The Dock in Mac OS X is a perfectly fine tool, but it could do so much more. Startly Technologies is trying to make that happen with Docktopus.
Docktopus is an application that enhances the Dockis functionality by adding icon badges that display additional information about your running applications. The badges display several types of data about your applications including memory usage, CPU usage, and item size. Badges can also display application-specific information like which track is currently playing in iTunes, or how many new messages are in a specific mailbox in Appleis Mail, and some offer mini-application controls. For example, you can play or pause iTunes from a button that appears on its icon.
Docktopus adds more info to your Dock icons.
To add new badges to a Dock icon, you start by clicking the Docktopus button - It sits on the divider line between applications and documents in the Dock. The Docktopus Badges window slides out and a translucent grid overlays each Dock icon. The grids divide each icon into four sections - each section represents a place you can position a badge. Just drag the badges where you want them to appear on an icon, and Docktopus takes care of the rest.
Adding icon badges.
Even though additional badges can be created as plug-ins for Docktopus, so far only the badges that Startly Technologies created are available. That means you are limited to CPU Meter, Drive Space, Folder Count, iCal Even Peek, Item Size, iTunes Control, Launch Menu, Mail Peek, and Memory.
The Launch Menu has the potential to be especially useful. The icon badge can be configured to run AppleScripts, Automator Workflows, and QuickKeys Shortcuts. If thee are documents you use on a regular basis with a specific application, you can add those to the Launch Menu badge, and it also displays a list of documents you recently opened with that application.
The Docktopus Launch Menu.
I find that I use the iTunes badge as a quick way to start or stop songs when my phone rings. The iCal badge is nice since it pops up a summary of my schedule for the day, and I also use the Memory and CPU Meter badges to monitor applications that I think may be slowing my Mac down.
For the most part, Docktopus plays nicely with my Mac. Occasionally, it will stop running without any notification, and a few times it has taken most all of my processor, bringing my PowerBook to a crawl. After a few minutes, it usually calms down and my Mac speeds back up again. And, despite the fact that a badge developers kit is available, no new badges have been made yet.
The Bottom Line
Docktopus is a useful application that takes a novel approach to displaying system and application information, and it offers some nice in-Dock controls as well as a slick Launch Menu. On the downside, it occasionally displays some stability problems.