So, you've downloaded Barrel, and installed it, but how do you use it? Barrel is designed to be user friendly and very easy to use, although it's making use of Wine, which is notoriously difficult to play around with.
The Barrel user interface is split into 3 main regions:
This is what you'll see the first time you run Barrel. This is an empty Library view. To start your import, you need to have your game ready. There are three main states your game can be in: it's either in a CD or DVD disc, in a disc image (.iso, .dmg or other types) or it is a stand alone installer (.exe). Barrel supports all these types! Depending on where your game is, you need to:
Your next step is to drag and drop the icon from your desktop on the big arrow in Barrel. If you have an .exe file you can do the same thing, drag and drop the .exe file instead.
Barrel will start processing your request. It will first try to connect to the remote server that feeds Barrel with info about all kinds of games, so it knows how to process the game you're trying to install. It will then instruct Barrel on how to continue. It does that by sending Barrel a file called a "recipe", which is nothing more than a .plist file.
If everything goes well and Barrel manages to find a recipe, it will automatically continue with everything and won't bother you again until it's time to install the game! Once everything is prepared, the game's installation wizard should run. Just follow the installer as you would on Windows. Once the installation is done, you will be asked for the game's executable file. Barrel will show you all new .exe files that were added by the installer. You just have to pick the right one! Worry not, as this is something that's easy to detect with your eyes. The file you are looking for is usually named after the game, so it will probably be "yourGameName.exe" inside the folder "Program Files". It could also be an abbreviation of the game's name. Age of Empires, for example, has a main binary file called "aoe.exe".
Once you've done this, Barrel will take over again, installing all requirements and finalising the bundle's configuration. When the configuration is finished, it will add your game in your library, along with the artwork that is stored on the server! You can, of course, change that if you prefer another image. For instructions on how to do this, check the "Context Menu" section below.
There are cases where Barrel won't be able to match your game to a server entry. This can happen if you are using a non-standard release of the game, or if the game is not yet supported (or has not yet been shared by a porter). IF you use a non-standard release, you can try to do a manual lookup, by clicking the "Manual Search" button and entering the name of the game you're trying to import. If a result is found, the automatic installation will continue, if not you can try to port the game yourself.
The rule of the thumb, is that most DirectX 9 games for windows should be easily portable, without the need to override and install 3rd party libraries. There are some cases, though, where 3rd party libraries are mandatory for a game to successfully run in Barrel.
If you are the first to try and install a given game, Barrel won't be able to find a match on the server and will ask you for a few details, in order to try and install a game for you. You will need to provide a name for the game, and choose one of the available Barrel Wine engines. Generally, the latest, the better, but there are some cases where games will run better with older engines.
After you select an engine, the automatic installation described above takes charge, and you can follow the installation wizard as you would for a normal installation. The only difference, is that when the installation is done, no automatic bundle configuration will take place, and there is a great possibility that the game won't run with Barrel. You will be taken to the game Library, where you'll see a new entry, with no artwork. You should then do a "Debug run" (see "Context Menu" section) to check if the game runs. If it doesn't, and all you get is the view log window, it means that the game may either need further configuration to run, or that it is not supported by Wine, and in extension - Barrel.
A good place to check a game's compatibility with Wine is The Wine Application Database, until Barrel's own game compatibility database is ready for release. You can also find configuration instructions there, which should normally apply to Barrel as well. You can install the required libraries by using Barrel's Winetricks manager, described further below in this document.
The context menu is where you can manage your game bundle, and where you can port your games before you share them with other people. Right-clicking on an item in the Library view, will give you all the options that you are looking for. The options that are available are shown below in the hierarchy that they appear in the current version (0.9 Beta 4):
Barrel offers a very easy-to-use manager window where you can browse and install winetricks packages for your port. The UI is very straightforward, you just have to select the packages that you want to install from the list view, and then click "Execute Winetricks". Barrel will show you the final wintricks command that will be executed, and will then start the winetricks installer. You can view winetricks' output in the bottom half of the winetricks manager. If you get any popup windows during winetricks installation, just follow the instructions on them to complete the installation.
Barrel will regularly check for any updates to the winetricks installer, individually for your bundles, before you open the winetricks manager. If any updates are found, it will automatically download the new winetricks installer binary, parse it and present the options to you.
This concludes the user manual. If you experience any bugs in the application, please don't forget to report them in the project's GitHub Issues page. Please, also check the FAQ sections for further possible answers to your questions.