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     Tiger first impressions
    Filed under: — David @ 3:37 pm


    • I’m not a big fan of the new toolbar icons. They’re just extra noise to me. Interesting notes: they darken when the mouse is over them, and some of the ones that are grouped are also available separately. Also, there’s no “small icons” option.
    • I’d rather still have my mailboxes in a drawer. They put the list on the wrong side, and now it’s not tall enough because it has to go below the toolbar. I had to reorganize my list to get rid of the scroll bar.
    • It took about 4 minutes to import my collection of something like 8500 messages, and that’s on my 867MHz PBG4 while Spotlight was indexing. While it was doing that, there was a link for me to read the What’s New page in the help, which brought up a blank Help Viewer window which seemed to think there were no help files on this Mac at all. I tried launching Help Viewer again after the Mail import was done, and it worked fine.
    • They fixed one bug that annoyed me a lot: if you delete a message while the focus is on the message (instead of the message list), it leaves the focus in limbo where pressing any key, including Tab, will only generate a beep. Now, deleting a message returns the focus to the message list.
    • The icon is subtly different now. If you do an archive-and-install you can compare it to the old one.


    • The initial indexing took 30-35 minutes on the PowerBook, and much much less on the G5.
    • The guy doing the presentation in the Apple store pointed out how Spotlight can find things that “aren’t even files”, like mail messages and address book entries. What he left out is that those things are actually stored as individual files now.
    • I think the search results window ought to be owned by the Finder. Currently, it’s not owned by any particular application.
    • When Spotlight opens a PDF file, Preview highlights the search text. I haven’t found any documentation on how other applications can implement this.


    • iChat now supports Jabber.
    • The audio/video chat button now indicates who you can multi-chat with.
    • Bonjour is still a stupid name.


    • The Apple store guy also took a moment to demonstrate the “new cursor”, a Tiger feature that most people don’t mention: the Universal Access preference pane lets you set the cursor size up to 4x normal. It just magnifies the regular cursor, and there’s no attempt to smooth it out at odd magnifications.
    • Safari has a drawing glitch in the address/Google bar, which I assume doesn’t happen if you don’t hack it to turn off the metal appearance like I always do.
    • The new “unified” toolbar look, where there’s no line between the window’s title bar and the toolbar, is apparently only available in Cocoa applications.
    • The segment control is available in Interface Builder now, and it shows a difference in implementation between the Carbon and Cocoa versions. In Carbon, the segments can be a mix of styles: toggle, radio, etc. In Cocoa, all segments in the control must be the same style. Carbon segment controls were available in 10.3, but you couldn’t create them in Interface Builder. If you make one in the new Interface Builder, that nib won’t work in 10.4.
    • Cocoa has a new “level indicator” control. It’s like a progress bar, but it can be divided in segments, and it can have “warning” or “critical” thresholds which cause the filled portion to be drawn in yellow or red. It can also be displayed as a row of stars like the iTunes “My Rating” control, or as a relevance bar as seen in search results lists. Carbon still has just the relevance bar.
    • There’s a new slide show screen saver called Paper Shadow. I like the images, but only one of them comes in the Desktop Pictures folder. To get the rest, you have to go to /System/Library/Screen Savers and open the Paper Shadow.slidesaver package. I never thought about it, but the same applies to some of the other screen savers.
    • It plays a sound when it copies files, sort of a twang/buzz/thunk. There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn it off. Just like the move-to-trash flickety sound, I guess. Edit: It’s in the Sound preference panel, called “Play user interface sound effects”. Too bad you can’t turn them off individually.
    • Running applications that are always in the Dock as shortcuts now have a “Remove From Dock” command in their Dock menus. It’s the opposite of the “Keep in Dock” command that we’ve had for a while. Using this on Dashboard makes it disappear immediately from the Dock. Other apps disappear when they quit.
     Filling in the gaps
    Filed under: — David @ 10:12 am

    I’ve made lots of progress on this ACCELA toolbar stuff. In a way it’s disappointing that there’s so much to do, considering the generic nature of what I’m writing. Most of this stuff ought to have been part of the API to begin with.

    I filed one bug: when a toolbar is in text-only mode, and you click on an item that has a menu, the menu appears with the first item under the mouse. This can lead to users accidentally selecting that first item, and it’s different from what happens in Cocoa applications, where the menu appears below the toolbar. If anyone from Apple is reading this, the bug number is 4101927.

    Another tricky issue with toolbar item menus is determining which window the menu applies to, since a toolbar can be shared by multiple windows. I can look at which window is active, but it would be good if there were a more explicit indication. I’m debating whether to file a bug about that. For what I’m working on now, I need this so I can update the appropriate control, such as a popup button. My solution is that each object that manages a custom item view installs a handler on the item’s menu - remember, there is a custom view for each window that uses the same toolbar. When that handler gets called, the object checks whether its control is in an active window. If so, it proceeds to handle the event while others ignore it. Also, these objects only handle the menu events as far as they apply to the custom control. They update the menu or the control as needed, but actually responding to the menu command is the responsibility of some other application object.

    I’ve changed the format of the toolbar XML file slightly - the item content is now specified by a single element. For example, previously there were and elements. Now, there is . I also still need to test the stuff I’ve written to deal with segment controls.

    On a side note, I may go to the Santa Monica Apple Store tonight for the Tiger party. I even brought my camera in case something interesting happens. On the other hand, maybe I’ll go to the Glendale Galleria store. Or The Grove. It’s funny, when I left LA four years ago the Glendale store was the only one, and now there are like five around here. Salt Lake City, which I left two months ago, still has none. I guess they’re all a bunch of Republican Mac-haters ;)

     Better toolbars through XML
    Filed under: — David @ 11:36 am

    A while ago, I added an AAutoToolbar class to ACCELA, enabling you to specify the attributes of a toolbar (allowed items, etc.) using an XML file. Normally you have to do that programatically, but that kind of GUI info really ought to be in some kind of resource file.

    The initial version only worked with standard toolbar items - simple clickable icons. If you wanted anything custom, you were on your own. Over the weekend I added a new feature: custom items can be loaded from a nib file, given the nib name, the window name, and the ID of the control in that window. This makes custom items much simpler. There are a couple of minor issues to work out yet, but seeing it work is pretty cool.

     Duelling soundtracks
    Filed under: — David @ 9:37 am

    I noted previously that the iTunes Music Store at first only had the German version of the Yu-Gi-Oh movie soundtrack. I just noticed that last week they finally added the American version. I still think there’s gotta be some wacky story behind that. I mean, first, why German? And then, with the American version, what the heck took them so long?

     Temporary flop
    Filed under: — David @ 7:48 pm

    It looks like FreeImage is turning out to be unusable, at least for now. I get all kinds of link errors. I think the problem is with using CodeWarrior’s MSL rather than the actual system standard library, but I don’t know if that’s something worth worrying about at this point. So I’m putting it off until I make the switch to XCode.

    Interestingly, OS X comes with FreeImage installed. It’s slightly outdated now, though - 3.6.0 vs the current 3.6.1. I bet Tiger comes with the latest version, but either way I think it’s safer to have it built in to Icon Machine.

    In parallel with all this, I’ve been working on the design for Icon Machine 4. Unlike previous major-version updates, this one will be pretty much a complete rewrite. It’s time to move away from having it just be designed for just the .icns format, and I enjoy making software designs as abstract and general-purpose as possible anyway.

     Back When I Stole Games
    Filed under: — David @ 12:33 pm

    Anybody who has ever copied software without paying for it should read this article.

     Flag Protection
    Filed under: — David @ 2:43 pm

    Once I get my PC set up again (still getting settled after the move), I should check and see if the Flag Protection mutator works with Flag Domination. There are basically three possibilities: 1) it just works; 2) a few tweaks are needed; 3) Flag Protection has some stuff that’s hard-coded to only work with CTF. We’ll see…

     ACCELA Documents
    Filed under: — David @ 6:47 pm

    I’ve long wanted my ACCELA library to evolve into a replacement for PowerPlant, rather than just a set of wrapper classes, and in the past couple of days I’ve finally started working in that direction: I’m writing a document class.

    One of the things that bugged me about PowerPlant’s LDocument class was that it had too much stuff built in, specifically all the printing stuff which I don’t use in Icon Machine. Having to include code I don’t really use was what originally drove me away from the THINK Class Library (effectively PowerPlant’s predecessor).

    My current design has ADocument as a template class that inherits from its two template parameters: one for file handling, and the other for window handling. I have default classes for single-file and single-window situations, but you may have other needs. For example, Photoshop allows multiple windows per document (with different zoom levels and scroll positions), and you might use a package file format (like .rtfd); both of these would require custom implementations.

    The handling of Save, Save As, and Revert, as well as managing the accompanying Navingation Services sheets, is handled by a third ADocument base class, ADocCommandHandler, since this is functionality that is not directly affected by the window or file implementation. I had done this because of the template design I already had, but I realized I really like it because it fits with the concepts I’ve been exploring in connection with ASL: separating menu command handling from the objects they act on. So I may want to take this ADocCommandHandler and make it it even more independent, rather than being a base class.

    And yes, I still need to put out a long-overdue release package of ACCELA.

    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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