Design Element
Comment on "Simple Truths About Cross-Platform Apps"
by Jacob Rus — Mar 22
@Kevin Walzer
TextMate doesn't have support for one of my primary development languages (Tcl) out of the box; you have to install a third-party package. I'll gladly do that with open source software, but not with a commercial text editor; it should have what I need from the start. Aquamacs has much better support for Tcl built in, and the Mac customizations to standard Emacs mean that Aquamacs is reasonably close to TextMate in Mac ease-of-use.

Well, if by "third-party package", you mean downloading the language bundle from the community-and-developer-supported subversion repository, I suppose that's true. But such is the case for any language besides the top dozen or two. There simply isn't room (in the download or in the UI) to include every one of the 100+ languages in the svn repository "out-of-the-box", though installing new ones takes only about 2 minutes. All of these bundles are open-source, so I'm not sure what the concern is on that front.

Disclosure: I was one of the original developers on Aquamacs (http:://, so I'm not objective. But if you think it's standard Emacs, you're misinformed. Aquamacs implements as many standard Mac UI functions as is practical. The clipboard works in a Mac-like way; you can search your files for a string with Command-F and Command-G, just like in any other Mac. It also has standard Mac help (accessed via Help Viewer).

Well, I certainly can't expect the author of Aquamacs to switch text editors any time soon, and I can understand that editors are a very personal choice, in which cross-platform availability, and decades of familiarity weigh very heavily. But IMO it's not really possible to integrate Emacs into the OS X interface, in the same way that can be done with an application designed for the Mac, and for that matter, designed for a GUI. Wrapping a GUI shell around it doesn't really change that.

Thunderbird has good support for NNTP, and so I use it for my developer e-mail. Its newsreader is superior to any of the commercial alternatives on the Mac (except perhaps for Unison, which I haven't tried).

Yes, this is true, and as I mentioned, I use TBird for mailing lists and nntp as well, because it does proper threading, and that is the most important feature for such uses. But its buggy and inconsistent interface constantly bothers me, particularly the anemic text fields, which are vastly inferior to Cocoa text fields.

I use Firefox because a) it accesses some sites better than Safari does, and b) I like having a second web browser. Camino isn't as snappy or polished in my experience as Firefox.

Hmm. Everyone I've ever heard compare the two has found Camino faster, so I'm surprised you find the opposite. And w.r.t. polish, there's really no comparison. Camino's widgets (text boxes, buttons, sliders, etc.) are more Mac-like, and less glitchy, than Firefox's, though that should be improving in Firefox 3, as they switch Firefox to using Aqua widgets. So I guess I just have to disagree on both your points here.

I don't take kindly to your assumptions.

I apologize. It was improper of me to make such a suggestion, and I retract it. You certainly have the right to use whatever software works for you, even including un-Maclike apps, or apps that I find too buggy to be usable for me. I find many college students I know use about the same set of applications you do, because they can get the $200+ apps for free, through school, but balk at paying for $30-50 shareware apps, and so use freeware for the rest.

But within the broad parameters of the HIG, the "user experience" is often a matter of taste.

Okay, but applications like, Microsoft Office, Firefox, IDLE, etc. don't really come close (some don't even try) to following the spirit or letter of the HIG. They look and behave out-of-place on a Mac, and as a Mac user, I prefer more Mac-like alternatives.


Anyway, I'm not trying to flame you, or your preferences. They are completely legitimate for any number of reasons, such as cost, feature-set, experience, or cross-platform availability. I just don't think fitting in well with the system can be one of those reasons, as at least to me, most of those apps stick out like sore thumbs.
Back to "Simple Truths About Cross-Platform Apps"
Design Element

Copyright © Scott Stevenson 2004-2015