Software updates

Ironic Software releases Fresh

FreshIronic Software yesterday released Fresh, a small utility for helping you to locate and act on the most recently added or modified files on your computer. When invoked, Fresh shows you two lists: on the top are your most recently added or modified files and on the bottom is the “cooler” where you can store files that you need to repeatedly access. Fresh also has an embedded version of Ironic Software’s free Tagit application, allowing you to tag and rate your files using OpenMeta without needing to run both programs (or even have Tagit installed).

Fresh is one of those fantastic pieces of software that targets a common problem (“where the heck is that file I was just working on?”) and provides a simple, elegant solution that you can start using within seconds of downloading the program. Even if you’re uninterested in the tagging features (which I admit I’m personally unlikely to use; I prefer Tags), Fresh is an application that will slip easily into your workflow, likely making you wonder after a day or two how you ever lived without. Fresh offers a 21 day free trial, and costs $9 to register.

Together and EagleFiler updated

EagleFilerBoth Together and EagleFiler received minor updates recently. Together has been bumped to 2.2.6, an update which includes some minor bug fixes for Applescript behavior, syncing encrypted files, and Quick Notes with invisible characters. EagleFiler is now at 1.4.4, an update which includes numerous fixes such as a more streamlined capture workflow from Apple Mail, improved error messages when running into problems importing from various programs, and many other minor improvements.

For more information, see the Together release notes or EagleFiler 1.4.4 blog announcement.

Tags update: 1.1

TagsTags, my current favorite file system tagging solution, today was updated to version 1.1. This update includes drag-and-drop support for files and so forth onto the tag mode window (just invoke the window and drag away), a new tag manager with a number of useful options (including the ability to select which tags are your favorites), support for TaskPaper and NetNewsWire, an option to live without the flipping animation, an option to launch Tags at startup, and numerous bug fixes.

Unfortunately, the release notes don’t appear to be published anywhere online, but you can find them if you run the auto-update for the software (assuming you have it installed). If it’s not already on your computer, then now is as good a time as any to try it out.

HoudahSpot adds OpenMeta support

HoudahSpotEvery so often I get emails asking why the heck I’ve never mentioned HoudahSpot on Tagamac, and the answer has always been the same: it doesn’t offer any easy way to work with tags. Fortunately, those days are at an end. HoudahSpot, one of the few Spotlight enhancements that is still actively developed, was recently updated with support for OpenMeta tags such as those used by Tags and Deep, allowing you to build complex search queries involving tags easily and quickly.

HoudahSpot 2 requires Leopard, and is available for $25 with a 14 day free trial. Like other Spotlight enhancers, HoudahSpot gives you an easy way to construct and save complex searches without needing to rely on Apple’s less-than-ideal tools. If you’ve been as miffed at FileSpot’s apparent abandonment, then HoudahSpot definitely deserves your attention.

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.

DevonThink 2.0 public beta released

DevonThinkBig news for those interested in file organization! Devon Technologies yesterday released a public beta of the long-awaited DevonThink 2.0. Among other things, DevonThink 2.0 offers the ability to open multiple databases at the same time, a completely revitalized interface, a web interface to your database, saves files to its database as-is (thus allowing them to be edited by external programs), smart groups for sorting your files, and at long last adds tagging (sort of). DevonThink has always been one of the most feature-rich file libraries available, and with version 2.0 it at last is a bit more friendly. If you need a lot of power and automation (particularly sorting/grouping automation) and don’t mind sacrificing the Finder-friendly approach of Together or EagleFiler for a database, then you’ll need to give DevonThink 2.0 a serious look.

The downside to the first public beta is that it doesn’t actually have much in the way of tagging support. There’s a place for tags in the Get Info window, but you can’t edit them (the contents currently defaults to the groups for a document). However, tagging (and presumably auto-tagging, given DevonThink’s long dedication to auto-sorting) is definitely on the radar for the final release. For more information about what’s new in DevonThink 2.0 and to download see the release notes and DevonThink 2.0 page. The first public beta will expire at the end of January, and upgrade options will be made available at the DevonThink website soon (they have announced, however, that users who purchased DevonThink 1.x after July 1, 2008 will receive a free upgrade to 2.0). DevonThink 2.0 requires OS 10.5.

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