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Sol: Open-source Alfred/Raycast alternative for macOS

andy47

Good to see something like this, don't forget there is already an open source alternative (pre-existing) for Alfred and Raycast. It's called Quicksilver - https://qsapp.com

n8henrie

We are working on revamping Quicksilver after a period of relative dormancy; I'm new to the project, but a long-time user.

We've made several releases over the last few months -- some new features I'm excited for include support for scripting in JXA (instead of just AppleScript), and I'm working on Swift support in the plugin template for those who (like me) don't know ObjC but want to build a plugin.

Thanks for the shout-out!

Cockbrand

I used to love QS so much, and I'm very happy that development has commenced again! With the switch to M1, I've switched to Raycast, as QS wasn't M1 native at the time. Which is nice, but I really prefer the Object → Verb [→ Target] grammar of Quicksilver. I'll go and install QS again soon to check out what's new. Thank you for your work (please tell the rest of the team as well)!

gregoriol

So cool! Thanks for waking it up, I'm still using it, have been for more than 10 years, and recently upgraded to your 2.x version. Excited to see it move forward!

mhd

Quicksilver was one of those apps that really drew me into the Apple ecosystem. All those neat little tools like QS, Notational Velocity, TextExpander, GeekTool...

Speaking of "neat little", not a big fan of splicing the whole web stack into some of those, though.

madetoshareqs

Quicksilver is most excellent! I made this account to share it before I saw this comment.

I have used it for a decade. I use it primarily as a launcher but it supports a usage model of select thing then select action to perform on the thing which makes it a versatile and powerful way to drive things by keyboard.

It also has a plug-in system with integrations for other apps.

I recommend the Yosemite theme. https://github.com/mikker/YosemiteDarkInterface-qsplugin

ramenmeal

I remember first installing quicksilver years ago, and it really being a game changer. Probably 5 or so years ago (maybe more, yikes), I switched to spotlight after Apple improved it a bit. Every once in awhile I consider looking back though, mostly for the nostalgia.

jackthetab

Same here.

I recently went to try it again, unfortunately, it kept crashing. Back to Spotlight it is... :-(

alwillis

I keep trying new launcher apps and I keep coming back to QuickSilver.

oscar_franco13

Hey HackerNews, I'm the creator of Sol.

Here are some answers to your questions:

- Why Sol?

I started using Raycast, and it's nice, but found it cumbersome, too many features tackled on top of each other with even more cumbersome navigation. I'm a ruthless simplifier and I wanted a similar yet I-don't-want-to-configure-you tool. I also believe that VC money backed tools face the though reality of unrealistic ROI at some point, so I fully expect other tools to squeeze money out of you at some point. I develop Sol on my free time building the tool that I like, and it will not have any registration step or run analytics on you on any shape or form.

- Where are the docs? it is not launching?

You seem to have tried the app at the unfortunate time where I did some breaking changes and fixing some bugs (try option + space it should launch). Regarding docs there is none, and there will be none, if I need to explain how to use the app I have already failed.

- Why is it called Sun and has a black hole logo?

A black hole is a collapsed sun, do be a stickler. Have fun and enjoy.

- Memory use

Not more than chrome! BOOH YA!

Hope you like the app and feel free to submit PRs!

trenchgun

"- Why is it called Sun and has a black hole logo?

A black hole is a collapsed sun, do be a stickler. Have fun and enjoy."

So it's not connected to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sun_(symbol)?

ihateolives

> - Why is it called Sun and has a black hole logo?

> A black hole is a collapsed sun, do be a stickler. Have fun and enjoy.

No. Sun can never become a black hole: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2019/why-the-sun-...

saagarjha

Small "s" sun. Not our Sun.

rspoerri

thats a star, our star is called sun

rzzzt

Commonly known as a star.

(But now I wonder: is there a difference between stars and suns?)

jray

Does it have calculator functionality?

ikurei

It does. Might be a basic one, I suspect it's just sending your input to JS's eval function, but it gets the job done.

EDIT: I said it looks like JS eval because I put in `sqrt` and it showed me something like `function sqrt() { [native code] }`

When I tried to input some actual JS code it didn't do anything. I thought it might make for a basic REPL but no luck.

ilrwbwrkhv

There is also https://www.scriptkit.com/ by John Lindquist which has a great course to get started: https://egghead.io/courses/script-kit-showcase-for-optimizin...

madetoshareqs

I use Hammerspoon

https://www.hammerspoon.org/

What makes it particularly useful is the breadth of coverage of functionality of the API and integration with OS features.

tcoff91

Hammerspoon definitely is nice because of the fact that you are writing code so it’s very nice to work with.

However, I feel like Keyboard Maestro is capable of much more powerful automation of interactions with GUI apps. Steps like Pause until image appears on screen, click on found image, etc… are super handy. The macro editor however leaves a lot to be desired when compared to writing scripts as code.

somada141

I used Alfred for years and never thought I’d find a viable replacement for it but Raycast has completely replaced it for me in the past year. The ‘Schedule’ integration with the single-key to launch the video conference functionality is top notch. Other dev-targeting integrations like GitHub are also fantastic and unlike with Alfred I don’t have to use a dozen extensions with forgettable shorthand commands so unless the other shoe drops and Raycast ends up introducing some over the top subscription-based pricing model I don’t see me ever going back to Alfred

phildenhoff

I’m excited to see this grow. Raycast has been a big boon to me and having an open source competitor is great to see.

Have you considered making your plug-in API compatible with Raycast (if that’s possible)?

humbleferret

Aside from being open source and not mining user data, what benefits does this provide over Alfred/Raycast?

gingerlime

without using Sol, I would say that not mining user data is quite a big benefit.

From the Raycast privacy policy:

> We use Personal Data for the following purposes:

> …

> To analyze how you interact with our Service. Reason: For our legitimate interests or those of a third party, ie to be as efficient as we can in our delivery of the Service to you

(personal opinion: it doesn’t pass the smell test)

alsetmusic

The “launcher” space on MacOS is so vibrant (see threads on Quicksilver, et al.). When I took a job at a Windows shop, I was shocked how poor the market is for similar tools. It really made me appreciate the Mac indie dev market.

I (jokingly) spam my Windows colleagues on a private slack channel whenever unique apps appear, such as:

https://retina.studio/textbuddy/

https://cleanshot.com/

https://reeder.app/

(No affiliation. Only one is newish, but these were good examples of great Mac software.)

Or any other number of slick tools.

otherworldly

I shared the exact same sentiment when I transitioned to Windows after a long period of only using macOS. A few nice candidates I found include Wox [1], Keypirinha [2], and ueli [3].

I eventually began building a C# launcher myself and over time it has become my daily driver - feel free to check it out at https://github.com/dkgv/pinpoint.

[1] https://github.com/Wox-launcher/Wox

[2] https://keypirinha.com/

[3] https://github.com/oliverschwendener/ueli

g1ntas

I guess, the MacOS native Spotlight influenced the growth of more indie “launchers”. Especially, Spotlight being quite limited customization wise.

I personally lately leaning towards niche launchers like:

* https://blipnotes.app for note taking;

* https://shortcat.app for “clicking” interface without a mouse;

* https://dashlook.app for searching git repositories/pull requests (disclaimer: I am the creator).

It just provides better experience compared to Alfred’s community plugins (usually not maintainted).

The problem with separate apps though, is that you need to remember dedicated shortcuts for each of them. On the other hand I had the same experience with Alfred, only that you need to remember specific command/keyword.

If anyone knows more niche “launchers”, I would be very interested to learn about them.

leejoramo

LaunchBar is the original of this style of launcher including using cmd-space, fuzzy search of apps and files, calculator and more actions. LaunchBar originated on NeXT and thus pre-dates Mac OS X. I believe, I started using LaunchBar during the original OS X Beta. It highly influenced QuickSliver, Alfred and Spotlight, Keypirinha, PowerToys Run, etc.

You can still download the old versions all the way back to NeXT:

https://obdev.at/products/launchbar/download-legacy.html

I still using LaunchBar, but it's development has stagnated. I am evaluating the current version of Alfred. Alfred recently added the ability to send the selected file to the application of your choice, which is an essential feature for me.

g1ntas

I heard about LaunchBar, never suspected it was originator of “launcher” apps. Probably because it has quite modern design.

If you are looking for a new alternative, try Raycast. It’s supposedely better than Alfred, though for my taste it had too many features (same could be said about Alfred).

alsetmusic

> You can still download the old versions all the way back to NeXT:

I had no idea Launchbar went back so far! Thanks for this. My respect for that app has been enhanced. I was also on the beta of OS X, but didn’t run into this until many years later.

kramerger

Are you aware of the new Microsoft PowerToys? It includes a number of interesting tools and is open source.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/powertoys/

michaelmior

I would love to see something like this take off. Spotlight is great, but there is other functionality in Alfred I quite like. However, I find Alfred kind of expensive. Never heard of Raycast, but this prompted me to check it out and I'm quite liking it so far.

gkoberger

If you like Alfred, you'll love Raycast. Never had a product completely replace another one so easily.

radicaldreamer

What are the most useful things that you use that are in Raycast but not in Alfred (or better in Raycast)?

cuddlecake

If you connect raycast with your calendar, you can view your schedule from within raycast.

If there is an upcoming meeting with a zoom/teams/<call app> link attached, you can join by pressing enter.

Never had to look for a meeting link again.

I'm not sure if Alfred has this as well, but nevertheless, i just love this feature

sleepless

Sol is nice and then again it seems young and a bit lacking.

File search https://github.com/ospfranco/sol/issues/45 or opening files / apps in finder is not yet possible.

Did not understand how to alter search engine.

Window manager does not allow to use screen quarters.

Clearly this has huge potential. Maybe more developers will join the effort.

m1keil

Installed via brew to try it out. Won't lunch. The process is running, but I just can't seem to make it pop up?

EricE

Yup - an indication of how to trigger/what it would look like if successfully triggered might actually help with troubleshooting?

gabereiser

Something fishy with the dependency graph on this… How is this a dependency of peoples webdev school work?

jamesbvaughan

It seems like an issue with the way GitHub populates the dependency list. I believe all of those repos are actually dependent on the package named "sol" in NPM: https://www.npmjs.com/package/sol

KMnO4

Probably because students don’t know any better. The instructor was probably teaching them how to “npm install” and uses “sol” as an example.

If you check the package.lock file it’s listed in there for each of those projects.

gabereiser

yeah, Github uses that package.lock to walk the dependency tree. Seems like an easy way to get your project hoisted.

yagiznizipli

I did not understand what you mean. Can you elaborate?

jackthetab

Where are the docs?

There's nothing (obvious to me) in the repo. The official site is just the README.md. I installed it via brew; there's no man page. Bash can't find it. Spotlight found it and ran it...I guess.

What am I missing?

EricE

The author thinks he's being clever not providing docs. I hate it when people play games - and yes dev, you have failed.