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Docktacular

After receiving word from MacMinute last night, I travelled the breadth and depth of the internet to Panic HQ to download the latest update to Transmit; Transmit version 2.6. This in itself is nothing remarkable. It’s a fairly minor update; more a “squash some bugs, prepare for OS X 10.3” release than the “whoa! check it out!” upgrade that 2.5 brought, but it’s welcome nonetheless. Releases like this, though, give you a little time to think “hey, what new features could they add in the future?”

It wasn’t that long ago that I had the same thought in regards to the venerable NetNewsWire, something that seemed pretty well–received at the time, so I thought I’d don my thinking cap once more to see what could be done to improve this award–winning gem of an FTP client. The answer, I’ve decided, lies in the dock. I use Transmit practically every day, and as such it has earned a place amongst the thirteen docked applications that never get shut down. This ‘always–running’ situation, although great in a “I never have to wait for it to launch” way, is a real bummer in that I can never take advantage of Transmit’s ‘connect to default favorite on startup’ behavior. So what exactly do I do when I want to connect to a favorite server?

  1. Spawn a new Transmit window by clicking the dock icon.
  2. Shuffle my mouse up to the application window to acquire the ‘Connect’ button (or, alternatively, to select a non–default favorite from the ‘Favorites’ list)
  3. Click Connect

Pretty simple, yes; only two to three clicks and a little time to acquire a target with the mouse. But when was the last time you performed that kind of action to ‘get new mail’ in Apple Mail? Or ‘refresh all news’ in NNW? When was the last time you spawned a new Camino window just so you could click a bookmark in the bookmarks bar? Bingo. The suggestion: place Transmit’s Favorites list inside its dock menu, just as Camino’s Bookmarks reside in its dock menu.

An expanded dock menu would make Transmit just that little bit more useable.

From a Fitts’ Law perspective, it’s faster to use this kind of dock menu to connect to a favorite server because it’s already right under your mouse. From a time–saving perspective, it allows you to spawn a new Transmit window in the background and have it connect to the server of your choice while you attend to other things; no application switching required. This might not seem like much given the question “what would you add to make Transmit even better”, but that’s my two cents. It’s just one more feature that gives Mac OS X a great big hug.