Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adapting to Mac OS X Lion 2: Dealing with applications

This is my second post on my adaptation to Mac OS X Lion. In my previous post I explained that I think the 'natural' scrolling direction is inferior.

In this series of posts post I will discuss what I did to actually make the move, and some issues I experienced. This post is about applications

I knew that applications designed for the PowerPC architecture would not work in Lion, and other applications had 'issues'  so I went through every application to see if it had an available update or if I could obtain a replacement with similar functionality. The nicest apps were those from the app store, where the app store itself installs any updates. Many other apps had 'Check for updates' items in their top menu or help menu. Still others automatically updated themselves.

I ended up updating or replacing well over half of my third-party applications. This included those I use very frequently, such as BBEdit, TN3270 (an application for accessing traditional IBM mainframe apps that is far better than most similar apps available on Windows by the way).

In the end I only ended up discarding a two significant apps:

  • My main vector graphics app for many years had been Freehand MX. This is just not supported any more. I liked this for its ability to edit EPS documents. I shopped around for a replacement and eventually settled on Intaglio. My reasons for selecting this included its ability to edit pdf and EPS files, and also the fact that it has a version for the iPad. Its ability to edit EPS isn't quite as good as Freehand was, you have to 'convert' the EPS during or after opening and the subtle aspects of the diagram will end up being a little different, but in general it allows me to continue to maintain my inventory of diagrams, such as those used in my book.
  • Finale PrintMusic. This was a nice application for composing sheet music that I paid good money for, but rarely used. I elected not to upgrade, since the cost is greater than the value I receive for my infrequent use. This is one of the reasons why I think applications should be cheap or have a pay-per-use option.

I had read that the Cisco VPN app does not work any more. So while still in Show Leopard, I converted to Apples's superior VPN technology that is built into the Network control panel. Now there is a VPN icon in my menu bar at all times. Very nice.

A good place to look for information on app compatibility in Lion is Roaring Apps.

I was in trepidation that a few applications that I rely on might not work. I an very fond of 'HotApp', which provides keyboard shortcuts for numerous actions I do. It had not been updated in years (the developer's site doesn't even exist any more). I was happy that it worked flawlessly after converting to Lion. There are alternatives, but I have a vast number of shortcuts set up, and did not want to have to go through the work of re-creating them. Another app thatI use extensively, but which has not been updated is Savvy Clipboard; it also worked without problems.

I was not able to upgrade Xcode until after converting to Lion; Apple explicitly required converting to Lion first. I then obtained it from the App store.

After conversion to Lion, I had intermittent trouble with several applications:

Firefox: In several web pages, pages did not render correctly; it appeared that certain javascript scripts were not executing. However, a day later, the problems went away. I have no idea why. My advice to others is to be patient. However, by that time I had already changed my default Browser to Safari (which I had never done before). I think I will stick with Safari for a while at least.

Microsoft Office 2011: Office ran extremely slowly during the early hours after converting to Lion, while the operating system was indexing the disk so Spotlight would work. Other apps ran a little slower, but Office was a dog. Word hung and had to be restarted. I had to quit and restart Excel several times. Even 24 hours later Excel sometimes 'loses' its windows. This has actually been a problem in Excel in Snow Leopard, but it seems worse in Lion. In Snow Leopard I could 'zoom' a disappeared window to retrieve it; this method does not appear to work now. It seems that Microsoft will have to make some changes to mesh better with Lion's multi-desktop and multi-screen APIs.

GEDitCOM II: This is my Genealogy app. It failed to open so I searched the web for a solution. The secret is to go to one's ~/Library directory, delete the 'Icons' directory, reboot and empty the trash. After this the program worked just fine. However getting intto the '~/Library' proved to be a problem: It is hidden by default. I chose to go to 'Terminal' and execute 'chflags nohidden ~/Library'. You can also make open it on a one-time basis by using the 'Go' command in the finder.

In my next post, I will discuss the approach I used to back up, just in case something went wrong, and my actual conversion experience.

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