Plotting Dashboard's Curve

by Derrick Story

We've had Tiger for a while now. Even though there's still lots to explore under the hood (and leverage for application building), some of its marque features, such as Dashboard, are beginning to feel as comfortable as an old pair of jeans.

I've been thinking though -- beyond the initial excitement over Dashboard, does it have staying power as an useful tool? My own experience has been up and down. At first I set up my wall of widgets with great enthusiasm, only to be distracted by other things, then to get excited again when a new widget comes along that I like.

My bread and butter widgets are what you would expect: weather, stock quotes, Thesaurus, baseball scores. I seldom launch Apple's calculator app these days because it's more handy to use the simple one included with Dashboard. And I'm enjoying many of the third party widgets too, such as Wikipedia and Ambrosia's envelope printer.

There are also actual sysadmin and dev tools, such as RegexToolbox (regular expression parser & evaluator), IP Widget (shows your internal or external IP address), AirPort Radar (quickly scanning for wireless networks -- love this one!), Firewall Switch (check if your firewall is on, and switch it on or off), and Hashes (computes SHA1, SHA, MD5, and RMD160 hash values).

It's true, Dashboard might not be my favorite Tiger feature, but I would miss it if it were gone. And I really like the opportunity it provides developers to promote their enterprise and products. So not only is Dashboard as comfortable as old jeans, it's just as valued.


2005-10-09 10:15:11
The potentially interesting thing about Dashboard is that it appears to be modal, i.e., everything else is apparently suspended when you enter 'dashboard' mode, and then resumes when you exit. Unfortunately, this is just a sort of illusion-- widgets (I think) actually execute in the same environment as any other application. It'd be a lot more interesting if Dashboard really was an independent mode with its own properties and environment.
2005-10-09 10:21:50
It's funny how natural and automatic the F12 shortcut has become for stuff like the weather, calendar. I grabbed the iCal Events widget to get a quick look at today's and tomorrow's events.

One spiffy method I've found to speed things up a bit is by using Spotlight. If, for example, I want to open up the Unit Converter widget (something I don't usually have open in Dashboard), I can hit the Spotlight shortcut Comand-Space, start typing 'Unit Converter', and it will show up in just a moment as the Top Hit. Then it's a Command-Return and the widget opens up in Dashboard.

2005-10-10 01:41:31
Spotlight for widgets
Thanks for the tip of launching widgets from Spotlight. And to Derrick, for reminding me to install RegexToolbox.

The dealmac widget has turned out to be more useful than I'd anticipated simply because of its keyword highlighting.

2005-10-10 18:10:05
upward trend?
Huh. I would have been more likely to classify the enthusiasm curve as something more akin to the Dead Cat Bounce. Lots and lots of hype around the Tiger launch followed by freefall and a transitory spike right before the flat-line.