Thu 24 Apr
For the sake of posterity, a few technical notes on how I built Six.5. First and most predictably of all, I’m proud to say that this whole endeavor has been a Mac OS X production (aside from browser compatibility testing on Windows of course). If you’ve read any number of posts here, you already know a few things that I’m head over heels about, and Mac OS X is one of them. This operating system has been a total pleasure to use, and completing a sizable personal project like this entirely with native X applications has me more excited than ever about the platform.
I’m a tremendous devotee of Mac OS X’s Sites folder, which lives inside of my Home directory. It puts the power of an Apache server at my fingertips with hardly any effort. By working right out of this folder, my dev files were available to Web browsers on my Windows machines instantly, without requiring me to even move data to a remote server. Priceless.
All the HTML, Movable Type templates and CSS were written by hand with BBEdit 6.5. It’s not as fully featured as HomeSite, but this is something like my seventh year using the Mac’s most popular text editor, so it’s very cozy.
When I was ready to upload that code, I used Panic Software’s excellent Transmit. It was my favorite FTP client on Mac OS 9.x and the Mac OS X version is even better.
That old standby Adobe Photoshop came in handy too, though not as much as it did with previous versions of the software, since Six.5 contains far, far fewer GIFs and JPEGs than prior versions. After developing the initial layout comp, Photoshop was handiest for measuring — I’d take screen shots and open them in Photoshop so that I could examine pixel alignment closely — and selecting Web colors. It was sort of like the world’s most expensive, most complex ruler and paint chip set.
As my home page indicates, I did a lot of cross-browser testing. My primary ‘user agent’ was Safari, but I used Netscape a lot on both Windows and Mac OS X, and the name no longer conjures up ill feelings in me. My experience with Opera was so positive that I’m using it for almost half of my Windows browsing. Opera 6 for Mac is a little wonky — actually Six.5 works perfect in it except for, ironically, the ‘browsers tested’ table on the home page. Camino and Mozilla were decent, but I like flashy features in my browsers, I guess. I also, once again, learned to start worrying and hate the bomb that is Internet Explorer.
Synchronizing files between home and the office was made tremendously easier by Netopia’s Timbuktu Pro. In and of itself, the feature set is really terrific, but version 6.0 is a fairly clumsy port from Mac OS 9.x, and it’s a dog compared to the speed of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software for Windows.
Most of this stuff was cranked out on my first-generation Titanium PowerBook G4, which I keep at home hooked up to a second monitor. At 500 MHz, it already feels like it’s slow and a generation old, especially in the evenings after I come home from work. There, I have a desktop dual-Gigahertz PowerMac G4, and on it Mac OS X actually feels quite responsive. I have my Sony PCG-SR7K VAIO laptop hanging around still, and it’s good for checking IE 5.5 compatibility and that’s about it. At work I’ve got an HP Pavilion 701, but who can really tell the difference between Wintel boxes?