Alfred then, now and moving forward

The cake is definitely not a lie

Alfred 0.7 launch party cake

It’s been a while since I wrote my last post on the blog (Alfred is about to get a whole lot better) and I am over the moon with how much progress I’ve made with Alfred in the last 6-7 weeks. Let’s just look back to see what has changed on a technical level – under the hood really:

  • Completely new architecture to allow for additional views of data, used in the file system navigation, iTunes view and Actions view. This new architecture was designed with plugins in mind so as Alfred matures, Powerpack users will be able to create and use their own plugins sitting on top of Alfred core
  • Deeper integration into OS X with cocoa interfaces being built for AppleScript to interact with Finder and iTunes
  • Enhanced performance and caching of system metadata with the biggest gains seen in Applications searching
  • Full code review of TODO comments, leaving no stone unturned making a number of core level stability improvements

All this while creating the actual Powerpack features, which sit on top of these new architectural changes, and performing extensive Instruments analysis (I’m addicted) to ensure that there are no leaks and no hanging object references.

What does all this mean… well, depending on your Mac spec, Alfred is capable of using under 20Mb of memory when fully active and less than this when idle. It also means that there have been ZERO performance hits by adding in the Powerpack.

This is just the start!

Even though there are many positives, I have to admit that I am not fully happy with the iTunes mini player. Due to my mantra of ‘release now, fix later’, I released the iTunes mini player before I wanted to. Because of this, it is lacking playlist support, there are quirks when trying to play certain songs, it requires the songs to be OS X indexed, making it temperamental and there is no NAS support yet.

Fear not! This is my main focus for 0.7.1. I am rewriting the core of the iTunes player to use the iTunes library XML instead of the metadata. This not only means that your music will be found regardless of the state of your library, but will also add playlist support and browsing your music without having to search for it! Put it this way, iTunes mini player is going to rock! :)

What next?

I have a number of usability enhacements to make in the coming releases and then will be working on AppleScript plugins, full Address Book integration (viewing your contacts from within Alfred) and starting to work on the native plugin API so that you (and we) can add in amazing third party tools such as 1Password and Evernote.

Powerpack

If you haven’t yet picked up the Powerpack, grab a copy now to get on the awesometrain and see the Powerpack as it develops! Remember that buying the Powerpack is what keeps the speed of development up – it means that I don’t need to take on other contract work to buy dinner (and food for the kittens!)

Did I say “buy the Powerpack” yet? No, I don’t think so… do it! :D

I just want to reiterate how much I appreciate how awesome you, our users, are! The community we have built with over 3000 Twitter followers and a growing Get Satisfaction forum is truly amazing and has been extremely motivating.

Cheers,
Andrew (@preppeller)

[Image credit: Michael Dales on Ember]

Alfred Is About To Get A Whole Lot Better

In the past number of months, Alfred has been my side project and I have managed to squeeze it into every spare moment I have. This includes writing the software, replying to many support emails, being really active on Twitter and listening to quite a considerable amount of feedback and feature requests. Alfred has had tens of thousands of downloads and we estimate that we have thousands of ‘regular’ day to day users, which is amazing considering the software is still in beta and has grown entirely from your word of mouth.

I can tell you now that I have LOVED every moment of it to date – The sense of community has been overwhelming and extremely motivating. It has also been good to see that many of the popular feature requests are in our existing long term road map. In other words, you guys have really helped focus what is important.

The future of Alfred

As we approach 1.0 and the end of beta test period, the sense of community and love has made me think long and hard about the best way to make Alfred sustainable into the long term. It has also made me realise that I didn’t want to just draw a line and take away what people use daily by making 1.0 a paid-only product.

I want to continue to grow the Alfred user base and its evangelists as much as possible, giving people the choice to support future development. I also want to start taking Alfred more seriously rather than it being just a side project. Therefore today, I am excited to tell you about the future of Alfred (I feel like I should be wearing a black polo neck shirt with a keynote presentation up on a big screen).

Announcing the Alfred Powerpack

Alfred Powerpack IconThe Powerpack will be a paid set of incredibly powerful new features sitting on top of the stable and robust core of Alfred.

These features will have the same simplicity, speed and usability of Alfred but have much deeper integration into OS X, allowing you to use Alfred for much more than just launching apps and finding files – ALL from quick keyboard actions.

By offering a paid add-on to Alfred, we can keep the core of Alfred FREE and give the choice to you, our wonderful users, to both support the development of Alfred and get WAY more awesomesauce!

Here is a sneak peek just a few Powerpack features I am currently working on:

  • iTunes mini player / music navigator
  • File system navigation and file operations
  • Much better and faster access to Contacts
  • Much more control over how Alfred looks
  • An integrated AppleScript studio allowing for easy AppleScript addons

The list of features I have planned is actually really rather large and definitely exciting, so you will have to stay tuned. I would also like to make it very clear that the Powerpack will never bloat Alfred or get in the way of people who simply want to use Alfred as a launcher :)

What you can expect in the next few months

  • The Powerpack is still in the works, I am hoping to start giving early access within 6 weeks.
  • In the next release you will most likely see a Powerpack tab in the preferences but won’t be able to use it yet.
  • Ollie (@olliekav) has created a new website – it’s almost ready and it’s gooorgeous!
  • Basically, continue to use and enjoy Alfred!

… Oh, and one more thing

When the Powerpack is first made available, it will have a special pre-release price  to thank you, the early adopters, for saying such great stuff about Alfred: http://twitter.com/alfredapp/favorites

[Update 20th July: The early bird price for Alfred will be £12, available for purchase in a few weeks]

Note: The people who have already donated to Alfred will be getting a license as soon as they are available.

Sign up for updates

Sign up to our newsletter on alfredapp.com or from the About tab of the Alfred preferences to get announcements and newsletters hot off the press! Also, follow @alfredapp to join our growing community :)

Cheers,
Andrew (@preppeller)