How to handle menu interfaces with many buttons

With the CD-Menu Creator menu designer tool you can create a graphical menu interface that contains more than 40 buttons in one menu window. This allows your customer to open many documents, applications or sub menus from the same menu page, but sometimes it can be difficult to make all buttons fit in one menu window in a proper way. Luckily there are some tricks that you can use and we will explain them below:

1. Place the buttons in 2, 3 or more columns
With CD-Menu Creator you can create a menu interface where the buttons are placed in columns. You can place them in 2, 3 or more columns. The picture below shows how it may look like with 2 columns of buttons:

Menu with 2 columns of button

Information about how to arrange the buttons in columns is available in this tip:
> Tip: How to create a menu interface with 2 or 3 columns with buttons

2. Use clickable links instead of framed buttons
Another solution is to use clickable links instead of framed buttons. Links takes less space than buttons. The picture below shows how it may look like:

Menu with clickable links

To use clickable links in a menu, choose the Text only option in the Style combo box in the Buttons tab in CD-Menu Creator.

3. Shrink button height and distance between buttons
You can also change the height of the buttons, so they take less vertical space. The vertical distance between buttons can also be reduced, so they are placed more close to each other.

Menu - The Beatles

The height of the buttons in a menu can be changed in the Height text box in the Buttons tab in the CD-Menu Creator editor. Information about how to shrink the distance between buttons is available in this tip:
> Tip: How to adjust the button’s position in the menu window

But what to do if you need even more buttons?
Sometimes one menu window is not enough – no matter how you arrange the buttons. The solution then is to split the buttons (or clickable links) in two or more menu pages; for example a main menu and couple of sub menus. Luckily there is an easy way to do this, and the following tip shows how:
> Tip: How to create multiple menus – Two levels of menus

Bonus tip: Create button groups with titles
If there are some free space available in a menu, it can be a good idea to group the buttons in a logical way and add titles to the groups. This will make it easier for a user to locate a specific button. You can read more about button groups and group titles below:
> CD-Menu Creator: You can now create button groups with titles
> Tip: How to create button groups with titles

How to create an installation for a Visual C# application

For many years Visual Installer have had built-in functionality to create an installation for a Visual Basic 6.0 and Visual Basic .NET application, and in the latest version of Visual Installer we have added the same functionality for Visual C#. You can now create an installation for a Visual C# application in an easy way.

Besides collecting necessary files and setting correct destination folders for your project, you can also specify minimum system requirements (for example minimum .NET version) for the installation package. If the necessary .NET versions are not installed, the installer can inform and handle the download directly from the installation wizard.

Read more
Here is some more information about the new function:
> Visual Installer 2020: Visual C# is now supported

And here is a step-by-step tip that show how to use the function:
> Tip: How to create an installation for a Visual C# application

How to delay deletion of a file until reboot

Sometimes a file need to be deleted during an installation, but it can not be done because of the file is active and locked by the system. To handle this we have added a new script command to Visual Installer with the name RDELETE that can be used to mark a file for deletion and let the system delete the file when the computer restarts.

When you use this command, no attempt will be made to delete the file during the installation. Instead Visual Installer will inform the system that the file need to be deleted during the next system reboot.

The command syntax is the following:

RDELETE filepath

Example:

RDELETE %DESTDIR\CleanUp\CleanUp.exe

This command is useful when a file need to be deleted, but there is no hurry to delete the file. You can then call this command and let the system delete it later.

See also
> 4 delete commands available in the script language – when to use which
> Visual Installer’s Scripting Language

You can now set an absolute position for a title

You can now in CD-Menu Creator set an absolute position for a title, subtitle and button group title. In the latest update of CD-Menu Creator we have added this functionality.

Normally the X and Y position of a title, subtitle and button group titles are set automatically by CD-Menu Creator. But now you can set the coordinates for these objects manually. This is useful if you really want to have total control of these objects’ positions in a menu window.

How to set coordinates
To set coordinates for a title, subtitle and button group titles, you can add a prefix before the actual title text. The syntax is the following:

[X,Y] My Title

Where X specifies the X position of the title and Y specifies the Y position of the title (in pixels). Below is an example where X and Y has been replaced with numerical values:

[10,50] My Title

In the example the X position is set to 10 pixels and the Y position is set to 50 pixels.

When you add coordinates to a title, the coordinates must be set between brackets, “[” and “]”, and the X coordinate and the Y coordinate must be separated with a comma (“,”). Like this:

[20,80]

The actual title must then be placed after the ending bracket. For example:

[20,80] My menu title

See also the picture below for an example. The main title coordinates have been set to [50,60] and the sub title coordinates have been set to [160,120]:

Also button’s positions can be set in this way
There is already functionality in CD-Menu Creator to set absolute positions for buttons (via the Button Options dialog box) but this new method can also be used for buttons, if you prefer it and want to be consistent with how to set coordinates for objects.

Tips & Tricks Pages for SamLogic Software’s Products

Did you knew that there are tips & tricks pages available for our programs? In the tips & tricks pages we show how to use the software in different circumstances, and we describe some technical details about the programs that are not found in the program’s User’s guides. The tips are in step-by-step format which makes them easy to follow. Many of the tips contain images (screen dumps etc.), and some of the tips have also informative video clips that demonstrate the tip.

Below are direct links to tips index pages for our programs. Click on a link to read more about the tips that are available for every program:

> Tips & tricks for SamLogic CD-Menu Creator
> Tips & tricks for SamLogic USB AutoRun Creator
> Tips & tricks for SamLogic USB AutoRun Creator / Small Office
> Tips & tricks for SamLogic Visual Installer
> Tips & tricks for SamLogic MultiMailer

The tips index pages are also available via the Help menu in our programs. If you click on the Tips and Tricks menu item, your web browser is opened with the tips index page (for your product) opened.

Visual Installer’s file list can be refreshed automatically

You may already know that if you press the F5 key on your keyboard or choose the List – Refresh List menu item in Visual Installer’s editor, the contents of the file list (in the editor’s File List tab) is refreshed.

When a file list is refreshed, file dates and size information etc. is updated. If a file is missing at a source file path, you will be informed about that.

If you want to have the file list refreshed automatically when a project is opened, this is also possible. If you choose the Special – Editor options menu item and select the Update file list automatically option in the dialog box that is shown (see the picture below)

the file list will be updated automatically when the .VIP project file is opened.

How to ask for a drive instead of a folder during an installation

Normally when a user runs an installation, the installer will ask for a destination folder. A default folder name and folder path is shown, but the user can usually change the folder name and the folder path, and enter his/her own.

But there are situations when the folder name and folder path must stay unchanged, but the user should have the possibility to change the drive letter.

In Visual Installer we have a special setup dialog box that is designed for this purpose. You can include this dialog box in your installation by checking the Drive option in the Dialog boxes tab in the Visual Installer editor.

If you check this option, the following setup dialog box will be shown in the installation:

In this dialog box the end-user can change the drive letter, but not the folder path. The folder path is shown for the end-user, but it is a read-only field. He can not change the path.

The ‘Version’ tab in CD-Menu Creator

The CD-Menu Creator editor contains 8 main tabs, from where the most of the work to create a menu interface is made from. The last (the rightmost) tab is the Version tab.

In this tab you can enter version information for your menu project. For example company name, product name, product description and version number. In this tab you can also see the date when your menu was last created. This text field is updated automatically, so you don’t need to enter any information here.

Some of the text fields in the Version tab can also be used as variables in menu interfaces. That includes the following text fields: Company, Product Name, Product Description, and Version Number. More information about these variables is available in this tip.

How to test an installation before you create it

Before you actually create an installation package on your hard drive or USB stick, with Visual Installer, you can test it. You can step through all setup dialog boxes in your project and simulate an installation of you files. The tip below explains how to do it:

1. Start Visual Installer.
2. Open a current Visual Installer project or create a new one.
3. Open the File menu.
4. Choose Test on the menu.
5. In the dialog box that is opened, click on the Start simulation button.

Now the simulation will start.

The simulation will look like a real installation, but no files are copied and no folders are created. The Registry will also remain untouched. There will be no changes in the computer at all, so you can run it safely to test your installation.

More tips
More tips for Visual Installer are available here:
> Tips & tricks for SamLogic Visual Installer

How to change source folder paths for a group of files

Sometimes it is necessary to change source folder paths for a group of files in Visual Installer’s file list. This is necessary if for example some files have been moved to another folder location or if you change computer and the folder paths that are used in the new computer are different. But luckily, this is very easy done in Visual Installer. In the tip below we show how to do this.

How to change source folder paths for a group of files

1. Start Visual Installer and open your Visual Installer project file (.VIP file).
2. Open the List – Replace – Replace source folders menu item (see picture below).

List - Replace - Replace source folders

3. Enter the existing folder path and the new folder path in the dialog box that is shown.

Search and replace source folder

4. Click OK in the dialog box to do the replace operation.

Now every folder path that match the criteria will be updated in the file list.

To make sure that folder paths are correct spelled and really exists on the drive, you can hit the F5 button. If the folders do not exists, Visual Installer will show a warning message and show which files in the file list that have wrong folder paths.

See also
> How to view source paths in the file list in Visual Installer