Sunday, October 10, 2021

WallX v2.42 versus Touch Portal v2.3... A case of AND or OR?


Well, nothing's ever completely done but WallX now runs smoothly and hasn't crashed on me yet. I've worked on importing files / exporting graphics, faster response to user action, and added some fail safe handling when writing files. Either Windows or some virus scanner was blocking my write access now and again. Also removed a bunch of smaller and larger bugs.

But... what has that to do with Touch Portal?


A stream deck... but why?

I've recently set up an old iPad Mini as an el-cheapo stream deck, and i like it. I can't speak about the real Elgato Stream Deck as I simply don't have one (feel free to send me one if you want my honest opinion on it 😁).

So, Touch Portal is the poor cousin to the real thing, and allows you to turn an old iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, into a kind of stream deck / macro launcher. Even if you don't stream, such a little box might be useful in your day to day hobby or work. Just having all your daily apps immediately at hand at a simple touch is incredibly convenient. Combine that with a bunch of batch files and some nice command line tools, and life is good...




The real thing (TM) Elgato Stream Deck

Nothing like the real thing. The software is said to be great, but I find the pricing a little dear... we're talking about a bunch of rubber keys placed on top of a display... Maybe the 15 keys device makes sense, but $250 for the 32 key one? Or $3 a month for the Android / iOs version? I... don't know. Then again, maybe the software is fantastic and worth it. (And 250 bucks is probably nothing for the real pros anyway.)






WallX shortcut launcher

I started working on WallX before playing with Touch Portal, so in some ways WallX has a similar purpose as Touch Portal, or any other stream deck. It's also, besides a wallpaper manager, an app launcher. Obviously, it has to do less (no sending out keyboard shortcuts and things like that).

Now WallX started out as a wallpaper manager, and in some ways that is its main purpose. As it is written for Windows (in PureBasic for Windows) it sits 'closer' to the Windows system than Touch Portal, so some things are easier in WallX than Touch Portal. WallX does, for example, drag-and-drop.



And the winner is?

Nothing beats the the convenience of that 'touch an icon on that little display and the app starts' that Touch Portal and Stream Deck offer.

So, Touch Portal / Stream Deck over WallX? Yes... I fear that's pretty much the case. All that effort... wasted.

Or not?

I started working on WallX before playing with Touch Portal, so in some ways WallX has a similar purpose as Touch Portal, or any other stream deck. It's (besides a wallpaper manager) an app launcher. There are some use cases for a mini-launcher like WallX (thanks heaven!)...
  • you might not have a spare device laying around (well, that's unlikely, but still)
  • you might be a road warrior and don't want to connect to public Wifi networks to get the thing to work (that's a pretty serious risk these days, and the USB integration isn't perfect)
  • any extra device means extra cables etc. to lug around
  • you still need a wallpaper tool (and WallX still does that well)
In other words, I find myself using both.


Converting icons to use in Touch Portal / WallX

No matter what option you prefer, you still need to provide the right sized icons in the proper file format. WallX can help there, see this post.




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