What's a good launcher?

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webfork
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What's a good launcher?

#1 Post by webfork » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:09 am

After a conversation with a user here in forums, I wanted to post some ideas for what a launcher is and should do. There are no shortage of different launcher programs here on the site, but this is not a comment/critique on any one project and also tries to toss out some ideas I've had after reading an article on software usability.

Fundamentally, launchers try to create the shortest path possible to a program. For Mac users, the dock at the bottom of the screen works well for this because there really are only about 10 programs the average user ever runs on their computer. Portable software users are a bit more needy: I'd be surprised if there was a person on these forums that has less than 30 different programs in their launcher.

Usability is difficult because in every operation there are at least 10 very small things. Is it fast enough? Do I have to click twice rather than once? Are the buttons too big or too small? Does the color look right and does it look ugly against my desktop? Its something we users don't really think about and its hard to put into words. Usually we just say that its "annoying" or "tedious", and when it does what we want its "responsive" and "easy". This comes up a great deal when I compare my phone to newer models: my menus are slow and hesitate, while the newer models are past me as soon as I press them.

Animations, transparency, and other graphics can give the program a sense of realism and space, but can also slow down older computers. Some launcher programs I've seen over on FreewareGenius require dotNET to make all these cool extras materialize.

Other extras like command-line tweaks, auto-start, scheduled start, etc. are also helpful because it adds further automation so a given user can set it and forget it. Just a few clicks a day adds up over time and feels like a chore when tired or frustrated.

What do you want in a launcher?

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#2 Post by m^(2) » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:27 am

My file manager is my launcher. I run most of my programs on some files and what's a better way to do so than double click on the file? Programs that I don't use this way can be launched in several other ways, depending on how I use them; The ones that I use the most often are on the buttonbar. Some others have hotkeys. Some are in %PATH% and I run them from the command line. Some are in the menu. And others - I just navigate to them, with shortcuts to cd to the right directories, they are just a few clicks away.

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#3 Post by freakazoid » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:39 pm

A launcher, for me, is the quickest way to launch a program or folder.

The program I use to accomplish this is Executor, a keyword-based launcher that is only displayed when I activate it via hotkey; it's probably my #1 most-used program.
is it stealth? ;)

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#4 Post by joby_toss » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:08 pm

The perfect launcher for me is one that does everything PowerPro does. Wait...there isn't one? Oh, well...then it's PowerPro! :)

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#5 Post by webfork » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:49 pm

joby_toss wrote:The perfect launcher for me is one that does everything PowerPro does. Wait...there isn't one? Oh, well...then it's PowerPro! :)
How about "what aspects of your current launcher would need to be in a new alternative to make you switch?"

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#6 Post by tproli » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:17 pm

I use Executor most of the time + Total Commander with internal filetype associations (also in the right-click menu).

The second part is also interesting because in most cases I personally do launch an application via its filetype rather than the app directly.

So how about this: "What do you use to open your files in your favorite application?"

Before internal associations appeared in file managers it was hard to set up a portable environment where you could double-click a file and it opened in your portable app. I used Cafe, Assox and drag-and-drop also but all had their drawbacks (clumsy, system-wide changes, needed admin rights, even unreliable).

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#7 Post by joby_toss » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:46 am

A good launcher (not "portable" launcher necessarily) should offer me:
- hotkeys for launching different programs or solving different system issues
- menus for launching programs or exploring files/folder
- different ways of interacting with internet websites/searches
- date/time display
- reminders set-up
- system resources usage display
- snippets
- clipboard manager
- quick notes
- calendar
etc.

But to make me switch, it must have all these (PowerPro) functions + enhanced stability. The only thing that bugs me right now is PowerPro crashing from time to time...

On my USB stick, however, I'm using ASuite I think... I don't pay much attention to the way I'm launching my programs on the go. Surprising, isn't it? :)

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#8 Post by linuxx » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:57 pm

Windows Explorer. I have been known to cheat with a couple taskbar shortcuts. Copy or 7zip for backup.

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Re: What's a good launcher?

#9 Post by -.- » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:53 pm

ugh... I've made my own by turning chrome/firefox into my launcher lol

I've determined that 90% of the time I'm on the computer, I got my browser open... so using bookmarks (and their hotkeys) and a custom about:blank/tab page I just call up programs using their keywords or opening new tab and clicking program. Even set the tab background so I got a "wallpaper" to look at

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