Path Finder 8 review

Path Finder 8 is the new version of the Finder replacement Cocoatech first released many, many years ago. The major big new thing in version 8 is modules and the way they are organised and used. Everything else in this release is related to modules. Doesn’t that sound disappointing? Well, it did to me and if it did to you as well, read on, because it really doesn’t.

Modules aren’t exactly new to Path Finder. The previous version had bottom and right shelves and a sidebar, and each of them could accommodate four modules. However, the old modules were static and fixed to a place. That’s what’s really different in Path Finder 8. The new modules are flexible and part of a complete code rewrite that opens up endless possibilities for an even more flexible and powerful Path Finder in months and years to come.

You can now put as many modules in a single browser window (or “Get info” window/inspector) as you need. You can arbitrarily arrange them, dismiss or drag them away when you don’t need them any longer, drag them from one window to the other, move or copy them. You can assign each module to either left pane, right pane, or both and choose from more than 20 different module types.

Many people don’t need that sort of customisation, but that’s besides the point. It’s impossible for a developer to figure out what each individual user does with its software and a Finder replacement must at the very least enable the same functionality as the original one. Path Finder has always offered more, including batch renaming, a search feature that doesn’t depend on Spotlight, the capability to show invisible files, etc, etc.

Making the system modular lets users pick exactly what they need, place it where it is most efficient for them and forget about the rest. That makes some things work differently from what we’ve used to in previous versions. For example, hiding a module doesn’t seem possible until you click the Hide Header icon. When you do, you can drag the module completely out of the way, just like when you hid a module in the old days. The forum comments that complain about this are therefore, and in my honest opinion, a bit premature. They remind me of the Final Cut Pro X drama that Apple had to endure when they released the application. Today, Final Cut Pro X is one of the best and most used NLEs on the market.

But should – is it justifiable that – Cocoatech charges an upgrade price for an app that is still rough around the edges and without killer-new-features? Again, this is my opinion, but I really think that we should consider how long it took for Cocoatech to charge users for a new version. As far as I remember, this is not a company that charges an upgrade fee when they change a comma somewhere in the licence agreement, as some other software developers do, nor have they changed their licence method to a subscription-based system.

Cocoatech is charging $20 for the upgrade, and frankly, I don’t think that’s too much. Even if right now, all you get is this module system and an updated look and feel, version 8 is a good foundation to build on further.