10.3 Preview Hands On

I had the opportunity to use the 10.3 WWDC Preview and "Panther" looks like it is going to be a very nice update. I will add my first impressions to this post later today. I have been told the text rendering engine was overhauled and that accounts for things in the UI being faster. The following is what I have seen in the short time I had. I am not going to go into detail. If you are not familiar with Mac OS X then you might not get the full breadth of what I am saying or why I am saying it. One thing that needs to be said is this is a preview of Panther. There are parts of it that are not finished yet, and, well, that is most of it. As with any beta seed of the OS there are things that do not work as they should, or as you think they should. So just take this with a grain of salt and don't dwell on anything negative becuase 9 times out of 10 things are going to change a lot between now and the release. This is all free fromed rambling about features that catch my eye. If you don't like such a frantic format, well, tuff!
When you select to whipe the drive and reinstall the default is now Journaled. It also took much less time to whipe and install 10.3 then it did when I recently installed 10.2 on my TiBook in the same fashion (format and install option). The installer reboots in 10 seconds automaticly, I do not remember that from the Jaguar installer. As I have already stated the text rendering engine has been revamped. What this means is that Panther feels and looks unbelievably faster. At work I use a first generation 350 Mhz G4 and every thing is just so snappy. Dialogs and Sheets zip up and down, Finder windows are drawn so much faster. I would bet this is going to mean a lot more to G3 based iBook users and older G4 users (like myself) when Panther ships. Other then dialogs and sheets being much faster the Finder does not have the lag it used to. When navigating in Column View (which personally is all I use) there is no longer a delay when drilling down the directory tree. Menus are also benefiting from this new text rendering, as they are much faster to pop open when clicked. The new refined Aqua is much more pleasing. Before it was stark white with blue lines through it. If you are in a low light room (and what self respecting geek insn't) you are blinded by the whiteness of Aqua. Aqua is now grayish, but no where near the dull "Platnum" of OS 9. As with Jaguar they have gone one step further in taking transprency out of the menus. This sure helps slower computers, as well as readability. The thin lines that we have all come to know and love/hate in Aqua are toned down, which I very much like. I am also happy to see the menu seperator lines return, I never did like seeing a big space for where there was a seperation in the menus. This space makes menus much larger then need be. The revamped Finder is rock solid. Its feel like a new application. The "action" button to the right of the View icons is very well designed. You no longer need to control click with a single button mouse. The Action button is the contextual menu for the item that is selected. Of course you still can control click, but the Action button is there so you don't have to. The new labels rock! This is going to put a slump in Labels X sales for sure. It must use the same meta data from OS 9 because the Finder honors labels created in OS 9. One thing I found odd was I could not set a label color on my OS 9 drive (I have 2 HD's in this computer). I'm not sure why but I really don't need an answer for it because to be honest I don't care. Expose is very nice! People are going to use it a lot. In true Apple style windows zoom off to the corner you select to hide windows, or show them. This zooming had no degridation on even this old G4. I have a second monitor on this G4, it is powered by an old ATI RAGE card pulled from a beige G3. It will not work in this preview of Panther though it workes fine in 10.2. I imagine it is because the card is just so old to work with 10.3. In the Mouse & Keyboard preference pane you can change system wide keyboard shortcuts such as the ones to take a screen capture. But WOW now you have QuicKeys like functionality for system wide (global) or application spacific keyboard shortcuts. This is the main use of the macro utility QuicKeys. Its now built into the OS, rock on! All you do is specify the exact name of the menu item and the keyboard commands to trigger that command. I personally use QuicKeys for my FileMaker Pro development and being able to set these keys in the OS is going to be nice. I do not see any place to export the settings but I am willing to bet this is in a plist somewhere. I didn't check because I am more then confident that is where all these settings are saved. You can now show a Classic Menu Item (no 3rd party software required) that shows the state of the Classic Env. as well Start/Stop/Restart. I notice the 24 hr clock check box is now in the Date & Time pref and not hidden in the International prefs. That seems logical doesn't it? Script Editor for AppleScripting has been revamped. AppleScript Help says it is the new Script Editor 2! And that it has been completely re-written. Sweet. It looks like Xcode now. It also seems to have more tools built in. I personally have gotten used to using Script Debugger but the options available in this new Script Editor are a lot better then what is available in 10.2. There is a revamped interface for Connect To Server. Also a new way to save your favorites that places more easy access to the saved favorite servers. Browsing the network now brings up a full Finder window. One thing I do not understand is why I cannot see the many AppleTalk zones that the campus has. The new command tab application switcher is a long overdue feature in the Mac OS as far as I am concerned. And using command tab to cycle through open applications in the Dock was not the answer. This new command tab window is. It works just as you expect it to allowing you to command tab between the two most recently used applications. If you hold down command tab you get a window with rather large icond representing your open applications. Otherwise you can just use command tab to switch between two apps. The more apps you have open the smaller the icons are, just as if you were adding stuff to the Dock. Everything, not just the dialogs and sheets, windows etc. seems faster. There are less bounces on the Dock when apps launch. It is always great to see system speed improvements. Safari is now the default web browser. And with tabbed browsing for the masses, as well as form auto-fill for the masses, I hope to see the amount of Internet Exploder usage go down. IE 5.2.2 is installed and for good reasons. People will still use IE 5 for a very long time. And as a web developer I still need to code for IE 5, I am glad they did not take IE out of the base install. Sherlock has been upgraded and is faster then in Jaguar. I still prefer Watson. IMO Watson is money well spent. The redesigned System Profiler (which used to be called Apple System Profiler, so not more ASP jokes, heh) is MUCH faster and the new UI is very nice. X11 1.0 makes it into Panther. This is for the inner unix geek of course, but it is wonderful if you understand what X11 is. I have been using OpenOffice under X11 for a while now and it is pretty good (i.e. it works and is not M$). Font Book is by far the one thing in Panther that I am looking forward to. Every single time Apple releases a dot dot release of OS X you have to update a plethera of applications (I need a seperate post to blog about this subject alone). One such piece of software that always needs updated is Suitcase, Font Reserve also seems to break equally as well. Since I cannot test Font Book in any 3rd party application such as Photoshop or InDesign I am only blowing air, but you can make font sets, activate, and disable them. I cannot say enough about the enhancements to the Finder. Being able to click a little eject icon next to removable disks is a nice touch. The new on-the-fly searching in a Finder window is pretty slick. If anything the new Finder is a case study on usability. And that is what the Macintosh experience has always been about. Since I am on usability how about accessability. There are more options for the disabled in Panther. These were all the things that I went "wow" about when first toying with this Developer Preview. I am sure I will find more cool new features. If I am not too lazy I might add to this. But since I am lazy don't get your hopes up.

Comments (1)

*jelous* :-P

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