Quick Access for Unlimited Number of Files, Folders and Webpages
key review info
- Application: Portable ASuite 1.b Beta
- Reviewed on:
- Management of the software list, organized in categories and subcategories
- (9 more, see all...)
When I first saw this title "ASuite" I thought it was about a pack, more applications from the same developer in one installer. But I was wrong, sort of. Why? Because the basic principle is the same. All the applications that you need in one place. But not from the same developer. ASuite is an application launcher. You can create your own list of applications, folders, files that you need to access and launch easily. The main idea is to have quick access to your most used files from only one menu. You will be able to launch any application, visit your favorite websites, or start your default email client.
From the start, I must say that ASuite is a combination of PStart launcher and PortableApps Menu. Here is my dilemma. But the fact that I have tested and worked with PStart and PortableApps Menu allows me to see the differences. The PortableApps Menu can be customized and added as a system tray menu. Both PStart and ASuite applications offer great features to choose from and a lot of options to help users define the desired behavior. But there are some differences between the two launchers.
The ASuite application comes in two versions. Installer version that can be installed to your hard drive and requires a small amount of space, and the no-install version that can be unzipped to your portable drive and works with any removable device. Just extract to a temporary folder and copy that folder to your USB stick. All the settings will be stored to the root folder.
In the main panel of ASuite, under the List tab, you will be able to create your own customized application list. A few options make a great difference from PStart list. If you are using more than one browser to surf the web, you can create a new category and add your Internet shortcuts there. This is also available if you want to create a new item group. The option for this is called "Add Software Group". Now, this feature is a plus comparing to PStart, because you will be able to add some applications to your group, so that they will start simultaneously. Situation: you are working with a few constant programs and every time you plug your USB device and start ASuite, you want something to run automatically. You can setup a name for your group and prioritize your list items. I find this feature greatly helpful, because every time I connect my U3 device I want a few applications to start automatically. Not only work related, but also frequently used applications. After you add the shortcuts to your list, under the Advanced tab of Group Properties window, you can setup how the applications start.
For each group you can assign a hot key, add a custom icon, choose the auto execute mode to run on startup, shutdown or never, select the window state or create a schedule for the applications to run. Although you would say that these features are not so useful to the ordinary user, if you are using a program that needs to be started at a specified time, this feature can help you. In case you are working with portable devices and you want ASuite to open when you plug your stick into the USB port, to benefit from its features you need to create an INI file and add ASuite to start.
"Add Software" option has a multiple use function. First you can simply browse and select the application that you want to add to your list. Second, you can enter the URL address of your favorite web page. If you enter the syntax MailTo:, ASuite will launch your default mail client with an empty send mail page. Every item can be customized to run using parameters and in specified directory. A few details about the application, like homepage, version or developer, description, rating or custom notes can be added too. This notes will appear for each item near the main panel on a new window, if "Show Application Info" option is enabled. If you want to add many items to your list, you might want to consider sorting them by name or group them into categories.
But what if you have a large number of applications, like your Program Files directory, or PortableApps directory, and you want to add them all? ASuite provides a scan folder feature that can help you with that. Just select the path that you want and scan. The difference between ASuite and PStart, in this case, is that ASuite lets you specify what file types you want to scan for and what file types you want to exclude from your scan. After you scan the folders you want, add items to your list and change the item properties, you might want to save your work. You can do that by exporting your settings to a XML file. This file can be imported to PStart and vice-versa, but the portable links do not seem to work unless you reset the path.
System tray menu can be set to appear as PortableApps Menu theme or simple window. If you choose PortableApps Menu theme, you will be able to change the menu folders and add your own. The PortableApps Menu will display a list with the most recent used (MRU) applications. One feature that PStart has and ASuite doesn't is "snap to mouse". Once you have customized your list, you want to work with it. But, if you have a large number of shortcuts and you are looking for the ones at the bottom, you must scroll down into the main panel. PStart opens a small panel right where your mouse is and you can choose the shortcut that you want by moving the cursor into that panel. Each group will open a new list showing the available items, so that you can select the one you want to start.
I made a little test to see how ASuite will scan for, and find a specified file type. If all the files are in a single directory, it will work great, but if you have subdirectories and you want to scan those too, ASuite will not recognize the file types, although you can select the Scan Subfolders option. The ASuite interface comes in different languages and can "suffer" a lot of changes. The window behavior can be modified from startup options, execution, system tray, or mouse sensors options. Search tab will let you look for item names, in case you have a long list or you have a considerable number of software groups and you forgot what they hold.
Comparing to PStart (I do this because the two applications look alike) I really liked the possibility to enter the URL address of web pages as shortcut, or the shortcut for MailTo. Other great feature would be Add Software Group, that can be very useful if you work with portable application and not only, meaning that it can open several application with one click or using a hotkey. The PortableApps Menu can help you access the shortcuts that you have added more easily.
Although you can select to scan subfolders too, the option doesn't work, so if you want to make a list with all your portable applications from PortableApps folder you will see only the ones in root directory. The window with the item list will appear on the last position and not where your pointer is (this can be very difficult if you are working with more desktops and in generally).
As I was testing the software I was making some scenarios of how ASuite can integrate with my work. But, if you have a huge number of shortcuts that you want to include, you will realize that you cannot use it. To search and scroll through, let's say, twenty shortcuts will take time. It can compete with PStart and other launchers, but there are a few issues that need to be fixed. This is a Beta version so hopefully the next release will remove these issues.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: