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Launchd Editor: A Pale Subset of Lingon’s Powers Over Launchd

Published April 6th, 2007

Launchd Editor: An easy way to create and edit Launchd property list files

Launchd Editor GUI SharewareOriginally downloaded January 31, 2007. Soon after launchd was introduced in Tiger, I discovered Peter Borg’s free, open-source Lingontool and have used it ever since. Lingon is a marvel at exposing the power of Apple’s new Unix command, which can replace cron and startup items as a way of scheduling and managing processes and servers on your Mac. I seem to recall reading about this $5 editor from CodePoetry but dismissing it since I was so happy with Lingon. That said, I’m now curious to see if I could be tempted to part with $5… that is, whether Launchd Editor provides $5 worth of added value beyond what I get with Lingon. So, down it comes to my hard drive!

Update 4/6/07. Well, I’m back… and after trying Launchd Editor, I’ll say right away that I’m not a happy camper. What’s put me in a foul mood? It’s software like Launchd Editor, which is less than half as useful as the free, open source Lingon, and yet has a developer who expects people to pay for it! There are many Mac users who are afflicted with the common human delusion that because one software app has a price tag, it must be better than one that does not. When it comes to software, this just isn’t so. Always look for high quality freeware, or at least donationware, because in so many product categories, you’ll find that’s where the best is. Why? It’s because guys who design high-quality freeware are doing it for the sheer joy of creating something useful, not to make a buck. Guys who put together a lame product like Launchd Editor and ask $5 for it are just looking to make a buck on something they’ve put very little effort into. It’s a shame, and I do hope readers of this site will head in the right direction when the time comes to begin using Launchd effectively.

Launchd Editor's Tabbed Window

All Launchd Editor does is walk you through filling in the fields and optional tags and attributes of the Launchd XML file format. It does so with the minimum possible user interface style (that is, none). Heck, its author didn’t even bother to make an icon for his shareware. You can open existing launchd .plist files and edit them, or make new ones, but that’s it. In the process, Launchd Editor provides no help whatsoever… no Help file, no inline help, no external links to information on launchd.

Lingon's Main Window Showing List of Launch Agents

Again, this might seem like a lot if you had never seen Lingon, but once you have, you’re going to hope users of MacUpdate, VersionTracker, and Google don’t go astray merely out of ignorance. This isn’t a review of Lingon, but here’s a short list of the things Lingon does elegantly that go way beyond Launchd Editor:

  • Provides an “Assistant” to walk you through making your first Launchd agent. The assistant asks you the essential questions and doesn’t confuse you with all the complicated options, which is great for first-timers.
  • Gives you access to all of the Launch agents and daemons on your entire system, and you can open and view them to the extent you have the appropriate privileges. This means all I had to do was open Lingon and select “Users Daemons” (which required authentication) to discover that Google Desktop had installed two separate Launch Daemons to support itself.
  • Gives you a friendly interface for starting, stopping, and loading/reloading any given agent or daemon.
  • Provides an advanced view of the pure XML code itself, which you can edit by hand if you’re so inclined.
  • Provides useful inline explanations of each field a you go. In addition, this freeware provides a useful Help file that the for-fee software does not. Finally, Lingon’s Help menu even includes handy links to the launchd and launchctl man pages.
  • Lingon also includes a full-service set of menus that enable keyboard shortcuts for most items, and it even provides a Preferences window that lets you select options like the fonts you’d like to use and the external editor you prefer.

Lingon's First Sheet for Editing a Launchd Script

Now, you know that the developer of Launchd Editor is aware of Lingon… right? How do you suppose he justifies charging for software that he knows is inferior to another product users can get for free? He’s counting on the web being a big place, and he knows a lot of people looking for a launchd editor will find his site before they discover Lingon. Does that make it right? Not on Mars, it doesn’t.

Anyway, forget you ever heard of Launchd Editor… Go grab a copy of Lingon if you want to begin harnessing the awesome power of launchd on your Mac! It’s the best launchd editor I’m aware of at any price.

Version as tested: 1.0.1.

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