Would Like a Utility Written for the Mac, Any Mac Programmers want to help?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by macsrules, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. macrumors regular

    Okay, here we go. I need a simple utility written, I am guessing that if I was a Mac Programmer, I could write this in about two hours. Everything is already built, I just need someone to tie the different pieces together. Here are the steps and what I would like.

    1. First, I like putting notes on folders so that I know what is in them with a quick description before opening them. The solution. When you have a ton of files this could be a very nice time saver when you are looking for something specific.

    The solution was given to me by another MacRumors member. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=454509

    * Use the Inspector Spotlight Comments field to leave notes for each folder. This works great, I hold down the option key and right click on the folder and scroll down to show inspector. This makes it so that every folder that I click on it dynamically changes in the inspector window and I am able to add notes to each folder I click on. This technique also makes it so that I can view the notes of the folder by clicking on them. If they are in a group of folders, I can use the arrow keys. I would like someone to take this feature to the next level. So here is what I am thinking.

    2. The utility needs to install into the menu bar and launches at startup.

    3. Would like for it to have an off and on button with a keyboard shortcut.

    4. The ability to change the size of the viewing font.

    5. Here is the main thing that it will do with the 3 features. When it is turned on and you run your mouse over folders, the Spotlight Comments pop up in a small window right above the folder the mouse is over so that you can see what is in them according to your notes.

    So here is a recap, it installs into the menu bar. It has an on and off button with a keyboard shortcut would be nice. Font size can be increase or decreased. When Turned on and you run your mouse over folders, the notes popup in a small window showing the comments from you inspector Spotlight Comments.

    Is there anyone out there that is interested in building this utility?

  2. macrumors G4

    Can you explain "Everything is already built".

    Can you post the parts or put them on a web/ftp site.
  3. macrumors regular

    When I say everything is built, I probably did not use the best choice of wording.

    I meant, that the inspector is already there with the spotlight comments field. And that Apple already has the ability to do startup items.

    Again, I am not a programmer but from my limited experience, programs are built using packages and in them are the Plist which I think are the preferences. Apple has the feature where you hit the key (can remember which and it lets you look inside the folder, don't use this feature myself).

    So, I guess, what I meant is, that someone who was familiar with Apple Programming could write the package content that would tie all these features together that are in the operating system to make this work.

    I know I over simplified things.

    P.S. I am not opposed to helping. If you want to do it, you tell me what you want me to do on my end and I will.
  4. macrumors 68040


    It's surprising to me how often people post here expecting someone to write an app for them for free, explaining how it's trivial, even though they themselves have no idea where to start. This will take even an experienced Mac programmer quite a bit longer than 2 hours. If you're willing to pay for the job, check out http://www.macfreelancer.com/. Otherwise good luck...
  5. macrumors regular

    Wow, thanks for taking the time to duse on my post mduser63.

    Thanks for clarifying my lack of understanding of the purpose of MacRumors. Here I thought it was a community of people that helped other Mac People out but I guess I was wrong. It is not about community but going around and bashing someone's post. Or clarifying that they need money. I guess someone of your talent is too busy to help, yet you have the time to post great comments.

    1. It is not like I am looking for a piece of software to profit from, and I am sure that I am not the only one in the MacRumors "Community" that could benefit from this utility.

    2. Also, if financial gain is your only incentive for helping, then if the utility was built with some quality, I am sure that the person that wrote it could charge for it by posting it on Versiontracker and Macupdate.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to post.

  6. Moderator emeritus


    You're asking for a lot more than a little help with a problem, you're asking for someone to write you an application. Calm down.
  7. Moderator


    Staff Member

    So Part 5 of your requirements is all built in is it? Or do you expect this free application to interface with the Finder and display these little windows at will? Cause that's going to be very hard. I suspect you are looking at days of effort just to get to a half-baked prototype of this...
  8. macrumors regular

    It would display these windows over the folders when the utility is turned on, with a keyboard shortcut would also be nice. When the utility was turned off nothing would appear when the mouse ran over the folder. These windows would pull from the spotlight comments from the inspector. These windows would appear right above the folder when the mouse was over them. The font size would also be able to be changed through the utility preferences.

    Also, if this utility really had some teeth it could also input right from the pop-up window when the utility was turned on.

    Well, maybe I am off on the time. There are so many of these kinds of utilities out there that install into the menu bar. I assumed that the code in these packages could be mimicked and edited fairly easy to create an installer for this utility.

    I am assuming that the notes in these Folder Spotlight Comment fields are stored in some hidden file on the Mac. So, I thought again, I could be wrong, that someone could write the script that when this utility is turned on, when the mouse ran over the folder, it would pull these comments that are tied to the folders through the spotlight comments field and pop up a small window above the folder.

    I assumed that this would be relatively easy and quick for a programmer that new what they where doing, but I guess I am off on the amount of time and difficulty it would take to make this work.

  9. Moderator emeritus


    It sounds semi-interesting but also not something I would ever use (I just use spotlight) which totally throws out any motivation to program it.

    As for the posters above, I think they're just annoyed not at you but at the general populace regarding their skills. Most of us that have been coding in any capacity for a while regard our code as elegant and well put together (usually!). When somebody stops by and thinks what we do is easy it's just abrasive. Half the time we don't even know for sure how long a project will take let alone somebody with little knowledge in the field.

    This Mac Programming community here does help the Mac Programming community here. We help each other with code examples and new ways to complete tasks via code. But it's mostly the underlying stuff. If you already had started on the app and had questions on how to go about something I'm sure the forum would have been more receptive.

    On occasion something can be whipped together in a few hours. But more often than not it can't by the general populace. If somebody reads this and already had done all the bits and pieces above it different formats they can certainly do it faster than somebody who hasn't.

    I do wonder why spotlight won't work for you. Don't you know what you are looking for? Or are you browsing your hard drive to see what you have?
  10. Moderator


    Staff Member

    This is easy: there is a supported API for this

    Assuming we can get a valid reference to the Folder then there is an API to get the Spotlight comments

    This is the part that is basically insanely hard. There is no API for this. The Finder will not tell us when a mouse moves over a folder. I'm not even sure this is possible at all. It might be possible via some sort of sketchy Mach-injection into the Finder, or perhaps via the API for assistive technologies, but really not simple at all.
  11. Retired


    I recommend you get Leap, as it has great tagging abilities.
  12. macrumors regular


    Thanks for your response. I know that writing code is not easy, in fact, I have much respect for those in the community that do write quality code. I have been learning PHP myself and really see how hard it is to learn one language much less all the other languages that goes into building and programming an application even if there are only a few features.

    Why do I want this utility?

    Spotlight works. But it is not as elegant and user friendly as I would like. As I mentioned in the other post that I referenced I have been going through http://www.freemacware.com/ , www.versiontracker.com , macupdate , http://coolosxapps.net/ and www.iusethis.com

    As I go through these sites I download stuff that I might need, maybe not currently but at some point, so I don't want all this stuff installed on my computer, so I put each download in it's own folder. Then I write notes on exactly what each thing does so that if I need to use it sometime I can see at a glance what each folder contains and what the software does exactly according to my notes and the developers notes.

    I can do this through spotlight, it would just be nice to be able to call this feature and turn it on with a keyboard shortcut. To have my notes that tell me what each downloaded software does according to my notes pop up in a window above the folder. Also being able to change the viewing font size would also be nice.

    Again, I don't take lightly the amount of skill that is involved in programming well.

  13. macrumors G4

    Did he say "Free"? I'm thinking about 8 weeks of effort, full time at about $100 per hour. He could have a working beta version. So for about $32K he could get started. About that much more to get it more finalized and a web page designed to show it off.

    I few years back my boss had me doing software cost estimates and I was up to my ears in spreadsheets. Before then I was happy to just write code. But I looked into how to estimate projects using real data collected form past projects and some number crunching. The thing that hit me was just how LITTLE one million dolloars buys you. First off a typical overhead rate in our industry is about 125%. This covers things like office space, utility bills, vacation pay and medilcal insurance and taxes and so on and so on. So you mulitply the salery by 2.25 to get what you have to bill the client. and that is for a break even job.

    Back to this job: You can't even mock up a screen and dialog boxes in two hours. Heck I'd expect it would take two hours simply to show the mockups to a client and get the feedback for the 2nd revision mockups. When you add in the overhead $100 is very lite and assumes the programmers are not making much take home pay.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Unless there is a programmer looking for this themselves, there is no way you are going to get someone to do this for free. It has nothing to do with the fact that people in this community don't want to help, or that we are a bunch of greedy people, but that time is a scarce resource. If it was something that would take a few hours, sure someone may do it, but no one is going to burn days of time on something they themselves don't want. Sure they could put it up as shareware and make a few dollars, but likely their few days of time would be better spent doing something they themselves were interested in. And criticizing mduser63 or anyone else for not doing this for you - get a life. He offered you information on how you could get this application created. There is a lot of software that is free, custom software by its very nature is not.
  15. macrumors 6502

    @SilentPanda: great post. I think that sums up what many of us were thinking reading this thread.

    @MacsRules: no harm done with your posts. Lots of concepts seem to be pretty basic until you start digging into the details. Simply asking whether or not this is possible would probably gather some useful information and insight.

    It would be great to have full access to the source code for Mac OS X, but many non-developers fail to realize the small amount of information developers actually have. We depend on documentation provided by employees of Apple to understand many of the important details of the OS. Serious time and effort goes into integrating application features with the rest of the system. In some cases, you end up running into roadblocks that require that you abandon an idea altogether. The finder isn't designed for the kind of expansion that you are proposing, although it may be possible to implement it with mouseMoved: events and some other very clever planning.

    If you have ever struggled to assemble furniture (desks, cribs, etc) with unclear instructions, only to find after 8 hours of work that there are parts missing, you know exactly how developers sometimes feel. While this usually isn't the case, it does happen and you always have to keep the limitations in mind.


  16. macrumors regular



    You stated the first two features could be done relative to there already is an API created for these two but the third there is not one and you are not sure there is the ability to build one or create one without a large amount of work.

    What if, the third feature was changed a little bit. Instead of making it so the window pops up when the mouse runs over the folder that feature was put on hold and substituted for what the inspector can already do.

    Example: With the Show Inspector set to dynamically change by clicking on the second mouse button and holding down the option key and clicking show inspector it dynamically changes the folder inspector when you click on another folder.

    What if this feature was tied to the pop up window instead of the mouse over it. So instead of using the mouse, you use the arrow keys to scroll through folders and the pop window would be invoked this way?

    Since the inspector already does this does that mean there is already an API for this feature?

  17. macrumors 6502

    I cannot understand why you are further belaboring this. The consensus in this entire thread is the application you want will be non-trivial to create and you will therefore have to pay to get it written. Put a post on that freelance site that was previously mentioned and get it done there.
  18. macrumors 65832


    isn't this what quick look is?

    and basically no one is going to write you this for free.
    learn how to make it, you know what you want.

    and 2 hours is nothing i would think more around 3-10 weeks.

    to write a simple app in c++ for taking a X amount of numbers and add them up and average them takes me about 30min. and thats not a GUI or anything special, im new but i know how much code needs to be written, i mean Microsoft word is what like 300,000+ pages of code.

    get lots and lots of time and money, then get some more money and 20 cases of redbulls, a couple hookers and some crack, then maybe you could write it with a little more time and money
  19. macrumors 603


    If you had come into this forum saying I have a great idea for an application / utility and want to know how to make it. I am positive that people would have bent over backwards to help you out.

    Why don't you just put the time and effort in and try and learn it yourself? I'm sure you will find it rewarding, and people here will be happy to help with any problems that you have.

    What people here are NOT prepared to do is do something when you are not prepared to put any time and effort in yourself.
  20. macrumors regular

    Got it.

    Thanks for all the advice from all the posters in this posting. Cromulent, your right.

  21. macrumors 65832



    im pretty sure that would be a gui a graphical user interface and that is like really really hard to write and takes years to learn
  22. Moderator


    Staff Member

    No. The inspector is an internal part of the Finder: the Finder knows when you select another folder and can tell another part of itself about this. The problem is that our (hypothetical code) is not part of the Finder and it won't tell us this.n It doesn't matter how you re-jig the UI: it's core functionality that is missing.

    It might be possible using APE modules but I really don't like the idea of APE so I don't install it or use it.

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