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Author Topic: TopDesk  (Read 9578 times)

m_s

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TopDesk
« on: February 10, 2006, 05:50:13 AM »
I did a quick search of the forums (using the new DC search in FARR!) and saw that the only two references to TopDesk have been made by me...  Perhaps not as many of you are aware of this great tool as should be.  So a few brief comments, because I think it is among the most useful programs I have on my machine.

I have been running TopDesk (http://www.otakusoftware.com) about a year or so, and it just keeps getting better.  Basically, it is a replacement for the Windows Alt-Tab, along the lines of OSX's sexy Expose function.  (Say that fast a few times!  "OSX's sexy Expose"!)  It sits quietly in your system tray and does nothing.  Okay, granted, it does use up some memory while it's just sitting there (24mb working set and 156mb virtual at the moment on this machine), but it's worth every tiny bit, I think. 

The magic starts when you either (a) hit Alt-Tab, (b) hit F9, F10, or (c) move your mouse pointer to one of the screen hotspots.  (These are just the default setting, all key-combinations and hotspots are fully configurable.)

When you activate one of these options, you get one of several things happening - again, configurable in Topdesk Options.  Either you get a screen with all your open windows tiled, so that you can click on the one you want to change to (Grid layout), or you get a screen showing each window's relative size (Spatial layout), or -  this is a new feature in the recently released 1.4.1 - you get a side-on 3D image of each of your open windows stacked behind one another, with a title bar for the active (topmost) window across the screen, and Alt-Tabbing then moves through the windows.  Or instead of getting all your windows, you get just the windows of the same application - useful if you have, for instance, several MS Word documents open at once.  Each of these windows is visually accurate - i.e. you can see in the tiled or stacked windows the contents of each window.







When you hit F11 all your windows slide down to reveal your desktop.





(These animated gifs - linked from the Otaku Software site - are slow on my machine - the program runs lightnigh-fast, though!)

This is the best and most useful feauture for me! - I probably use this 5 or 6 times in an hour.  It's particularly useful when I'm working with things that demand a full-screen - video editing, for instance, and on my smaller laptop, even simple word processing - but where I occasionally need to access something that's in a folder on my desktop.

I love the look of it, the elegance and smoothness of the animations.  I know there are keyboard shortcuts to do almost everything TopDesk does, but this is such a pleasure to work with, and such fun, that I would choose it every time over a simple (and aesthetically empty) Win+D.  I have tested Winplosion and a few other similar programs, but nothing touches Topdesk, in my estimation.

And it's cheap!  Just $9.95 - as far as my computer is concerned, this was probably the best ten bucks I've ever spent!  And the reason I decided to write a short review this particular bright Winter morning?  Well, because I have had my licensed copy running on my home machine since I bought it, and I have made all kinds of compromises on my work machine (mainly TaskswitchXP, and recently SmallWindows, which is neat, but not nearly as neat) in the meantime, but have always felt less than satisfied, especially because that's where I do all my video-editing.  So I decided I would check to see the licensing details, and on the forum found a post that confirmed that the licensing is per-user, which means you can run it on more than one machine.  At $9.95 for a license, that's more than generous!

TopDesk, to me an absolute essential on a Windows machine - I love it, and I never want to be without it!

mouser

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2006, 05:55:22 AM »
wow, fantastic great mini review!!  looks very nice too.

jgpaiva

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2006, 06:20:43 AM »
Another similar program you can check you is WinPlosion, it has some of those features too, but i think it's not as good.

brotherS

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2006, 06:26:36 AM »
...and according to http://fileforum.bet...TopDesk/1105981890/1 it needs Windows XP to work :(

Darwin

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2006, 01:02:51 PM »
Thanks for the excellent review, m_s.

I've been using Entbloess2 (http://www.entbloess...ex.php?page=features) for about a year. After reading about TopDesk I downloaded it again (I trialled a number of Expose clones before Christmas of 2004) and loaded it up. It has some nice features but none that would compel me to switch over. Not to knock it at all - I completely expect and accept that trialling Entbloess is unlikely to compel m_s to make the switch the other way. They both seem to be good products and at the end of the day, despite some different features, they look about 98% IDENTICAL in real world usage.

Three things about Entbloess stand out for me, in comparison to TopDesk: LivePreview, lighter footprint, and much sharper preview images. I do like TopDesk's F11 key function of "lowering" open windows to reveal the desktop and the 3-D view is interesting but not very useful seeming to me (though I haven't tried it yet).

I should note that the footprint issue is not really very significant as Entbloess is currently consuming 15 mb of working set memory and just under 13 mb of VM while TopDesk was running at about 23 mb of working set memory and 19 mb of VM before I unloaded it and reloaded Entbloess to compare. These figures were both obtained after invoking each program by hitting the F9 key with Outlook 2003, Maxthon, and Dopus 8.2 running. The differences in resource usage are even less significant when one is running a gig of RAM or more...

Just my two-bits. Excellent mini-review m_s and thanks! I haven't looked at anything other than Entbloess in over a year so was happy to revisit TopDesk. The strongest thing in its favour is its ongoing development (Entbloess hasn't been updated since that fall of 2004 - but it works flawlessly, so I guess there isn't much "need") and the fact that new features appear to be being added on a regular basis. Entbloess is $1.98 cheaper, though ;)
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2006, 01:05:05 PM »
PS Entbloess runs, with reduced feature set (no live previews, for example) under win2k...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

m_s

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2006, 01:51:24 PM »
I have tried Entbloess, but not for awhile.  I liked it, but I particularly like that F11 feature.  We must have been researching the market around the same time if it was late 2004 for you also!

nudone

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2006, 05:45:29 PM »
wow!!!!!!

i tried Entbloess on my amd xp2200 pc a few months back (most likely on the recommendation from someone posting on DC - sorry, can't remember who it was) and i thought it looked like a brilliant idea but i just couldn't really make use of it because of the speed of my machine.

now i've got am amd 4800 x2 and the demo of Entbloess is absolutely astoundingly smooth. it's like a paradigm shift in windows control - this is what vista should be all about but i can't see it happening.

if Entbloess doesn't crash during the 100 use demo then i'll buy it.

mouser

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2006, 06:00:49 PM »
this is a good opportunity to point out something.
check the entbloess"affiliates" page:  http://www.entbloess....php?page=affiliates

people can get 40% of the price of entbloess when someone buys entbloess by following a special affiliate link.

this is where an email to entbloess from one of you to that company could really come in handy.

here is how i usually put it to a company, something like this:
"we don't want any comissions on sales - we only ask that you offer a generous discount to members of our forum, larger than the normal affiliate price - because since there is no affiliate fee you have to pay, you are bound to get more customers"

and point them to this thread where the discussion is already on such tools.

it's a great opportunity for a company to offer a 50% discount to our members and they are bound to make quite a few sales especially if they act while the discussion is active; and 50% discounts on programs discussed in threads like this with praise from trusted members will get mentioned in the newsletter which means lots of people reading this thread,etc.  [i highly recommend to all companies a 50% discount like most of our discounts, but the rule we have adopted is at least 30% or don't bother, and it has to be more than any affilliate fee for reasons i discussed above].

so in short - do everyone a favor and if you find a program you like enough to talk about and purchase - why not send them an email, tell them your a fan, point them to the thread on the forum and ask them about offering a discount to our members.  it's a much better deal for them then these affiliate things they all run.

might mention that we always ask if they are willing to donate a few free copies for us to give away, which is just a nice gesture that most companies are more than happy to do.

they can always contact me directly if they want to talk more (mouser@donationcoder.com), but having a real user contact them first makes a huge difference, much better than me trying to convince them it's a good idea.

make it a new rule - before you buy any program you like, contact the author and discuss the possibility of them offering a discount to our members!


[this goes for topdesk as well of course, which also looks very nice]
« Last Edit: February 11, 2006, 06:22:25 PM by mouser »

nudone

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2006, 06:06:49 PM »
wise words, wise words.

if it doesn't crash of i don't lose interest in Entbloess before the end of the demo i'll email the developer - anyone else wishing to contact the author before me then please do.

kingprad

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2006, 11:37:53 PM »
I used Entbloess for a year and was happy with it. Then I switched to dual monitors, which it doesn't support (last I checked). I tried out Topdesk because of the multi-monitor support and haven't looked back. In general usability and resources I've had better success with TopDesk over Entbloess, but definitely give both a shot.

I just wanted to point out the dual monitor support in TopDesk.

Carl

nudone

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2006, 03:11:04 AM »
sadly, i've sort of grown tired of Entbloess. it still looks cool but i just find the traditional task switching methods work better for me.

i've just realised i haven't tried topdesk - madness. will now try...
« Last Edit: February 18, 2006, 03:14:55 AM by nudone »

nudone

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2006, 03:23:43 AM »
topdesk = fantastic.

m_s

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2006, 04:35:59 AM »
Great! Glad you gave it a try Nudone!

taichimaster

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Re: TopDesk
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2006, 04:40:48 AM »
Thanks for the review m_s.

I was never a big fan of alt-tab replacement, but I went ahead and installed TopDesk Trial just to see what all this talk is all about.  The window tiling thing looks so cool that I find myself constantly alt-tabbing just for the heck of it.  I am not sure if I will grow tired of it though since I don't have any real usage other than WOWing my coworkers :)

Do you guys use Grid, Spatial or Flip?