Quicksilver (software) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Stable release||1.0ß60 (Build 3850) / June 5, 2011|
|Preview release||1.0ß60 (Build 3850) / June 5, 2011|
|Operating system||Mac OS X|
|Type||Application Launcher (utility software)|
Quicksilver is a computer utility software program for Mac OS X, originally developed by Blacktree Software and distributed freely. It is essentially a graphical shell for the Mac OS X operating system, allowing users to use the keyboard to rapidly perform tasks such as launching applications, manipulating files, or sending e-mail. It is similar to the Mac OS X applications LaunchBar and Alfred, but uses a different interaction paradigm. Although a complex application, Quicksilver is based on a simple three-panel interface.
Quicksilver is designed to run all the time in the background while the operating system is running. It maintains a configurable "catalog" of items including files and folders on disk, address book contacts, Internet bookmarks, scripts, clipboard contents, etc. Pressing a configurable hotkey or a combination of keys, usually Control-Space, invokes the Quicksilver command window, which contains three panes.
The panes roughly correspond to the object, predicate, and attributes of the desired task. The user first chooses the object of the command (an application, a file, an e-mail address, an IM contact, a bookmark, etc.), then an action (predicate) to be performed on that object, and finally additional details (attributes) for the action.
The Quicksilver user interface provides access to a wide range of objects by applying incremental search to input typed on the keyboard. Most objects require typing only a few letters into any of the panes, reducing the set of suggestions and displaying the most likely match. Quicksilver uses a priority system based on previous usage (see mnemonic) to determine the most likely match, apparently "learning" from the user's actions.
Once an object is selected in the first panel, pressing the tab key moves the focus to the second pane to search for available actions for that object (the "predicate"). Each type of object has certain actions which can be performed with it. For example, files on the hard drive can be moved to the trash, revealed in the Finder, or opened in the default application for that file type.
Some actions require an "attribute" that provides further details or the specifics of an action. In this case, the third panel is used to find such an object on which to perform the command. For instance, the "Move to folder…" command requires the selection of a folder in the third panel. Quicksilver also accepts a direct-text entry mode in its panels (by pressing the "." key on a QWERTY keyboard or "=" on an AZERTY keyboard), making possible quick shell commands (Terminal) and instant messaging software (such as iChat and Adium).
Quicksilver's icon is based on the alchemical symbol for mercury (quicksilver being an archaic name for the element mercury).
Quicksilver allows users to define "triggers," which perform a specific command (direct object + action + indirect object) whenever a predefined keyboard shortcut is pressed. For instance, the <"Documents", "Reveal"> command could be bound to the F7 key. Then pressing the F7 key would open the Documents folder in the Finder and bring it to the front.
In addition to keyboard triggers, the "Mouse Triggers" plugin allows commands to be bound to simple mouse actions such as clicks or mouseovers in different parts of the screen. A plugin called "Abracadabra" supports triggers activated through more complicated mouse gestures.
Quicksilver has a plug-in architecture, with each plug-in providing integration with a program, interface, or new feature. For example, plug-ins exist for sending email via Mail without opening the application or manipulating images via text commands.
Because shell scripts and AppleScripts can be stored in the catalog, any function which can be performed using a script can be tied to Quicksilver, either through the command window, or through triggers. Because most Apple-native applications have extensive scripting libraries, many common tasks can easily be performed from Quicksilver. For instance, iTunes can be told to play or pause, increase or decrease the rating on the current track, or skip to the previous or next track.
There are various visual interfaces for the Quicksilver, alternative Constellation Menus and also a Notification Hub, which supports Growl via a plugin.
On November 6, 2007, the source code for Quicksilver was made available via Google Code.
Quicksilver is now developed by a team of volunteers with work on the open source project increasing throughout 2010.
In November 2009, development shifted to using GitHub.
At the end of 2010, a new website QSApp.com was launched, with the aim of unifying and collating all of Quicksilver's fragmented builds, plugins and support groups. Since its launch, the site has included a new Plugins Repository, Wiki and Downloads section. After several months of development, Quicksilver version β59 was released; a marked point in the history of the application.
Experimental trunk builds of Quicksilver, known as Alchemy, have many major changes.
- Triggers are moving to a separate product, called Catalyst
- All the little frameworks are being joined into one big one called Crucible. This includes extensions and core functionality that most apps and plugins will use. This is currently called QSBase.framework
- The preferences will be greatly simplified. There will be Extras-style advanced preferences for the fiddly options.
- Plugins are going to be hidden from most users, they'll activate themselves automatically or be installable from the web
- β5X Plugins are incompatible.
These builds have four major components: Crucible, a framework with extension to AppKit and tools common to all Alchemy apps; elements, a framework supporting the plugin architecture; quicksilver, a command window driven launcher; and catalyst, which triggers a preference pane.
 See also
- ^ a b Latest Preview release of Quicksilver, 2011-06-05, https://github.com/quicksilver/Quicksilver/downloads, retrieved 2011-06-05
- ^ Lu, Mat (2007-11-06), Quicksilver goes Open Source, http://www.tuaw.com/2007/11/06/quicksilver-goes-open-source/, retrieved 2007-11-06
- ^ Quicksilver GitHub, https://github.com/quicksilver/Quicksilver/, retrieved 10 June 2011
- ^ "Bug fixes to latest - svn/branches/B5X B56a7 (3825)". blacktree-quicksilver mailing list. 10 November 2009. http://groups.google.com/group/blacktree-quicksilver/msg/f3ffca725a6d5d33. Retrieved 17 November 2009.