Tuesday, April 12, 2005

AppRocket: A LaunchBar clone for Windows?

Candy Labs - AppRocket

LaunchBar 3 for OS X was an essentially perfect application. Yeah, I know about QuickSilver. There's even a LaunchBar 4.01 which is supposed to be a nice update -- but why mess with perfection? I paid for LaunchBar and I love it.

I've looked without success for a Windows equivalent. Today I idly typed in an old google search 'launchbar for windows'. It returned AppRocket, now on version 1.2.

On first inspection this is basically a clone of LaunchBar 1.x. Alas, it didn't work for me. On an initial test it didn't seem to be detecting directories or folders (!?!)*. I assumed this was a glitch of the initial (very long) indexing process, but before I could retest AppRocket threw an uncaught exception and crashed. The crashed process continued to consume 40GB of drive space, but I was able to eventually restart XP. (BTW, I thought .NET apps weren't supposed to do that sort of thing any more ...)

It looks like I'll stick with my home-brewed WCD-powered folder-navigator solution for now. I'll try again with 1.3.
* One would assume any application designed to support navigation would do at least as well as Norton Change Directory (later integrated into Norton Commander 3.x) -- the perfect application for folder navigation (vintage 1989). Incredibly, application designers consistently ignore the metadata implicit in an enclosing folder. Several 'file location/navigation' utilities for Windows that I've evaluated completely ignore directories! Even some of much celebrated full text search programs don't return matches on folder/directory substrings! (Yahoo Desktop Search, my current somewhat-favorite, does match on directories.)

I do find it fascinating that truly superb ideas in software can be quite successful, then vanish and never be fully implemented again. Compared to what we attempt to do today, NCD was a trivial, utterly simple application. And yet, there's no reliable modern equivalent available on the dominant Windows platform. I think we can only explain this sort of market failure by comparison to the idiosyncratic "choices" of systems ruled by the peculiarities of evolution and natural selection.

5/21/06: I did eventually buy a later, more stable, version of AppRocket. It's ok, but it's definitely not in the same exalted class as LaunchBar. Worth the money though.

Update 6/07: I forget what happened, but I soured on AppRocket. Buggy I believe, and in the end far inferior to LaunchBar. Later, I think, Google bundled similar functionality into their desktop search engine.

No comments: