Leopard (OS X.5) was one of those big releases that while I was excited about it on principle, there weren’t many of the announced features that [on the surface] got me purring. The feature that garnered the most excitement for me was Spaces. I’m a longtime […]

Spaces Pager TAB
Leopard (OS X.5) was one of those big releases that while I was excited about it on principle, there weren’t many of the announced features that [on the surface] got me purring. The feature that garnered the most excitement for me was Spaces. I’m a longtime virtual desktop user and have gone through all of the offerings for the Apple platform. So the idea of having the functionality baked-in was an attractive one to me.

A sad side-effect to the news of Spaces however, was the announcement that a former favorite in this space – Virtue Desktops – would be shutting down further development. The story of Apple taking the best ideas and applications and baking them into the Mother Ship isn’t anything new – but generally the developers of these applications hang in there a bit before throwing in the towel. The most unfortunate part however is that competition is good for the consumer, typically resulting in better quality, more features, and plenty of options to fit any user. I completely understand being busy and not wanting to make time for a side project that would most likely be Apple’s victim, however I do wish the competition against Apple’s Spaces would make a fight out of it.

I don’t want to rehash all the gripes with Spaces that have accumulated around the internet these past couple of weeks, but let’s just say I agree with basically all of them. Mostly the issues stem from the ridiculous lack of configuration options. But the whole zooming me from one Space to another when I OPT+TAB is gonna send me over the edge one day in the not too distant future. Seriously. Why on earth would I want be bounced back and forth amongst my Spaces each and every time I want to work in a different application? My personal workflow has me using the Virtual Desktop concept as a division for my projects, not my tasks…But I digress. I do get it though – Spaces is meant to bring Virtual Desktops to the masses in a way that they can all get it. Unfortunately that leaves the rest of us starving for more.

The real shame here is that some great applications have faded into the background as Apple has released their own replacements. So those of us who loved those third party apps are left wanting when Apple’s solution doesn’t cut the mustard. When those great developers forsake their code – and consequently, their users – the spirit of competition and innovation in that particular application space is generally lost…Or at the very least, left up to Apple and their timeline to update. I’m fearful that Spaces is a prime example of this.

I’m greatly saddened by the fact that my two favorite [Pre-Leopard] Virtual Desktop apps are no longer getting any love from developers. Desktop Manager hasn’t been touched for a couple years, and Virtue Desktops (which hatched from the Desktop Manager code base) which – as I mentioned earlier – was the first casualty upon Spaces’ announcement. (I do however feel that I should point out that Tony Arnold – former Virtue Developer – is working on a companion to Spaces, called, HyperSpaces.) So the two freeware options are no longer. How about the shareware side of the house?

I sent a couple of quick emails off to CodeTek (makers of CodeTek VirtualDesktop) and You Software (makers of Desktops) to see what their intentions were on this front. Being that they’re selling their wares and have a user-base that has invested in them, I was glad to get responses that they will continue to bring the fight to Apple’s door with updated versions of their applications for the Leopard platform.

While the forthcoming enhancements to CTVD 4 will bring Universal stability to the application, Bill Goldstein from CodeTek informs me that CTVD 5 will be when the real enhancements and features become available. Meanwhile You Software sees this opportunity as a great one to capitalize on the new visibility that will be brought to the Virtual Desktop concept and will definitely be working to bring more advanced feature-sets to those seeking more than Spaces can offer. At $40 and $30, respectively, they’re clearly not free options when compared to Spaces, but those looking for more control shouldn’t mind too much I suspect.

I think this is a better time than ever for these developers to be coding their hearts out (and encourage any other enterprising and talented developers to jump on the opportunity as well), as Spaces will indeed bring Virtual Desktops to the masses. And when those masses become accustomed to the concept, my guess is that many of them will undoubtedly be hungry for more… Not to mention that fact that the continued competition will hopefully serve as a prodding to Apple to bring added functionality and configurability to their own Spaces application within OS X.

  1. Suffice it to say that the concept of multiple (“virtual”) desktops is very old. Many pre-linux Unix systems already had it.

    Don’t give me this s–t that Apple is stealing someone else’s best ideas.

    Can’t blame Apple for producing a very streamlined implementation. It is precisely in clean and user-friendly implementations that Apple excels.

  2. I’ve been using the “virtual” desktop concept for years – before I returned to the Apple platform, so don’t operate on the misconception that I’m wet behind the ears and just figuring this whole thing out.

    No where did I ever say Apple stole some other developer’s idea of virtual desktops – and if that came across then I apologize, but I don’t think that’s a theory that was communicated here in any form.

    My point here is that when Apple decided to add this functionality to Leopard, the 3rd party devs in this same space seem to have stalled somewhat on a return volley. I’m highly anticipating the answer that these 3rd party developers have to Spaces, as it’s a bit rudimentary for the power users amongst us.

  3. Hi,

    Where can I download that background?


  4. yep, where did you get that background :O very nice

  5. I had tried Virtue desktops some time ago and it was a POS buggy application. So, on that note if they stop making it is that not good news?

  6. Chris –
    the last release of Virtue was actually pretty buggy. The 2nd to last was quite solid however.

    Papa/Oliver –
    I actually extracted the background graphic from the adium theme found here – http://urltea.com/260i – and used it as my wallpaper

  7. thanks mate :)

  8. Thanks for URL Nick :)

  9. I like spaces overall but my main gripe is that new windows of the same app want to spawn on the same space. This probably works fine for Mail or Photoshop but I like having multiple terminals open if I’m working on a server and each collection of terminals on its own space/desktop.

    Spaces really doesn’t seem like this setup and there’s no way to change this. I wish they made it more like Gnome or KDE style of multiple desktops or at least an “advanced” option. This would allow for new users to use it easily and allow power users to make adjustments.

  10. I’d like to believe that CTVD will be updated, but I’m skeptical. CTVD has been at version 3.2 since early 2006; I don’t know if it ever worked on Tiger. I have an email from the developer in April 2006 saying that they were working on a beta of version 4. No news in the past 18 months. As a loyal CTVD user, I’m disappointed, but will have to make do with Spaces and its limitations for now.


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