For use with Stardock Corporation's ObjectDock software
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|The Dock is a graphical user
interface feature first introduced in the NeXTSTEP and
OPENSTEP operating systems, and radically changed and
refined in Mac OS X, where it behaves more like the
Apple Newton's Newton OS Dock.
In NeXTSTEP and OPENSTEP, the Dock is an application
launcher that holds icons for frequently used programs.
The icon for the Workspace Manager and the Recycler are
always visible. The Dock indicates the program's current
state (running or not running) by showing an ellipsis
below its icon if the program is not running and nothing
if it is currently running (contrast this behavior with
the Dock in Mac OS X, which uses a triangle to indicate
that the program is running and nothing if it has not
yet been launched).
Apple and Mac OS X
In Mac OS X, however, the Dock is used as a repository
for any program or file in the operating system. It can
hold any number of items, and resizes them dynamically
to fit while using magnification to clarify smaller
resized items. Applications that do not normally keep
icons in the Dock will still appear there when running
and remain until the applications are exited. These
features are unlike those of the dock in the NeXT
operating systems, where the capacity of the Dock is
dependent on the current display resolution. This may be
an attempt to recover some Shelf functionality, since
Mac OS X had no effective Shelf technology carried over
from its NeXT heritage. Some of the shelf functionality
has been integrated in the Macintosh Finder.
The changes to the Dock bring its functionality also
close to that of Apple's Newton OS Button Bar, as found
in the MessagePad 2x00 series and the likes.
Applications could be dragged in and out of the Extras
Drawer, a Finder-like app, onto the bar. Also, when the
screen was put into landscape mode, the user could
choose to position the Button Bar at the right or left
side of the screen, just like the Dock in Mac OS X.
The Mac OS X Dock also has extended menus that can
control applications without making them visible
on-screen. On most applications it has simple options
such as Quit, Keep On Dock and other options, but iTunes
uses this menu as a way for a user to control the
playback options from iTunes. Other Applications include
changing the status of an online alias (MSN, AIM/iChat
etc.) or automatically saving the changes that have been
made in a document (There is no current application with
this feature made available for Mac OS X). Docklings can
also be opened by using the right-mouse button, if the
mouse has one, but most of the time either clicking and
holding or control-click will bring the menu up.
Other operating systems
A similar feature has been a fundamental part of the
RISC OS operating system and its predecessor Arthur
since its inception, beginning in 1987, which may
pre-date the NeXTSTEP dock (released in 1989).
The Windows taskbar is its equivalent of the dock. Many
programs which emulate the OS X dock (like ObjectDock or
RocketDock) have sprung up due to the popularity of Mac
OS X. Earlier versions of Mac OS did not have a dock,
but an add-on such as A-dock adds a dock for users of
Various docks are also used in Linux. Some examples are
Gnome Dock for Gnome DE, Kiba-dock, which needs a
composite manager running and integrates best with
Gnome, KXDocker (amongst others) for KDE and various
other gdesklet/ADesklet docks.
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