Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tiger Mauls Konfabulator
Posted by Sam at 3:32 PM

While this isn't necessarily new news, it is still Tiger related news and definitely worth mentioning.

There exists an application called Konfabulator (Mac/Win). It's a really cool app. It's lightweight, very powerful, customizable, expandable, and extremely handy... and you can read all about it on Apple's Tiger page, under the feature listed as Dashboard. Konfabulator and Dashboard - two separate applications, made by two separate companies - are so strikingly similar in look and function that one has to wonder if this is legal.

What both applications do is allow small "mini-applications" (known in both programs as "Widgets") to run and be accessible via certain keyboard commands. The mini-apps live on a sort of hidden layer that can be easily toggled on or off. These mini-apps can be pretty much whatever the user wants them to be. Since both are javascript based (and other web technologies too... like CSS and HTML), almost anyone can create their own Widget. If you don't want to create your own, don't worry about it. Dashboard will come pre-installed with a bunch (Dashboard Widget download sites are cropping up too), and Konfabulator has a ton available for download. Some Widget examples might include stocks, weather, dictionary, phone book, clock, games, calendar, calculator, addresses...

Despite the fact that Dashboard is way too similar to Konfabulator for it to be coincidental, I am still excited to see what Apple's version is like. I'm sure Dashboard will be heavily integrated into the OS X experience... probably part of Exposé. Like most apple software, it will be slick and usable without any complications.

I don't know what to feel for the makers of Konfabulator. Having not yet used Dashboard, I can only speculate as to their impending rivalry. Who knows, maybe Konfabulator is more sophisticated than Dashboard. Maybe the true Widget users/developers will scoff at the idea of using/developing for Dashboard. I guess we'll find out in a short 15 days.

Next up: Tiger Mauls Quickeys

Further reading:
Macworld: Konfabulator, Dashboard controversy flows out of WWDC
Daring Fireball: Dashboard vs. Konfabulator

Comments: 1 | Post a Comment | Permalink

Ther'es a lot of things about Konfabulator that are different from Dashboard and vice versa.

First off - Konfabulator is not what I would call a lightweight app. It's memory footprint is routinely 30 megabytes without a widget open, and each widget, depending on it's complexity consumes more and more RAM. It is aslo very lackadaisical about re-nicing it's RAM usage. All in all, it has some major memory issues. Additionally, it's an entirely non-integrated engine for compiling and running custom javascript apps, and xml display.

By non-integrated I mean Apple already provides WebKit for these purposes exactly. Based on KHTML and KJS it allows applications written in cocoa to access web-based parsing functions and a pretty top-notch javascript compiler/DOM mechanism.

Also, it's non standard. It doesn't follow the IETF drafts for ECMAScript (javascript) nor DOM useage, etc.

Apple's dashboard, on the ohter hand, is fully integrated into Expose -- using very little additional memory on top of the memory foot print of the display system. Also, by using the standard XHTML and CSS to control the display of the items, Apple has provided a much strong mechanism for creating Dashboard widgets.

But yes, it look like Konfabulator. But Konfabulator looks a lot like a pretty version of Apple's original desk accessories from 1984...

Love,
Todd

Comment By Dr. Kennedy on April 16, 2005 6:19 PM

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Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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