Ruin The assorted ramblings of Brendan Tobolaski


Dashs app icon

Dash is an offline documentation viewer for OS X and iOS (although I rarely use it on iOS). I know that doesnʼt sound exciting at all but, its an essential part of my development workflow and if you try it, I think it will likely become part of yours as well. Iʼve previous included it on the list of tools that I use.

My first reaction to hearing about Dash was rather lukewarm. At the time, I didnʼt really think that I needed an offline documentation viewer. There is rarely a time when Iʼm doing development work where I donʼt also have internet access. In spite of that, I decided to check it out, Iʼm very glad that I did. All it took was using it for the first tike and then I was hooked.

When you first launch Dash, it offers to download some documentation sets. It has quite an extensive selection of documentation available. from things like Scala and Rails to Ansible and Nginx. Its likely to have documentation available for whatever it is that you are working with. If you want something, just click the download button and in a matter of seconds, youʼll have an offline copy of the documentation. While this is awesome the first time you do it, Iʼm sure that youʼll have a similar reaction to it that I did; so what I have an internet connection when Iʼm working so why does having an offline version matter?

Search is the answer to that question. Previously, when I wanted to find the documentation for something, I would simply do a web search for it. It was rather hit or miss if this would work. As you know, there is a huge amount of content available online which is awesome but, it makes finding the specific piece of information that you need rather difficult. With Dash, you simply select the documentation set that you want (optionally but, likely helpful in nearly all cases) and then start typing what you need. It will immediately filter down to what you are looking for. By adding a space after your search, Dash will begin searching in that documentation page. It quickly gets you to the exact part of the documentation that you need. Because all of this is happening on your machine, it happens insanely fast.

A screenshot of the integrations screen in Dash

If that was all that Dash was, it would be a great product but, its more than just that. It also has integrations that make searching Documentation even faster. Dash has an integration available for every text editor and IDE that Iʼve ever used. It even has a terminal integration. As I mentioned when I previously discussed Dash, I frequently use the Alfred integration which allows me to search all of the documentation available on my machine with just a few key strokes. I canʼt think of a way that Dash could be any better.

Dash is an amazing tool for Developers. I think that every Developer who uses a Mac should use Dash. Before I tried Dash, I didnʼt think that I need anything like it but, now that Iʼve tried it, I couldnʼt imagine going without it. Just recently, they also released Dash for iOS. It brings all of the same Documentation viewing and searching features to iOS. While its unlikely that your main usage of Dash will occur on iOS, its nice to be able to look up whatever you need wherever you are at. Check out Dash on OS X and iOS.