January 2016, “Community Choice” Project of the Month – Ditto

By Community Team

For our January “Community Choice” Project of the Month, the community elected Ditto, an extension to the standard windows clipboard that allows you to specify what gets saved. Scott Brogden, Ditto’s lead developer, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the Ditto project please.
Scott Brogden (Brogden): Ditto is a clipboard manager for Windows. It saves data copied to the clipboard and allows you to retrieve that data at a later time. With your previous copies, Ditto can search, paste, edit, export to file, organize, and send clips to others on your network.

SF: What made you start this?
Brogden: A co-worker discussion regarding something we could work on or create revealed we liked the Clipboard Ring in Visual Studio and Visual Assist, except that it only worked in Visual Studio, just like the clipboard in Word only works inside Word. We tried some existing clipboard managers and weren’t impressed, so we created Ditto.

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
Brogden: Definitely, the original vision was to save copies and be able to search and paste those clips. This was achieved pretty quickly.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
Brogden: Anyone that works with text can benefit from Ditto. I work in Visual Studio all day and constantly use Ditto. My wife works in Excel, Word, and Outlook and uses Ditto to paste clips she has saved.

SF: What core need does Ditto fulfill?
Brogden: Ditto easily saves and retrieves data.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using Ditto?
Brogden: Copy and paste data as you normally would, Ditto will save this data. Then, you can go back and search and find something that you copied last week or last month.

I like to organize some of my most used clips into categories so I can easily get to them with a shortcut key. A coworker told me he doesn’t want to think about it that much, he knows he copied it at some point so he searches and finds it.

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
Brogden: Ditto’s forums on SourceForge are fairly active.  There are a couple posts a day asking for advice or reporting bugs. This is my main interaction with the community.

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?
Brogden: Yes there are always more downloads and interaction after releasing a new version. This is something I should do more of. The last couple years I have been releasing one to two a year. I post “nightly builds” at http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/beta/.  After I’ve completed each small feature, I post the changes and point the latest update to forum members.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
Brogden: Placing Ditto on SourceForge. Ditto was functional but needed some polishing. I was the only one working on Ditto and needed some help. After placing Ditto on SourceForge, Kevin Edwards came on board for a while and really got Ditto going, optimizing the UI and adding some much needed features.

SF: What helped make that happen?
Brogden: SourceForge and Open Source.

SF: What was the net result for that event?
Brogden: Ditto is where it is today.

SF: What is the next big thing for Ditto?
Brogden: I don’t have any large fundamental changes that I want to make to Ditto, just some smaller enhancements and optimizations. I keep saying I’m going to make all keyboard actions customizable by the end user.

SF: How long do you think that will take?
Brogden: Now you sound like my project manager at work. Can I get an estimate and a design doc together? Just kidding. Not much, just need to find some motivation and a solid chunk of time.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
Brogden: Well it’s just me making the changes now.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for Ditto?
Brogden: I would not put clips into categories; instead, I would use tags.

SF: Why?
Brogden: Categories are so confining and clips can only be in one category. I would do more of a tag-based system so clips can have multiple tags, something more dynamic.

SF: Any reason you can’t do that now?
Brogden: No reason, for the most part categories give me what I need, so I don’t really see a need to redo this just to get a little more functionality out of it.

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