Last week I wrote about ThoughtPattern, a free-form database that helps you organize files. CE has taken a different approach to the organization problem with its new utility ,Tiles, which can be thought of a graphical desktop organizer for documents, programs, and actions. In some ways, Tiles is similar to the aliases that will become popular in System 7.0 – that’s mainly conjecture – I personally love the aliasing power of System 7.0 – in that it creates an icon for any file that opens that file no matter where it is stored. In other ways, Tiles mimics zeta soft’s Super Boomerang by automatically keeping track of all the applications and documents that you use in an Open… Tile palette. But these two comparisons don’t do justice to the elegance of Tiles. A System 7.0 alias is merely a pointer to another file – extremely handy, to be sure, but limited. A Project Tile can hold a number of other tiles, each representing a different document or application or even a QuicKey macro. So while you can have an alias to your favorite program sitting on your desktop, that’s not nearly as powerful as a Tile that can open your favorite application and several documents and run a QuicKey macro that mounts an AppleShare volume all at once.
I also said that Tiles works like Super Boomerang. You can set Tiles up to replace the Open… dialog box with a Tile palette that holds a user-specified number of Tiles. Double-clicking on a Tile opens a document, exactly as double-clicking on a file name in the standard file dialog box does. Tiles could be set up by a system administrator for less knowledgeable users to perform some basic repetitive actions. The administrator can customize the look of the Tiles extensively, because there are large and small tiles, and large tile can show a name and a picture, while small tiles can show a name or a picture. The pictures can come from icons or PICTs and can be either color or black and white.
I haven’t had a chance to test Tiles yet, but it strikes me as an excellent idea. In keeping with CE’s other products, it is simple and elegant and doesn’t strive to be the ultimate in file organization utilities. Tiles is an "immediate" utility, in that it works in the present, unlike other utilities, which require setting up in the present so that they will work in the future. While there is room for both varieties, I can only think of a few other programs, most notably Super Boomerang, that provide the same level of immediate benefit without forethought. Kudos to CE, and I hope that we will get a chance to test Tiles and report back on it and more potential applications for it at a later date.
CE Software — 515/224-1953
InfoWorld — 01-Jan-91, Vol. 13, #1, pg. 35