The State of Carbon: CarbonLib for Mac

Compatibility. There is currently a disparity in the number of APIs in the Carbon specification that have actually been implemented between Mac OS 9 and OS X. The CarbonLib SDK, a free download from Apple, includes both the CarbonLib stub library and a library called LiteCarbonLib, which contains only those calls that currently work on both Mac OS X and OS 9. These libraries are 204 and 124 k respectively, which is a very crude measure of the difference between the two.

Having a carbonized app work in Mac OS 9 is no guarantee that it will work in DP4, even if you do use “safe” Carbon calls. For example, while writing my app to benchmark CopyBits, I discovered that it worked fine in OS 9 or even the Classic environment but did not work in OS X as native app. Here you can see it in OS 9 and in OS X.

The CarbonLib SDK comes with several sample apps. Not even all of these work correctly in both OS 9 and OS X. Moofwars, a program that ran but didn’t display sensible graphics in OS 9, would quit without explanation in OS X. I noticed it was missing a carb resource, which is needed for all Carbon apps, and after adding that with ResEdit, it would run but display nothing more than a blank window.

Appearance Sample is an impressive but utterly useless app meant to demonstrate some human interface guidelines. Here it is in OS 9 and in OS X. As you can see, there are some problems with the names not fitting in the buttons under OS X. (This is probably because Apple shrunk the size of the buttons and some other interface elements between DP3 and DP4 so that they would be the same size in OS 9 and OS X to appease developers.) Also, “Dessert Topping” is cut off.

Internet Explorer

OS X DP 4 comes with Internet Explorer 5.1b1, a carbonized version of IE 5. This program was obviously designed with the old Aqua layout guidelines; here is a screenshot of the about box. It will open in Classic, but it will quit shortly after asking you if you want to make it your default browser. I did manage to open it in OS 9; here’s what it looks like there.

SpeedI wrote a pair of benchmarking apps. The first tests the speed of CopyBits, a vital graphics command for displaying graphics on the screen. The second tests the speed of NewHandle and DisposeHandle, which are important commands for allocating memory. Here are the results, in ticks. Lower is faster.

 CopyBitsNew/Dispose Handle
OS 93526
OS X40149
OS X in Classic5468

Want to know more about how the benchmarks were done?

Stability. Wrote an evil little app (source) that starts at the first address and works its way up, garbling all the memory as it goes. When run in classic, it immediately crashed and also brought down the entire classic environment and all the apps in it, not surprisingly. But when run natively in OS X, it only brought down itself. Looks like the memory protection is doing its job.


AppleScript is there and mostly working. I could not open the dictionary of any application; it would always give me a miscallaneous error. Furthermore, the Finder is not yet scriptable. However, simple scripts did work, and seemed to go faster than in OS 9.


Starting apps is still quite slow. Opening the Quicktime Player took 11 seconds, compared to 3 seconds in OS 9.

ProcessViewer, the Console, and are still available. There is also a Setup Assistant which is very similar to the program of the same name under OS 9. Here’s a screenshot of all four of them, starting in the upper right and proceeding counterclockwise. The Console has some ominous messages in it!

When you open an application in OS X DP 4 and then shif to something else, when the application finishes opening you are automatically sent there. This is reminiscent of Windows, and you may consider it either a feature or a bug. I find it bothersome, since if I’m typing the application will interrupt that.

OS X now integrates the OS X Finder with the Classic Finder. For example, choosing Control Panels from the Apple menu of any Classic app brings up the control panels folder in the OS X Finder.

All in All

Apple seems to know what they did well in the Mac OS and appears to be trying to reproduce those benefits in OS X. The command keys are still equivalent across apps, and now the Preferences menu item has a standard place (IE 5.1b1, in classic Microsoft style, eschews the proper place, leaves the Preferences item dimmed under the Application menu, and implements its own under the Edit menu. To be fair, it is unlikely that they will keep this in the final release.) The Finder preserves and strenghtens the incredible and unmatched file manipulation tools of the Mac OS. AppleScript, while somewhat broken in DP4, is obviously slated to be a feature. The open and save dialogs now implement a “mini-Finder,” which is excellent from a consistency point of view (a unified method of choosing files means a smaller learning curve).

Unfortunately, Apple is picking up some new interface stupidities and inconsistencies. The inability to click on the bottom of icons in the dock is a small but important example that combines the worst of multiple menu bars with the worst of a single menubar. The fact that the root folder is not a folder is also reminiscent of the ugly parts of Windows. The “single window mode” button never seems to be useful and takes up window real estate. While the three window widgets are far enough apart to minimize mistaken clicks, choosing the wrong button could be prevented almost entirely by moving the close box to the other corner of the window, like the classic Mac OS. Windows cannot be resized or moved by their borders, which is a feature sorely missed when the resize handle is obscured by the dock.

Apple, to its credit, has learned from both its own successes and its mistakes, and is also willing to experiment to push the frontiers of user interface design ahead. But it does not appear to have learned from the mistakes of other companies, like Microsoft, and will doom its users to suffer if it does not fix them before the first full version ships.

Entourage Mac

Office 2001 GM Sneak-preview! (Featuring Entourage)

office mainscreenThe startup screen isn’t much-that’s for sure. I thought I’d begin with that one little grievance, not only because it’s the first thing that I saw, but because it’s the converse of everything else in the new Office 2001 suite of products. Microsoft has really done an excellent job at streamlining the four programs: Entourage (e-mail and PIM), PowerPoint (presentations), Word (word processing), and Excel (spreadsheets). Each one is easy to use, and captures the new Mac “look-and-feel”-that being the striped pillow embossed lines seen in Aqua and Internet Explorer 5.

Unlike older versions of Office, which struggled to keep up with the PC version, Office 2001 sports many new features that are, as Kevin Browne (general manager of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit) said during the Macworld Keynote “available only on the Mac.”

I’ll only dive into the details of Entourage (pronounced: on-too-rahj) today. It’s a relatively small piece of the application suite (consisting of over 4,000 files and 300 MB in all) but packs a powerful punch. Many sites are quoting Entourage as a brand new “addition” to the lineup, but it’s not. Not really. Take Outlook Express and combine it with Outlook and you’ve got Entourage-plain and simple.

“Start me up, I’ll never stop”

import file in wordOn first run, it poked around my hard drive, installed some Office extensions and helpers that do who knows what, and managed to grab my Outlook Express mail database as well as contact, task, and calendar information from Palm Desktop. Entourage is capable of handling most mail formats, including FileMaker databases, and the Unix mbox format (used by Mailsmith). It will also copy account settings, mail filtering rules, signatures, and addresses from Now Contact, Eudora, Claris Emailer, Now Contact, and Netscape Messenger.

Be prepared to start using the PIM features. Entourage throws you right into it after you enter all your contact information, birthday, and phone numbers. One of the things about integration is how you can’t easily disassemble things. So I gave into it, and happily started “linking” e-mails and contact information together, color-coordinating categories, and matching up anniversary dates with the new calendar.

And, yes, Microsoft Bob has indeed infiltrated your e-mail program. Remember those distracting assistants from the other Office programs? Like Max, the Mac Classic, that always jumps out at you for misspelling something? Well…they’re all back.

Custom Views

You can display information in a number of ways by creating custom views. After you create a custom view, you can save it and then return to it at any time. For example, you can create a custom view that displays a list of items in the “Family” category that were received within three days and contain “reunion” in the body. When you perform a search, you can also save your search criteria as a custom view so that you can easily perform the same search again. One thing that I noticed was how the search function was re-done. It matches the Rules layout and looks a bit like Sherlock in the way that it has the choice for more options and criterion. I’ve only been using Office a couple of days, but so far, Entourage seems more responsive than the two Outlook programs. It certainly searches faster.

It Knows What You’re Thinking, NOT!

dictionaryA new feature in Office 2001 is the dictionary. A dictionary! Can you believe it? Luckily, Microsoft opted not to write definitions for some of the more prominent proper nouns. IBM is defined as “Abbr of intercontinental ballistic missile.” Thank goodness. You can access this from the Tools menu in every program. As with Outlook, Entourage uses Word’s spell-checking, auto-correction, and grammar libraries. For example, type, “MicroSloth ripped off teh Mac” and you’ll end up with “Microsoft procured the mace.” So if you don’t like Microsoft to make up your mind for you, just uncheck the option in the preferences.

Address Book

office calendarThe address book is a container for contacts, actual people you know. By defining standard fields like “Phone Number” you can build a database of all your acquaintances. These, in turn, are linked to each e-mail you send and every note and task you enter. Entourage also allows you to enter up to ten custom definable fields. You don’t have to enter in every detail about a person but doing so will enable actions like having birthdays show up on the calendar, getting driving directions to and from a contact’s location, and niceties such as magnifying a phone number so that you can see it across the room if the telephone is not by the computer and being able to conveniently send “vCards” to people you know so that they can automatically enter your personal data (including a picture) into their own address books. The address book is a shared feature with Word. If you change something in one of the other Office Programs it is updated in Entourage.

Office 2001 for mac

Office 2001 (Entourage) FAQ

Office for Mac 2001: Frequently Asked Questions

I. Entourage

  1. Does Entourage 2001 support encrypted e-mail? (This is one of the few things that Netscape does, which OE 5 doesn’t.)
  2. Does the calendar synchronize with a Palm?
  3. Does the calendar have pop-up reminders?
  4. What is the Office QuickView app?
  5. Does the new Office 2001 support Microsoft Exchange Server? I hope so–just got a Mac at our office, which is totally Windows NT based, and I would like to access my mail via the server.
  6. I heard that Microsoft did away with sound sets in this new Office mail client. True?
  7. What are the system requirements?
  8. Is it carbonized?
  9. Is there a way to access my address book from the Desktop (through a CSM or menu bar extension)?

1. I’m curious, does Entourage 2001 support encrypted e-mail?(This is one of the few things that Netscape does, which OE 5 doesn’t.)

No, however you can setup a secure connection to a mail or news server. The bestoption if you want to send and receive encrypted mail is to download PGP 6.5.8 (thestandard for encryption). PGP integrates very easily with Entourage and is widelyused.

2. Does the calendar synchronize with a Palm?

Yes. Entourage will copy tasks,appointments, calender events, and notes to a Palm.You must have Palm Desktop installed with the Entourage conduit to use this feature.

3. Does the calendar have pop-up reminders?

Yes. Both the calendar and the to-do list will remind you (assuming Entourageis open) about an upcoming task of event. If Entourage is not the active application,it will beep and flash in the menu bar to try to get your attention.

4. Did your copy of the Office 2001 GM include the Office QuickView application?

When it is officially released (or sometime around then) you should be able to download Office QuickView which will give you a CSM that will allow you to open your address book without Entourage running (you can also open your address book from within Word). It will not, unfortunately allow you to add a few key phone numbers to a list like Instant Desktop.

5. Does the new Office 2001 support Microsoft Exchange Server? I hope so–just got a Mac at our office, which is totally Windows NT based, and Iwould like to access my mail via the server.

No. Several people sent in related questions but so far it seems that any Exhange server will not work directly through Entourage. You’ll either have the stick with plain Outlook(not Express) or setup Entourage to use POP or IMAP protocols in conjuction with the Exhange server. In this way you can receive and send e-mail through internet standards and access the Global Address List if the server supports the LDAP protocol. Likewise, the iCalender standard is supported through both applications so scheduling events will work.

Update (10/22/00): Microsoft is apparently planning on releasing an full-feature parity of Outlook Exchange Client for Mac by the end of this month. So just hang on for a little while longer!

6. I heard that Microsoft did away with sound sets in this new Office mail client. True?

No. Entourage is very similar to Outlook Express. The sound sets are stillthere with the added option of choosing a random one on start-up.

7. What are the system requirements?

To use Microsoft Entourage 2001, your computer must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Processor: PowerPC, Mac OS compatible (clock speed of at least 120 MHz recommended)
  • Operating System: Mac OS 8.1 or later (OS 8.5 or later recommended)
  • Memory: 32 MB of RAM with at least 1 MB of Virtual Memory for systems prior to 9.0 48 MB of RAM with at least 1 MB of Virtual Memory for systems 9.0 and later
  • Available Hard Disk Space: 80-160 MB. This figure indicates a default installation of Microsoft Office; your hard-disk usage will vary depending on the amount of data you store in Microsoft Office and the options you choose to install. Choices made during a custom installation may require more or less hard disk space.
  • Approximately 160 MB of hard-disk space to install Microsoft Office.
  • Disk Drives: CD-ROM drive or a connection to a local area network if you are installing Microsoft Entourage from a network.
  • Monitor that can display 256 grays or 256 colors and resolutions of 640×480 or higher (Color monitor that can display thousands or millions of colors and resolutions of 800×600 or higher recommended)

8. Is it carbonized?

Nope, sorry. It does, however, contain the 128 x 128 transparent icons that are seen in Mac OS X. The whole office suite also seems to work pretty seamlessly in Classic.

9. Is there a way to access my address book from the Desktop (through a CSM or menu bar extension)?

See question #4.

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GrooveMaker 2 Review

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Installation was a snap, and now it was time to make some grooves. Groovemaker first prompts you to select a song (or template) you wish to groove with. The Song dialogue box tells you a concise description of the song, the Beats Per Minute (BPM) at which the song was originally recorded, and plays a sample groove that can be made from the song (since literally millions of different grooves can be made from each individual song). Once you have selected a song to groove with, you have to copy it to your hard disk. Now you are ready to make some mixes.

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The Sims: Playing God

It all started innocently enough, a lanky 22-year-old recent college graduate hiding from his job hunt at MacWorld Expo, armed with nothing but a Bachelor’s in English and $45 to buy a cool new game. The $45 actually had some value, and he traded it for a copy of Maxis’ recent hit, the people-simulation game known as The Sims.

Players can choose the gender, race, weight, age and appearance for each Sim or choose from an offering of pre-created characters offered by the game. The player then places their Sims in a house of their own design after outfitting the home with the basics of modern survival (lights, phones, toilets, showers, beds, chairs, tables, cooking appliances and a fridge). The game is now underway and chaos is the norm.

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The battle has long been fought between the two AOL-dominated rivals: AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ. Both have very attractive and useful interfaces and features.Today, the battle ends; a winner will emerge.

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