nvALT 2.0: two forks, merged…
NVForked updated and is now nvALT, a merger of two forks.
Big update. Huge. Back in January, Scrod released an update the NV that added a host of great features… and broke compatibility with my fork. Since then I’ve been working on updating my fork to add in his changes in the official NV:
- Option for horizontal layout with multi-line previews in notes list
- Words between [[double-brackets]] will become links to other notes
- Tags can be synced to Dropbox and searched by Spotlight, via OpenMeta
- Tags are auto-completed while typing in the tag-entry field
- TaskPaper-compatible strikethrough formatting using the “@done” tag
- Fully plain-text-based automatic list-bullet formatting
- Note-titles inside double-brackets are (optionally) auto-completed
- “Show in Finder” command for revealing selected note-files on disk
- Highlighting of search terms can be disabled
- Dragging the divider to the top or left of the window will hide search field
- and more
I kept the new, official implementation of a horizontal layout, which uses a single column to display note title + metadata (dates and tags). Looks beautiful.
All the features from my fork are still there:
- Fullscreen mode (cmd-shift-f)
- Optional menubar icon/drop down menu
- Optional no dock icon (menu bar icon only) mode.
- The ability to add/edit tags for multiple notes at once (which now auto-completes the tags for you).
- Multiple color schemes you can easily switch between:
- Low Contrast (light gray background, dark gray text)
- User Customizable
- Easily collapse/expand the notes list and search field (cmd-shift-c)
- An option to improve the readability of notes by using margins to limit the width of the text (in preferences»Fonts&Colors)
- Other eye candy (check the scrollbars out).
AND added some new features:
- “Open in Text Editor” (Under the note menu, or Cmd-Shift-O) to will open the current note in the application of your choice (use WriteRoom if you prefer its fullscreen mode). This requires that you store your notes as separate files. The default app is the system wide default for whatever file type (.txt,.rtf,.html) you’re using. Probably Text Edit. But you can pick your preferred application in “Preferences»Editing”
- Show Word Count (Under the View menu, or Cmd-Shift-K). Heavily requested. Adds a live word count of your note to the search field. Hold down the option key to temporarily see the word count.
- Working Localization for French, German, and Portuguese. (Although some of the newer features show up in English. If you know French, German, or Portuguese and want to translate anything you see in English please email me or Brett).
Along the way, Brett Terpstra, the developer of another NV fork, nvALT, and I decided to “branch off and merge our forks”…. whatever that means. Well, it means that my fork and nvALT are now combined into a single release:nvALT, version 2. So this adds the features of nvALT 1.0.7 into the mix as well:
- (Multi)Markdown/Textile Preview (in the Preview menu, or hit Cmd-Control-P). Also highly requested. Brought to you mainly by Christian Tietze and Brett Terpstra. Thanks! I’ve added one thing to their implementation: Hold down the control key to temporarily see the preview window.
- HTML source code tab in the Preview window for fast copy/paste to blogs, etc.
- Customizable HTML and CSS files for the Preview window
- Custom HTML/CSS templates can be included in saved output from the Preview
- Social note sharing via Peggd
- Convert imported URLs to Markdown, and optionally strip excess content with Readability
And some other bug fixes and improvements. (Most noticeable: the search field is embedded in the window’s titlebar as in the official release, which I originally took out for going fullscreen, but got working again).
nvALT has its own auto-update channel. So it will only update to future nvALTs, and never to Scrod’s NV.
nvALT will create it own set of preferences from NV. This means that the first time you run nvALT it won’t have any prefs you’ve set in my old fork, the first version of nvALT, or the official NV. If you moved your notes to a custom location (like Dropbox) they won’t show up the first time you run nvALT; you just need to go back into preferences»Notes and set the “read notes from folder” to the right place. Apologies for the chance, it is a pain in the ass, but separating nvALT from NV means you can use both apps, store notes for each in a separate folder, and have fewer compatibility issues.
Note: Apparently our build is not particularly PowerPC compatible. Since neither Brett nor I have PPC machines its pretty hard to test/debug/build for them. We’ll do our best, but in the meantime its probably best for PPC users to hold off or use this experimentally only. Apologies.
Download nvALT, version 2 here.
Source code will be available (soon) here.
I’ll post a roadmap soon, after Brett and I have a little more time to agree on the next steps. In the meantime, enjoy the new release!
Put Your Mac’s Caps Lock Key to Better Use
After reading about Google’s Cr-48 ChromeOS prototype netbook, I had two immediate reactions:
1. My Mac runs Chrome + 1000s of other applications. Why would I want to reduce that to just Chrome?
2. The Cr-48 has no Caps Lock key. Instead it has a web search key. Slap your left pinky against that key and instead of SCREwiNG with what you’re writing, you get a quick web search box. Awesome. Where can I get me one of these?
Well. It took a while (mostly because I forgot about it). But I figured it out. Read on to find out how to disable your Caps Lock key, and then how to set it to activate Threshold, Quicksilver, Launchbar, or Alfred (all of which can quickly run a web search).
Setting this up is a bit convoluted, and I’ll explain why, but afterwards: it works like a charm.
Part of the convolutedness requires that you use either option-space or command-space to activate Quicksilver (or other app). Ok, you can use other combinations, but it is even more tricky to set that up, and I can explain how to do it, but I’ll do so in another post (if enough people request it).
You’ll need to install two preference panes, both from the same developer. PCKeyboard Hack and KeyRemap4MacBook (regardless of the name, this should work with any Mac). PCKeyboard Hack lets you remap your Caps Lock key to any other key. KeyRemap4MacBook lets you do all kinds of crazy remapping of your keyboard (but it CAN’T remap your Caps Lock key for some reason). In this case we want to remap your Caps Lock key to whatever keyboard combination you’ve got set to activate Quicksilver (or whatever your launcher/web searcher of choice happens to be). Now the challenge, and the reason we need both preference panes is that you can’t reasonably use a single key to activate Quicksilver. Otherwise every time you hit the command key (for example), Quicksilver would pop up. And for some reason, PCKeyboard Hack only lets you remap your Caps Lock key to a single key (not a combination like control-space). So the trick is to (use PCKeyboard Hack) to remap your Caps Lock key to another key that you almost certainly never use (because its not on your keyboard), and then (use KeyRemap4MacBook) remap that key to either option-space or command-space (to activate Quicksilver).
Ok. Convoluted explaination of a convoluted process? Check. Now onto the details:
2. Next we’ll remap your Caps Lock key. Go to System Preferences and click on PCKeyboard Hack.
In the first row you’ll see “Change Caps Lock”, double click in that row under “keycode” and enter 110. 110 is the keycode for the PC Application key.
Apparently, its this key on a Windows keyboard.
I’m guessing you don’t have a Windows keyboard (since this is a Mac only trick). Even if you do, I don’t think that key does anything in OS X. So we’ve now remapped your Caps Lock key to a key that doesn’t do anything in OS X. First, do no harm.
3. Now we’ll remap the “PC Application Key” to a keyboard combination that activates Quicksilver. Go back into System Preferences and click on the KeyRemap4Macbook icon. There’s a huge list of options that shows up. (and many interesting tricks you can use to ease your keyboard-life). You can literally get lost in this list trying out different remaps. For this post we just need one. Rather than have you scan down the list looking for it, click on the search field and type “Change PC Application Key”. This should narrow the list considerably. What you want is either the “Application Key to Option_L+Space” or “Application Key to Command_L+Space” (depending on if you want to use Command-Space or Option-Space to activate Quicksilver).
Check the appropriate box.
4. If you’ve already got the appropriate keyboard combo set up to activate Quicksilver (or Threshold, Launchbar, Alfred, etc.) then you’re good to go. Hit the Caps Lock key and enjoy. Otherwise you’ll need to go into that application’s preferences and set that up (comment below if you need info on how to do that). Some of those apps have ways of setting a specific trigger to activate ready to web search (instead of just activating). Comment below and I’ll post some info on how to do that.
UPDATE: 5. My original post forgot one last step. It turns out that OS X limits how fast it responds to the Caps Lock key. Its an attempt to cut down on accidental Caps Locking. Which is great. But for our uses, the limiting is annoying because it slows down how responsive our new web search key is. To fix this go into System Preferences»Keyboard»Keyboard tab and click on the “Modifiers…” button in the Lower right corner.
In the dropdown menu next to the Caps Lock key, select “No Action”. Now the Caps Lock key should be as responsive as any other key. Which means our new web search key is too. Enjoy!
Reeder OS X Tip: Set the ESC key to close browser
When you follow an article’s link to its full content, or use Instapaper Mobilizer, or follow a link when reading something in Reeder the application hides its feed list on the left and opens a browser in the right column (where the feed’s article content usually is).
There’s a couple ways to close the browser and return to Reeder’s default view of feed list on the left and article on the right:
- Click the close button (an “x” in a dark circle) in the upper left corner of the browser column.
- Use the mouse to select a different feed item in the left column.
- Hit the “j” or “k” key to select a different feed item
- Select “Close Browser” from the file menu or hit cmd-shift-w for its keyboard shortcut.
I find myself trying to close the browser quite a lot (because I use Instapaper Mobilizer a ton) and wanted to set the escape key to do all this, since that seems much more in line with standard OS X behavior (and so is what my hands’ muscle memory wants to do).
It’s not terribly difficult to do, but does require a plist editor such as Property List Editor (which is one of the Developer tools you can install from your OS X install DVD) or PListEditPro. There are a lot of steps, and it might seem hacky (because we’re manually editing a plist), but it works fine. Here’s how to do it:
- Quit Reeder if its open.
- Open System Preferences
- Click the Keyboard icon
- Click the Keyboard Shortcuts tab
- Select “Application Shortcuts” in the left column
- Click the plus-sign button below the right column
- Select Reeder from the drop down list (or navigate to it by selecting “other…”)
- Type “Close Browser” (case sensitive) into the Menu Title field
- Select the field next to Keyboard Shortcut and hit cmd-shift-escape
- Close Preferences.
- Navigate to ~/Library/Preferences/ folder and find “com.reederapp.mac.Reeder.plist”
- Open that with a plist editor.
- Look for the NSUserKeyEquivalents, which should have a drop-down arrow next it and click that.
- You should see the Close Browser key on the left and something like “@⎋” on the right.
- Double click the field on the right and delete the “@” so its just the escape key icon.
- Save and close the plist.
- Open Reeder and try it out (or check by clicking the File menu and looking at the keyboard shortcut listed next to Close Browser”)
Thoughts on Reeder for Mac
Reeder for Mac draft 1 was released last night, and I’ve been testing it out. You can download it here. You can read more about it here. The UI is beautiful and interesting, and Reeder shows a lot of promise. As a long-time NetNewsWire user/fan I have to say this is the first Mac RSS client that has me considering switching in years. That said there are some annoyances with the UI I thought I’d write up in the hope it might spark a conversation about Reeder’s usability (particularly its keyboard based navigation) and could inform its talented developer, Silvio Rizzi. Since this is one of the first applications I can think of that has moved from iOS to OS X, its definitely interesting to see how the developer considers keyboard and mouse based interaction. There are elements in Reeder that feel like they ought to be touched (not clicked) and many (seemingly) obvious keyboard-based navigation actions that (to my mind) are missing.
All that said, I’m very excited about Reeder and hope it sparks some renewed competition among desktop RSS clients. While much has been written about RSS clients being dead or moved to the browser, I (for one) am a huge fan of having an application that does one thing well: aggregate and read the news.
Here’s some of what seems off/missing to me:
- Love the way reading an article hides the feed list, but I wish there was a keyboard-based way to navigate back to the feed list and out of the article (the escape key sounds right).
- Article content should (reasonably) reflow to stay visible when a window/column is too small. Currently you have to use the mouse to resize the window.
- I wish some of the great toolbar items could have keyboard shortcuts. Instapaper Mobilizer, Instapaper, opening an article in the browser are all key.
- Wish you could send an article to the browser in the background.
- I’m not sure the logic/reasoning behind having some items in the toolbar at the top of the window and some (the refresh button, the mark as read button) at the button.
- Better overall keyboard navigation. Left-Right Arrow keys (and the tab key) should move focus between feed list, feed items, and article views. It would also be nice if the focused view was hightlighted in some way.
- A proper “River of News” view, combining a list of feed items and all/a large chunk of the feed’s article into one column.
I adapted Connor McKay’s excellent Safari extension, YouTube5 (the website currently is fireballed), which forces YouTube to play videos in HTML5 format, into a Chrome extension.
It’s not quite as useful as the Safari version because, unfortunately, Chrome’s native HTML5 video player does not have fullscreen ability. A workaround is to right-click on the video and “open video in new tab” which opens video in a new tab and takes up almost the whole window.
I’ll try and work on a better fullscreen implementation and a way to quickly switch back to flash for those wanting fullscreen. But its a start towards flash-free goodness on Chrome.
NV fork updated: user theme and multi-tagging (again)
Another update to my fork of NV is available here.
- The universal build should now be… universal. As far I as I can tell and test this build should work on Leopard or Snow Leopard (and probably Lion :) on intel or PPC processors.
- Multi-tagging should now work. There were a lot of bugs with my original implementation. Apologies for that. It should now just work. Select multiple notes in the notes list and hit cmd-shift-t.
- You can now easily switch between 3 different color schemes for NV. The default, black and white, original NV look. The Low Contrast Scheme, light grey background, dark text color, I introduced two builds ago. And a User Scheme you can set the background and text colors for (in Preferences»Editing). You can switch between Color Schemes in the View Menu, there’s a Color Schemes submenu. Or Cmd-Shift-A (B/W), Cmd-Shift-S (Low Contrast), Cmd-Shift-D (User Scheme). I worked to integrate the two colors not just into the background and text of the NV window, but into all the UI elements. This ended up resulting in some other, subtle, UI changes. The scrollbars are now subtle, auto-hiding, translucent, for example. The changes are not finalized, and I welcome thoughts and ideas about the interface in the comments below or by email (elasticthreads att gmail).
On its way…