Daniel Eran Dilger
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Ten Big New Features in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

 Assets Resources 2008 01 Top-Ten
Daniel Eran Dilger
Apple is marketing the idea of there being “no new features” for Snow Leopard and instead promising an overall improvement in how Mac OS X works under the hood, thanks to a diligent code optimization and refactoring cycle discussed in the previous article. At the same time, there are plenty of significant new features coming in Snow Leopard to look forward to. Here are ten big new features (plus a few minor ones) that you probably haven’t heard much about from anywhere else, including my previous articles on the subject that already described QuickTime X, Grand Central, and OpenCL.

WWDC 2008: New in Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard Server Takes on Exchange, SharePoint


Pulling Invisible New Features into Snow Leopard.
Apple’s increasing collaborations with the open source community have pulled back the veil of secrecy on several new but mostly invisible enhancements that will be showing up in Snow Leopard.

One relates to LLVM, the Low Level Virtual Machine compiler architecture project originally founded at the University of Illinois. Apple began contributing to LLVM development in 2005, and started using it Leopard to expand support for OpenGL hardware features. Lower-end Macs that lack the silicon to interpret that specialize graphics code can now do it in software.

LLVM is also working its way into Apple’s Xcode IDE, initially as a highly efficient optimizer and code generator that works as a bolt-on upgrade to components of GCC, but eventually as a complete compiler replacement. That project, known as Clang, was opened up last year. LLVM compiler technology not only makes developers more productive, but also results in code that runs significantly faster on the same hardware.

Apple’s other open secret: the LLVM Complier
The LLVM Compiler Infrastructure Project

Another openly hidden secret in Mac OS X is CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System. Beginning with Jaguar in 2002, Apple adopted and licensed CUPS from its developer as Mac OS X’s printing engine. It then purchased the project outright. CUPS is also the de facto printing system for Linux distros and is available for BSD and other commercial Unix systems.

That means Apple owns the project that develops the printing architecture for Linux. That’s not an issue because Apple has established a reputation in open source as a strong contributor and open sharer. According to a review of bug fixes and improvements in CUPS software, 24% of the enhancements came from Apple while 76% came from free and open source software contributors working with Linux, OpenSolaris, and other projects. Of course, 100% of both sides benefited from that sharing.

CUPS collaboration has resulted in high quality code and the advancement of new features. CUPS 1.4, the version sources say Snow Leopard will use, adds performance enhancements and a variety of security improvements that use sandboxing to prevent malware attacks on the printing system from being able to read sensitive documents that may be in use by printers.

Common UNIX Printing System

A third significant new feature originating from an open source project in Snow Leopard is ZFS support, portions of which come from the OpenSolaris project (along with Sun’s DTrace technology, which Apple uses in its Instruments performance profiling tool). Leopard debuted read-only ZFS features, but Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard Server will provide both read and write support for Sun’s new 128-bit file system. ZFS was designed to provide “simple administration, transactional semantics, end-to-end data integrity, and immense scalability.”

ZFS hype during the development of Leopard helped the new file system reach buzzword status as news of the three letter acronym swept through blogs and the tech media. It is frequently described as being the imminent replacement for the Mac’s native HFS+. However, the benefits of ZFS including as storage pooling, data redundancy, automatic error correction, dynamic volume expansion, and snapshots all apply primarily to servers and higher-end workstation users who deal with multiple disk drives.

ZFS isn’t going to replace HFS+ outright in Snow Leopard, and has limited relevance today to desktop and laptop users, particularly those who never move beyond the single disk drive installed in their system.

More Predictions for WWDC 2007: Solaris, Google, Surround
Apple – Mac OS X Leopard – Developer Tools – Instruments
Symbiotic: What Apple Does for Open Source
Apple’s Open Source Assault

Pushing Visible New Features in Snow Leopard.
Apple’s extensive work in developing push support for Exchange Server on the iPhone will also be included in Snow Leopard’s Mail, Address Book, and iCal. Push support in those client side apps are also being used to power MobileMe’s push messaging subscription service and Snow Leopard Server’s push messaging services. Apple will be offering both in parallel as alternatives to Exchange, thanks to smart planning on the part of Apple’s engineers to develop an interoperable push architecture in Mac OS X and on the iPhone.

There is also a fourth application of push that has developed alongside push messaging: Apple’s new Push Notification Service. PNS allows iPhone and iPod touch users to set up server side notification alerts that don’t require mobile applications to stay running in the background just to update users of the external events they track. Along with Bonjour discovery, PNS will keep iPhones wirelessly connected in all sorts of sophisticated ways that third party developers can imagine in their applications.

Whether Apple will integrate a listener for the same PNS system into the desktop side of Mac OS X remains to be seen, but it would allow a single, unified interface for alerting client users of new events. I proposed a system wide, Growl-style notification system in the Leopard Wish List published back in 2005.

Snow Leopard Server Takes on Exchange, SharePoint
Apple’s Mobile Me Takes On Exchange, Mobile Mesh

With the strong push into push messaging, Apple will make mobile devices even more tightly integrated with its desktop products. Leopard delivered Back To My Mac as a novel way to use Wide Area Bonjour’s dynamic service registration as a mechanism for sharing resources served from home to any location without configuring static naming services for address lookups. Because any software can register itself with .Mac/MobileMe, this opens the door to third party developers with the vision to exploit the potential of these enabling technologies.

A Global Upgrade for Bonjour: AirPort, iPhone, Leopard, .Mac
Ten Big Predictions for Apple in 2008

Among the technologies profiled earlier in Myth 3 that have been trickling from the iPhone into Mac OS X, there’s at least one idea I proposed for the iPhone that will be in Snow Leopard’s Safari: self contained web apps. The new feature will allow users to run web applications as a local app in its own window, essentially making the web platform into a native-looking app that can run outside of Safari.

I proposed a similar feature as a possibility for the iPhone prior to the announcement of the Cocoa Touch SDK: web apps packaged up into a set of files that could be run on the device as a Dashboard widget-like standalone app, even when off the network. Why Apple hasn’t pursued such an obvious strategy is a little hard to figure out, but it seems they’ve got the ball rolling on the desktop.

That ball will be rolling even faster thanks to SquirrelFish, a new JavaScript interpreter that will make Safari and any other WebKit-based browsers, standalone self contained apps, and Dashboard widgets all a lot faster. Apple’s MobileMe, Yahoo’s Flickr, and Google various web apps will all gain new speed thanks to faster JavaScript execution. SquirrelFish will also raise the bar in performance and efficiency in the Rich Internet Applications sector in general, giving Flash, Silverlight, and Java a faster, simpler, and more openly interoperable runtime to compete against.

RoughlyDrafted: Leopard Wish List: 2005
How Open will the iPhone Get?
Surfin’ Safari » Announcing SquirrelFish

Microsoft’s Application Features in Mac OS X, System Wide.
Microsoft’s business model of tacking on features hasn’t been a total wash. The company’s desperate efforts to invent novel marketing features for every new release of Windows and Office have pioneered a number of ideas that have later found their way into Mac OS X. One example is the idea of Fast User Switching, which Apple added to Panther. Windows XP pioneered the trick, but built it upon the kluge that is Terminal Services.

Microsoft also helped originate the basis of Ajax web apps by inventing XMLHttpRequest in order to make its Outlook Web Access 2000 web app work decently within Internet Explorer. Today, standards-based web apps are eating a hole into Microsoft’s monopoly on the proprietary desktop platform, and tools such as SproutCore and resulting products such as MobileMe are poised to tear down interoperability barriers and level the playing field. Microsoft may now regret having opened Pandora’s Box in terms of standards-based web applications, but its efforts to seal the web back up with the proprietary Silverlight plugin, which turns web apps into .NET programs, will now be next to impossible.

Another example of a Microsoft innovation are the fancy text features in Word, such as red underlining to highlight spelling mistakes and the green squiggle for grammar errors. Word also features a variety of word auto correction, smart dash insertion, and text replacement features (such as typing TM to get the ™ character). The former have already become system-wide features in Mac OS X, while sources indicate that the latter text processing features will find their way into Snow Leopard, and therefore every application that runs on it.

RoughlyDrafted: Remote Display part 3: Terminal Server
Cocoa for Windows + Flash Killer = SproutCore

Super Size Me.
On top of injecting Word features into its OS for the use of every application, Apple will also expand the use of its own Data Detectors, a technology it invented in the mid 90s for identifying useful bits of text and making it actionable. Leopard introduced Data Detectors in Mail as a way to extract contacts and events for use in Address Book and iCal, but Snow Leopard will expose Data Detectors everywhere it draws text.

Sources also indicate Snow Leopard will expand upon Font Book to provide full Auto Activation of any fonts requested by any application, using Spotlight to track them down. Snow Leopard is also suggested to have a new set of frameworks specifically for working with multitouch trackpad gestures, patterned after those introduced with the MacBook Air.

Speaking of the ultra-thin Air, sometimes less is more. However, the high cost and relatively low capacity of Solid State Drives like the $1000, 64 GB SSD option offered for the Air means that one Microsoft feature Snow Leopard could do without is bloat. As one reader noted, “Currently, Leopard requires 9 GB of available disk space for installation and iLife requires an additional 3 GB. This means that a product such as the [SSD] MacBook Air comes with the hard drive 20% full.”

How the MacBook Air stacks up against other ultra-light notebooks
Leopard Predictions for WWDC 2006
WWDC 2007: An Inside Perspective From the Halfway Point

Think Small.
Snow Leopard aims below the bloat to accommodate the coming wave of SSD-based systems. In the latest build, sources say Apple’s own apps are losing weigh dramatically across the board. The apps in the Utilities folder all drop from 468 MB to 111.6 MB, for example. Other apps are similarly svelte, as the graph below indicates.

snow leopard apps are losing weight

Is this the product of just code optimization and shared resources? One factor likely relates to work on Resolution Independence, which substitutes bitmapped raster graphics (which define every pixel) with smaller vector graphics files (which draw GUI elements and controls by recipe).

Vector graphics can be scaled to any size while retaining a high quality appearance, while bitmapped graphics can quickly look blocky when scaled up. Adding larger bitmapped versions can solve that problem, but at the cost of consuming more disk space. Apple earlier told developers it would be providing a library of shared, high quality vector graphics they could use instead of each packaging their own bitmapped art into every app.

The dramatic size reductions in these apps must also involve more efficient Localization. For example, Mac OS X Leopard’s Mail currently weighs in at over 285 MB, but the majority of its bulk comes from 18 language localizations inside the application bundle that consume 276 MB. The actual Universal Binary code is only a few megabytes and even its associated graphics and other resources only amount to 2.8 MB.

Why does Apple default to dumping support for 18 or more languages in every app without providing any simple, centralized way to get rid of the unnecessary ones? Perhaps that question is answered in Snow Leopard, where Mail is reportedly just 91 MB. That’s too big to simply to be an English-only, stripped down version for developers, but still far smaller than than Leopard’s. Across the board, it appears Snow Leopard apps are about a third as large as their Leopard equivalents.

And so while Snow Leopard paradoxically gains more useful features through code improvements and under-the-hood retooling rather than from a Microsoft-style new feature focus that aims to deliver “wow” with flashy marketing gimmicks, the system is also getting smaller and tighter. There must also be some other subtraction, right? Will Snow Leopard scrape away the old Carbon API? That’s the next myth.

WWDC 2008: New in Mac OS X Snow Leopard
WWDC 2008: Is Mac OS X 10.6 the Death of Carbon?

I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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  • http://www.joshourisman.com josho

    You say that ZFS has only limited relevance to most laptop and desktop users, which is partly true in that most people, especially those with only a single HDD, won’t benefit from ZFS’ pooling and the various benefits that come from that (such as RAID-Z). But I still think it’s inclusion in OS X will be a coup for the average user as well. Specifically, the use of ZFS means that silent data corruption will be a thing of the past thanks to copy on write and full data checksumming. Also, the advantages that ZFS’ snapshots will bring to TimeMachine will greatly enhance it’s usability, speed, and effectiveness for anyone with an external hard drive, network hard drive, or Time Capsule. On top of that, there are, in fact, a few benefits of ZFS pooling for those with just a single hard drive. In particular, filesystem level compression will allow the user (or, more likely, Apple) to designate certain folders to be their own filesystems that are automatically compressed to to provide a) more efficient use of space and b) faster access. This won’t help much with your music and video files, but it should do a lot to greatly reduce the size and increase the access speed of the configuration and preferences files in your Library (mine is currently 3.24 GB uncompressed). I don’t imagine it would be difficult for Apple to update OS X so that /Library, /System/Library, and /Users/*/Library are all their own filesystems with compression turned on. And even if they don’t a savvy user could do this themselves if they really wanted to.

    ZFS will also be a boon to those who might want to create their own home server. A niche market for now, perhaps, but the ability to just keep adding new USB or FireWire (or eSATA?) hard drives to their computer and have that storage space just seamlessly added into their storage capacity will make it significantly easier to manage.

    I, for one, think that ZFS is probably the best news related to Snow Leopard that I’ve heard.

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  • http://www.marketingtactics.com davebarnes

    As 2.5-inch disk drives become standard in desktops, there will be room in the iMac for 2 drives. Hello, ZFS.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @josho

    Indeed. ZFS is just the kind of pervasive feature tech-heads like us who read RDM really love. Hopefully it will be on by default and new Macs and fresh installs of Snow Leopard will use it on the system drive. Even if it is not, then the determined among us will use the read/write support to conjure up our own options.

    But it is indeed a hard sell to an ordinary user. When Apple do adopt it as a whole, they will market specific features which ZFS allows rather than ZFS as a buzzword itself. Quite like every technology they use.

    Shame Snow Leopard won’t run on a G3 … my Blue & White Power Mac is looking quite handy with those IDE and Sata cards in it with ZFS!

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @davebarnes

    Excellent point. I for one welcome our new 2.5″ parallelized storage overlords.

  • http://www.joshourisman.com josho

    @John Muir

    Agreed, it won’t be an easy sell for the average user. But that’s exactly why I hope Apple takes the initiative and has the default install take advantage of some of the advanced features. The Migration Assistant, in particular, should be reworked to automagically convert your old Home directory to an intelligently implemented ZFSified design.

    This is exactly the sort of thing that Apple has always excelled at: seamless integrated the latest and greatest technology into their products such that the average user doesn’t even realize that anything different is going on under the hood.

    If I had an old G3 laying around I’d probably throw FreeBSD on there and take advantage of ZFS for a home file server. Sadly the old gaming rig I’m currently using for a home server needs a new NIC before I’ll be able to use BSD on it. Might give OpenSolaris a shot though…

  • nat

    That Push Notification Service reminded me, anyone think we’ll see a move towards all Mac apps being digitally signed in Snow Leopard?

    There are already some made by Apple in Leopard and all (legal) apps on the iPhone, both included by default and bought by users from the App Store are signed. Wouldn’t Apple just need to add a Mac apps section to the App Store? Third-party developers could still sell and make available their apps on their own websites, but they could also release them through the App Store, which would make downloading apps on Macs as easy as buying music in iTunes and it would make malware essentially impossible. Updates could either be sent through Software Update, or perhaps that could be handled in the App Store similar to how the iPhone’s App Store alerts the user that a new version of their app is available.

    Of course, Apple could also make their entire software library available for download there as well, which would play into their push towards disc-less Macs like the Air. I can hear Jobs now, “Remote Disc is nice, but what if you just don’t have access to a nearby computer’s disc drive? That’s what the Mac App Store is for. Most independent developers already make their apps available only online. So how about everybody else? If you’re a member of the iPhone Developer Program, you’re already part of the Mac Developer Program. Just submit your apps.”

    Wonder if they’ll ever rename iTunes considering all the other forms of media, and now, software, it offers? They could at least drop the CD in the icon, right? :D

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @nat

    The “AppStore for Mac” idea came immediately to mind to many developers when the iPhone one was announced. I’ve commented about it here before, but to put it briefly:

    Indy developers find the following things hard:

    1. Setting up and maintaining a webstore for their apps
    2. Advertising their apps so that people know they exist
    3. Dealing with piracy

    AppStore has all three wrapped up. Apple handle the store logistics from the server to the money transfer. The AppStore serves as a comprehensive directory of software which interested users can and will browse for precisely what they want. And piracy is handled via Fairplay.

    Bringing the AppStore to the Mac would be terrific for 3rd party software houses. It doesn’t need to be mandatory like it is the for the iPhone. Just being there would make many startups viable.

    Needless to say I’m a big fan of the idea!

  • MipWrangler

    > Is this the product of just code optimization and shared resources?

    It wouldn’t account for the entire reduction (a trivial amount perhaps in the case of Mail), but I suspect that moving to intel-only will help to reduce the size of the universal binaries as the PowerPC instructions will no longer be included.

  • WebManWalking

    Actually, Unix pioneered Fast User Switching over 30 years ago. Unix calls it su.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @WebManWalking

    su as in sudo?

    Sounds a bit too CLI to me! Not really the same thing at all. When did Linux distros pick up the fast user switching on the desktop idea, I wonder?

  • WebManWalking

    Yes, su and sudo are related. The major differences are that su authenticates as the target user and sudo authenticates as the current user, and the effects of sudo apply only to the command given on the same line.

  • PerGrenerfors

    I would like to know more about how Apples new push technology relates to open standards and their open source iCal server. What other push services are there? On what platforms? Which are proprietary and with which mail systems do they work?

  • bregalad

    I’ve accepted that Snow Leopard won’t boot my G5. I feel that dropping support for 3 year old hardware sends a “stay away from Apple” message to IT departments everywhere, but I’ll be ready to move on once there are Nehalem-powered Macs available.

    However, I can’t afford to buy a new Mac and replace my old PPC software at the same time. Unless Snow Leopard includes Rosetta, a G5 will remain at my side for another couple of years.

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  • scottie924

    I would guess that most of that drop in size is optimization and things like the Resolution Independence but mostly from them dropping the PPC support. This not only takes away about half of the size of programs, but it’ll take away the rosetta things as well. They are basiclly right now producing 2 OSes in 1. This will lower it to 1, and give them a chance to add in a whole lot of speed and size improvements without many end user changes. There will be some, but it will be more or less minor to the average person.

    ZFS is exciting although it will be interesting to see how it handles things like jump drives and such. I’m sure there will be good things then Steve will do his usual “make me want something for a minor change when I don’t really need it but feel as though I might not be able to live without it”. I look forward to it, and hopefully get a new iMac intel and retire my PPC iMac to the living room for guests or as a toy machine in one way or another.

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  • nat

    John Muir,

    Exactly. And I agree, it must remain an optional path to customers for now. There are some apps Apple just can’t accept considering their limits on iPhone apps (P2P clients mainly) and I question if they could allow programs like HandBrake (though I swear it was featured in Apple’s Download section a while back). Putting up Mac games could also help promote the concept just as Apple has used games to promote the iPhone’s App Store.

    But what about Windows programs? Personally, I think this aught to be a Mac exclusive as a way to entice jaded Windows users who’ve had to deal with malware disguised as benign programs. And considering Apple’s downsizing of Snow Leopard apps, iLife ’09, in its entirety, wouldn’t take long to download. Also, couldn’t apps like my RSS reader (NetNewsWire) benefit from Push Notification Services? Instead of having to hit Refresh every few minutes to check my news sources (if everyone did that it’d slow down those sites dramatically) it would simply push a notification – in the form of a number badge on the app’s Dock icon in this case – as soon as a new story was published?

    On a sort of related note, with much improved JavaScript performance coming through the use of SquirrelFish, could that lead to web browsing that never required the user to refresh the page? New articles and/or comments on those articles would just be “pushed” to the reader without redrawing the web page. Isn’t that implemented into the browser interface of MobileMe’s push contacts, calendar, and email? That’s a feature I’ve been waiting for for quite some time.

  • visionaut

    I agree that the bulk of the application size reductions is the dropping of the PPC code (making these apps single, vs universal binaries). Yeah, maybe the other stuff contributes too, but marginally compared to dropping PPC code…

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @nat

    Push web pages are a natural sounding extension to the idea. Certainly, I can see a push enabled NetNewsWire in the works as we speak!

    As for the Mac AppStore, if and when it comes it will be for the Mac only of course. Apple have no interest in helping shift Windows software besides their own. That’s handled already with Software Update once users have bitten iTunes.

    iTunes as a brand is nice and strong, incidentally, so I don’t think they’ll rename it. The number of “iTunes” links and references I encounter online in general speaks volumes. (I remember when the default mp3 app used to be WinAmp … shudder!)

    Wonder what will happen to the iPod though?

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ scottie924 & visionaut

    You can see for yourself. Control click on an application and select Show Package Contents. Inside the the Contents folder you will find the app bundle’s files. The folder called MacOS is where the Universal Binary lies. See how small it is compared to Resources.

    NetNewsWire has 5.9 megs of binary compared to a total disk size of 24.1 megs for me. Mail is 5.7 megs of binary compared to a whopping installed size of 288.9!

    I’d say resolution independence is a giant win here. Download and flash drive friendly applications here we come.

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  • bokuwaomar

    @scottie924: As other have pointed out, the universal binaries consume far less space than the application’s resources, and better handling of localizations and the replacement of many bitmaps with vector graphics will trim down their sizes than simply dropping PPC support. Additionally, portable code tends to be of higher quality than non portable code, and it would be a mistake to drop PPC support for internal builds.

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  • http://ephilei.blogspot.com Ephilei

    You can already see some improvements to Safari hands on via the WebKit public beta. I believe it already supports some type of offline/desktop integration similar to Mozilla Prism.

    Multi language support can already be avoided just by unchecking it during OS installation. It’s great, as long as you know about it.

    The OS X printing could well do for a make over in its interface and just-works-ishness. I shudder whenever I am forced to open it. If Apple could find a way to avoid installing the crapware and background services that come from printer manufacturers, that would boost speed, stability, and footprint. Image Capture or iPhoto, for instance, would do well to evolve into a replacement for OEM scanner software.

  • nat

    John Muir said:
    “Push web pages are a natural sounding extension to the idea. Certainly, I can see a push enabled NetNewsWire in the works as we speak!”

    I can already visualize Safari and NetNewsWire without refresh buttons. Then again, I can remove them now thanks to their configurable toolbars. :D Never having to hit refresh doesn’t sound that major, but it really is in many respects and not only with news sites. eBay auctions would be more intense, forums like these would be faster paced and more enjoyable. On digg you could watch as stories took off or got buried in real time! What if Apple made push web pages (as you called them) possible through iWeb and publishing through MobileMe? Yet another justification for people to pay the already reasonable $100 annual fee.

    Yeah, iTunes is one of the most memorable and iconic names. I still think its use of a CD in its icon is ironic since Apple has been promoting digital distribution the most with the iTunes Store. Apple’s partially-eaten apple icon could replace that disc and you’d still have a pretty similar looking icon.

    The future of the iPod name is more questionable as the iPhone gains enough flash memory to compete with the iPod classic. I know I’ll give up my 5.5 gen iPod video once they reach 64GB and 128GB capacities. What’s hard to predict is which iPod will bite the dust after the iPod classic.

    The iPod nano is still very popular for those with small music libraries and while some of those people are upgrading to the iPod touch, it seems like many who do then end up opting for an iPhone soon after as they realize they can carry their iPod and a just as intuitive phone in one device. The iPod touch is also doing well on its own in general. So, is it the touch or the nano?

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  • OlsonBW

    1) WORDPERFECT first had AutoCorrect NOT Word.

    2) AJAX with a different name was NOT created by Microsoft. It was created by an independent developer who showed it to Microsoft who then hired him.

    3) FastUser Switching, the ability to be logged in as multiple users at once and switch back and forth has been around awhile. You could do it with dumb terminals on IBM mainframes in the 70s if not sooner, let alone UNIX. They just weren’t graphical. Just because you found out that Microsoft FINALLY has it, doesn’t mean they invented it.

    It ****** me off when people give credit to Microsoft when they don’t deserve it.

  • http://web.mac.com/lowededwookie lowededwookie

    I would like Apple to fix the Dictionary to use something other than an American Dictionary. No offence but I’m American so I don’t spell anything the American way.

    Don’t even get me started on grammar. :)

    It would be nice if grammar checker had New Zealand English which shares some of British English, some of American English, and some of Australian English but it’s own colloquialisms along with Maori words.

    Fat chance though me thinks.

  • jchryss

    Please just make Back to my Mac work. Just one time.

  • lmasanti

    quote:
    “Push web pages are a natural sounding extension to the idea. Certainly, I can see a push enabled NetNewsWire in the works as we speak!”

    I would like to know if the solution is worse than the problem.

    What is a lighter situation to the web bandwith: timed request or random (when new feeds are posted) pushes.
    It all is around how many users and how frequently a “request” is made versus how frequently a new feed is post and pushed.

    Is there any statistician out there?

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  • nat

    Imasanti,

    Logically, doesn’t it make more sense to have things pushed when they’re available rather than the system refreshing automatically on an interval whether there’s actually anything new or not? Then factor in all the people like me who manually hit the Refresh button every few minutes. You also have to consider even the busiest news site isn’t going to update their feed enough to bring their own site to a crawl.

    I don’t think you’re going to find a statistician who can answer your question since the only major push service available now is Exchange email.

  • nat

    Meant to add, what I do wonder is if Mail is configured as a user’s RSS reader (which it can already be configured to do; new articles appear as emails and stay in sync with Safari’s RSS reader), would that be the first example of a push RSS application? I wouldn’t love news interspersed with my email, but if it required no refreshing, that’d be one way to test this concept.

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  • rasmithuk

    There is another way that Apple could drop the application size this much without removing the extra languages, zip them.
    I wrote a quick python script to test this and if you convert all the *.lproj folders to zip files the version of Mail in Leopard is reduced to 69.2MB.
    Since most of the nib resource loading is done by Cocoa calls anyway Apple could check for a both versions and maybe even unzip on first use for added speed.
    Some other comparisons: iChat: 33MB, iCal: 28M.

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  • duckie

    @OlsonBW – cool your boots. The article doesn’t say MS created the precursor to Ajax (it says “helped to originate”) nor that they invented Autocorrect (the innovation credit is given for underlining words in red and green). Try to read more slowly while you’re getting hot under the collar :)

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  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @lowededwookie

    Go into System Preferences > International > Language and click Edit List. Choose whatever localisations you’re interested in from the lengthy list. They will be added to the top of the general ones once you’ve confirmed, and then any freshly started Cocoa applications will know to use them. I have British English as my top one so I don’t get the red under-squiggles every time I type colour, customise, etc. It’s not as general a solution as you seek (hopefully Apple have some people on to that as it makes a lot of sense) but it’s better than fighting with US English day to day on your own computer.

    Also: enable Wikipedia inside the Dictionary app. It fills in any gaps you like, so long as you have an internet connection.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ lmasanti

    Ever followed a keynote at macrumorslive.com? That’s push web (AJAX style) in action, and it blows the other sites away for the same period of insane traffic.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    By the way, MacRumors have linked this piece:
    http://www.macrumors.com/2008/06/23/resolution-independence-support-in-snow-leopard/

    They also link an interesting article on the nib files which are primarily responsible for the app size changes:
    http://www.pipian.com/hacking/explaining_snow_leopard_app_sizes.html

    Several things come to mind:

    1. We’re not seeing resolution independence in action in Snow Leopard’s WWDC build
    2. Wow: those (apparently) redundant build-time nibs are huge!
    3. If I had an SSD MacBook Air I’d so be deleting them right now (with a Time Machine backup to fall back on if anything bad happens of course).
    4. If the WWDC Snow Leopard build is English only … how come the German screenshots recently leaked all seem OK?

    Mysteries abound…

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    Re Shrinking Apps:

    I think that PowerPC code is an insignificant factor in file size because most of the weight comes from a highly redundant localization setup.

    Re: ZFS

    A handful of people are angry with me for suggesting that ZFS likely won’t be that big of a deal for desktop users within the next year or so.

    Yes ZFS is nice, just like IPv6. Both will take a while to get rolling into the mainstream however. Apple is pushing both. Certainly all of the HFS+ dependent apps will not disappear in a year. Think about how many things break when you use HFS+ Case Sensitive, or God forbid, UFS or even run Photoshop from a network share or access PS files from a foreign file system.

    I’m not knocking ZFS, I’m pointing out that its features aren’t going to revolutionize the consumer desktop immediately. Replacing the highly refined, well known HFS+ with Apple’s beta/1.0 implementation of ZFS would be a disaster, regardless of the features it might promise.

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  • http://example.com 6wI89eDr

    A similar effect has happened with the latest version of
    the 1password application. On OS X 10.4.11 (PPC), the
    application went from 41.3MB to 27.8MB by reducing the
    language profiles. For example, English went from 4.6MB
    to 1.2MB by reducing most of the interface builder files by
    75%. Everything else in the app disk footprint stayed
    the same.