I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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rooSwitchBrian Cooke recently showed us his new application, rooSwitch. Here’s how he describes it:

rooSwitch allows you to manage profiles for almost any application. An example of how I use rooSwitch to get a handle on my life is to manage two profiles for NetNewsWire. One for “work feeds” and one for “other feeds”. During the hours that I’m working I switch on the work profile. This keeps me focused. It also removes the chance of someone in the office catching me reading what might be somewhat colorful news/comics/etc. that I’d rather keep my co-workers from knowing.

My first impressions:

What I like

  • Being able to create different sets of preferences based on context is compelling.

  • The application was easy to install, and the setup fairly straightforward: drag an app onto a rooSwitch window, make profiles, and then use rooSwitch to launch the application.

What I don’t like

  • rooSwitch works well for one or two apps, anything more and rooSwitch windows begin to crowd screen real estate. Managing so many windows then becomes cumbersome and annoying. In future versions, Brian should consider a better way of consolidating applications into a common window, perhaps via tabs or drawers.

  • Renaming a profile requires a double-click to bring up a new dialogue window. This is too many steps. It’d be nice if I could change the name just be clicking and typing in the same window.

What if?

  • I know the goal of rooSwitch is to let you create and manage profiles for applications on an individual basis. For example, to iChat, Mail, and Firefox to a “Work” profile, you’d have to manually switch each one on its own. What if you can group profiles together to allow simultaneous switching? For example, you can create two groups, “Work” and “Play”, that each contain preferences for iChat, Mail, and Firefox. Switching to the “Work” group, would change the preferences for all three apps at once. This might then simplify the interface for switching locations, because you can just put it in a Finder menu.

  • What if rooSwitch can sense when you are in different locations, and automatically switch profiles as you change location?

  • What if you could hold down a key-combination while launching an application to bring up a window to allow you to switch profiles for that application?

The verdict

rooSwitch does a nice job of creating and managing profiles for one or two apps. If you need to switch profiles for many applications at once, you’re better off creating new users in Mac OS X and enabling “fast user-switching”.

Thanks for showing us your work, Brian! We’re glad you thought of us, and we look forward to seeing future improvements and interface enhancements.

Update (September 25): Check out Brian’s response to this review below in the comments!

4 Comments

  • Eoin Purcell

    gravatarSep 23, 2006
    6:40 am

    Sounds like a sweet app.

    The profile idea sounds like wonderful extension of its abilities. Easier than setting up different identities on a laptop or even a pc. As for sensing location that would be funky too but I would settle for the ability to swith rapidly through profiles.

    Eoin

  • BrianC

    gravatarSep 23, 2006
    6:53 am

    Hello all, I’m Brian Cooke, the deveoper of rooSwitch.

    First, thanks Chanpory, for giving rooSwitch such a thorough look. I appreciate the criticism and ideas given. However, a few quick responses:

    1) “Renaming a profile requires a double-click” The “enter” and “return” keys are mapped to “rename”. There’s also a “rename” menu item, but I prefer the “enter” and “return” keys.

    2) “What if you can group profiles together to allow simultaneous switching?” This is something I want to address in the future. “Collections”. Anyway, the AppleScript and Automator support added in 1.1 allow for just this (of course, with a little work). The “whats new in 1.1” screencast highlights this, see: http://roobasoft.com/rooSwitch/view_movie.php?movie=whatsNew.mov

    3) “What if rooSwitch can sense when you are in different locations” Would be cool. Does anyone know of any other apps that do this already and allow programs to be launched? If so, an AppleScript could be written to make this happen.

    Those are just the ones I wanted to give a public response to. I do appreciate all the comments/critiques and have taken note.

    Thanks again, BrianC

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 26, 2006
    3:43 pm

    Thanks for the response and additional information, Brian!

  • davidinmanhattan.

    gravatarSep 29, 2006
    7:26 am

    Hey, Brian,

    rooSwitch looks like it has a lot of potential. Just to answer the “What if rooSwitch can sense when you are in different locations” question, I use an awesome app, Plazes (http://beta.plazes.com/) that, I think, falls into the geo-location/ location awareness genre. Basically, it recognizes know wi-fi spots, and “logs you in.”

    From their site: “automatically detects your location and connects you to people and places nearby. See people in your area, discover other locations and follow the whereabouts of your friends.”

    Don’t know if that helps. I have absolutely no connection to the folks at Plazes; I just am a fan.

    Best of luck!