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Issue 3.1


DoThisNow 1.2

Issue: 3.1 (September/October 2004)
Author: Toby Rush
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,446
Starting Page Number: 8
Article Number: 3102
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Those familiar with UNIX are no doubt familiar with cron: UNIX's utility to schedule tasks to run at some point in the future, or on a periodic basis. To use cron on Mac OS X the user needs to edit the crontab file, a task that generally involves using the Terminal, a command line text editor, and some familiarity with the crontab table format.

Like cron, DoThisNow allows scheduling of certain tasks in Mac OS X. Unlike cron, however, DoThisNow gives you an easy-to-use interface, without so much as thinking about the Terminal. Better yet, DoThisNow actually adds some nice features that cron doesn't have.

DoThisNow is installed by simply dragging the application folder to your disk. The utility actually consists of two programs: DoThisNow, the control panel interface for the program; and DoThisNowDaemon, a background application which accomplishes the scheduling magic. When you first open DoThisNow, you are given an option to have the DoThisNowDaemon open automatically when you log in.

It should be noted that DoThisNow does not actually use UNIX's cron utility; the DoThisNowDaemon operates independently of cron. The file DoThisNow uses to store scheduled items -- the equivalent to UNIX's crontab -- is stored in the user's Preferences folder, and has a format very similar to crontab's.

The fact that DoThisNow does not use crontab means that the program only operates when the user is logged in. This may seem like a drawback, but there are many situations where a user wants scheduled events to occur when he or she is logged in; something that would require extra effort to accomplish using cron.

DoThisNow's greatest strength, by far, is the easy-to-use interface: the DoThisNow window displays current actions on the left side of the window, and settings for the currently selected action to the right. The top part of the settings area allows the user to name the action and specify what is to take place: to launch an application, for example, or to execute a UNIX shell command. The lower part of this area allows the user to specify when the action is to take place. An iCal-style calendar is supplied, and, like cron, actions can be scheduled down to the minute. Actions can be set to occur periodically; every 5 minutes, for example, or every 30 days.

The trial version of DoThisNow limits the user to three actions; registration costs $19.

End of article.