I’m really liking the new Mac OS after using it for three days now. Improvements include: the transparent menu bar, the Finder’s Quick Look and Cover Flow, Safari’s improvements, enhanced Spotlight, Spaces, and even the moving backgrounds in iChat and Photo Booth. It’s not noticeably faster or slower than the previous OS (10.4/Tiger).
With a file selected, hitting the space bar now opens up a Quick Look window that displays a preview of that file. Many file types are supported, including text files, JPEG and GIF images, PDF documents, and of course Apple’s Numbers and Pages documents. Since Quick Look opens instantly, this is far faster than opening a document in the application. The Finder’s new Cover Flow view, like its iTunes equivalent, makes it easy to flip thru a folder of files and locate a particular file “by look”. This is amazingly like opening a real life folder and looking for a page by look. Cover Flow is very fast, and altho you can get a little ahead of it when viewing a folder with hundreds of files it only takes a second for it to catch up with you.
Apple’s system-wide search tool is noticeably faster now, and includes some handy additions. The biggest new feature for me is the inclusion of recent web pages in the search. So many times in the past I’ve needed to go back to a web page I had seen a few days earlier. After a bit of googling (sometimes a lot) I’ve usually found the page again, altho not always. Spotlight now indexes all the words on the web pages you view, so they conveniently show up in its search results. Very nice. Spotlight also knows math now, so you can type 468/9 in its search box, and the top result shows “Calculator: 468/9 = 52” (you can even click on that line to open the Calculator).
They say that time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. In a similar way, virtual desktops are a geeky way of keeping all your open windows and applications from being open on the same screen. So on my “main” desktop I have Safari and TextMate open, while on another desktop I have a couple Terminal windows open along with my FTP program. Switching between them is as simple as hitting control/right-arrow and control/left-arrow. I’ve been using different virtual desktop programs for the past few years, most recently the wonderful VirtueDesktop, and have gotten pretty -addicted- dependent on them. Leopard includes a built-in virtual desktop, called Spaces, which is pretty well done. I like how F8 now brings up an Exposé-like screen that shows all my virtual desktops, er, spaces, and that I can drag windows from space to another or even drag spaces around to swap them. I do miss being able to name my spaces (they used to be called Here, There, Everywhere, GTD and XP), and how those names would appear in the bottom right corner of the desktop so I could always tell where I was. Spaces numbers its desktops, and displays that number in the menu bar so you know where you are, but it’s not the same. There’s also a quirk with auxiliary windows like the Find dialog, which can pop up on the wrong space if you’ve moved windows around (this is a quirk that other virtual desktop programs didn’t have). I’m hoping Apple addresses that bug in a 10.5.1 update before too long.
Safari tabs can now be dragged around to rearrange them, or even dragged out to become a new window. Searching on a page is so much easier now, and matches jump out (literally). You can turn a section of any web page into a widget that self-updates, so it’s easy to make your own weather widget, or keep an eye on the latest Digg headline. Downloads now go into their own folder instead of cluttering up the Desktop, and it’s easy to get to them using the new Downloads folder in the Dock. iChat and Photo Booth are improved and now support effects and animated backgrounds so it looks like you’re at Yosemite, or on a beach or a roller coaster. People have already started creating their own effects, yesterday I downloaded one from Mac Rumors that makes you appear as a ghost (do a Google search for _hologit_ to find it). PHP5, Ruby and Rails are installed by default, making web development that much easier.
As with any upgrade to the operating system, not all software is compatible, at least not immediately. Altho most of my programs are working just fine on Leopard, a few key programs are not, and I miss them. iKey -isn’t working- works just fine, it just needed to be reinstalled!_ And the Saft enhancement for Safari -no longer works- has now been updated to work under Leopard, and I can once again use shortcuts like _be_ to edit my blog entries, and _wiki leopard_ to lookup “leopard” on wikipedia or even _mu saft_ to search for “saft” on macupdate.com. My remaining incompatibilities are minor (SlimBatteryMonitor, for instance).
*Perl and MySQL*
From a web developer’s point of view, it’s strange that Apple installs PHP5 but not MySQL. And their support of Perl is pretty lacking, altho they do include version 5.8.8. I’ve installed MySQL and got it working with PHP, but I still haven’t gotten it working with Perl so web development for most of my sites is severely hampered at the moment. Still, I’m hoping some alphageek figures out how to get DBD::mysql installed and working, and I’ll be a happy camper.
Aha! The trick to getting perl talking to MySQL is to install older modules rather than the latest. The magic modules are DBI::Mysql 1.47 and DBD::Mysql 2.9006. Woohoo! 🙂