this video about BumpTop became a hit on YouTube. The video showed a physics driven 3D desktop environment with an innovative menu system. Today, a bit more than two and a half years later, after numerous closed alpha and beta versions, and after adding a number of cool features, BumpTop's developer Anand Agarawala and his team are finally ready to open up BumpTop to everybody (Windows only for now). BumpTop will come in two versions: a free, somewhat restricted version, and a fully-featured 'pro' version.In 2006, this
BumpTop has given us 200 free pro versions to give away to our readers. You can find details about how to claim yours at the end of this post.
We could describe BumpTop in every singly detail, but the best way to experience it is really to see it in action:
Among some of BumpTop's most interesting features are its innovative, free-form method of selecting items on the desktop, the ability to flip through piles of files (with your mouse-wheel, or through an actual flipping motion if you have a touch-screen), and its highly intuitive pie menu system, which you invoke to sort files on the desktop or to create new piles, for example. To search for a file on the desktop, by the way, you just have to start typing.
Twitter and Facebook on Your Desktop
Since its last couple of releases, BumpTop has added a number of new features, including drag and drop support for Twitter and Facebook. Now, you only need to drop a picture onto the big Twitter or Facebook icons on your desktop, and they will be uploaded to Twitpic and/or your Facebook photo account. You can also now subscribe to any Media RSS feed (from Flickr, for example), and the photos on your background will regularly update with new pictures from this feed. After you zoom in to a picture, you can use a simple swiping motion with your mouse or finger to move to the next picture.
Reinventing the Desktop
BumpTop, at its core, is trying to reinvent the desktop as we know it. While we have our choice of desktop environments today (Windows, OSX, KDE, GNOME, etc.), the core experience between them doesn't really vary too much. The basic principles, like organizing files in folders, for example, might look different, but the basic functionality is always the same.
With BumpTop, however, users can recreate their own physical desktops, which aren't usually organized in neat folders. Indeed, most computer desktops, are also cluttered with random files that were just saved on the desktop without any regard for organization.
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=288392.288596">studies from Microsoft going back as far as 1998 has shown that we are usually far better at recalling information from our spatial memory than at recalling information from texts.That's where the power of BumpTop comes in. While organizing files in folders might sounds good,
Agarawala acknowledged that BumpTop might not be for everyone. He did, however, also stress that BumpTop does not use any gratuitous 3D effects for the sake of it. And indeed, the 3D part of BumpTop is relatively subdued and only really comes into play when you zoom in to the pictures on the wall or when you create (and destroy) piles of files on your desktop.
Coming Soon: APIs, Connected Desktops, and, at some point, a Mac Version
Agarawala and his team also have big plans for BumpTop's future. Not only are they planning to open up an API which will allow developers to create widgets on top of BumpTop, but BumpTop also plans to connect multiple desktops with each other over the Internet in the future, which would allow coworkers to easily move documents from one desktop to another.
The BumpTop team also plans to release a Mac version in the future, but given the size of the team, the company is currently focusing on the Windows platform first.
There can also be no doubt that there is some novelty factor to the application, though unlike many other similar projects, BumpTop doesn't feel gimmicky and actually provides a number of very useful features. It is easy to get sidetracked by the cool visuals, but underneath all of this, BumpTop actually provides some very compelling functionality.
In our interview last week, Agarawala freely acknowledged that BumpTop might not work for everyone. While it is easy to suspend your disbelief as you are working in the BumpTop environment, any application that you start outside of the app will quickly bring you back to reality (though the BumpTop team does have some ideas for how to solve this problem as well). If you are interested in trying out a new desktop, however, then BumpTop is definitely worth a try.
Get Your Free Pro Version
BumpTop comes in two versions: a free version, which only includes support for two post It notes, and which doesn't feature pile flipping, multi-touch support, and another cool feature that automatically makes frequently used files. BumpTop Pro version, which will sell for $29, includes all of these features, as well as the ability to 'toss' files to USB keys and CDs.
If you are one of the first 200 readers to follow this link and leave your email address, BumpTop will send you a license key for the Pro version.