Late last year, WestCode Software introduced OneClick, their answer to the need for a flexible, easy-to-use, comprehensive, highly customizable utility program. OneClick incorporates some of the best features of Apple's Control Strip, QuicKeys, Square One, SuperClock, PopChar, PopUp Folder, and other utilities, integrating them into a single program with a low memory overhead, low price, and relatively low learning curve.
I have tried many Macintosh utilities over the years. In total, these programs cost a lot of money, resulted in extension conflicts, had overlapping feature sets in some areas, and still failed to provide all the features I wanted. I consider my computer needs to be fairly eclectic: they cover the gamut from word processing and email, to business accounting and trading stocks on the Web. My equipment ranges from a 68030-based IIsi to a Power Mac 6100/66. I've been extremely happy with OneClick, a single program that adapts to my wide-ranging hardware and software needs.
Nuts and Bolts -- OneClick consists of a single control panel that uses under 300K of RAM. After installing OneClick and restarting your Mac, you'll see a one-time, brief tutorial, as well as several Global palettes: the System Bar comes pre-configured with many useful buttons; the Task Bar displays buttons for each launched program; and the Launch Strip quickly opens anything that the Finder can open, including programs, files, and folders. OneClick also supports application-specific palettes that are only available when a particular program is active - including a pre-configured palette for the Finder as well as palettes for several popular applications (I particularly like the ones for ClarisWorks). You use the OneClick Editor to customize each of these palettes and to create more palettes - I'll talk more about that in a bit.
Palette buttons cause programs to launch, files to open, or scripts to run. Each button shows an icon, or text - or both - that indicates its function, so you don't have to remember key combinations. (You may assign keyboard shortcuts to buttons if you wish.) If a button's function is not self-evident, OneClick thoughtfully provides either Balloon Help or a less-obtrusive, yellow, pop-up description tag. It's easy to toggle either help option, and you can also edit the help text - a thoughtful feature.
Many OneClick buttons perform basic functions like Paste, Insert Date, Change Font (displays a pop-up list of available fonts in their actual typefaces - very neat), Change Font Size, Page Setup, Empty Trash, Make Alias, and Get Info. A small sampling of some of the more powerful buttons that come with the program includes Insert Character (like PopChar, this lets you select and quickly insert any character available in a given font), Glossary (create a glossary of commonly used bits of text and then quickly insert those bits; I use this button to create a signature glossary), Pop-up Hierarchical File List (shades of PopUp Folder), Pop-up Phone Book/Dialer, Pop-up Hierarchical List of files in the System Folder, Auto Save (at user specified time intervals), and Tile Windows. [Additionally, OneClick can use modules from Apple's Control Strip. -Tonya]
I think new users will find the basic buttons especially helpful. Even as an experienced user, buttons such as Insert Date, Change Font, and Change Font Size save me time. It is easy to create additional basic buttons, such as Print One Copy and Customized Page Setup (to apply pre-determined setup characteristics) - I use these with most of my applications. Some of the more powerful buttons like Insert Character, Hierarchical File Pop-ups, and Phone Book/Dialer replace entire utility programs and I find them a significant enhancement to my Mac's capabilities.
OneClick also adds a OneClick menu to the menu bar, though you can also access this menu from any palette. The OneClick menu lets you quickly show and hide palettes and switch to the OneClick Editor.
Customizing the Interface -- Using the OneClick Editor, you can create a new palette for any program, or modify an existing palette. To add a button to a new palette, you simply drag it from the OneClick Library to the palette, or you drag it from an existing palette.
In practice, the customization options for buttons and palettes appear nearly endless. You can assign any icon, or multiple icons, to any button; change a button's background color, size, and palette position (adjusted down to a resolution of one pixel); assign different styles to a button; and more. Similarly, palettes have a range of customization options, including background patterns and colors.
Although I like the tabbed organization and layout of the OneClick Editor, many features are not labeled and are not intuitive as to their use. Also, an Undo option is not available. WestCode is aware of these concerns and plans to address them in a future release.
Avoid Screen Clutter -- If you are thinking all these palettes cause screen clutter, WestCode has done a good job of preempting this potential problem. Palettes can be collapsed (iconified, in OneClick lingo) to a small icon with a single click. Many of the palettes can also be reduced to a small Title Bar. To hide all palettes, you choose Hide Palettes from the OneClick pop-up menu or press a keyboard shortcut. Palettes may also be configured as to their location on the Desktop and several other parameters. One possible enhancement in a future release will be an option to have a palette automatically get out of the way of the active window, so as to not obscure any part of it. [WestCode hopes to add this to version 1.5, due out later this year. -Tonya]
Be Creative -- If OneClick did nothing more than what I've already covered, it would be a fine program. In reality though, I've only begun to discuss what it can do. Just use the Record feature to make a button script for almost any action you perform with regularly with your Mac, and voila - you have a button that performs the recorded task.
You can record keys presses and actions like clicking a radio button or choosing a menu option. OneClick records such actions not in terms of mouse movements, but in terms of what you did, making for scripts that do not depend on the mouse being in a particular location when the script begins running. Once a script is recorded, you can edit it in the OneClick Editor window, which offers built-in help and error checking. I've encountered a few a situations where a program will not properly run a recorded action, but most of the time I've found recording to be easy, fast, and wonderfully effective.
If you know AppleScript, or want to learn OneClick's own (easier) EasyScript, you can create button scripts from scratch. If you are new to using a scripting language or programming, be sure to read the appropriate manual carefully.
[In addition, Matt Neuburg <firstname.lastname@example.org> notes "OneClick's language is spectacularly well thought out and easy to learn, with splendid data types and object-oriented messaging and a full battery of control structures. OneClick can gather all sorts of information about what's happening on your system, in real time, and make it available in fascinating ways. A OneClick button is programmable - you can drag & drop things onto it, press it with or without modifier keys, and have it react in different ways; it can display a pop-up menu for you to choose from. OneClick has superb abilities for communicating with other scripting milieus." -Tonya]
OneClick's Editor includes a basic graphics editor and the ability to borrow icons from other files. This, plus the ability to add text to a button's icon and create help text lets your buttons be self-descriptive.
I put my own words into practice. WriteNow is my favorite word processor, but the interface lacks toolbars. Combining the Record feature and the EasyScript Editor, I was able to create - okay, maybe I'm not objective about this - a terrific palette of buttons for WriteNow. Now WriteNow maintains its small memory footprint and quickness while providing me with the customizable toolbar features found in higher-end word processors like WordPerfect and ClarisWorks.
Warning -- This program should have a warning label attached saying "This program can become addictive." In addition to the customization features and productivity boosts - and the temptation to explore them fully- there is an active and helpful OneClick mailing list. (You can join the list through WestCode's Web site.) You'll also find a regularly updated collection of free buttons on WestCode's Web site (including my WriteNow palette, along with a few other palettes I made). In addition, a group of OneClickers has formed the Button Circle, where they regularly upload new freeware buttons.
The WestCode and Button Circle Web sites include palettes for programs like Eudora, Photoshop, Netscape Navigator, Emailer, and AOL, as well as buttons that provide an almost unbelievable array of features, such as saving multiple text clippings, printing selected text on or across pages, creating notebooks or address books, displaying available memory, and pasting quoted text.
Owning this program is like having your own personal utility factory. Its dynamic and flexible nature invites you to use your imagination in creating new scripts, or to just record common operations. If you don't think of yourself as the adventurous type, you can look forward to a free stream of buttons and palettes that others have created.
Some Commentary -- It is rare to find such an innovative program as OneClick. It eliminates the need for many other programs, uses little memory, adds only one extension to your System Folder, comes pre-configured with a large list of buttons that greatly enhance both the Mac OS and most of your applications, is regularly expanded through a steady stream of freeware buttons and palettes, is highly customizable to your individual needs, and it is fun to work with. To me, this program exemplifies much of what the Macintosh is all about - it empowers users to get much more out of their Macs while enjoying the experience.
Recently, Heidi Roizen (Apple VP of Developer Relations) gave an enjoyable talk at a BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh Users Group) main meeting, discussing Apple's new focus on needs of the developer community. WestCode represents a small, independent, innovative developer that is dedicated to working only on the Macintosh platform. I hope that both she and Gil Amelio put WestCode on their list of developers that will receive as much support as possible from Apple. In fact, bundling this product with Macs - or striking a deal to incorporate its technology into the Mac OS - strikes me as a way to further increase the benefit of the Mac OS over Windows. Also, though Mac OS 8 is still but a dream, this might breathe new life and excitement into System 7.x. In the meantime, other developers recognize the potential of OneClick; for example, the next version of Quicken will incorporate OneClick's Shortcut Technology into its Tool Bar.
Final Observations -- By now, you know that I am impressed with this product. Although most users report no or few problems with OneClick, I have encountered numerous bugs, most of which are fixed in the current 1.0.2 release. None of these problems resulted in data loss, and they have been worth putting up with in exchange for the overall benefits of the software. I have found WestCode technical support to be exceptionally friendly and helpful. The call is not toll free, but if no one answers your call immediately, you may leave your number and WestCode returns the call.
WestCode plans to release OneClick 1.5 later this year. Important enhancements center on more powerful Task Bar and Launcher palettes. A Task Bar button will display and launch recently used applications (think Apple Menu Options), and another Task Bar button will pop up the Launcher; especially useful should you keep the Launcher hidden. The new Launcher will be able to keep file sets, such as a separate Internet Applications set.
The street price for OneClick is around $75, and QuicKeys users can purchase a competitive upgrade for about $40 (the exact price depends on what version you have). OneClick requires System 7.0 or higher, and a 68020 or later processor.
[Steve Becker has been a BMUG member since purchasing his first Mac and runs his own Mac consulting business, MacEase, in Berkeley, California.]
[Those of you hoping to compare OneClick to its strongest competitors, QuicKeys 3.5, which we reviewed in TidBITS-348 and KeyQuencer 2.0, for which we have a review underway, should stay tuned. After reviewing all three products, we plan to compare them. -Adam]
WestCode Software -- 800/448-4250 -- 619/487-9200
619/487-9255 (fax) -- <email@example.com>