Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) was a big deal for users. It didn't have a lot of new programming stuff, but Apple had really focused on applications and major system enhancements, almost all of which are amazingly great: Spotlight and Dashboard alone make Tiger worth having. Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) isn't about the users. They get a few things, but mostly, it's all about the developers this time. A lot of what the users get is the shaft.
- IN, AWESOME: Spaces
- It's just a virtual desktop system, like VirtueDesktops was. I like it, and I've got it bound to the bottom-left corner of my screen and use it constantly now, but most users will never want or need it. Developers accustomed to Linux, where almost every window manager has 4 virtual desktops by default, they're the people who wanted this. Still, for me, it's very good, though I'd rather have just kept using VirtueDesktops.
- IN, AWESOME: Terminal Tabs
- The Terminal now lets you have multiple terms in a single window, with tabs at the top! Just like Konsole, except dragging tabs in and out actually works! Terminal is one of my primary applications, and this massively improves it.
- OUT, SUCKS: Apple Human Interface Guidelines
- They're writing new ones now. The old ones, that they've been violating for the last several years, are dead. I wish they'd updated the guidelines first, tested with users, and then and only then made apps which violated the old HIG and followed the new ones. As it is now, there is no definition of what's Mac-like and what isn't.
- IN, SUCKS: Translucent Menu Bar
- Ugly as shit. Really, this is hideous and bad with a great many desktop backgrounds, and we all made our displeasure clear to Apple at the feedback session, so hopefully they'll get a clue. I am appalled that this feature got in like this. [Edit:] Hooray for Many Tricks Non-Transparent Menu Bar Hack! Problem solved!
- IN, SUCKS: Consistent Dark Gray Window Theme
- Daring Fireball: An Anthropomorphized Brushed Metal Interface Theme Shows Up for the WWDC Preview Build of Mac OS X Leopard. I'm happy and sad. Brushed Metal was ugly, but at least it looked physical and solid and real. Dark Gray is dull. Boring. Smooth, but facile and meaningless. Dark Gray is an insurance adjuster or IRS agent. Not a friendly, likable figure, more someone you'd want to mug in a dark alley and take his watch, because you knew nobody would miss him.
Worse, it's really dark. It's hard to read black text on a dark gray background, let alone the dark gray text some apps used. Many icons that looked great with Brushed Metal look terrible on Dark Gray, and the much lighter background window style steals your eyeballs away from the primary app.
Looking at the much nicer lined-background panel of BBEdit, I think repeating tiles are the answer. We should have the ability to change the primary app tiling with a little bitmap, like the desktop background on the original Mac. Trivial to implement, cheap to render, totally customizable. If someone wants dark gray, they can draw dark gray. If someone wants pink flowers all over their backgrounds, it's their Mac, let 'em. On the bright side, there's always Shapeshifter. Sadly, I can't use it on Leopard yet.
- IN, SUCKS: Aqua
- On the same theme, Aqua looks just garish and plastic now. I never liked the stripes in the scroll bars, but when that super-bright blue is the only stuff on the desktop in color, it's a nightmare. I had to switch to Graphite appearance to get some relief, and now my desktop is almost completely colorless. It's time for Aqua to die, Apple.
- IN, AWESOME: HUDs
- White text on black background translucent window, for use as Heads-Up Displays or pref panels for full-screen apps (more precisely, apps which may go fullscreen, but may not always be that way), are now legit. Apple repeatedly uses the phrase "Transparent Panel", but it's a HUD. It's the CoverSutra look. That is sweet. For the apps that need this, where a full window or panel is inappropriately bright, where you need a floating control that isn't a replacement for your front app, BOOM, pop up a HUD. Use some common sense with these, and they'll really make certain apps better.
- IN, SUCKS: New Dock
- The new dock wastes precious screen real estate on a reflective, tilted glass pane, with a half-obscured blue LED instead of the old arrow for running app. First, blue LEDs are bad for you. Second, I can't see the damn thing against blue or white icons, which is most of them. The reflections are distracting and ugly, and it reflects nearby windows, too. I'm appalled again at Apple's decisions. Maybe Steve Jobs was too busy taking over Disney to spend 5 minutes reviewing this shit.
I don't know which makes me more nauseous: this dock and the menu bar, or that horrible Disney film about a filthy fucking rat in a kitchen, which is a criminal health code violation and someone deserves to be in prison for it. Rats are not cute, rats are not clean, and neither are the new menu bar and dock.
- IN, AWESOME: New Finder
- The Finder is your primary interface to your files (unless you're a hardcore old Terminal user, like me). So now it has spotlight integrated sanely, some common searches are in the Finder sidebar, and for pawing through long sets of media files, you can switch to Cover Flow and use Quick Look to examine their contents, without even launching the app. For finding and opening the file you want quickly, Leopard blows away everything else.
- IN, AWESOME: Stacks
- Finally, I have one of my favorite features from OS/2 back: Dock drawers. Just drop a Finder folder into the dock (to the right of the spacer, dangerously close to the Trash), click on it, and instantly, I mean RIGHT FUCKING NOW, a row or grid of icons pops out, that you can pick from. They're not quite real folders, but you can single-click instead of double-clicking on them, or drag them somewhere else. Awesome for managing your Downloads folder, which is the one they set in the Dock initially, but also good for any folder you want to spring open.
- OUT, SUCKS: Sherlock
- I can't even run an old Tiger copy of Sherlock anymore. Sherlock Holmes is dead, alas. Fuck you, Moriarty.
- IN, MEH: Dashboard
- Web Clip feature in Safari, which lets you make a Dashboard widget out of part of any page, is okay. Nothing to get excited about. The new "Movies" widget is just the movie times feature ripped out of poor old Sherlock's not-yet-cold corpse, with a worse interface.
- IN, MEH: Time Machine
- We all know people don't do backups. Maybe Time Machine's sexy interface will lead them into self-preservation instead of self-destruction. I'm betting not, because most people, even on the Mac where IQs are at least 10 points higher than on Windoze (and are a good 50% more attractive than Linux users), are still really fucking stupid self-destructive chimpanzees. Chimpanzees don't do backups unless you feed them bananas, and there's no banana in Time Machine.
Part 3, with what little technical material I can cover without violating NDA, will come in a day or two. I need to study a ton of notes for that.