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All about the CyanogenMod dockbar
This article is based on CyanogenMod 6.1, an enhanced version of Android 2.2.1. Much of it is also valid for CyanogenMod 6.0, which is based on Android 2.2. And it is of some interest to all Android users, mod or not.
The Android dockbar
Every Android user knows the dockbar, which rests on the lower edge of the desktop and, by default, contains the following three action buttons:
The stock Android dockbar trap
On all Android versions you can change the icons on the dockbar, also called action buttons. You do this simply by dragging and dropping any icon on one of the icon positions on the dockbar, whether it is already occupied or not.
This creates an interesting trap, into which each and every Android user sooner or later falls.
Since even newcomers soon learn that you pull app icons from the drawer onto one of the desktops, it is more or less intuitive to want to stuff one back into the drawer, rather than dropping it into the garbage bin, if you don't want to lose it altogether. (The newbie usually does not know that even after dropping an icon into the garbage bin, it will still be there in the drawer, and that is not exactly intuitive either.)
So the newcomer can easily get the idea to try to stuff the icon back into the drawer. He long-taps the icon and drags and drops it onto the drawer icon on the dockbar.
Unfortunately, this does not have the intuitively expected effect. Instead it does severe damage. It replaces the drawer icon and now sits in the middle of the dockbar instead.
For a newcomer this is a catastrophe, because there is now no obvious way to open the drawer any more. It is a prime stupid design example of the user interface.
The solution is utterly unintuitive: long-tap an empty space on the desktop. The "Add to Home screen" menu should appear. Tap Launcher Actions, tap Open/close App Drawer. Now you have the drawer icon on the desktop. Drag and drop it on the center of the dockbar.
Of course, for good measure, the clever Android designers have put yet another obstacle in the way. If your desktop is locked, the "Add to Home screen" menu does not appear. In that case you have to do this first: Menu, More, Unlock Desktop.
In fact, as we will see later, the entire dockbar is a stupid idea, because it does not serve any sensible purpose. Consequently a carefully designed smartphone like the iPhone does not have it and does not produce stupid traps like Android does.
Unfortunately the iPhone, like every Apple product, introduces other problems, which is why many of us still prefer Android phones.
The CyanogenMod dockbar
CyanogenMod still has the same dockbar, but unlike the stock Android it allows a dizzying number of modifications. For example, you can:
Let's look at the more involved options in detail.
The second, hidden dockbar
This is an option that has already driven many users to desperation, because a finger slide from the dockbar upwards apparently makes the dockbar disappear, but the same slide gesture does not make it come back. It is only all too easy to do this gesture inadvertently, only to stare at the now empty space where the dockbar had been. The only indication that there is something there now is a shadow at the bottom edge of the desktop.
Apparently the irreversibility of the dockbar disappearance was an oversight that may be remedied in a future version. Meanwhile this article will show you how to get your disappearing dockbar back, should this ever happen to you.
In fact, the dockbar is not gone—it is only replaced by the second, normally hidden docking bar that Cyanogen's crew put in place. Try to drag a desktop icon down onto it and you will see.
If your dockbar does not disappear after an upward swipe from the lower edge, check whether you have the second, hidden dockbar enabled. Select Menu, Settings, ADWLauncher, UI Settings (User Interface Settings), and scroll down to the section Hidden Dockbar. Here you have two checkbox choices.
The first, Dockbar, allows you to select whether you want the other dockbar at all. Select it if you want to experiment with this feature.
The second, Closing dockbar, only sets whether you want the second dockbar to go away after you have tapped one of its icons and perhaps opened a program. If this choice is selected, you will later find the first, main dockbar on your desktop after closing all programs. If not selected, the second dockbar will still be there. My recommendation is to select this choice.
Unlike the main dockbar you can remove action buttons from this second one just by dragging them up onto the desktop, where they become normal desktop icons (or into the waste bin at the top, if you want to delete them).
So let us get back to the problem on hand. If you have the hidden dockbar feature enabled and have gone to the second dockbar, which is initially empty, how can you get your main dockbar back? There are several ways to do it:
Other dockbar modifications
Most of the interesting modifications can be found in Menu, Settings, ADWLauncher, UI Settings. They are mostly self-explanatory. The second option, Desktop dots, refers to the pagination dots to the left and right of the one-or-three-action-button dockbar, which allow you to shift desktops or, with a long tap of the finger, zoom out to see all five desktops at once.
Here's another trap you can fall into. What happens if you draw some desktop icon onto the middle action button, where originally the drawer icon was. Now the drawer icon is gone. What can you do to get it back?
To recreate the drawer icon, do a long tap into an empty space on your desktop, then tap Custom shortcut, Pick your activity, Launcher Actions, Open/close App Drawer, OK.
If you like, you can now drag this icon back onto the middle position of the dockbar where it used to be. Of course, you could also leave it on the desktop, if you prefer that.
A radical proposal
After investigating all this and seeing the power of the two dockbars, I began to think about what I wanted to use it for. The strange thought that came to me was, however, that I could not find any objective justification for the dockbar at all, even less for two of them.
I could not find a single function where the dockbar had any significant advantage over no dockbar at all. All functions can be duplicated just as well without any dockbar. I now believe that the dockbar is merely a gimmick that panders to newcomers and gives them something that is seemingly simple and always there, to hold on to.
The main argument for the dockbar, that it is always there on each of the five desktops, does not hold water for me, because I have all important and quickly needed icons on the main, center desktop, and I can always get there instantly with the home key. Moreover, the absence of the dockbar makes room for an additional row of icons on each of the desktops, which is a significant advantage and partly alleviates the need to switch desktops in the first place.
The app drawer can easily be reached with the already mentioned icon or, perhaps even better and more intuitive, with an upward finger swipe. To set this up, tap Menu, Settings, ADWLauncher, General Behavior, Swipe up actions, Open/close App Drawer.
The pagination dots to the left and right of the one-or-three-action-button dockbar are not needed, because all of their three functions can be had in another way:
Even having the same icons on every desktop can be done, simply by putting the same icons in the bottom row of each desktop.
If you actually want to get rid of the dockbar, all that remains to be done now is two or three things:
As mentioned above, interestingly the iPhone does not have a dockbar or anything like it. I am no friend of Apple for reasons of my own freedom, but I have to admit that their designers seem to be more intelligent than those of Android.
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