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The SlickRun (nee QuickRun) Story

The Past, Present, Future and Philosophy of SlickRun

The Birth

SlickRun (then called QuickRun) was born sometime during the fall of 1995. The original program consisted of about 100 lines of spaghetti-style Visual Basic code. The window was hideously ugly, with a title bar as large as the text area, and four large (read "ugly") gray buttons. Shortcuts were hard coded into the program, so adding new shortcuts required editing the source code. On the other hand, Visual Basic was always open on my machine, so this wasn't too big a problem. At this point in time, I didn't expect anyone else to ever use my handy little program. For reference's sake, my machine was an extremely high-end beast, a Pentium 90 with 8 megs of RAM. I was a whopping 16 years old.

After I upgraded to Windows '95, SlickRun disappeared for a while. Windows '95 was light-years ahead of Windows 3.11 in terms of usability, and I figured SlickRun had no future. However, as time passed, several annoyances in Windows '95 came to light. Sometime in 1996 I began rewriting SlickRun in Borland's exciting new language Delphi. The work was slow since I really didn't understand object-oriented programming, but SlickRun gradually came along. I started to get the notion that someday, some technical user might want to use SlickRun. In August, 1997, SlickRun was ported to Delphi 3, the compiler I still use to build it. Delphi 3 allowed me to get rid of the title bar altogether, which made SlickRun a much cooler little utility. Additionally, the program became 32bit, allowing me to use all of the functions in the Win32 API. (This was a good thing.) On January 1, 1998, Bayden Systems was formed with five initial partners, Anson Horton, Mike High, Clint Mays, Mark Tavenner, and myself. Our only product near completion was SlickRun, v1.1, which was released to the world on March 18, 1998. Anson Horton helped out with some of the more difficult code, writing the neat AppPainter feature, and helping to write the AutoComplete code. (Can you imagine SlickRun without the AutoComplete feature? Shudder!). The initial program was posted to several places including NoNags.com and Download.com, and netted somewhere around 1000 downloads. Around 10 dear souls registered the program via email, most with useful, albeit short, comments. To be honest, despite a boatload of new features, SlickRun 1.1 still sucked. (Can I say that? Ah well). It was ugly, it was slow, it was buggy, and it didn't do very much. Still, it was out, and the idea that other people (however few) were running my program was a novelty.

The Past

Over the last eight months, I've been hard at work to turn SlickRun into the program I wanted it to be. I've killed every serious bug I've found and squashed hundreds of cosmetic bugs. SlickRun has lots of new features, including customizable colors, so the end-user can make the program hideous to his or her own taste. The SlickRun website has been updated (the old one was essentially one link... "Get SlickRun.zip") to include program information, multiple download sites, and a registration function. Users in eight nations around the world have registered, and a few of the precious registrations note that they heard about SlickRun from a friend. Version 1.5 has been released, and I've received some exciting new ideas for future releases. For history's sake, I'm now running an AMD K6-233 with 64megs of memory. I'm a 19 year-old (jobhunting, email me! 8-) college student at the University of Maryland at College Park.

The Present

The Future and Philosophy

Developing SlickRun is a team effort, and you're on the team. Every registration I receive inspires me to spend about an hours' additional work on the package, so, by my tally, I'm only a few thousand registrations in the red. Seriously, though... your feedback is extremely important, and your suggestions have made SlickRun what it is. Future version are in the works, but here's a few guidelines for what I have in mind:
  • Size. SlickRun is embarassingly large, but in the day of 64/128meg machines running operating systems with 65K color icons, it's not too big. SlickRun is not likely to get any larger, but it may get a separate standalone wizard in the future, which will only be loaded into memory as needed.
  • Ease of Use. SlickRun is now fairly simple to use, but painfully difficult to learn. If we receive enough public interest, we will create addons and utilities to make SlickRun more useful to beginning users.
  • Power. Heard of the Windows Scripting Host? Version 2.0 may allow shortcuts to have integrated WinScript, which will allow you to send keystrokes, move Windows, write files...the list is nearly endless.
  • Voice Recognition. The day will come when this is feasible. Don't start holding your breath yet-- VRec is in its infancy, and SlickRun won't adopt it until it becomes a reasonably small, fast, and accurate option.

The above was written around September 1998.


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