As some of you already know, we’re working at full speed on the second generation of DaisyDisk, codenamed DaisyDisk 2.
A year ago it looked quite simple: we tack on in-app file deletion, make a few extra tweaks and roll out an update in a few months… But during these “few months” it has become clear that what we were doing was not a “yet another update”, it was really different in both look and feel, not to mention the huge (no, HUGE) code changes that followed and took us another “few months”.
When we released DaisyDisk last year, many people called it “cool” and “sexy”, and it was named one of the best-looking Mac apps. Now let me assure you, as the designer of DaisyDisk from its very birth, that the second version of the application is not simply cool, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look:
The new UI has been rebuilt from scratch in Core Animation. This not only allowed us to make it more appealing and smooth, but also add some features hardly possible before, and I am really glad that we managed to do this without sacrificing the ease of use.
So, what should you expect?
First of all, we’ve added the in-app file deletion that so many of you asked for (were even a little faster with it than Apple with their Copy & Paste support on iOS). You will now be able to drag petals out of the sunburst map and drop them onto a special zone, from where you will be able to delete a bunch of files and folders with a single click. Sounds easy, but this drag-and-drop interaction has taken us a lot of work.
Another thing many of you wanted is the ability to view the previously scanned disks without having to rescan them. No problems. In DaisyDisk 2, you can switch back and forth between disks and the scan results will remain in memory until you close the application. Furthermore, now you can scan multiple disks or folders at the same time in background, without having to wait extra time. This will of course require more memory, but with most modern Macs having 2 to 4 GB of RAM it’s not a big deal. Besides, you can tell the application to “forget” the scan results of any disk and thereby free the memory.
There are also lots of less notable improvements which affect DaisyDisk 2 look and feel. Just be patient and wait a bit…
If things go well DaisyDisk 2 will be available this fall. You won’t miss the release date: even if you’re not subscribed to our Twitter, your DaisyDisk 1.x will notify you about the upgrade.
DaisyDisk 2 is a paid upgrade for the majority of existing users. The price tag of the upgrade from 1.x to 2. will be $9.95.
As a sign of special gratitude to our early buyers, everyone who got their keys before October 15, 2009 will get DaisyDisk 2 license free of charge.
Everyone who buys a DaisyDisk license starting from today, September 1, 2010 will be able to upgrade to DaisyDisk 2 for free.
DaisyDisk was started in late December 2008 as a result of half hour discussion between me (Taras) and Oleg, our coder. I proposed that it might make sense for us to create a relatively basic project in order to raise some money for something more serious.
The idea was simple: we create a disk visualization tool that can help one find out where the hell all the disk space has gone. By that time the only available applications of that kind for Mac users were GrandPerspective, Disk Inventory X and the like. All of those have mediocre interfaces and are built around the so called treemaps — the visualizations originally made for depicting disk usage.
DaisyDisk, original mockup
Treemaps suck. They’re hard to read, they tend to shuffle all data on smallest changes, they’re messy and hard to navigate. Yes, one can handle these issues to some extent and certain modern implementations/researches can make them good enough, but still not good enough for us.
Another approach can be seen in applications that use the “sunburst”, basically a multilevel pie chart, slightly tuned for displaying folders tree. My favorite is Scanner while Linux users may recall Filelight — another similar implementation. Unfortunately for us all, the Mac version of Filelight has never been usable for any real-life tasks, remaining a mere shadow of its Linux ancestor…
It may sound naive now, but all we originally wanted was to create a Mac version of Scanner, just slightly more polished and usable. Display a list of sources, scan progress animation, resulting map. Profit!
Animations, second mockup
The very first problems arose when we tried to build the sunburst map in progress of scanning, from the data we get on the fly. While it looked sane on paper, experiments proved us wrong. Very wrong. Despite all tricks, all we got was just a convulsing set of rings that hardly represented the picture we wanted. Fail.
We gave up the idea of re-using the sunburst as a scan progress indicator and concentrated on more important things. Soon enough we found that the original sunburst and many existing implementations suffer from some serious problems. The map looked “hairy” due to numerous tiny segments, large files outside the fifth ring were often invisible, segment coloring changed on each move, and overall navigation was quite a mess.
We’ve build several prototypes which helped us solve those problems and test our implementation on real-world data. For example, tiny segments have been consolidated into groups. This makes more sense than just hiding them, as in real life there are lots of examples of large groups of small files: folders with images, music or other files. In such groups, each standalone file is relatively small, but the total size of the group can be hundreds of megabytes. We also decided to display extra rings which help reveal space hogs hidden deep in the disk folder hierarchy. These extra rings are thinner, but provide useful information without the need for extra navigation. Navigation is another thing we can be proud of. The very first idea was to retain segment color during navigation. In other words, if ~/Documents is green, then ~/Documents/MyWorkStuff should also be colored in shades of green. I have no idea why this has not been done years before…
The “blossom” animation was also a part of our plan on improving navigation. Earlier versions of DaisyDisk used different transitions, but with the same purpose: improve the navigation experience by smoothing map changes. Not even mentioning the “wow” effect it creates :)
DaisyDisk has been gradually enhanced, tuned and tweaked throughout the year, but this is a different story :)
This is the third version of daisydiskapp.com since the launch of DaisyDisk and sooth to say we hope it’s also the last one :) We definitely plan to tweak/improve it in order to provide even better experience.
And yes, we know that it does not display correctly in Internet Explorer or other stone age browsers, but have no plans to support these.
Creating this site took way longer than we expected. In fact, we planned to launch the site in August ’09, then in September, October and so on. After a few delays we have just started it from the scratch and now you can see what we’ve got so far :)
Here are just three versions of suggested designs (with much more gathering dust in archives), so you can get the idea how the site might have looked like if we launched it earlier.
As you see, now we also have a blog. Leaving it void is a bad idea, just as using it for a sole purpose of announcing new versions, so we decided to make a few articles on DaisyDisk design process and keeping your Mac clean with DaisyDisk.