Alert employees in realtime to events.  From adverse weather warnings and building or road closures, to team updates, project progress milestones, or congratulatory messages.



Minimalistic application launching

GopherLaunch (“Go” for launch) is the most minimalistic application launcher you’re likely to see – or not see, for that matter.  Collapsed, it takes up less room than a desktop icon – and even when it’s expanded, it’s still pretty minimal.

Way back in the day (1999 to be precise), we wrote a little launcher called “S:Kimo-Jo” (you can still find it if you Google hard enough).  It picked up quite a following at the time, but Real Life intervened and it drifted into obscurity…

Well – almost into obscurity.  A few of us kept using it and recently we figured that, given it’s survived this long, maybe we could give it a make-over and put it back out for a new generation of users to enjoy.

Here’s why it’s really cool…

It’s smaller than a desktop icon, and not much bigger when expanded;

Drag files, folders, URLs and short cuts onto the gripper to add them to the bar;

Hold CTRL while releasing the mouse button to remove an item from the bar;

Release the mouse button while selecting an item to launch it;

Hold CTRL while over the gripper to move the bar around the screen;

Configurable background colour and other appearance settings.


The cornerstone of our notification ecosystem, Snarl consolidates notifications received from various sources and allows you to manage how they are disseminated.

Whether it’s a new wireless network detected, a new Tweet or Facebook update that’s tagged you, or a new post in a blog you’ve subscribed to – there’s stuff going on all the time.  The problem is you spend all of your time trying to find out about it.

Snarl breaks this down into a simple statement:

when stuff_happens() => tell_me();

To find out more, go here.  Not convinced?  Here’s some screenshots…



eggShell is a User Interface for all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 onwards.  It’s designed to be flexible, intuitive, and simple to use and is based on a bar/plugin concept which originated in our Cloud:9ine Shell Replacement project dating back to 1999.

All functionality is provided by plugins – small scripted code modules – which typically provide a single specific feature (a button which launches an application, a label which displays some information, and so on).  Instances of plugins are then hosted in individual bars to create an environment tailored to the user’s own taste.

Each bar consists of a gripper, some plugins and, optionally, a shelf.  Bars are moved around the screen by dragging on the gripper, they can be expanded and shrunk by double-clicking it, and right-clicking the gripper opens a context menu which provides access to further features, and also allows for adding and removing plugins.  The number of plugins a bar contains is only limited by the size of the display.

Any number of bars can be created and each can be configured individually. Dragging a bar to a screen edge will cause it to “dock” against the edge.  Bars can be full-width, inverted, have different background colours and automatically shrink and turn translucent when the focus shifts to another window.

Each bar supports a shelf which can contain plugins in exactly the same way as the bar itself can.  The shelf is drawn with an inset effect and is always aligned to the far end of the bar, and the plugins are slightly smaller of course.


Widgets are transparent windows which display a single plugin within them.  Currently the plugins displayed by widgets differ from those that can be loaded into a bar, however future releases will support a unified plugin architecture which allows the same plugin code to be loaded into either a bar or widget.  Double-clicking a widget places it into configure mode – in this mode, a background is drawn behind the widget and access to the widget’s control menu is available.  The widget can also be positioned by clicking on it and dragging it around the screen.  Double-clicking again places the widget back into user mode.


The eggShell desktop can be displayed or hidden.  When displayed it obscures the existing Windows desktop provided by Explorer and thus hides any icons which may have been added to it.  A different wallpaper may also be displayed if so desired.



Concept 75 (2012)

The beginnings of concept 75, based on my experiences with Snarl scripted styles and extensions.  Plugins are scripts but can now base themselves on pre-defined control.   Controls are Active X objects which are built into eggShell (the ability to have third-party controls will be added) and these do all the heavy lifting.  These four screenshots show a single bar with different plugins loaded, each built on a different control.

Having pre-defined controls makes plugin development infinitely easier, as a lot of the hard work is already done for the developer.  Want a toolbar plugin?  Just set the control entry to toolbar during the plugin’s initialisation phase.  The toolbar is then made available to the plugin as an object called control.  The plugin can then add the buttons it wants and respond to them accordingly when they’re clicked by the user.

ColdFusion (2005)

The first ColdFusion prototype

The ColdFusion concept was starting in 2005 and was spun off from my Konfabulator clone, dotWidget.  The idea was to promote the use of script-based plugins in order to widen the scope of people who could develop plugins.

Three publicity shots – all from May 2005 – which provide more information about the bars themselves and also demonstrate the functionality available.  The concept is beginning to take shape now and this is the first time that plugins created by scripts (as opposed to COM DLL-based objects) had been considered.  I still consider ColdFusion to be a turning point in the evolution of what is now eggShell.

A later screenshot showing how things looked before the project was finally abandoned.  Snarl development began in earnest during 2005 and very quickly took priority over all other conceptual projects – and this included ColdFusion.  The screenshot shows a number of bars of varying sizes on a full desktop.  The number of different plugins is still limited at this time, but even this limited number shows the flexibility available to the end user.

Stardust (c. 2002/2003)

Stardust was the codename for the successor to Cloud:9ine.  It’s likely the finished product would have retained the Cloud:9ine name, possibly including the Stardust moniker.  Sadly, a dwindling support base coupled with a general shift away from shells by end users, meant that only preview versions of Stardust were ever released.



Concept shots of potential new features to be added



An alpha version


Cloud:9ine (c. 1999-2002)

The origin of where we’re at now!  Cloud:9ine debuted in 1999 and was under constant development and improvement until well into 2002, during which time many new features were added, and plenty more were in progress.





Just use the keyboard…

Back in the day, computers didn’t have mice.  And they were ace; you could do everything from the keyboard.

1226706400_1304762475Now, computers have mice, and touch pads, and touch screens, and all sorts of other input devices as well.  And that’s ace too; but sometimes it’s nice to be able to do everything you need with just the keyboard – and now with the power of .net behind it.  That’s right: PhatBar is now written entirely in C#!

Key Features…

 It’s keyboard-only here folks

PhatBar is designed from the ground up to be used solely from the keyboard.  Use the WIN+Space key combo to make it appear, type what you want and then use the arrow keys or Return depending on what you want to do next.

 Built-in scientific calculator

Just begin your calculation with an equals sign (the input icon will change to a calculator to signify you’ve entered calculator mode) and type away.  The result is prefixed with an equals sign in case you want to add further calculations.



Create aliases to commonly used files, URLs, extensions and anything else.  Once you’ve created an alias, just enter it and off you go.






Open URLs as quickly and as easily as you would a file or folder.  PhatBar recognises namespaces added to Windows by other applications and will support its own namespace functionality in future releases.

 Browse your files.

View files and folders on your computer quickly and easily with just the arrow and Return keys.  Once you’ve found the file want, launch it by hitting Return.



Open a command prompt by typing ‘|cmd’.  Follow it with a folder path to open the command prompt at that folder.

 Email people.

Create an email by typing ‘|mail’ followed by the recipient’s address and subject.  Or create an alias to do it for you!

 Open development

Create AddOns that extend the functionality of the input field and  augment what can be done with the results of the input field.