Sunday, January 15, 2006

Path Finder 4

Path Finder 4 is out, and it was well worth the wait. As with previous versions, Path Finder makes no attempt to be a spacial Finder—which is, I think, what I still want. Instead, it goes all-out in trying to be a great browsing Finder, and I like the result much better than Apple’s FrankenFinder. There are lots of great little features and details which I’ll write about later. However, to me the main points of the upgrade are that it’s much faster, it updates immediately when the disk changes, and it supports tabbed browsing—which is very useful since the browsing paradigm essentially forces you to have a small number of large windows instead of many small ones.

Unfortunately, one of the best features of Path Finder 3 was lost in the transition from CocoaTech’s own implementation of columns view to an implementation based on NSBrowser. Path Finder used to show each column that was visible in the path navigator, and this made it possible to browse up and down the hierarchy and always see where you’d been. Now, it bizarrely hides nodes both above and below where you are:

I find this unnerving, even after three and a half months of getting used to it while testing Path Finder 4. Were CocoaTech not planning to fix this, I would still be using Path Finder 3.

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I believe I properly observed the behavior you describe. Not a huge issue for me, but I'm glad they plan to address it.

I have, however, already been in dialog with the team at Cocoatech on four issues I think are bigger.

1. The left-side slide-out pane doesn't stay out if you close a Path Finder navigation window and re-open it.

2. The Sort By setting (I prefer to keep mine By Kind) always reverts to By Name when you close and re-open a window. If desktop items are set to be shown, they also revert to By Name if Path Finder is quit and relaunched or Desktop Items is hidden and then shown.

3. I find no setting for disabling the warning when emptying trash. Version 3.x had such a setting.

4. Thankfully, dragging items to another tab and pausing does activate the tab, but the spring-loaded folder delay slider does not affect the delay time for the tabs, nor does the space bar override work for tabs.

5. I set the right-side slide-out pane to show a preview on the top and my Favorites folder on the bottom. Every so often, I notice that the hight of the Favorites portion of that pane slides higher and higher after subsequent navigation window openings.

Not so serious, but would be nice is if the Trash thingie at the bottom of the left slide-out pane could be a selectable pane item like everything else, so that I could move it to the bottom right instead of bottom left.

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