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The Apper 1.1

http://home.austin.rr.com/scalo/apper.html
email: scalo@austin.rr.com

What is The Apper?

The concept behind The Apper is pretty simple. When you want to open a program on your computer, you usually know its name, or at least some semblance of it. So wouldn't an easy way to open that program be to simply type a few letters of the name, and have a list of matching applications displayed in front of you? Well I thought so, so I created this utility.

What's new in 1.1?

* Enhanced interface which allows for minimizing the window.
* Wildcard toggle. In 1.0 you had to use the "*" character to do a wildcard
search. In 1.1 this mode can be always on or always off (and the "*" character
still works as well).
* Option to always eliminate duplicates. When this is turned on, The Apper only
displays the most recent applications with any given name. This ensures that
you'll always use the latest version of any application on your hard drive (and
keeps 10 SimpleTexts from showing up in the window :-).
* "Quit after launch" option.
* Performance improvement. On slower Macs the list window could take some
time to build before the next character input was accepted. Now keyboard
input takes priority over list building for a much smoother feel.
* The Apper now saves the location of the window so it appears in the same
spot you left it.
* Now ignores pesky aliases that masquerade as applications.
* Fixed many bugs.

Using The Apper

Either keep The Apper in your Apple menu, an alias on the desktop, or map it to an app-launching keystroke if you have a new Mac (the new Keyboard control panel lets you do this) or a key macro utiltity (like Easy KEYS). Then, when you want to open a program on your hard drive, go to The Apper first and start typing the name of the program you're looking for. A list of available programs will quickly minimize in the list below. You can then use the arrow keys, the page up/down keys, or the mouse to select the program.

At this point, you can:

Launch the program by double-clicking or pressing Return
Open the enclosing folder by pressing Command-E (or selecting it from the
menu)
Delete the program by pressing Command-D (or selecting it from the menu).
This moves the program to the Trash

The Apper works quickly by keeping a static database of the applications on your hard drive. The first time you open it, The Apper will scan your hard drive and save a list of the programs in your Preferences folder. This shouldn't take longer than a few seconds. You'll want to do this periodically so that The Apper is up to date with any programs you may have added. You can do this at any time by clicking the Index button in the window. The Apper only scans local volumes, not volumes mounted over the network.

To clear all information out of the window, type Command-period or Esc.

If you have a ridiculously large number of programs on your hard drive, The Apper may run out of memory. To alleviate this, increase the Preferred Memory size in the Finder by at least 25%.

Wildcard Character

If you're not exactly sure of the name of the program, you can use the wildcard character "*" at the beginning of the string, or turn the "wildcard always on" option on in the Preferences dialog. For example, typing "*word" would bring up a list of programs that includes Microsoft Word. If for some insane reason you want to see every program on your hard drive, type "**".

Elimination of Duplicates

If you're like me, then you probably have several versions of many programs on your computer (especially the staples like SimpleText, Stuffit, etc). When this option is on (which it is by default), The Apper checks the modification date of every program it sees. If it sees more than one app with the exact same name, it only displays the one with the most recent modification date. This virtually guarantees that you'll always be working with the most recent version of any program on your hard drive.

Quit After Launch

This wasn't in the original version but a lot of people asked for it. When this option is turned on, The Apper quits immediately after launching the selected app.

Drag & Drop

The Apper supports dragging and dropping of single files onto applications listed in the window. The Apper will ask that application to open the file and if it can, it will.

Commonly Asked Questions (CAQ?)

It would be really cool if The Apper listed all my applications AND documents!
Yes, wouldn't that be nice! However, The Apper works fast by storing a list of all of your apps statically. They're kept in a file in your Preferences folder until The Apper is launched and then it reads everything into RAM. If it tried to store EVERYTHING on your hard drive, it would probably take about 30MB of RAM instead of <1MB.

There's a program on my hard drive that The Apper doesn't see. Why is that?
The Apper only sees applications with a file type of 'APPL', which is the standard Macintosh signature for applications. However there are a select few which have a file type of 'APPD', which is the signature for desk accessories. Actually there are only two that I know of still around- Key Caps and Apple System Profiler. The Apper would have to make a second pass through the file system to see these, and that would make indexing take twice as long.

How come The Apper isn't smart enough to follow a program when I've moved it or renamed it?
It could be if it used alias records instead of FSSpec's to track apps. The problem with this approach is that the database grows by about 5 times and launching the program takes about 10 times longer. Not only is the database bigger but the Resource Manager must be used to read the data and this is much less efficient than reading the data as a stream. I have a version that works this way and if you want it I'll send it to you...

How much does The Apper cost?

Nothing! Nada! Zip!

Special Thanks...

To anyone who took the time to send me comments or suggestions. If you made a suggestion about 1.0, it's probably in 1.1. And also to Rich Dellinger (www.richd.com) who made a lot of great suggestions and was basically the QA department.


Original file name: The Apper Read Me - converted on Friday, 8 October 1999, 02:03

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