to give support to them on the official sites.
IE and Firefox are no forks of the same app, but Ice weasel, Minesweeper and Firefox are. So why should the official developper of the official PAM should take care of any mods competing with PAM anyway? Not to speak of the stall in Mod development for over a year. Still John doesn´t stop remarking that mod users should be careful not messing up the platforms. Btw, who has got two or three windows OS /let´s say Win 95,98,XP)side by side on one PC other than for testing....
As Jimbo said it´s your choice to keep two or more platforms side by side, but there´s no point to provide an extra treatment for outdated versions..

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisici elit, sed eiusmod tempor incidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis .." Friday Next -
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John T. Haller
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One Path

There has always been a single path of upgrades as far as PortableApps.com is concerned and that's upgrading the Platform from one release to the next. Any user is free to mess about with any combination of new and old menus as well as mods and forks on their own. But there is no supported path to switch back and forth. The issue with one particular thing getting stepped on (The Menu MOD) is due to its mistaken setup of using the official directories and stepping on the official install. But any Menu MOD user should have been aware of that. This was one of your main issues you asked about in your original post... that the 1.5 release was taking over your R34 release. The fault there was the MOD menu which was incorrectly using the exact same directories as the official release. No other menus will have that issue.

Advanced users are fine renaming directories and keeping things side by side and that will be one way of doing things. Or installing one version and then another, with a backup just in case. You could actually have PAM 1.0, PAM 1.1, PAP 1.2RC, PAC 1.5, SmitchTech, MOD R34 and Geek.Menu next to each other in sep directories and they'll all work (they'll show up in each others menus, of course, but you can hide them in everything but the old PAM 1.0/1.1). In the next PAP release, we'll be letting users install 2.0 over 1.5 and vice versa to make testing and then switching back easier (we'll recommend a backup first, just to be safe). And you can always install it in a new location on your portable drive or local hard drive just to try out what's new if you'd like (which is always the safest route but not as effective as you can't use all your stuff, right?)

With successive releases, the PortableApps.com Platform is becoming more of an integrated platform rather than just a menu with a couple built-in apps. Moving the Backup and Restore functionality into the PortableApps.com directory is part of that. The official updater will work from there as well. The StartPortableApps.exe starter will be working in conjunction with it for security in an upcoming release and when the platform updater is used.

So, it's not really feasible for us to support multiple unofficial menus on our end. Users of MOD R34 + Geek.Menu + SmitchTech Menu combined amounts to a very small fraction of users (under 1%). Most are probably not switching back and forth on a regular basis. Most are more technologically savvy and, when they do switch, can handle a simple directory rename.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

J Neutron
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Backups

Advanced users are fine renaming directories and keeping things side by side and that will be one way of doing things. Or installing one version and then another, with a backup just in case.

Yes. Copying/renaming directories (using the version number) is a great way to install updates for advanced users. Anybody intent on messing around with stuff has to be prepared with backups to protect themselves. This especially applies to alpha and beta software packages, too. And frequently changing directories such as the Thunderbird profile (mail store) or the Firefox profile folder.

I honestly don't understand why people run with no backups. It is like driving a car without a spare tire or accident insurance.

Jim

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

MrElchbau
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YES

I like the idea of a simple starter menu with editable paths and programs to start the menu you like or need currently (and closes itself). Thats what I'm waiting for.

Life is crunchy, anywhere

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