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Tagged Software

I’ve switched to Sublime Text 3 as my text editor for coding on both Mac OS X and Windows. It’s a bit of a pain to set up in that all the preferences are in JSON files, but I’ve managed to put this config together:

The names of the settings should explain themselves. I’m using the Soda Dark theme with the Tomorrow Night color scheme. I highly, highly recommend installing Package Control as it will make your life a lot easier when it comes to finding and installing packages.

Here’s what my editor looks like right now:

Sublime Text 3
Sparrow

Today I made my first purchase (ever) from the Mac App Store. I can’t say I’ll be purchasing anything from there again, but seeing as Sparrow was only available on the App Store, I didn’t really have any choice.

Sparrow

Which brings me to the app itself. I first heard about Sparrow back when it was in beta, and at that point it wasn’t developed far enough for me to be interested. But today I read on Daring Fireball that it had hit 1.0. The screenshots looked cool, the video looked cool, and I guess $10 isn’t that much.

No Demo?

This is where a demo would have been nice. I’ve used Gmail from the web since the beginning, so switching to a desktop client was iffy for me. Luckily it worked out, and I love Sparrow so far, but this almost made me didn’t want to purchase the app — videos and screenshots are one thing, but actually demoing a product is another experience entirely.

The lack of demo versions of the software on the App Store has been one of its main criticisms; that being said, I can’t say I really see a solution that not only offers a demo version, but is a clean and efficient way of handling the demo period and prevents piracy.

Sparrow So Far

The problem I’ve had with desktop clients of originally web-based apps is that the UI’s didn’t really transfer over well, and I had yet to use a desktop app that made it worth moving away from the web-based interface.

An example of this is Reeder, which is intended to replace Google Reader. While it’s a nice-looking app and does everything it advertises, I still couldn’t see why I should be running an extra app to do what already works so well in the browser.

I can now say that Sparrow is the first desktop client of a web-based app that actually improves on the experience. The UI is arguably less cluttered, as well as improved:

  • I don’t have a junk mail box in the main column (spam gets auto-cleaned every 30 days anyways).((However, if you want to view your junk mail, there’s an option for that.))
  • I don’t have to deal with the contacts and the chat; I use neither.
  • Messages’ chronology is bottom-to-top, whereas the web goes top-to-bottom.
  • The quick reply is magic. Hit R, type your quick message, and send (Apple-Shift-D, like Mail.app).
  • Of course, cool Mac OS X-style animations.

I think that Sparrow’s design is something that I can use for a long time, and it will certainly help speed up the minimal amount of time I spend on email on a daily basis.

It Looked Like the Twitter App

Sparrow in action

From first glance, it had a similar UI as the Twitter app. Thankfully, it actually works well, doesn’t sacrifice usability for the sake of an attractive UI, and doesn’t involve Twitter.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m very satisfied with my purchase. Assumably I’ll be getting free upgrades for the lifetime of this app, which makes my $10 go very, very far. Thankfully the lack of a demo didn’t affect my decision, but if the app was, say, $50 or so, I’d have my doubts.

That being said, I’m hardly an email power user, so my observations are largely from the perspective of a casual emailer; people who spend hours on their email every day may have a different experience with Sparrow. So far, though, Sparrow is awesome.

I’ve had it with Firefox on Mac OS X. On Windows, it’s fine, but on Mac OS X it’s unbearable. It crashes too often, it’s slow and sluggish all the time, and it just eats up my RAM1. So I’m trying something new — I’m using a nightly build of WebKit.

I started thinking about switching when I read an article on Ajaxian that mentioned that more and more web developers were moving to Safari/WebKit for casual browsing, due to the speed and ease of use. I can’t believe it took me this long — everything is snappy, the way I would expect a modern piece of software to work, and the nightly is running great.

Inquisitor is great, too. It makes searching Google fun and easy, and as an added bonus it looks good. It just took me a while to figure out the shortcut for the search box, but once that was done it’s been smooth sailing since then.

Oh, and the font rendering in Safari is so much better. I’m never going back. Never! Oh, and WebKit is for Windows, too, now. So when I switch to Windows XP when I buy a new PC (gasp), I’ll still be fine.


  1. Put it this way: when I quit Firefox, my RAM usage goes way down. Way down. 

A while back I listed my wishlist for Google Notifier, and one of them was the lack of Growl support — instead they use a home-grown one that reinvents the wheel, so to speak.

Fortunately, someone created Gmail+Growl for Google Notifier, a Google Notifier plugin that replaces the built-in notifications with Growl notifications.

So that’s one item off that list. The only other one is support for Google Reader, but the Gmail+Growl software apparently is a “plugin” for Google Notifier. Thus, if there are plugins, then a plugin for Google Reader can’t be that hard.

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I just downloaded MarsEdit and I’m giving it a trial run. I’m just finding the WordPress admin a bit… web-like. I’ve probably stared at those shades of blue a little too much.

So far so good. The setup wizard which popped up the first time I opened MarsEdit was extremely simple — one dialog for the blog name and URL, another for the username and password, and I was good to go. The interface is very clean and I’ve got everything within one click.

I was fiddling around with the preferences and got a nice surprise — support for Markdown! Also, the side panel for selecting categories is very nice. It does what the WordPress categories selector can’t do, which is work like a part of the OS. That’s definitely one of the pros of using a desktop blogging software.

MarsEdit uploads

The Flickr support is seamless — just click on a button which takes you to Flickr to authorize MarsEdit to access your account, then you’re good to go! One thing, though — you can’t upload photos from within MarsEdit. That would really be great.

Unfortunately, there are a few things either aren’t supported or I can’t find (probably the second one).

  • Tags — I can’t find the keywords field? There’s a rather obscure (not in the main posting window) option for Technorati tags, but from gut feeling and the fact that it says it appends them to your post, I don’t think this would work with the internal tagging system introduced in WordPress 2.3?
  • WordPress uploads — this is probably more WordPress’ lack of support for this area of the XML-RPC support. But nowadays I use Flickr for images — the WordPress uploader is in dire need for an overhaul — so I’m fine.

All in all, MarsEdit is very nice software. The developer, Daniel Jalkut, was a great help for nursing the WordPress XML-RPC interface for 2.3, and I must say he’s done a very good job with MarsEdit. It even feels Mac OS X-y!