Enso Beta

A while ago, in this very space, I waxed rhapsodic about Humanized Enso, a program that aims to bring computers a little closer to Jef Raskin’s ideal. I agree with a lot of things in Raskin’s book The Humane Interface, so I was happy to see his work in a form that I could use in my everyday life.

For those disinclined to read my earlier article, Enso uses a semi-modal, textual interface to perform all sorts of useful actions anywhere in Windows (there are rumors of a Mac vesion on the way).  For example, if I want to open up Word 2007, I can hold down Caps Lock and type ‘open word’ no matter what I’m doing and it’ll open up a copy of Word for me.  I can also tell Enso to learn a particular file as a command, so that I can say ‘open geek’ and it’ll open up my folder of Geek Buffet articles.  My big problem with Enso is just that there’s no way to extend the commands.  Sure, you can open new and interesting files, but you can’t do new and interesting things.

Until now, anyway.  Humanized just announced a developer API for Enso that allows you to use Enso to do just about anything. Their development wiki has examples in Python (the language they use in-house) and Ruby, with space for C and Java code as well.

With this new developer API, you can now give any task a semi-modal, textual interface. The possibilities are staggering, at least to a usability wonk like me.  My first extension only took about an hour and was something I’ve always wanted to be able to do: <a href=”http://www.ensowiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=Tag”>tag my music as it’s playing</a>.

If Enso sounds interesting, now is a good time to try it out. There are several beta products (including a translator, address mapper, and music controller) that are free to download. You can also get a 30-day trial of their main products for the full experience. If you get hooked, I’d love to hear what you use it for!

— Will

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2 Responses to Enso Beta

  1. laikal says:

    Will,

    I really like the interface and design thinking at Humanized, but their tools have never really jumped out and grabbed me. I’ll give them a try based on your recommendation.

    -mhw

  2. Will says:

    Yeah, a lot of their tools aren’t anything I need (the automatic translator, their RSS reader, that sort of thing). I use Enso Launcher all the time, though, and it really makes this easier for me.

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