Cool Workflows seemed to be the best place for this thread. I wanted to see if there was interest in some discussion about the relative merits of these different ways of creating a “touch pad” kind of interface.
After the recent MPU episode with Sal Saghoian where he talked about using the MacOS accessibility keyboards to create a touch-panel, I spend some time mucking around with that, just for fun. I didn’t really create anything that made it into regular use, partly because I just didn’t have a good use case for it at the time, and was just playing with it to try it out.
Certainly the StreamDesk is popular with MPU people, and I have been tempted to buy one many times but have yet to pull the trigger, again because I am not yet sure of my use case.
I also checked out MetaGrid following the recent MPU discussion, and it too looks interesting. Again, have not purchased.
So I thought it would be interesting to see how people have decided among these different choices, how people are using them, etc. Hopefully others are interested in joining in…
I spend some time playing with the accessibility keyboards. What I particularly liked was the ability to create varying button sizes, in contrast to the other two options which are fixed layouts whether software (MetaGrid) or hardware (StreamDeck).
I liked what Sal S. had done with a row or two of icons for launching apps and below that an array of buttons that were app specific. It worked particularly well when switching apps as that aspect is built in to MacOS.
On the other hand, it really isn’t a system designed for this use which leads to some kludgy aspects. For example, the row of app-launching buttons (I actually had two rows) is something I wanted on essentially every layout I created, but there is no way to tell the editor to automatically include a sub-layout, so any time I changed those rows I then had to edit each and every keyboard that included them. In a more sophisticated system there would be a way to create layouts that are then included into other layouts. (I did not spend time delving into the internal format for the keyboard files, which I imaging might well be in XML/Plist format. If that is the case, it would not necessary be all that hard to create layouts in BBEdit for instance, and write a script to handle includes. Then I could keep a folder of my layouts and whenever I change one, have the script regenerate the keyboard files that MacOS actually uses. If I got more into this, I might look at that.)
One really nice aspect of both MetaGrid and accessibility keyboards is that the “buttons” are on the iPad, and since I generally have both my iPad and MBP in my bag, I can use this approach anywhere and even get a cheaper or refurbished older iPad for use with my desktop as well. I would not want to carry a StreamDeck around.
I wonder what others are doing, how you might be using these things in your workflows, etc.