Alfred's Fuzzy Search, … Finally!

August 16, 2014

Alfred's Fuzzy Search, … Finally! → via @_patrickwelker

Hi, my name is Patrick. I’m an app horder and I run way to many apps. You need proof? Well, I run my favorite launchers, Alfred and LaunchBar, parallel (= at the same time).

I’m going to publish a separate post on this at some point, so that know why on earth someone is willing to force double the memory consumption on his poor old Mac. But today is ‘Alfred Day’.

Alfred, the trustworthy butler for all things Mac, has now arrived on Version 2.4. Along with it comes some cosmetic polish like a new default OS X Yosemite Light and Dark theme, a sharper status bar icon which respects Yosemite theming, a bit of window blur and lastly the obligatory follow the leader font-family: "Helvetica Neue" typography1.

That’s all nice and good, but for me there’s one point in the change log I’ve been eagerly awaiting and bugging the developers about constantly:

New option to fuzzy match file system navigation results, on by default in Alfred’s Features > File Search > Navigation options

YES!

As a LaunchBar guy I’m used to this behavior for ages and I couldn’t understand how any Alfred user could put up with it and navigate to his files successfully without getting annoyed. Admitted, there’s a chance that me being a scatterbrain is to blame for that I often can remember only parts of the folder I’m looking for. Normally Alfred should figure out what destination I’m trying to reach if I teach it well enough. Still, this hasn’t worked for me. And in the end, the app should make it as easy as possible for me to reach my target folder.

If you’re not completely sure what I’m talking about I put together a little screencast with my friend Daniel from the UK.

PS: Since I’m going to write that LaunchBar + Alfred article anyway, feel free to email or tweet me your favorite features or the reason why you decided to use one or the other app.

  1. Sorry, Jony. Still not convinced. You can do better.

Ten Years a Mac Developer

August 15, 2014

Ten Years a Mac Developer → via @_patrickwelker

Steve Harris is the developer behind Together, Feeder and Poster. He’s “in the (indy) game” for over ten years now and his Together is one of those apps I keep installed for a special purpose. It’s my offline Evernote where I keep and gather all things design related from tutorials up to snap shots from inspiring web designs.

To make a living, you need to create something useful that you can sell at a reasonable but sustainable price, and build up over time. Luck and good timing matter too, but a lot of that comes down to being smart about it. Sometimes it takes a while to come up with the app that sticks.

Together succeeded in a niche for me. I didn’t need almighty Evernote as a all-in bucket. Although I tried to use it for my design work, I cam back to Together. The feature I really like is the ability to create tag groups. You can setup tags for certain folders that get automatically applied when you drag files in them. Here’s an excerpt of how I use them:

Inspiration   > #webdev #inspiration
    Portfolio > #portfolio
    Templates > #templates
    Widgets   > #widgets
	    Smart Folders for buttons, forms, galleries, etc.

Together has helped me out there. I like the fact that it’s all local and that I can use my trusted folder structure. You can send files to your Together folder with your favorite Launcher apps (like Alfred or LaunchBar) or if your a I-love-my-mouse guy, you can drag files to the side of your screen where a drawer pops up with your favorite Together folders.

I recommend Steve’s post to new developers - no matter if you’re an iOS-only developer or are strictly Mac dev - because he outlines some scenarios that you might find yourself in one day.

Many Mac devs from that era have now experienced the full bell curve of interest in a platform, starting out as a niche concern, then hyped to the stratosphere, only to be swiftly brought back to earth. It’s hardly that the Mac or those apps are an irrelevance, but it can feel that way when you’re trying to promote your stuff.

You know, history repeats itself. So don’t get bummed out when your app goes through a dry phase and don’t rest on your achievements if you landed in the top segment of the charts overnight.

In addition there’s his seasoned experience about…

… people saying you should sell apps for pennies to get the most exposure…

… and why he entered the iOS market after ten years of developing:

I had to start all over again creating a Mac and iOS app combo to survive in the new world that emerged…

Last words from myself: Good look with Together Steve, also with fixing that pesky iCloud-Sync bugs. And, to my readers, if you’re into (app) history check out the 10 years of Together in this post.

PS: I hope to see an integration with iCloud Drive for the direct version after Yosemite shipped.1

  1. If such a thing is possible at all.

NoteHub – Pastebin with Markdown

August 07, 2014

NoteHub – Pastebin with Markdown → via @_patrickwelker

This brief article is supposed to introduce NoteHub to you, “a free and hassle-free pastebin for one-off markdown publishing”.

Since many people are moving away from all kinds of cloud-service towards self-hosted solutions, this little gem can also be used for the occasional (temporarily) shared Markdown document on the own server (see here). Of course it works out of the box if you don’t want to/need to host the app yourself.

2014-08-07-notehub.png

Like the screen shot tells you, it’s also a WYSIWYG editor plus it works like Pastebin in that it automatically deletes older files for you (after 30 days). You can also password protect your shares and view them in all flavors of Solarized.

The popular file sharing services Droplr and CloudApp already come with Markdown support built-in. If you share a Markdown document the receiver will get a nicely rendered HTML document. It’s such a good feature that I wish Timo Josten, developer of my favorite self-hosted sharing tool Dropshare, will consider adding it to his app.

Said services host your shared document forever. If you just want to share a file temporarily then NoteHub is your candidate.

Once your file is published you can do a couple of things with it:

During the note publishing a password can be set. This password unlocks the note for editing. The edit mode can be entered by appending of /edit to the note url. By appending of /stats to any note url, everyone can see a rudimentary statistics (currently, the number of note views only). By appending of /export, the original markdown content will be displayed in plain text format.

The plain original Markdown support is based on the, using the Pagedown.js parser and you can also apply a custom <style>.

I browsed the source code on GitHub and the API but haven’t yet found the line of code which could make it possible to share files longer than the 30 days limit (or even ∞). Naturally someone smarter will figure this out, or if this is crucial to you just contact Christian Müller (@gravitydenier) directly.

Disclaimer: While plowing through GitHub I also found my old friend Brett Terpstra on one of the issues threads who pointed out that NoteHub currently doesn’t support footnotes.1

  1. It’s no wonder that Brett already got this on his radar since he’s the-Markdown-guy par excellence.

Übersicht - JavaScript Widgets on you Desktop

August 06, 2014

Übersicht - JavaScript Widgets on you Desktop → via @_patrickwelker

There’s a new contender on Mac OS X for widgets on your Desktop. It’s called Übersicht and the way it’s build makes it in my option far superior to it’s popular contenders, namely GeekTool and Nerdtool.

2014-08-06-ubersicht-screenshot-small.jpg Link: Full-Screen Image

Übersicht widgets can be build with JavaScript (or CoffeeScript). So with a bit of HTML and CSS you can make really nice looking widgets without relying on hacks. Just take a look at the current gallery.

But who better to tell you better what the benefits of Übersicht are than the developer himself. Here’s a comment of Felix Hageloh from the Lifehacker comment section:

… it is easy to do charts, graphs and even animations in Übersicht if you are comfortable with HTML/javascript! Another advantage is that your widgets’ position won’t break when you plug in a different size display. This is possible because of CSS positioning: you can say ‘position 10 pixels from the right edge of the screen’ and your widget will stay there no matter how large the display is.

Placing widgets on a fixed absolute position is my favorite “feature” over GeekTool – if I change my screens resolution my widgets are still where they belong. The first tweets I read complained exactly about this: there is no way to just drag and drop a widget where you like to have it. You have to edit the CSS values inside the widget to place it where you want it. And… since the customer is the king, Felix is already planning to integrate a drag and drop option (although one of the main reasons why he build Übersicht was to have absolute control over the position rather than vaguely placing something somewhere on the screen).

If you want to more about Felix and why he created Übersicht you can check out this 27 minute CSS on the Desktop talk from him (Warning: 420p ahead).

Bonus points for Übersicht: It’s not as resource hungry as GeekTool. If your comfortable with JavaScript (or CSS/SASS) it’s actually easier to write a widget for it.

Given it’s currently at Version 0.2 there aren’t much widgets for you to download. But it’s fairly easy to convert your existing GeekTool widgets if you look at the explanations on GitHub – it’s also open-source, so fork ahead.

That said, it also misses some key features like dual monitor support. At the moment you can only select one screen.

I think/hope/wish that it’s only a matter of time when Brett Terpstra switches to Übersicht and converts his GeekTool showcase to make it even more “übersichtlicher”.

PS: If you’re a die-hard GeekTool user check out Brett’s collection of geeklets.

UPDATE (2014-08-08):

I found another piece of information by Felix Hageloh than can make writing widgets a tad easier, so I thought I add it here:

So in essence the app is just a large WebView that is glued to your desktop and widgets are little snippets of HTML+CSS+JS. Of course you can’t run system commands from within a WebView, so the app comes with a NodeJs backend. For more details on that, you can checkout out the slides for my talk at the local Amsterdam JavaScript Meetup.