Last week, a co-worker stopped by my office to ask me what cool new Mac software I’d seen recently. I had to stop and think for a while–I mean, it seemed like I was seeing cool new Mac stuff show up once or twice per month for a while, but recently it’s slowed to a trickle. I can’t think of anything really exciting that I’ve seen since NetNewsWire 2.0 betas started showing up months ago.
I’m not sure if this is all in my head or not, or if there’s some underlying reason (waiting for Tiger? Economy recovered and programmers went back to desk jobs?). Hopefully things will pick up again soon.
For what it’s worth, here are the last few Mac apps that I’ve looked at. Only one of these is really new, the rest have been sitting around for a while but only recently found their way onto my desktop.
Seasonality is probably the coolest new program that I’ve seen in a week or two. It’s a desktop weather monitor that knows about forecasts, history, sunrise and sunset, and weather radar. I played with it for a few minutes yesterday, and it seems to be an improvement over rssWeather.com and NetNewsWire. However, it’s not a $25 improvement, and I don’t care about the weather enough to leave Seasonality running 24x7. So, while it’s cool, I don’t really feel any desire to actually use it.
I keep hearing people rave about TextMate; a lot of people really love using it for their text editor. I spend half of my life in Emacs, but I’d love to switch to something more Mac-centric–I’ve used Emacs for 15 years, but I don’t really feel like I understand it any better now then I did a decade ago. It can do anything, but the barrier for learning each new feature is high enough that I only rarely bother to learn anything new about it. On the plus side, though, Emacs works pretty well out of the box for me, and it’s available everywhere.
So, every 6 months or so, I download a new copy of TextMate to see if it’s the right editor for me, and end up deleting it about 30 minutes into the trial. It looks really cool, and they seem to be adding some really nice Subversion integration into it, but I can’t stand the way it handles indenting. My brain seems to have fused with XEmacs’s indent handling–when editing languages like C, Ruby, XML, or HTML, XEmacs changes the meaning of the Tab key from ‘insert a tab’ to ‘indent this line correctly.’ Obviously, this requires a level of syntax-awareness that most editors don’t posess. TextMate knows enough about syntax to do color highlighting and folding, but that’s about it. While the function folding UI is cool, it’s just not enough for me to justify paying $50 or so for the program.
SubEthaEdit is kind of the epitome of “cool OS X editor,” largely because it’s designed from the ground up to use Rendezvous to allow collaborative editing over the network. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to have any native support for traditional version control tools, and its indentation support isn’t any better then TextMate. Since SubEthaEdit is free for non-commercial use, I’ll keep a copy around, but I just can’t see myself using it for writing code.
Growl / GrowlMail
Growl is a tool for displaying asynchronous notification messages on OS X. People have used it for a number of different uses, but the one the most interests me is GrowlMail, which sends Growl pop-ups every time new mail arrives. I’ve been using Mail.appetizer for a while now, but it seems to cause more problems then it fixes–since it runs inside of the main Mail process, it’s prone to blocking whenever Mail gets slow, which means that I have notification windows hanging around that I can’t get rid of easily. Also, since I installed it, I’ve noticed that Mail is much more prone to crashing. I don’t have a lot of patience for dead mail clients, so I yanked Mail.appetizer out and replaced it with GrowlMail; hopefully it’ll help a bit.