A while ago I was approached by a company with an interesting request.  They wanted a simple tool that would allow them to communicate information quickly to their user base.  The company was already using Snarl so something that integrated into it would be the best solution.  I’d been doing some work on FolderSnoop (part of the *Snoop series) and something that could watch a folder, parse special files that would dropped into it, and display the content of those files as a notification seemed to be a way forward.

The initial versions of the app were quite clunky and limited but it has since developed into something incredibly powerful – so much so that I’ve rebuilt it properly from the ground up, added a Prefs Kit settings panel to it, and am planning to release it publicly under its original working title of Snowstorm.

Snowstorm in the TraySnowstorm sits in the System Tray.  Right-clicking it opens the settings panel and here you can add folders to watch.  What makes Snowstorm so simple yet so powerful is that you can watch folders on mapped network drives, so – for example – all users could watch P:\notifications\ into which folder, the system administrator will drop general information.  Other users could watch P:\notifications\chloro_plant\ – into which notifications concerning workers at the Chlorination Plant are dropped.  Now you have a very quick and easy way to send out mass notifications to all or just selected groups of users.

Snowstorm Settings

The notification files are very straightforward to create: they must have a .notify extension but, other than that, the filename is free-form.  The content follows a standard INI file model – it must contain a [content] section and can contain any number of [action] sections.  The [content] section must contain at least one of title, text or icon – other than that, all other entries are optional, as follows:

Snowstorm .notify File

And, once processed by Snarl, the resulting on-screen notification appears as follows:

Resulting Notification

As Snarl is running on the user’s computer, they (if allowed) can further configure Snarl to forward notifications elsewhere – some users redirected their notifications to their phones using Prowl for example.

Snowstorm 1.0 is currently reaching the end of its Alpha phase and Beta 1 should be released very soon.

Categories: Other Apps

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