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Calling Gifted Devs: Quicksilver Needs Your Help

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Long ago, this post joked about the announcement by Apple to move to Intel chips. (It also spawned an unending quest for the origin of the title: Wait for it, Wait for it…but that’s a different story I suppose.) I bring this up because after reading Lifehacker’s exclusive interview with Alcor (Nicholas Jitkoff) – the Quicksilver developer – You could replace the punch line of the aforementioned joke with: “Alcor condemned Quicksilver to a ‘long slow death’, suggested 3rd party alternatives…” and pretty much understand the way that news made me feel yesterday.

What makes this hurt the most, is that Quicksilver is literally what I show people on my Mac first. Yes, Apple’s computers and operating system are clearly examples of special attention to engineering and development, but Quicksilver is really in a league of its own when it comes to making a computer system unlike anything else. The thought of this application dying a slow death is nearly unbearable for me. In fact, my first reaction was that this is the final straw, and it’s time for me to become an OS X programmer so I can pickup the Open Source Code and revive the application that I rely on almost every minute of the day (or at least the minutes I’m working on my computer that is). In fact I’ve been planning to start a project to learn Xcode/Cocoa/Objective C and blog about it here on TAB. It will likely still happen, but when my schedule and life get a bit less crazy… In the meantime however, I’m hopeful that someone or a group of someones out there have the chutzpah and the love for Quicksilver to do the same.

So mark this as my cry for help, directed toward the incredible community of talented developers supporting the Mac platform: Quicksilver needs you! Those of us who are addicted to Quicksilver need you! I have a hard time believing such a wonderful application could truly die away, but I would feel so much better knowing there are some ambitious folks out there ready to pick up the slack. Alcor is leaving some big shoes to fill – is anyone out there up to the task???

EDIT: A point I neglected to write about initially is the cost (or lack thereof) of Quicksilver (thanks for the reminder Weisheng).

Alcor has been kind beyond belief to craft Quicksilver free of charge all these years. The silly part is it is one of the few applications I would pay for without even thinking about it. I have many apps that I use just enough to merit the purchase of a license. Quicksilver is one program that I swear by – heck, even LIVE by – and wouldn’t hesitate to fork over my hard-earned dollars for.

A commenter in the original Lifehacker thread mentions the Radiohead model of letting people pay what they think the album is worth to them. I can’t think of a better application of this payment model, as Quicksilver is one of those apps that differs in brilliance for every user. I’d pay $30 easily, from my perspective…

31 Responses to “Calling Gifted Devs: Quicksilver Needs Your Help”

  1. Noriker

    QS is THE best app on the Mac and there is nothing I would rather pay for.

    So should we try to get Apple to add it to the OS? If enough people demand it, who knows. It certainly would improve the OS big time.

    I use it to Launch, Type and Append Text (To-Do-Lists), Search YouTube and every other site that allows me to search for *** (which QS replaces with your query), translate with Jisho, switch Prefs with RooSwitch, Convert Images (size and file type), Rename, Zip, Calculate, Mail, add Tags, etc…

    It would be great if it supported editing RTF Files instead of just txt.

  2. I stopped using LaunchBar after trying the free QuickSilver about 6 months ago. I thought I would regret it at first, QS is not as straightforward to learn, but the plug-in modules really sold me. I use the Shelf and Clipboard modules all day – every day.

    I know there are other alternatives, but QS has become a good friend. Here’s hoping for it’s future.

  3. I use QS mainly as an app launcher and opening a folder I want and I absolutely love it. Couldn’t live without it.

    The thing is I actually tried it purely as a test. I wanted to see if I could change my workflow. I installed it and removed ALL programs from the dock apart from the trash can. And guess what? 5 months later the dock is still empty

  4. A friend of mine introduced me to Quicksilver about six weeks ago and it is EASILY the first thing I would reinstall and the cause of me ripping my hair out if I was unable to. Even if it allowed me to do nothing more than access any application on the machine with three keystrokes (apple-space plus, generally, the first two letters of the app), it would be worth plenty. 

    I haven’t touched the dock since. Huge props to the developers. 


  5. With the speed improvements to spotlight, QS (although great for power users) doesn’t seem worth installing for the average user now. Sorting of results based on how often you use an item is top of my wish list for spotight’s next incarnation though.

  6. 2MATTHEW, Quicksilver used to crash on leopard, but they have released a patch since then, not it doesn’t crash (at least very rarely) though some of the implementation is still buggy (though not what most people use daily)

  7. @Brian: Because there’s no way to pay Alcor. Quicksilver is freeware, and unlike most developers, Alcor doesn’t offer any way to donate via PayPal.

    Quicksilver is my lifeblood. If Alcor ever decides to accept donations, I’d gladly fork over $100, though Quicksilver transcends mere monetary value for me.

  8. You know what the problem with Quicksilver is? Well there are at least 3 problems.

    1. Have you ever tried finding it via Google? Very hard to do because their homepage is void of keys. They seem to go out of their way to hide their site and products, or even to be contacted.

    2. It’s Voodoo like the command line is voodoo. Like Unix in general is voodoo. It scares people. No buttons to click. But if you get into it, it is priceless.

    3. Lastly, the price and the customers. They should have charged for it. But worse than that is an advocate who says he would gladly pay for it, but doesn’t. No one is stopping you Nick. For gods sake why would you say you would gladly pay for it and then don’t?

  9. Quicksilver crashed about every 5th time I used it since upgrading to Leopard. Was hanging in there for a stability updated until I read the article. Apparently no updates coming, so quit Quicksilver for Namely + Spotlight after reading the article.No, it isn’t the same, at all, but it works every time.

  10. I was a Quicksilver user, but only used it as an app launcher.

    Apple eliminated the need for two of my “essential” third-party apps in 10.5 – Spaces got rid of VirtueDesktops, and I can now use Spotlight as an app launcher.

  11. Well you’re right it’s not for everyone, especially someone who’s just switched over to the Mac. It’s more of a power app and my friends who’ve switched don’t generally use it for anything other than launching apps. However, as a demo to someone still on Windows, it’s pretty darn impressive. Like you’ve said, getting them to use it to its full capability after switching is another matter.

  12. Your all mad, this is a terrible app to introduce to new mac users. To have them learn an OS and something as hard to grasp as QS must be maddening.

    However it is an excellent app to introduce to mac users a year or two down the line. Or as a nice demo for power users who insist macs are just a pretty face

  13. Same point of view here in Switzerland…

    I could not live one minute without QS… I use it for nearly every action on my mac, it’s so fast and adaptive. People are always very impressed about it how easy it makes!

    I would pay also up to 50$ for the soft. No problem. Or if Apple want to include it to the OS, could be also a solution maybe.

    Hope it will never disappear! I don’t want to change for Launchbar :-(

  14. Yea, Ankur has already started working on it which is great news!
    It’s also encouraging to hear that he’s found a lot of mess in the code & he’s sorting it out. Hopefully he & others can make it more stable. Really looking forward to it in the future.

    And I agree, this is one app I’d definitely be willing to pay for.

  15. I do have to wonder how many people actually need *QuickSilver* who wouldn’t be happy with the alternative he suggested, LaunchBar.

    I know it isn’t for everyone, and it certainly doesn’t have QS’s overall capability, but it (to me) feels much faster, and on the whole feels more polished. Again, that’s subjective, but if you haven’t tried LaunchBar, now might be the time.

  16. I’ve always been somewhat interested in learning to code and develop but never started because of school and personal life commitment, now that I actually feel the urge to start learning just so I could start contributing to sustaining “quicksilver.”

    And yeah, I share the same sentiment, I now actually use quicksilver like the old chinese proverb “act without doing”

  17. I’d actually pay for the app if it was taken over by a third party developer, it’s also the one app I demonstrate to friends when I first introduce the Mac to them. I’m sure there’ll be those who will moan if it’s no longer free, but I wouldn’t mind paying for a stable release with the plugins updated and new features added.

    Of course, the preferable alternative would be for users who are also developers to contribute to the effort but I can’t see how that’s a long-term solution. They’ll eventually get tired of supporting the app for nothing in return, just as Alcor seems to be.

    The ideal solution would be for his current employer Google or Apple to take over the project. It would be great if Apple would integrate it directly into the OS, just as they did with Cover Flow. Unfortunately, seeing as how it competes with Spotlight I can’t see how Apple would get both to complement each other. The future looks bleak.

  18. I agree, Quicksilver is seriously the app I couldn’t live without. I use it instinctively, so much that in those rare occasions where I have to restart Quicksilver, I quit the program and my brain tries to restart it with *Cmd* *space* QS.

    Like you, I’m not a programmer. I don’t really have any strong need to see QS extended upon, but we all need it to at least remain stable with new versions of the OS!

    I hope someone picks it up!

  19. I thought the same thing when I read about Quicksilvers slow death. At the college I attend there are more and more people getting new Macs every year. The first application that I have them install is Quicksilver. I sure hope that this must have for the Mac doesn’t go way any time soon.

  20. Matt Radel

    The shame is it sounds like he’s lost interest in it. I’d love to see someone pick it up and keep moving with it, but I’m afraid something will be lost in the transition.