Today’s cool app is called Raskin, it designed to compliment Finder in navigating and organising all of those files and folders found on your Mac. If you every have lots of documents to move around, modify and play with you will probably find Finder doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Finder itself was introduced on the very first Mac computer, although it has been updated and improved since then it could always be better. Raskin compliments Finder in showing you an overview of folders on your hard drive and allowing you to interact with many files, folders and place on your Mac in one go. Certainly better than the hundreds of Finder windows I open and having to constantly switch between them with Expose.
Development Of Raskin
Before I discuss this app, there is an interesting history about the features implemented inside it. One of the inspirations for the app was one of the founders of the Macintosh programme Jef Raskin (hence the app name Raskin). He was a computer interface expert who dealt with pioneering ways to interact with a computer.
He also wrote a book entitled The Humane Interface, that details a lot of the features found in the app and explains some of the better ways of developing applications, such as making sure one button doesn’t rename itself and ensuring you don’t get to absorbed in one task to notice a more important life threatening task as noted with the numerous case studies found in the book (usually of aircraft cockpits). Chapter 6.2 discusses about zooming in on things is better than navigating through folders which Raskin app certainly implements. If you do any design, its certainly worth reading this book.
So there you go, a little background about the app. Note the stupid picture of me reading the book. I went all the way to my university library, checked out a copy and read the book so I could better understand and review this app.
Now you no the background, lets introduce Raskin. It is design to compliment Finder in working and navigating your files. The app runs and replaces you desktop image and shows a top down view of important places on your Mac. Each place is a certain location, such as Desktop, Documents or your latest project.
Within each place, the latest documents are shown along with the thumbnails for the files you are working with. It allows you to see quickly and easily see an overview of each folder. This then allows you to move and copy files around from folders quickly and easily. It is really simple to move a file ten folders deep to another place on your Mac. Very useful in organising and managing your latest program.
When you want to view a folder you simply zoom in to the file to get a better look. A quick double click on a folder and it will open it up within the place, you can then populate the folder with more entries and then zoom in again to see the files within that folder. Once you are done you can zoom right back out again.
Each section within Raskin is called a place. This can be any place on your hard drive you want. I like to have only one or two places open and then generate more place as I go. You can open and close as many places as you want, although as you open more your CPU may get a little stretched.
Each place is a folder on your hard drive. I have picked the uploads folder for my website. Each box, highlighted a different colour defining your locus of attention from chapter 2.3 of the book, is a folder on your hard drive. Here I can quickly pick up a file and move it any where I want, quickly and easily. If I want to view a file I can hover my mouse over the file and zoom in. The app will take you closer to the file and then render a thumbnail, as you get closer still the thumbnail will get clearer and clearer, finally the app will open the file in the designated app for the file you are viewing, you can keep opening and zooming in on folders until you reach the end. It sounds more complicated than it is. You can quickly move in and out of files and folders as needed.
One of the features of a place is to control what you see. There are options to view more files and folders and the ability to order the file by date, name, etc. You can also manually move the file and folders around as you would files on a table. You can also increase the size of a place to get view more files horizontally on your screen (I realised this after two days of using the app). The plus and minus buttons automatically add and remove files to the place increasing its size.
Its all very fluid and easy to use. You you the scroll options on your mouse or track pad and it takes no time at all to quickly move around the app.
I have mentioned about the interaction and the majority of it is done using the scroll wheel. You scroll in to pan around the Raskin app hold a button to move around. There are similar features for a trackpad.
There are instructions on the side of the app which make learning and remembering the features quickly and easily. The movement is very fluid although it does take a moment or two once the app has loaded to render all of the places.
The app also interacts well with other applications, and a key command can quickly take you from the app you are using to Raskin. This makes moving between apps easy and fun.
This app really is awesome. It should be included with operating system. You have to remember it is an app that compliments Finder so you can’t do everything you can in Finder. However there are many features between the two which allow you to quickly move between apps.
It will take you about ten minutes to get used to how the app works, the useful sidebar helps in learning how to work Raskin. After you have learn’t the basics it wont be long before you are using the app like a pro. You have to invest a small amount of time to get it setup how you want it, but odds are you will be using the app all of the time. Taking over your background makes this easy. If you put it on a second screen it becomes an easy way to manage your files.
There are a few problems, such as the app slowing down then it opens an image intensive folder, although I think this is more of my slow hard drive rather than the app itself. I imagine using this app with an SSD drive will be awesome. I would also like to see a search function within each place, especially the Applications place setup by default, as I usually have to open random apps that take to long to find normally within Raskin and is usually quicker to open a Finder window.
Try this app, there is a free trial so you can try before you buy. The full app costs $24.99 so certainly worth it.