June 2002 Archives
June 27, 2002

Apple ad


I found this advertisement for MacOS X. Really cool, I haven't seen it before!

I wonder why Apple doesn't put these ads online, as well as in newspapers. I for one, and I'm sure many other professionals, don't read the press very much nowadays. There's just too much stuff on the Internet to read daily.

Posted by ovidiu at 12:48 PM |
June 25, 2002

How much time would take to port XEmacs to MacOS X?

Apple | Emacs

Today I spoke with Christophe de Dinechin about his work on porting GNU Emacs to the MacOS X user interface. His job was a lot easier since he started with an old NeXTSTEP port of GNU Emacs. There is no such thing for XEmacs, everything would have to be written from scratch.

Fortunately, XEmacs is already ported to the Gnome and WIndows user interfaces, so the system must be well designed for cross-platform UI toolkits. Porting to a different UI widget kit requires a lot of work: run loop management, event notification, windows, menus, fonts, various GUI classes and their Lisp binding.

One thought I had is that most of the work being done here is quite generic, and can probably be reused by other GUI free software programs out there. Why not then come up with a port of the Gnome toolkit to native MacOS X AppKit classes? Not only XEmacs could benefit from this, but other programs too. There would still be a lot of fine-tuning required by each program, but I think this is a better approach in the long run.

I'll have to think about this a little more. And find the time to do it too...

Posted by ovidiu at 11:14 PM |

Missing XEmacs

Apple | Emacs

One month in MacOS X exclusively. One program I badly miss on MacOS X is Xemacs. On my Linux desktop, I used to do pretty much everything in Xemacs. My mail program was setup to compose and reply to messages in Xemacs. All my development work, C, Objective-C, Java, XML and XSLT happened in Xemacs.

I tried several alternatives. I tried the editor from ProjectBuilder 1.1.1, which comes with the development tools on 10.1.5. Unfortunately PB cannot be customized through a scripting language; if you ask me this is a real shame not to have this capability in the development environment of the nicest operating system (this is what MacOS X is, right?).

Next, I tried JEdit, which looks really promising; however it is too slow and not as customizable as Xemacs. In Xemacs if you take the time to print the developer documentation and use it both as a learning tool and as a reference, you get really productive after just few months of using the editor. In JEdit this documentation is not yet there, but I think/hope it will be there soon. The fact that's written in Java and uses the BeanShell for scripting makes it a great platform. Unfortunately, Java 1.3.1 on MacOS X is still too slow for a really nice and fast editor: JEdit feels slow compared to XEmacs, which is just fast.

So I decided to compile XEmacs for X-Windows. I installed XDarwin, a free software and really nice X-Windows server. I ended up compiling a bunch of other libraries (libjpeg, libpng, ungif, pspell, libtiff), a decent and fast window manager WindowMaker, before I could compile XEmacs 21.4.8. The compilation went just fine, no problems whatsoever. The resulting binary however seems to lack the buttons in customization buffers. I think it's related to the lack of Motif libraries. I'll compile LessTif and recompile XEmacs, see if I get the buttons.

The integration between XEmacs running in X-Windows and the rest of MacOS X is just awful however! The copy/paste mechanism is terrible and convoluted. The Cmd-S keybinding for the save operations doesn't work in XEmacs. There are many other things which are simply not MacOSX-ish.

Posted by ovidiu at 10:54 PM |

Migrating from Linux to MacOS X


It's been a month since I'm on MacOS X.

The consumer part is really nicely done. I love the integration with iPod for example, it's really easy to update this little device with the MP3 you just ripped by plugging in the music CD in the laptop.

I guess any user of any operating system, gets into habits which are hard to accomodate on the other operating system he/she would really like to run. At least this is my case migrating to MacOS X from Linux.

After more than 5 years on Linux, I really miss few things on MacOS X. I miss the freedom I have to hook into almost every application, by cracking it open and extending it to fit my needs. This is the case for example with the mail application: I used Exmh for a long time on Linux. I modified it to add various customizations I needed. I also used procmail quite a bit to sort out all the email I'm receiving daily.

As I mention in an earlier post, I found MacOS X's Mail application to be quite a poor replacement to the above setup. There is no way, at least in 10.1.5 to specify multiple criterias to filter on, specify multiple actions to be taken on a message, and to filter junk mail. The last one is getting even more important nowadays with the number of junk emails reaching 100 in some bad days.

Surprisingly I found Microsoft Entourage to be quite good at the above tasks. The only thing missing is the ability to remove duplicate emails, which are messages posted across multiple mailing lists. I believe it can be fixed through the use of an AppleScript action, but I still need to learn that. Unfortunately Entourage comes with Office v. X, which is quite pricey (over $400 last time I checked).

In fact this is one of the first things you notice when you change a free software operating system, and move to a proprietary one, regardless of how nice it is: you have to pay for good programs, because the free software ones are not yet ported. At least not the good GUI programs.

Another program I badly miss on MacOS X is XEmacs. More on this topic in my Emacs log.

Posted by ovidiu at 02:54 PM |

Java with continuations


Christopher Oliver points out http://www.cs.kuleuven.ac.be/~tim/MOS/brakes.html, a project that does byte-code rewriting using BCEL to implement serialization of Java threads. This could perhaps be used to implement a flow language for Cocoon, similarly with Christopher's version of JavaScript with continuations.

Posted by ovidiu at 11:23 AM |
June 09, 2002

New to MacOS X


This is the second week since I bought my PowerBook 800Mhz, a really nice machine. There are some crude things about its hardware, like the lack of a track point, delete and function keys that work without having to press the "fn" key.

The software is very nice, as it reminds me of the old days of NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP.

However I found some programs to be really crap, especially Mail.app, which is really surprising, given the state of Mail.app in NeXTSTEP (but then this was written using the old APIs, and Apple couldn't probably convert the application easily). Its filtering capabilities need a lot of improvement. I read they're fixing this for the next Jaguar release, I can't wait for it. Since I receive about 2000 messages a day from various mailing lists, adequate filtering is essential. My procmail rules have grown so much in the past five years, I cannot manage my email without them. Unfortunately I couldn't figure a way to hook up procmail with Mail.app. In the old NeXT days, there was a command line tool, appnmail to append a new message to a mailbox. This doesn't seem to be available anymore...

Posted by ovidiu at 12:00 PM |
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