Dashboard vs. Konfabulator


At least half of the Mac community is currently discussing more or less vividly if and how Apple ripped of [Konfabulator][] with it’s new [Dashboard][] that can be found in the upcoming Mac OS X [Tiger][].

There are certainly some valid points to the argumentation of the [copycat][] partisans out there, but in my opinion, they run short of some insight. Let me illustrate why and add my grain of salt to the discussion.

Others have done this before Jason Kottke puts it [quite clear][re], so I’ll cite him directly:

Haven’t there been several Konfabulator-type apps on various OSes before Konf. came along? Anyone remember any of them?

Readers of his blog unanimously cite “Desk Accessories”, introduced in 1984 – 20 years ago! – and described as Little programs that go anywhere on the desktop and can be run in parallel to other applications as something very similar to [Dashboard][] and [Konfabulator][]. I think it is safe to say that the basic idea is definitely not new.

Of course, the guys working on [Konfabulator][] did a great job, bringing the idea to the mainstream, and doing it beautifully and in elegant ways. But I think they must pay attention to not call Apple copycats while they probably copied parts of it themselves.

Really innovative software is respectedContrary to what [Thomas Jogin][] claims in his [copycat][] post, Apple did not rip-off [LaunchBar][] (and maybe even not QuickSilver, but I can’t comment on that one) with it’s [Spotlight][] technology.#

LaunchBar is a very elegant concept of accessing well-known things – documents, websites, applications, search engines and the like – through a very intuitive and intelligent method, while Spotlight is about a search in the unknown, based on file-system and document metadata, a search engine that delivers Information at your fingertips.

I think the two items are really different and for me, it looks more like Apple values – and respects – real innovation from independent developers: They didn’t implement a feature that even remotely resembles LaunchBar. If the guys behind LaunchBar are clever – and they surely are – then we will see a Spotlight augmented version of LaunchBar anytime soon.

What about Watson?Of course, there’s the [Sherlock][] vs. [Watson][] case. Obviously, Sherlock was first (As was Desk Accessories … ). Karelia took an idea showcased by Apple and improved it right-away. That’s their right, but don’t forget that Apple had laid a foundation with Sherlock in OS 9 days, years before Watson saw its first sunbeams.#

Bluntly speaking of a rip-off seems at least disproportionate. Google, btw, paints a similar picture if you search for “[Sherlock 3 Watson rip-of][rip]”.

Bottom-lineMaybe I am wrong here, but I would rather stick with the idea outlined in Watson’s [FAQ][]:#

Unfortunately for Apple, Sherlock 3 is not quite up to par with Watson in terms of speed or capability, so we’re not that worried.

If, after all, Apple ripped-of Konfabulator, we can rest assured that the developers behind this great tool have the opportunity to deliver a better and more often updated version than Apple’s Dashboard.

[re]: http://www.kottke.org/remainder/04/06/5905.html[Konfabulator]: http://www.konnfabulator.com[Dashboard]: http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/dashboard.html[Spotlight]: http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/spotlight.html[Tiger]: http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/ [WWDC Keynote]: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc04/ [copycat]: http://jogin.com/weblog/archives/2004/06/28/copycat [Thomas Jogin]: http://jogin.com[LaunchBar]: http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/ [Watson]: http://www.karelia.com/watson/ [Sherlock]: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/sherlock/ [rip]: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=Sherlock+3+Watson+rip-off&spell=1 [FAQ]: http://www.karelia.com/watson/watsonFAQ.html


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