Bill’s All Time Mac App Surviors

I’m doing this as a reverse top ten list .. because its almost New Years so everything has to be a Top XX list.

I noticed a sale on an old favorite piece of software the other day and it got me lamenting all the great tools of my Mac using past. Then I realized the few that have survived the transitions from various OSes and hardware changes.

So this is my list of the ones that have been around and still have some life in them. For the purposes on this list Apple Inc Applicatons need not apply. To make the list you had to run on Mac OS 9.x, PowerPC is fine, anything 680×0 is impressive. I’m trying to remember if there was an Apple // version of any of them but that part of my brain went to mush long ago.

The List

  1. [SpellCatcher][SpellCatcher] – SoundJam/iTunes doesn’t count so something from Casady & Greene had to make this list. If someone has a version of Glider PRO or Crystal Quest for Mavericks let me know..
  2. Quickeys – Before there was keyboard Maestro, there was Quickeys. What was a little suprising is you can still buy it.. For OS X and OS 9! The CE Software petegree is now with Startly Technologies but its still around.
  3. FileBuddy – Remember Resource Forks? before you could chmod anything on a Mac you needed a tool to sort and swtich some file attributes. Filebuddy was my tool of choice for a good chunk of the late 90s and early oughts. Don’t touch it much anymore but its still around.
  4. Stuffit Remember you first 5MB harddrive? Well that sounded like a lot, right?Stuffit kept files in check and allowed you to move stuff around at 2400 baud. Its usefullness is probably long past for most people but if you installed a OS7 through OS 9 program you probably needed Stuffit Expander. One of the few third party items that was distributed by Apple on new Macs
  5. Fetch That little dog ran alot of miles on my behalf. It still has a great use as a network testing tool. It was my speedtest tool before there was Still a great way to test point to point network transfer rates. And that’s before you talk about its ftp functionality.
  6. Default Folder One of the original Apple UI hacks. When you couldn’t control the settings Apple’s UI these little useful tools came along. Many got eaten by later OS updates. Default Folder has avoided getting “Sherlocked” and still provides some useful functionality. I was never a huge user but this stands as a long running app.
  7. Hourworld This is a little bit of a one trick pony but I like the trick a lot. This was developed by a one man operation that produced a nice little time app. There were (and still are) one person operations that made very useful stuff. Most never made a living at it but it was a somewhat profitable hobby for many, I hope.

    I still like to track the number of seconds of extra sunlight I’m getting .. 34 of them today.. as the days get longer. Never found a replacement.
  8. Interarchy if you want to go back further you can track this back to Anarchie from 1993. I’ve owned both. It’s probably not a coincidence that 2 ftp clients and no web browsers made this list. Credit Peter Lewis and Andrew Tomazos for stewarding this product along. and it has been back and forth between several hands.
  9. GraphicCoverter This has truly been a long running tool that still has a regular spot in my toolbelt. It can open everything from my //gs graphics to Camera RAW. The batch processing of images is still better than most other tools I’ve got. Don’t know how much I’ve contributed to Thorsten Lemke over the years but I don’t regret a bit of it.
  10. BBEdit BBedit gets my top spot because it has pretty much stayed at the top of the heap through too many OS versions to count. And they have the coolest tag line in the software business. “It doesn’t suck.®”

The Mentions

Honorable Mention has to go to Kagi .. before there was Paypal and the App store there was Kagi. They provided the market for a lot of “Shareware” apps and a path to software authors getting paid. I think you could say things like the Mac App Store owe a chunk of their existance to Kagi.

Another Honorable mention to OmniGroup. They predated OS X (kinda) too! There heritage is on the NextStep which became OS X. There current offerings are great and they did alot to push their Objective C advantage into the Mac world.

There are many many great developers working on OSX and iOS. The number of tools you can pick from is awesome. Better yet everyone can pick there favourite tools.

After listening to Episode 98 of the Mikes on Mics podcast it got me thinking of better ways of mixing the tools you like. I want the markdown tools from Byword the searching and replacing features (including REGEX) from BBEdit and the PDF tools from PDFPen. But that is still a little bit of a pain in the OS X environment with opening, closing, cutting and pasting. It is nearly impossible in the world of iOS.

I’m thinking there needs to be a way to integrate your best choices in tools and bring them into everything we do. While also allowing different Then it came to me.. we used to have something like that .. it was called OpenDoc. I think iOS might be a place that would see a comeback of OpenDoc.

It was, in part, a method of cross application communication, one of the major asks for iOS users.

Among it features included the concepts of Publish and Subscribe that would allow a user to blend capabilities from different products in a document centric view. Do you really think Apple wrote two bits of code; one for Numbers and another for the Tables in Pages? I don’t think so.

Currently Developers are required to register their applications entitlements as part of the Mac App store process. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine a process where entitlements would announce publish and subscribe features.

OpenDoc also had another concept that would be interesting on iOS and possibly help user confusion over the current lack of a file system. OpenDoc was a document centric ideal that moved away from the application centric model which we have been living with for a long time.

This make even more sense if you had an ‘iCloud’ icon on the iPad or iPhone and all your documents were in there. You could then invoke the features of other installed apps without having to swap between screens.

Could you imagine a world where 1Password or Textexpander could ‘publish’ their features to Safari on the iPad? That could save a lot of cutting and pasting in my life.

But I can’t really make this happen, so all I can do is tell the guy that I’m pretty sure can….

My letter to Tim Cook:

Dear Mr Cook;

By way of a short introduction, I am a long time Apple user since my Dad bought our first Apple ][+ as a Christmas gift. Like many. I have lived through the ups and downs of Apple and its products and now celebrate the sucess that Apple has (again) achieved. My thanks to you and all the folks at Apple for the hard work to make these products happen.

As I move back and forth between my iPad, iPhone, iMac and Macbook Air I can’t help but think about the ways to get my tools to work better. I know many must have suggested unique ways to provide inter-application tools, especially on iOS.

I offer a suggestion, that is not unique and where Apple might be able to look backward to pull another idea out of its hertiage to bring forward new functionality. We used to have a tool that tried to merge features of various applications in a document centric view. It was called OpenDoc. This used the concept of Publish and Subscribe for developers to allow users to move between different data and tools within the same view. A capability similar to Publish and Subscribe would allow Applications to share features in a sandboxed environment like iOS. The features would be part of the entitelment declaraiton that are already being implmented for the App Store. The document centre would be within iCloud.

I think there are many novice user frustrations that could be solved by a big iCloud button somewhere in iOS 8 or 9 an all the documents created live there and the last though that you need to navigate around a file system to get back to what you were doing can go away.

Bill Kempthorne

PS: This was written on my iPad and MacBook with ByWord and synced with iCloud.