Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

September 1998

Previous Page | Index | Next Page
VOICE Home Page:

View From the End (User)

Of Launchpads and Toolbars

By: Don K. Eitner (

The General Public License has spawned many wonderful software products over the years including the Linux operating system, Apache web server, and quite a number of system and file utilities for Linux, OS/2, and WinDOS platforms. Recently it spawned one such utility -- Bubblepad -- which is an enhancement to the OS/2 Warp 3.0 Launchpad or 4.0 Toolbar (same thing, just different names).

Bubblepad is a small utility which, after registering itself with the WPS, provides not only popup text for Launchpad buttons, but also allows you to reduce the border or the Launchpad and specify the number of pixels to place between the buttons. With this, you can create a very compact Launchpad without losing any functionality or you can create a very large Launchpad. The popup text displays the object name (such as Shutdown or Shredder or System Editor) and its font and background color can be changed through the updated Launchpad Properties Notebook.

Bubblepad screenshot, 61K

For those of us dealing with vision problems or those who simply like to have text on their Launchpad -- which makes it easier to differentiate those too-similar icons for OS/2 window vs full screen, etc -- BubblePad is dream come true. We get to have a smaller Launchpad and yet still have our text in popup (or fly-out, as the author describes it) fashion.

Installation consisted of unzipping the downloaded file to its own directory and running the INSTALL.EXE file. You are presented with a choice of English or Deutsch. The next screen gives information on the author and tells you to press Return to continue. You are then given the options of Install, Deinstall, and Exit. Install will ask you for the directory where you wish the BUBBLEPD.DLL file to be placed -- I chose c:\utils\bubblepad which is where I unzipped the files. This is safe because it will not be copying the file onto itself -- the file it needs to copy is coming from either the Deutsch or English subdirectory. You are then prompted to reboot the system, but if you're using XFOLDER or some other program which can close and restart the WPS, this is all that's needed to get Bubblepad running.

My initial tests with Bubblepad v1.00 showed a few glitches -- popup text would sometimes hang on the desktop (refuse to disappear or allow new popup text to display) after an object was opened and the Launchpad drawer automatically closed as per my settings. However the author (Chris Wohlgemuth) was very friendly in dealing with this and released a modified DLL within 24 hours!

Just a few short days later, Bubblepad v1.01 was released with what ought to be the final fixes to a few reported bugs in the v1.00 code. Thus far I've seen no problems with v1.01 and it even seem to switch popup text (when moving the mouse from one Launchpad button to another) faster than v1.00 did.

Overall I'm very impressed with this little piece of usability enhancement. The price (free) is also unbeatable, and since it was placed under the General Public License, full source code is available if you wish to modify it or port it to, let's say, XFree86-OS/2.

It's quality utilities such as this that make me shout, "Long live free source code software! Long live OS/2!"

BubblePad v1.01
License: General Public License / free

About The Author

Don Eitner has been an OS/2 user since 1995 and has maintained The 13th Floor website since 1996. There he keeps an ongoing list of as many currently available native OS/2 applications as he can find ( which was awarded 3 A ratings, including an A+, from SCOUG ( He has been writing monthly articles for the VOICE Newsletter since June, 1997 and was elected as Secretary on the Board of Directors of VOICE in April, 1998.

Previous Page | Index | Next Page