Enter Forecaster. Forecaster is a weather application for Windows (if you’re a Mac user, you may want to check out our previous coverage of Meteo) that is portable, lightweight, and simply tells you the weather. Really, that’s all it does. It doesn’t affect my computer’s performance and it doesn’t stick any eye-sores on my desktop. In fact, unless I look at my tray icons, I don’t even know it exists.
Forecaster places a small (yet cute) icon in the tray which reveals the current weather at a glance. So far I’ve seen a sun, a raindrop and a cloud, but it has several more in stock. Hovering over the icon reveals a tooltip with the current conditions in my hometown. Very quick, very simple.
Clicking on the icon reveals a small window which shows me the current weather conditions and the forecast for the next four days. I love the balance between graphics and text in this window. It’s not boring – in fact, it’s pretty nice to look at – but it’s also not cluttered with unnecessary graphics.
If you click on the “Change weather settings…” link at the bottom, you get to play with the very few options Forecaster offers. In the “Local Forecast” tab, you can change your current location and tell Forecaster to notify you when current conditions change (and how often). It also reveals that the source of the information is World Weather Online. This is not a website I was using regularly before, but so far the information has been pretty accurate (as much as a weather forecast can be).
The other two tabs offer between them three more things you can play with, and that’s it. If you’re looking for something you can configure to death, this isn’t it.
When you change or add locations, you can either type in a name of a place or a zip code. Typing in either “Hamilton, Ontario” or my zip code both worked fine, except that when entering a zip code, it’s the zip code the was displayed in the window and not the actual name of the town. I am assured by the developer that this issue will be fixed in the next version. The zip code option did not work at all when I tried it with an Israeli zip code, so there might be some more limitations to the zip code option.
The feature that really hit the nail on the head for me is the option to add more locations. The free version of Forecaster allows you to add one additional location. For me, this is enough, but the premium version is offered for just a $2 donation, so if you need more than two locations, that might be the way to go. Adding a location is quick and easy, again, by entering a name or a zip code.
As I mentioned earlier, Forecaster boasts a “Settings” tab with all of two things you can actually change. You can have Forecaster automatically load at startup, and you can change the temperature units. If you get the premium version, this is also where you activate it. Very bare-bones, but this is exactly what I find so appealing.
Another small glitch I’ve noticed is the lack of a moon tray icon. This means I get a sun icon in my tray in the middle of the night (notice the time in the screenshot). It’s not the end of the world, as I don’t really need a tray icon to tell me it’s night, and this is another issue which is supposed to be fixed in the next version.
So I now have the weather for all these locations at my fingertips. Clicking on the little grey square switches from location to location so I can view all of them. Keep in mind that the last location you leave it on will be the one to be featured in your tray.
Forecaster is a fairly new application and, as you can gather, it is under constant development. Its website reveals it has been updated 3 times in the last two weeks and some of these were major updates. The developer is very active on the website, answers questions quickly and accepts fixes and feature requests, so even if you find a bug I didn’t encounter, chances are it will be fixed rather quickly.
All in all, Forecaster definitely delivers what it set out to – a no-frills weather forecast. Let us know in the comments if you know of something even better!