KeyLaunch 3.0 or the awesomeness that never got released…

First, a little bit of history:

Once upon a time, in February 2002, I was watching my favorite geek show on my hacked Ultimate TV: The Screen Savers, when, all of a sudden I hear the words “never been done”. I immediately hit the Replay button on my remote keyboard to hear what was being talked about…

Leo was demonstrating a Mac OS X app that, using a very simple interface, was able to locate files on your Mac.
A simple searching application with a very unique implementation. An app launcher, as known by then.

The thing is that, contrary to how most app launchers worked back then, this one made searching programs and files in general extremely easy:

  • Hit a shortcut key to launch the finder
  • Type a couple of keywords
  • Select the desired file from a list of matches

Sounds familiar? Well, of course it does! It is the way Spotlight and the Start Menu work! Wait, that’s also how the dreaded Start Screen in Windows 8 works!

So as Leo is demoing the app (called LaunchBar), he mentions that there’s no equivalent for Windows and that he wishes he could use something similar on his Windows machine.
Right there, I get up from my watching-TV-couch and sit in-front of my computer and start… coding away.

Amazingly, I had a working prototype in less than 3 hours.
Coded in VB6, but using Win32 functions to enumerate folders and files… the damn thing was the fastest finder I had ever seen.
I got so exited that emailed TechTV and mentioned that I had started working on a version of Leo’s favorite launcher app for Windows and even included a link to download the prototype.

Somehow, this information got to Mr. Laporte himself and, apparently, he liked it so much that decided to run a live interview with me on a future program.
The guys at TechTV were so nice that they even sent me a web camera (as I didn’t have one). Also, they sent me a VHS recording of the interview but I’ve always been prohibited from posting it online for copyright reasons.

I even remember once asking Leo (a long time ago) if I could post the video online and he told me that that would be illegal.. Well, TechTV has been gone since 2004 and although TechTV rights are now owned by G4 (which is now own by who knows), I don’t see how posting the video here would hurt anyone.

So, here’s the interview (let’s hope I don’t get sued).
But, before you hit “Play”, please note that (a) English is not my primary language and (b) I had a temperature of 39°C/102°F. No, not because I had the flu, but because of how nervous I was!

 

Well, and that’s the story behind KeyLaunch.
I have to thank both Leo and Patrick for being so GREAT!

I had so many ideas for this little proggy. I worked on it for about two years until both (almost at the same time) Microsoft and Apple integrated a search mechanism into their operating systems so KeyLaunch no longer made sense and became an irrelevant tool…

If interested, you can still download the latest official version of KeyLaunch from http://software.xfx.net/utilities/kl

And here’s a link to view two training videos showcasing KeyLaunch’s features: http://software.xfx.net/utilities/kl/tutorials.htm

As I was maintaining version 2.x I was working on a 3.0 version developed using .NET 2.0
The idea was to improve KeyLaunch with a more modern UI and to provide several features that would have been extremely difficult to implement in VB6.
Unfortunately, I lost interest as the very same functionality that KeyLaunch provides was being natively implemented into Windows. Today, Windows, Mac OS and even Linux have this functionality built-in.
I did “almost” finish it however and used it for quite some time but never got to release it to the public.

Earlier this afternoon I was watching Triangulation and saw the interview with Roberto Hoyos and somehow remind me of my own interview so I decided it’d be nice to write about it and also post the never released version of KeyLaunch 3.0 with its source code.

KeyLaunch 3.0

Version 3.0 adds several new features that makes KeyLaunch a really nice application that, if it were ever been made public, I’m sure a lot of people would’ve liked it.

The first thing you’ll notice, if you have ever used KeyLaunch before, is the new user interface.
Here’s a screenshot of version 2.x:

KeyLaunch 2.x

KeyLaunch 2.x

And here’s a screenshot of version 3.0:

KeyLaunch 3.0

KeyLaunch 3.0

Here’s a list of some of the most important improvements over version 2.x:

Although 3.0 is considerably more advanced than version 2.x, there are several features missing, such as:

  • The ability to perform operations over file from the search results window:
KeyLaunch 2.x Context Menu

KeyLaunch 2.x Context Menu

  • Show the file’s properties
  • Rename / Copy
  • Select the file within the Explorer window when the parent folder is opened
  • It’s a bit faster. Version 3.0′s eye-candy slows it a bit but that can be fixed since 3.0′s code is over a decade old and .NET wasn’t as mature as it is to day and I didn’t know 0.1% of what I know today — so I’m sure the code can be vastly improved
  • …among other minor (but nice) features…

So, here’s the code (and its source) for the never-released-before KeyLaunch 3.0

KeyLaunch 3.0 (Binary version for Windows)
KeyLaunch 3.0 [105.31 kB]

KeyLaunch 3.0 source code (Visual Studio)
KeyLaunch Source Code 3.0 [2.09 MB]

So what you think? Should I sue Microsoft and Apple for copying me? ;)
Or should they guy who wrote LaunchBar sue me?
I mean, suing everybody is today’s “thing”…