Thursday, January 22, 2009

Don't Click, SlickRun!

I recently discovered the Windows utility SlickRun, thanks to a comment from Jim Holmes in this blog entry from Jeff Blankenburg. I have to say that I absolutely love this utility and at this point can't imagine work without it! It has saved me numerous mouse-clicks and tedious search and navigation through Windows menus. If you are unfamiliar with this utility it basically allows you to start almost any application or file on your computer with just a few strokes on your keyboard. For example if I type "[W]-q memlogin" it opens up my IDE (unfortunately BEA Workshop) with the Membership-Login project that I am currently working on. Or if I type "[W]-q wls" it starts my WebLogic Server instance. Or if I type "[W]-q wikip la lakers" it will fire up my default web browser and take me to the Wikipedia entry for The Los Angeles Lakers (where "la lakers" is a dynamic search term). The words "memlogin", "wls" and "wikip" are keywords (SlickRun calls them MagicWords) that I have configured to fire up stuff that I care about. I can type those directly into the SlickRun prompt (see image at the top of this blog entry) which can be placed anywhere on your screen. I have mine auto-hide and then use the "[W]-q" key sequence to bring the SlickRun program into focus ([W] being the Windows Key on my keyboard).
I spent some time creating keywords for pretty much anything I use at work. Here are some of things I have set up:

  • Keyword for every Java project I have worked on at my current client.

  • Keyword for each Wiki page I maintain at my current client

  • Keyword for each website I frequent. Using the "$W$" marker to plug search parameters into URLs that have query strings.

  • Keyword for each application I regularly use (MS Office apps, FireFox, XMLSpy, Cygwin, WinMerge, NoteTab, Toad, Putty, SoapUI, JMeter, Eclipse, etc.)

  • Keywords for folders I frequently need to access on my computer (My Documents, c:\user_projects, etc). The keywords will open up the appropriate folder in Windows Explorer.

  • Keywords for my most frequently used Windows operations. For example to go to standby, to shutdown, to put on the screen saver, or to open up the display configuration (which my docking station keeps getting messed up).

If you are tired of mouse-clicks and menu navigation I suggest you give this tool a try. It just might make your workday a little more productive. It can't hurt to give it a try, it is free! Be forewarned though that the product could be a little more polished, especially their setup screen which did some funny things for me, but once you get it all set up it does work very well.

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