Archive for January, 2009

Fontcase released

FontcaseBohemian Software yesterday released Fontcase, a font manager for OS X that features a beautiful interface, tagging, and most other standard font manager features (previewing, examining all the characters for a given font, comparing fonts, etc.). I’m pretty excited about Fontcase. A month or two ago I was looking for a font manager (as a frontend web developer I find myself accruing more and more fonts), but none of the offerings on the market were as simple and elegant as I was hoping. I ended up just sticking with Font Book and wishing that there were a font manager that supported tagging and smart groups. Lo and behold, my wish is granted in Fontcase.

Aside from its extremely pleasant interface, Fontcase offers a surprisingly wide spread of features for a 1.0 release, including importing smart groups and so forth from Linotype’s FontExplorer X, local network sharing of fonts, the ability to print font previews, and more. Although the lack of any sort of Adobe plugins for auto font activation may make the program less appealing for true power users, Fontcase is a very appealing option to those like myself who need a better tool than Font Book but aren’t interested in spending an arm and a leg. Fontcase is available for a 14 day trial, and costs €35 / $46, with family and business packs available as well.

OpenMeta officially released

Yesterday was a big day for tagging; aside from the release of Tags, Ironic Software officially released OpenMeta, their new open source framework for tagging miscellaneous files using extended attributes (xattr) on Mac OS X 10.5. In addition to the OpenMeta code itself, they also released Tagger—a free utility for tagging, rating, or finding files using OpenMeta—and OMTool—a command lined utility for working with OpenMeta metadata. Both utilities are available for download from the Ironic Software homepage.

The exciting part about OpenMeta is that developers finally have a standardized way to assign and read tags on files (other than the less-than-ideal Spotlight comment hack of yore) which has the potential to free users from getting tied down to a particular solution. Aside from Tags and Deep (the first of which is compatible with OpenMeta, the second of which was the first program to use it), MailTags is also in the process of joining the OpenMeta bandwagon (not available in public builds yet, unfortunately). Hopefully software like Together, EagleFiler, and others of that ilk will also begin to incorporate OpenMeta, allowing users to tag and find files across the system and their various tagging programs without needing to keep all of those programs running.

Tags released

TagsYesterday Gravity Apps released a new file system tagging solution called, simply enough, Tags. Even after playing with it for less than a day, I can say definitively that Tags is the most elegant and easy to use tagging solution available on the Mac, and I strongly recommend that anyone interested in a generic file tagging solution give it a try. Using an approach to tagging reminiscent of Quicksilver, Tags allows you to tag virtually anything on your computer by invoking a single hotkey (control-space by default). And when I say virtually anything, I mean exactly that: files in Finder, emails in Mail, addresses in Address Book, bookmarks in Safari, photos in iPhoto, and the list goes on. Once you’ve tagged a few files you can find them easily simply by hitting the hotkey twice and using Tags’ searching interface, by creating a Smart Folder from within Tags, or simply by prefacing the tag with “tag:” in a Spotlight search. This is the first application I’ve used where tagging items and then searching for them in Spotlight just felt like magic; Gravity Apps has obviously paid very close attention to making Tags a first class OS X citizen.

The best news, however, is that besides being beautiful and so easy to use my tech-challenged grandmother could probably figure it out, Tags doesn’t use Spotlight comments or any other such hackery to accomplish its tagging. It instead uses extended attributes in a way that is compatible (or possibly identical) with OpenMeta, the open source tagging framework recently released by Ironic Software and incorporated into their photo tag browser Deep. For anyone who has been frustrated with the numerous limitations of Spotlight comment tagging, this is fantastic news indeed. Tags is available as a free trial from the Tags website, and when you’re ready to buy is priced at $29.

The Hit List enters public preview

The Hit ListAs if the choice wasn’t difficult enough already, yet another Getting Things Done application entered the wild today; Potion Factory today released a public preview version of The Hit List, a GTD app that treads a middle path between OmniFocus‘ high-powered outlining and Things‘ beautiful minimalism, with a dash of TaskPaper‘s text-based tagging for good measure. By combining outlining-style task management with the concept of lists and robust text-based tagging, The Hit List is an application that will likely appeal to those who love OmniFocus’ flexibility but are yearning for an application with a little more visual pizazz.

Some of my personal favorite features of The Hit List include the tabs (which essentially allow you to save snapshots of the sidebar and navigate between them, something which Things is sorely lacking), the wonderful notebook-paper inspired themes, and the in-depth and easy to get into keyboard navigation. If OmniFocus or the recently released Things don’t quite scratch your task management itch, The Hit List will be well worth checking out. According to its early testers, The Hit List is stable enough for daily use despite being in beta and not yet feature complete. If you fall in love with The Hit List you can preorder it for $49.95; the price after release will jump to $69.95, and it is completely free during the public preview. For more information and to download the application, visit the Hit List public preview announcement.

Things 1.0 released

ThingsAfter months of semi-public and public betas, Things has finally been released! Things is a beautiful and slim-lined task manager that relies on tagging to allow you to add just as much information to your tasks as you need. I’ve been using it since the early semi-public alphas, and it is one of my favorite examples of tagging done right and a staple of my workflow.

Things’ visual appeal should be obvious, but there’s also some recently added features worth noting. One of my favorites is that Things has always sorted tasks based on the tags you’re filtering by, but as of the release candidates the Today view doesn’t segregate tasks by project so you can organize tags by priority across projects simply by tagging them. Other note-worthy features since I last posted about Things are a refined interface, global searching across the entire library, an iPhone app that at last supports tags, and a much clearer delineation between projects and areas. I strongly recommend Things for anyone who finds OmniFocus too complex and TaskPaper too limiting. Things is available for $49.95; for more information about recent new features see the release notes.

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