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Author Topic: NANY 2012 Release: Ethervane Echo  (Read 84410 times)
tranglos
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« on: September 03, 2011, 03:37:20 PM »

NANY 2012 Entry Information

Application Name Ethervane Echo
Version 1.1.3 (new version May 9)
Short DescriptionLightweight clipboard extender for text
Supported OSes Windows XP, Vista, 7 and later
Home pagetranglos.com
Download standard version (installer)
portable version (zip file)
Download spelling dictionaries standard version (installer)
portable version (zip file)

See here for info on downloading and installing the spelling dictionaries.
System RequirementsNo special requirements. Win XP and later only!
DescriptionClipboard extender (manager) designed to speed up typing repetitive text. For writers, translators and coders. Fast and lightweight, with instant search. Captures text in all formats, but does not capture clips that do not contain text (e.g,. bitmaps).
FeaturesClean, streamlined interface

Super-fast instant search with filtering

Search using wildcards and advanced logical expressions

Can be used in portable mode (download separate package or modify the master.config file as described in Help)

Virtual views with user-defined sort order and filters (e.g. show only clips captured within the last hour, show only sticky clips, show only clips that were copied from Firefox, etc.)

Automatic positioning of the program window next to text caret or mouse cursor

Clear, configurable display with text wrapping and variable item height

Fully Unicode-enabled

Privacy features, including ability to store clips in memory only

Ability to ignore clips from certain applications

Automatic database maintenance

Importing and exporting clips

Editing clips directly ("in-place") or in separate editor window (now includes spell checker for over 20 languages)

Written in Delphi XE, the best edition of Delphi ever!

Screenshots














InstallationStandard version: Download and run the installer package.

Portable version: Download the portable package and extract all files from the zip archive into any directory to which you have write permission. (That means NOT under "Program Files!) Run "ethervaneecho.exe" to start the app.

Tip: Database performance depends on the speed of your hard disk. If using the portable version, install it on the fastest disk you have.
Using the applicationStart Echo and it will begin capturing clips. Press Win+Insert (configurable) to bring up the main window. Scroll or find a clip, then press Enter to paste it into the active application window. See the Help file for details.

UninstallingDesktop version: Use the Control Panel to uninstall. (Uninstaller will not delete the data and configuration files, because it does not create them when installing. At the moment they must be deleted manually. Find them in application data folder for the logged-in user, under "Ethervane\EthervaneEcho")

Portable version: Delete the application folder. Configuration and database files are stored under this folder as well.
Known IssuesSee topics "Bugs and Known Issues" and "Limitations" in the Help file.
New in this release (1.1.3)Fixed a bug that would cause use count to be unnecessarily incremented in some situations,. e.g. when capturing duplicate clips.


Okaaaay, so... another clipboard manager? Really? I guess :)

When I first discovered clipboard managers ages ago (early versions of Yankee Clipper and ClipMate back then) I loved the idea but couldn't imagine how I could fit such a utility into my workflow. Many years later I was enlightened when I discovered Ditto. For the first time I had all clips at my fingertips, in a single-pane UI, and a super-fast search to find them. I was happy, and my translation work became decidedly more efficient.

A few years went by and some of (what I think are) Ditto's shortcomings were irking me more and more. Excruciatingly slow delete and purge operations. Minuscule, non-configurable font in the search box, which at #over40 I can hardly read. Lack of privacy features. When I wrote down all that was giving me pain in Ditto, I listed about a dozen items. It was time to improve on it.

So, yes, Ethervane Echo rips off Ditto's UI without shame, because it's the best UI for me. In fact, it is so different from Mouser's Clipboard Help and Spell that the two hardly compete with each other. Echo is purely a clipboard extender - nothing more. No categories, no folders, no note-taking or web clipping facilities are available or planned. Also, it will only capture text - not images or any other binary data. This is the intended design of the app. I started by modeling the UI after Ditto, ignoring features I did not need and adding a good number of features I'd always wanted to have. The result is superficially similar to Ditto, so much so any Ditto user should feel comfortable with Echo, but tailored to the requirements of a translator drone who types volumes of repetitive text over and over. Technical writers and coders should have a field fay with it, too - or so I hope.

My last year's NANY submission was released well before its time (and yes, there will be an update of Radio rather soon). This year I wanted to release a package that was reasonably ready for human consumption, so Echo comes with a spell-checker, a complete help file and an installer. See download links above.

Right now Echo is a beta release, because I've only used it on my development machine so far, even though I haven't encountered any crashes or other kill-joy errors since it captured its first clip in March. It's never been run on 64-bit Windows though, so that may bring some surprises. Please post here if Echo misbehaves for you.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 09:43:46 AM by tranglos » Logged

tranglos
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2011, 04:18:00 PM »

A few tips:

- Right-click everything to show context menus. The list of clips and the tabs at the bottom have their own, useful context menus.

- To search for clips, do not tab into the search box or click it with the mouse (you can, but there is no need). Just start typing any part of the text you are looking for.

- Press Ctrl+S to mark a clip (or multiple clips) as "sticky". Sticky clips cannot be deleted until you un-sticky them, and they are never removed when Echo purges the database.

- Press F4 to cycle between search modes. In Basic mode, Echo will search for the text you enter, exactly as typed. In Wildcards mode, you can use wildcards * and ?, for example *foo?bar*. In Advanced mode, you can use complex logical expressions: (foo OR bar) AND NOT baz. (Enclose phrases in double quotes: "foo bar" AND baz)

- Click Tools -> Available Clipboard Formats to specify which additional data formats you want Echo to store. Some applications register their own, custom data formats, which you may want to preserve.

- You can configure five metric tons of settings, including max number of clips in the database, min and max length of clips that will be captured, max length of the display text, or where Echo's main window should be positioned when you bring it up with the activation hotkey (Win+Insert by default). Press F5 to open the Preferences dialog box, and ask here if you need help.

- You can select and paste multiple clips in Echo.

- Privacy feature  #1: you can specify applications (exe names) from which Echo should never capture clips. Tools -> Preferences -> Application filter -> Items

- Privacy feature  #2: you can tell Echo to store its database in memory only. That way, clips are remembered only during the current session, and are lost forever when you exit Echo. Particularly useful for public computers and if you're running Echo off a USB drive, because frequent database writes would affect the lifetime of flash memory. Tools -> Preferences -> Database -> InMemoryDatabase -> close and restart Echo.

- Privacy feature  #3: if you do use the "in-memory database feature", you can still preserve certain clips you know you will need. Start off with the normal,. on-disk database, and add the clips you want to always have available. Then enable the in-memory database feature as described above, and also enable "CopyDiskImageToMemory". Echo will add new clips to the memory database, but first it will copy all clips from the disk db to the memory db.

- Use the views! Click the tabs at bottom to browse through the predefined views. You can delete them, modify them and create your own. Views are used to limit the clips displayed in the list - for example, to show only clips captured today, or only clips that are URLs, etc. These filters can be combined ("show only clips captured from Firefox, Chrome, opera or IE"). Views also define the way clips are sorted. All the details on views are in the help file.

« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 04:26:05 PM by tranglos » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2011, 04:39:42 PM »

First impressions, excellent stuff tranglos thank you  thumbs up
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2011, 05:20:04 PM »

Testing now - looking very good indeed - thanks tranglos  beerchug
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2011, 08:00:05 PM »

Wow, I am very much looking forward to this.  Tranglos is easily one of my favorite programmers; great ideas, great implementation, and my favorite adjective "elegant".  I'm going to compare this to two offerings from my other favorite programmers: CHS and AceText.
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2011, 08:59:24 PM »

this is impressive, tranglos. thumbs up downloading the portable version..
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2011, 09:19:56 PM »

Looks very impressive!
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2011, 12:28:29 AM »

wow, you're going for the trophy!
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Ath
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2011, 05:35:44 AM »

Very impressive indeed Thmbsup

I'll be testing this soon.
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2011, 07:06:56 AM »

Thanks for the love everyone smiley

One more tip that may be useful at the beginning: Echo can import clips from plain text files and from a Ditto database. (If importing from a plain text file, each line of text will become a separate clip.) Importing doesn't seem to have a lot of practical value in the long run, but it does let you populate the database, providing some initial data to play with.

Tools -> Import Clips -> From Ditto
Tools -> Import Clips -> From Text File

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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2011, 07:59:33 AM »

Great work, tranglos.  Those screenshots are awesome!
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2011, 08:03:56 AM »

What flavor of database does your program use, just out of curiosity?
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2011, 08:24:55 AM »

Great work, tranglos.  Those screenshots are awesome!

Thanks! I was also going to create a how-to video, but it's tricky to show the workings of a program that sits in the tray and does nothing visible most of the time smiley I'll probably add a video on configuring views and choosing clipboard formats, because these aspects may deserve some explanation.

What flavor of database does your program use, just out of curiosity?

The database is SQLite - very fast and does not require a server. (Ditto and Firefox use it as well.) The specific implementation is DISQLite3, a commercial Delphi component. The benefit is that the database is built right into the application, so no DLLs and much faster execution.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 12:00:27 PM by tranglos » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2011, 04:58:32 PM »

No bug reports yet - this could be either good or bad, depending :)

This is where I could use some ideas. The basic design of Echo was quite firmly set, but there are a few areas where I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted:

1. The clip list context menu: too small? Too large? Any important commands missing? Or could the order of commands be improved? (For example, I tried to keep the Delete command away from other most commonly used commands such as Sticky and Edit, to avoid situations where you might accidentally delete a clip by a slip of the mouse. Any comments are welcome.)

2. The "Navigate" section in the main menu doesn't seem to be pulling its weight. Perhaps the menu could be done away with entirely, and the commands distributed under other sections of the menu?

3. The editor (Shift+F2): apart from spell-check, which is coming, is there anything else that could be useful? This isn't meant to be a fully-featured editor, but I can do a few things there. Is the context menu enough, or would anyone prefer a toolbar?

4. Do you think it's a good idea to suspend capturing clips while the editor is active? Any scenario under which you would want to capture text copied from the Shift+F2 editor?

Also, please let me know if you find that Echo (a) isn't capturing something it should, or (b) has trouble pasting into a certain application. I have tested with plenty of apps, but now that it's out in the open, new issues may appear.

Any suggestions and ideas are very welcome. Now is a good time! :)
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2011, 06:02:36 PM »

Quote
1. The clip list context menu: too small? Too large? Any important commands missing? Or could the order of commands be improved? (For example, I tried to keep the Delete command away from other most commonly used commands such as Sticky and Edit, to avoid situations where you might accidentally delete a clip by a slip of the mouse. Any comments are welcome.)
I strongly feel that the navigation commands should be buttons on the toolbar. However, I feel these navigation commands are largely trivial.  Between using the mouse and keyboard and the simplicity of this app, anything more is pretty small in importance.

Quote
2. The "Navigate" section in the main menu doesn't seem to be pulling its weight. Perhaps the menu could be done away with entirely, and the commands distributed under other sections of the menu?
Sure, the simpler the better, especially when you lose nothing in the process.

Quote
3. The editor (Shift+F2): apart from spell-check, which is coming, is there anything else that could be useful? This isn't meant to be a fully-featured editor, but I can do a few things there. Is the context menu enough, or would anyone prefer a toolbar?
I would prefer a toolbar where I can customize it.  This is a very simple application, and having access to a few buttons is better and easier than right-click stuff.  one-click vs two-clicks.  A very cool feature to add to the editor is the ability to highlight search terms.  It's already awesome how the non-matches disappear (like evernote), but to make it perfect, the search terms would be highlighted individually.  And if there are multiple search terms, they would have different colors (just like evernote).  This, by the way, would turn this into one of my favorite applications ever.

Quote
4. Do you think it's a good idea to suspend capturing clips while the editor is active? Any scenario under which you would want to capture text copied from the Shift+F2 editor?
I can see of one use: trying to copy a portion of a clip already in the program.  In the regular view, you can't highlight a portion of the note without opening the external editor.  In fact, if you made the stuff in the regular view selectable, you wouldn't even need an external editor.  But then how would you edit a clip?  Well, two ways: either have a small button next to each clip which, when clicked, would allow you to edit it (like Surfulator) or you can add an option about what to do with mouse clicks.  I might set it up so that double-clicking allows me to edit a note.  So you can have customizable options for mouse clicks (like KMPlayer).  But I'd really like to be able to select and copy a portion of a clip without having to double-click on it first, or open up an editor, or any extra steps.  And when I copy that subclip, I'd like the option in the preferences to record or ignore copied subclips.  i would set it to record everything including subclips.

Another feature I'd love to have (as in CHS and Arsclip) is a quickpaste menu for pasting stuff.  So with CHS and ARSclip, with a hotkey, you can have a quickpaste menu appear right under your mouse pointer which is awesome.

Also, how about an option to show the entire note in the normal view, regardless of the length.  I know we can set it to a big value, but how about just a "always show entire note" setting?
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2011, 06:10:20 AM »


I think it would be helpful if the close button minimised it to the tray. Or maybe it's just what I'm used to with apps that stay in the tray?

I can see advantages to the way it is - maybe I just gotta get used to it Wink

(just getting off the ground with it)
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2011, 08:02:16 AM »

Still on the basics. It looks very nice btw :-)

I've made a couple of clips sticky, but how do I get to the sticky tab? (Without the mouse I mean). Tabkey toggles just list & search.

It says in the help file
"bring up Echo ... notice that the clip you have just pasted is now the first one on top."
This often takes a good while to actually happen. I noticed it not happening, then checked a few times after pasting - once it happened promptly, then it didnt seem to be happening at all, but did happen eventually i.e. it didnt happen within the first 10 to 15 seconds after pasting.

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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2011, 11:21:47 AM »

I've made a couple of clips sticky, but how do I get to the sticky tab? (Without the mouse I mean). Tabkey toggles just list & search.

Several ways:

Ctrl+Tab and Shift+Ctrl+Tab

Ctrl+PageUp and Ctrl+PageDown

Ctrl+1 .. Ctrl+0 will switch immediately to the view that corresponds to the number. (This only works for the first 10 views). In Preferences you can choose to use Alt+<digit> combinations if you prefer: Keyboard -> QuickViewModifier -> choose qvmAlt.



It says in the help file
"bring up Echo ... notice that the clip you have just pasted is now the first one on top."
This often takes a good while to actually happen. I noticed it not happening, then checked a few times after pasting - once it happened promptly, then it didnt seem to be happening at all, but did happen eventually i.e. it didnt happen within the first 10 to 15 seconds after pasting.

Great, you've found the first bug! smiley

This used to work fine, but in the current version there is indeed a problem. The reason the clip you just pasted does not move to the top is that the list of clips does not get updated. Try it: if you switch to a different tab and back, the clip will now be on top as it should. I have no idea where or why I removed the screen refresh after pasting - will have to fix that.

Just to be sure I'm on the right track: select a clip but instead of pressing Enter, press Ctrl+C. This will only copy the clip (without pasting) and Echo will stay open. The clip you have copied should move to the top immediately.
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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2011, 11:23:53 AM »

I think it would be helpful if the close button minimised it to the tray. Or maybe it's just what I'm used to with apps that stay in the tray?

I never use that myself (I use the minimize button for that :-) but I can add this as an option, no problem.

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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2011, 11:33:05 AM »

I think it would be helpful if the close button minimised it to the tray. Or maybe it's just what I'm used to with apps that stay in the tray?

I never use that myself (I use the minimize button for that :-) but I can add this as an option, no problem.

if it's not too much hassle that would be great Thmbsup
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2011, 11:34:00 AM »

Great, you've found the first bug! smiley
...

Just to be sure I'm on the right track: select a clip but instead of pressing Enter, press Ctrl+C. This will only copy the clip (without pasting) and Echo will stay open. The clip you have copied should move to the top immediately.

That works, clip goes to top.

PS thanks for all the shortcuts, will have to read help file closer next time embarassed smiley
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« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2011, 11:48:13 AM »


This often takes a good while to actually happen. I noticed it not happening, then checked a few times after pasting - once it happened promptly, then it didnt seem to be happening at all

Great, you've found the first bug! smiley

I have no idea where or why I removed the screen refresh after pasting - will have to fix that.

OK, I've found the problem - there is a conflict with an option setting I've added most recently that results in certain behaviors occurring in the wrong order. Until I release an update, you can work around this bug like so:

Tools -> Preferences -> Display -> DefaultViewOnMinimize -> set to False.

When set to True, this option causes Echo to return to the default (leftmost) view when the app is minimized (e.g., when Echo hides after pasting a clip). And yes, it interferes with pushing the pasted clip to the top of the list (in a situation where the current view is already the default one).

If you set this option to False at least temporarily, the problem you found will go away. Meanwhile, I'll be working on a proper fix.
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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2011, 12:06:09 PM »

Quote from: tomos link=topic=27849.msg261177#msg261177

if it's not too much hassle that would be great Thmbsup

One other thing: by default Echo minimizes when it loses focus. So instead of clicking the small button - whether minimize or close - you can just click anywhere on screen to get the same end result.
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« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2011, 12:26:09 PM »

Quote from: tomos link=topic=27849.msg261177#msg261177

if it's not too much hassle that would be great Thmbsup

One other thing: by default Echo minimizes when it loses focus. So instead of clicking the small button - whether minimize or close - you can just click anywhere on screen to get the same end result.

true, I didnt realise that initially & was closing the window and expecting it to be in the tray. So, on second thoughts it's not worth adding!
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« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2011, 12:38:02 PM »

Still enjoying testing Ethervane Echo - two ideas, remarks or requests, but which may go beyond the scope of the app :

  • have you thought about drag-and-drop or Move to ... ? The possibility of moving a clip from one Quick view to another (and in particular to a custom view, e.g. Archives) either by drag-and-drop or an option in the context menu to Move to ... As things are the Quick views can only contain filtered clips.

  • and what about clickable urls ?

BTW the way, unless I missed it somewhere, could you comment on the name : is it Ethervane like weathervane ?
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