Nifty Box News

Sunday, August 09, 2009

OpenMeta Exporter

I've just released the new OpenMeta exporter for Nifty Box. This is a stand-alone tool for exporting file-tags from Nifty Box to OpenMeta.

OpenMeta is an open tagging format initially created by ironic software and now a couple of applications support OpenMeta.

How to use the OpenMeta Exporter: Unzip the application, start it and follow the instructions. After the completion of the export every OpenMeta-aware application should be able to access the file-tags from Nifty Box.

download link

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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Future of Nifty Box

Today I am releasing an update for Nifty Box. It introduces an enhanced mechanism to semi-automatically relocate lost file links. Usually Nifty Box will have no problems accessing files using Apple's alias technology, but this is true only if the files stay on the same hard-drive. If you move them to another hard-drive Nifty Box might need some help to correctly find the files at their new location. With version 1.3 a new assistant as well as a new library view ("Lost Links") have been included. You will find more information about this in Nifty Box's help documentation.

Some time has passed since version 1.2 and I have to admit that the development process of Nifty Box has been rather slow. This is because I was very busy doing freelance IT consulting. Slowly I became kind of detached from Nifty Box and lost the passion to keep on working on it as a side project. In the last couple of months I thoroughly pondered what my real interests are and made a decision to start a career in the space industry. If you look at the old screenshots on the Nifty Box homepage you might have guessed that I had this fascination all along.

Beginning with July 1st I am starting a new job and because of that I will stop the further development of Nifty Box.

What does this mean?

First of all, this new version (1.3) is a free release and I will stop selling Nifty Box. From now on Nifty Box will be freeware.

Of course there will be bug-fix releases if needed, but I am not planning to implement new features for Nifty Box.

The old contact channels will be kept open for you: you can either use the contact form or simply use the email address given on the contact page.

Transition: What to do with your data?

Needless to say, Nifty Box will continue working: there is no expiration date built in. But in case you want to use another tagging application in the future there are several ways you could extract the tagging data from Nifty Box and use it in the other tagging application:

  1. Spotlight Comments
    This is perhaps the easiest way to extract tags from Nifty Box. Just set "Export tags to Spotlight" in the preferences and all tags will be written to the Finder's Spotlight Comment field. Find out if the target application needs a special tag prefix (like e.g. "@") and set the tag prefix accordingly.

  2. AppleScript
    You can very easily transfer the tags for all Nifty Box items using AppleScript (if the target application does support AppleScript too). Please find information about Nifty Box's AppleScript interface here.

  3. XML Export
    Nifty Box offers an export of the complete tagging database in XML format. You can access this feature via "File > Export Database…". The format of the resulting XML file is explained in the Nifty Box help file.

  4. OpenMeta (unsupported)
    OpenMeta is a new tagging standard proposed by Ironic Software. There are quite a couple of applications that support OpenMeta. Currently Nifty Box does not support OpenMeta and I am not planning to implement a complete interface for it. So OpenMeta will not be officially supported in Nifty Box. That's the bad news.

    The good news is, that I am working on a simple stand-alone extract utility. It will help you to move Nifty Box tagging data to OpenMeta. Once this utility is finished it will be released via this blog (so please subscribe to the feed in case you not already have!).

    [edit 2009-08-10: I have completed the OpenMeta exporter. Please see details in this blog posting.]


So at this point I want to like to say a big "Thank You!" to all the customers and users of Nifty Box! I hope that Nifty Box indeed does help you to organise your stuff and you keep on having fun using the application.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spotlight Importer

Many people asked for an easy way to automatically import files into Nifty Box by using their Spotlight comments. I have created a small tool that will do just that:

First you choose a folder to import from (the original files wont be moved. Only aliases will be added to Nifty Box that will link to them). Here you can specify if subfolders will be imported too.

As a second step you can specify a tag prefix ("&" or "@") or leave it blank ("none"). If a tag prefix is specified, only tags will be imported having this prefix.

After clicking "Start Import" the importer will scan the Spotlight comments of all files in the given folder (and its subfolders if specified). If it finds relevant tags (taking into account the optional tag prefix) the tool will import the files into Nifty Box and set the tags in Nifty Box accordingly.

During the operation log messages are written to the text window at the bottom of the importer.

download Nifty Box Spotlight Importer now
(Note: This tool only works on Leopard. )

Programmer's note:

The importer is a cocoa application. But the cocoa "application" is just a wrapper for a python script that itself is just a wrapper for a couple of applescript functions. I've chosen to do it in such a rather odd way, because I had to use applescript as it can talk to Nifty Box and the Finder.

But applescript is rather a mess to deal with [1]. So for all the infrastructure I've used python. (I know, I could have taken the "appscript" module from python and get rid of all the applescript stuff, but that would have been just half the fun...)

If you like, take a look at the python source file. It contains a very, very basic python-to-applescript value converter (for strings and lists).

Included is a small replacement for the split() method of the string class, which can handle quotation marks.

If you have for example a string like:
    a = 'aa "bb cc"'
The standard split function would yield:
    a.split() -> ['aa', '"bb', 'cc"']
The function words() parses the quoted string as a single entity:
    words(a) -> ['aa', 'bb cc']

The module is released as open source under the BSD license, so feel free to copy, rip apart, whatever.

[1] As Joshua Hart tweeted: "AppleScript is easy to read but difficult to write. I call it the Anti-Perl." This sums up my experiences pretty well.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bug-Fix 1.2.1

There has been a nasty bug in version 1.2 that would sometimes cause Nifty Box on Leopard to use 100% CPU time after closing a window, but leaving Nifty Box running. This has been due to a bug in a NSObject category I implemented for dealing with delayed messages (I've written about this here and gave a brief explanation for those interested in Objective-C).
For all those not interested in the details: The bug has been fixed and using the new version is recommended.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Nifty Box 1.2

Nifty Box version 1.2 is ready for download!

This release adds AppleScript support to Nifty Box. Now you can access your Nifty Box tagging database through AppleScript or tag new items automatically. You can find some examples here.

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