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I Hate Linux

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Home Server Add-in: Tab Manager

In yet another attempt to make the Home Server Console a little more manageable with regards to multiple tabs, Tab Manager allows a user to bypass the normal Home Server Add-in loading mechanism and display whatever tabs they want inside of another tab.

Say what?

Rather than having a cluttered tab tool bar full of lots and lots of add-ins:

Home Server Console - Lots of tabs

A user can offload the tabs they use less often to be only displayed:

Home Server Console - With Tab Manager

And after you've selected the tab you want, you can collapse the list:

Home Server Console - With Tab Manager - Hidden

All the while still making all of the settings pages in the Settings dialog (relatively) normally available:

Tab Manager Settings

How it works

Existing readers of this blog will likely know that the Home Server Console looks for add-in tabs in assemblies with the following naming style: HomeServerConsoleTab.TabName.dll

By simply renaming those assemblies (ie HomeServerConsoleTab.SomeAddin.dll to HomeServerConsoleTab.TabManager.SomeAddin.dll), the add-in will no longer be loaded automatically by the Home Server Console and through the use of some code borrowed from Test Loader, are loaded instead by Tab Manager.

Aside from providing a new organizational home for the tabs, Tab Manager provides much of the same functionality as the Home Server Console with regards to tab ordering and ITabExtender (with the exception of ITabStatus support).

On the Settings side of things, Tab Manager's Settings tab uses ITabExtender to create a chain of custom settings tabs (using the Next property) to provide the Settings form access to the actual settings pages in a way that it expects/can handle.

In a later version I may offer a way to remove Settings tabs from view in a manner similar to... however I need to come up with reasonable way of doing this visually.


As is the case with (now) the majority of my add-ins, this add-in utilizes undocumented and unsupported mechanisms of Windows Home Server that could be misunderstood by me or change at any time possibly leading to a users Home Server no longer functioning correctly.

This add-in is by no means done and still is in need of some polish and is not advised at this time for wide spread use.

Please use caution with this add-in and use at your own risk.

If you are feeling daring and want to give it a try and offer feedback... please do.

If not, don't fret, the next version(s) will be even better thanks to those daring folks that tested out and gave feedback on earlier versions.


After you have installed the add-in...

  1. Launch the Windows Home Server Console
  2. Launch the Settings dialog
  3. Select the Tab Manager tab
  4. Select an assembly from the Standard Assemblies list and press the button with the Right arrow to move it to the Managed Assemblies list
  5. Repeat this process until all assemblies you want to be under the control of Tab Manager have been moved
  6. Press the OK button
  7. Click the Yes button to close the Windows Home Server Console
  8. Relaunch the Windows Home Server Console
  9. Select the Tab Manager tab
  10. Select desired tab from list.

Assemblies listed on the Standard Assemblies list are those that are automatically loaded by the Home Server Console, while those under the Managed Assemblies list are loaded by Tab Manager instead. Moving assemblies between the lists is as simple as double clicking on the item, or single clicking and using the appropriate button to move it.

Uninstalling this add-in does not automatically rename the modified files back to their original names. This is something I am looking into for the next version, in the mean time if/when you do decide to uninstall this add-in, you will need to add the desired files back to the Standard Assemblies list.

Note: No file name changes are made until the settings are applied through the use of the OK or Apply buttons.

Known issues

  • Tab Reorderer is unaware of tabs loaded through Tab Manager and can result in not all tabs being displayed on it's list or even phantom tabs without icons.
  • If loaded through Tab Manager, Tab Scroller still functions however it does not remove it's own icon.

Both of these issues will be resolved in a later version that will include the functionality of Tab Reorderer and Tab Scroller being added natively to Tab Manager (and reduce my add-in count from 5 to 3).

  • Any add-in that exposes status information (ie the main Microsoft tabs) will still work, however no status bar information will be displayed.
  • Some third-party add-ins that expect a given assembly name may not be able to load/save their settings.
  • Non-English systems may have issues loading the correct language for localized add-ins.


Labels: ,


  • I'm not sure what's going on or how it's gotten to this state, but whenever I go to the Tab Manager settings and just hit "OK", the Windows Home Server Console crashes on me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM  

  • Whoop. I was about to leave more details when I figured out what happened: if you uninstall an Add-In while it's put in the Tab Manager, it doesn't remove the HomeServerConsoleTab.TabManager.<>.dll. Understandably. But Tab Manager still thinks it's installed, so when trying to manipulate the .dll, it crashes the Home Server Console.

    Good luck trying to figure out a good fix for this one! Other than "Don't do that." :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:54 PM  

  • What add-in did you uninstall while it was being handled by Tab Manager?

    My best guess would be that that add-in was depending on something that was removed... even though the main assembly still exists.

    By Blogger Brendan, at 2:24 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Sogarth, at 10:42 AM  

  • It was the WHS Disk Management add-on. So the order was:
    a) Install WHS Disk Management and Tab Manager.
    b) Move WHS Disk Management to be in a tab.
    c) Uninstall WHS Disk Management.
    d) Manipulate Tab Manager in Settings.

    (Reposted to be a consistent user)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:43 AM  

  • I have tried to move an add-in back to being unmanaged, and the console closed itself every time without the add-in being changed. I am not sure if it was coincidence, but it too was Disk Management. In the end, I renamed the dll so that I could uninstall and reinstall a new version.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 PM  

  • I also left a comment over on the We Got Served site. I feel it would benefit having the add-in list on the right rather than the left. Even with it minimised, it encroaches a little into the Add-In area, but most (I tried about 10) don't have much over on the right hand side.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 PM  

  • hi there
    not sure why this is happening but here is what happens, i go to uninstall the tab manager and the console crashes on me..
    What i do is move the managed tabs back and let the console restart then i go to add-ins and remove the tab manager and let the console restart, at that point when i go back in i have 2 tabs... one is the anti-virus and the other is the network health, i then click settings and i get this big window with all kinds of errors and the console crashes...
    I have tried many things and only way i can get things back is to install the tab manager under remote logg-in but when i go back into the console i still only have the 2 tabs but i can now get in the settings and click stuff there and when i go to the tab manager all the tabs are back under the managed side and i try to move them back let the console erstart and then go back to tab manager and they are back in the managed list....

    Any idea's on what is happening here???? bangs head on desk more trying to see if i have missed any thing lol

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:49 PM  

  • Hi
    I am in the same boat as the other Anonymous person. Maybe I didn't read the instructions well enough for setting it up. So I have uninstalled it and only get the health monitor. When I click on settings I get a large error page mentioning access denied and security violation. This stops me from getting to any of the settings to modify anything. Now for the obviuos cry for help, "HEEEEELLLPPPP!!!!.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM  

  • Hi there Anonymous2 lol

    Ok i got it to work, what you have to do is reinstall tab manager, go into the tab manager settings and move the tabs out, or back to the left side, do this one at a time...

    I did it by selecting all of them and nothing worked and they where all back to being under tab manager control, so you have to do them one at a time, i know its a pain but thats how i did it and got my tabs back to the normal server settings, once you have removed all of them then uninstall the program and re log back in and they will be there like they where befor the tab managaer was installed.

    Took me a few hours to work on it and figure that out lol, but hey if it takes that long for me to find out things why not i learned alot about the home server software in the mean time and added more hdd space so it wasn't just the uninstall that took that long it was doing about 5 things all at the same time :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 PM  

  • I am in the same boat as the previous two posters. But even after reinstalling the Tab Manager I cannot move things from managed to standard even one at a time. At this point I have lost most of the Icons in the console top bar.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:35 PM  

  • ok. I installed tab manager. then i lost all my add ins. i uninstalled tab manager and i still have no add ins. i'm lost.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:13 PM  

  • Advanced admin console does not like the Tab manager. I am stuck without being able to get to the Homeserver console right now. I am not sure what to do next. Is there a way to start the console without the add-ins loading.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:17 PM  

  • Well I fixed my issue. by renaming the tab manager.admin.dll

    I was trying to unmanage the add-in (Advanced admin) but it was refusing to go.
    (Just as dmarchant said)

    So I thought I could uninstall the add-in and ended up with sogarth problem

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:09 PM  

  • Tab Manager has, many, many bugs. Too many to list here.

    Thought one seems particularly egregious: this addin uses another unauthorized piece of s/w, "Janas" I think it was called (flew by too fast to read clearly). I got this error error message 5 times when the addin fired up the first time when I clicked on the left column tab for Tab Manager in the setting screen. I should have bailed then, but I sadly didn't. When trying to move tabs via the tool I got duplicates, even triplicates of individual tabs. Then it only got worse when I tried to move the tabs back.

    As a final stroke, I uninstalled Tab Manager and now my client connector session crashes when I try to get in (sometimes the window window opens where the WHS host is supposed to be is completely blue as in the friggin' "blue screen of death").

    Despite all standard approaches and hacks, I can not get back into WHS via my client side on either of two home office systems.

    I've hooked up my keyboard, mouse and monitor again to my WHS server (1st time since my original install) but I can not even reinstall WHS from CD successfully. The error message is that I don't have permission to access certain files and/or sub directories… even though I'm the system administrator.

    Thx for creating what can only be described as a virus. (If it walks like a duck...)

    By Blogger Rodger Dodger, at 7:35 PM  

  • Can anyone tell me where to find the dll to rename it? I've searched the server with remote but can't find the file. I have two avast icons showing and disk management. I've uninstalled/reinstalled tab manager and that doesn't help. Whenever I try to remove those two icons the server crashes.

    By Blogger KansasA, at 7:49 AM  

  • I fixed my problem. I was able to remove all the tabs except for Avast, where the console would just crash if I removed it in tab manager. I used remote desktop connection and went to: C:\Program Files\Windows Home Server and renamed: HomeServerConsoleTab.TabManager.AvastTab.dll to: HomeServerConsoleTab.TabManager.AvastTab.0ld
    When I restarted the extra tab was gone. Now I'll uninstall tab manager :)

    By Blogger KansasA, at 8:12 AM  

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