Saturday, January 02, 2010

Notification Application: Growl

toolsI have used Growl, notification application, on my Mac for quite long time. It was recommended as one of must-have applications. Growl is a Growl Notification Protocol (GNTP) based messaging application, which displays any messages from other applications. Growl is an open source based project and it is free.

Recently, I have been working on a project to backup SQL server databases, history data files based on SCADA field sites, and other important files from various Windows based PC to a central place. The file transfers are running daily. When the project was close to final stage, I had to check backups and files every day to the central PC. It was very tedious. Growl comes to my mind. If there is any way I can use Growl in Windows. Quickly I found Growl for Windows.

I immediately downloaded the application and give it a try. I was worried about network firewalls and our internal security policies. To my surprise, Growl works like a charm without any issues. I used to send out notifications from a remote PC, another client PC with Growl installed receives the messages.

There are some settings to do, but it is very straightforward. First, the network notification has to be enabled. Then I set up password for a receiver as security gate to verify any notification request. I think the password is optional but I like it. This will prevent any other network GNTP based services to send notifications unless password is verified.

It looks like that Growl for Mac and Growl for Windows are two different teams. The application appearances of both are almost the same, but there are some differences in features. For example, Growl for Windows has History setting, but for Mac. I like this feature. Since notification is displayed once with a quick time span, users may miss some important ones. With History, at least users can review all the past messages. For example, I set up the notification service on the central PC right after the jobs are finished, when is about 2:00AM. Nobody will be able to see them. Off couse, I could use Sticky feature to make the notification displayed until they are clicked. However, Growl for Windows seems have problem to display the message. One user told me that his notification window was black when he logged in a morning.

Mac Growl has more style than Windows Growl. I could not find some styles I use in Mac in Windows. I don't know why the styles cannot be ported to Windows. That's not a big deal.

In general Growl is a really good tool to send notifications between applications. My team likes this tool to make health monitor check much easy. The only concern is the stability of OS. Mac OS is much beter in this respect than Windows. I told my colloquies that I normally reboot my work Windows on daily base.