Alex Payne is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

since 2001, al3x.net has served as his online home.

Reviewing the Leopard Reviews

By now, everybody and their mother has an opinion about Leopard. I can say that my own mother went through Apple’s list of 300+ new features and tried out the ones that applied to her after upgrading. She likes the Mail templates. Anyway. Opinions are a dime a dozen, but actually taking the time to do a proper review is something else entirely.

I’m a big fan of software reviews. Unlike, say, music, there’s something eminently measurable about software. You can graph its performance. You can compare its price. You can gauge a user’s understanding and productivity. Yet, there’s a quality to software reviewing that still comes down to pure aesthetics. That intersection of precision and emotion makes for interesting reading. And read I did.

If You Only Read One Leopard Review

…make it John Siracusa’s over at Ars Technica. It’s got everything: internals, externals, upsides, downsides, and multimedia asides throughout. It’s an achievement of technical reviewing. It’s also dead-on.

The Bad

The main complaints about Leopard are with its appearance and UI conventions. You’ll find particularly dead-on criticism in ThinkMac Blog’s roundup of Leopard stupidity. TidBITS’ Six Things I Hate about Leopard isn’t entirely concerned with looks, but UI gripes make up four of the article’s six points.

Probably the best response to the UI gripes is Scott Stevenson’s assertion that satisfying UI design is often illogical. It’s also pretty much the only in-depth defense of the Leopard UI I’ve seen.

The Good

Even PC World likes Leopard. So does John Gruber, but liking/defending Apple’s output is the very essence of his being. He spends a lot of time talking about Time Machine. I don’t particularly care about Time Machine, but I understand that’s it’s full of meaty reviewable goodness.

Engadget compares Leopard to Vista in chart form. Leopard comes out on top by just a few points. Paul Thurrott doesn’t think Leopard is compelling enough to warrant a switch from Vista. I couldn’t say. Nobody I know uses Vista.

In terms of less textual reviews: CNET has a short video review that’s extremely positive. They seem to like the various visual improvements.

The Geeky

Apple has a Leopard Dev Center that you can browse if you have an ADC account; most everything but fancy videos is accessible with a free membership. The Cocoa Application Framework release notes are probably also of interest.

Less officially, Matt Gemmell’s guide on how to get rid of your code with Leopard describes all the libraries and widgets that Apple has opened up in response to indie developers rolling their own solutions. Scott Stevenson (again!) has a nice lil’ quick Objective-C 2.0 tutorial.

There’s been some noise about Leopard not shipping with Java 6. Gruber points out that this basically doesn’t matter for the majority of Mac users. The next version of Java is likely coming soon anyway. Yawn.

Lastly on the geeky front, just so everyone knows: Leopard ships with a version of ssh-agent that works with Keychain. That’s right: no more custom scripts, no more memory-devouring SSHKeychain. Joy.

RubyConf, Day 1: Summary

Getting Ruby's Groove Back on Leopard