I just read about LinkBack, an open source framework sponsored by Nisus Software that’s been around since 2005. I guess I’m a little late to the game, but I thought I’d share it in case you’ve never heard of it. Right now, 22 applications support it.
LinkBack is best described with an example: Suppose you create a vector graphic in Lineform. Then, you drag and drop your creation into a VoodooPad document. Later, you realize you need to update the graphic. Since both apps support LinkBack, you double-click the graphic from within VoodooPad, edit it in Lineform (which opens automatically), then save it. Now your embedded VoodooPad graphic is updated.
I’ve been thinking about what applications I use that support a similar sort of inter-application linking. Let’s see. I can open up and edit my iPhoto images in PhotoShop. I can use CSSEdit or TextMate to directly edit documents on the server with Transmit. And Adobe CS3 handles cross-application editing of files fairly well (within the Adobe apps, of course). That’s all I can think of.
I found two posts relating to the launch of LinkBack from March 2005. One is from TidBITS, the venerable weekly Mac newsletter that’s been around since 1990. The other is from O’Reilly’s macdevcenter.com. LinkBack launched with relative optimism. Yet I could not readily find any recent posts, reviews or otherwise about it. So why haven’t more developers integrated it into their products? Why only 22 apps after three years? Anybody?
By the way, in the post from macdevcenter.com, the author (Giles Turnbull) pointed out that one can hit ⌘-J while typing a post in MarsEdit to open up an external text editor. I did not know that. Now that I do, I’ll probably be writing all my posts in TextMate — the TextMate HTML bundle and text abilities are far more robust than MarsEdit. Of course, I could add my own Markup to MarsEdit, but I think it will just be easier (more efficient) to open it up in TextMate. I thought it was pretty cool that I learned a new tip from a three year old post.