Category Archive

Posts in Apple

June 4th, 2008

Versions for versions of Subversion

A GUI console for version control: Versions.

The content and timelines of version control systems should be ripe pickings for a graphic metaphor, but I haven’t seen any good examples of it yet. Versions treats them primarily as hierarchical lists to be clicked through. I’ll have to test before deciding whether this works in practice, but it makes sense in the telling.

Requires XCode Tools for filemerge and diff display, so this might not be the thing for casual web developers. The beta is free, while version 1 is marked as payware with no price set yet.

June 3rd, 2008

Our long nightmare of floating help windows is finally over

Mac OS X Hints today published a simple one-liner to prevent Help Viewer windows from floating above everything else on the screen. Open a Terminal window and paste the following line:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer NormalWindow -bool true

This undoes one of the worst design decisions Apple made in the latest version of OS X: To force the Help windows float over everything else on the screen. Reverting to the unloved default behavior is as simple as changing the ‘true‘ to ‘false‘ and executing the line again.

Floating windows are not inherently bad: Applications use ’em to contain tools or display things you may use in more than one window, so that, for example, your Photoshop brushes stay in the same place on your monitor no matter which image you’re editing. What makes the floating Help Viewer window bad is that it attempts to overlay everything in every app, ubiquitously. Unless you have screen real estate to burn, the Help Viewer actively prevents you from both doing a task and reading how.

Help Viewer doesn’t remember where you were and it doesn’t allow bookmarks. Closing the Help window means re-navigating to where you left off, a lot more work than simply putting it in the background and foregrounding it again a moment later. So thanks, Mac OS X Hints.