Last week we released our first public beta of SlickEdit v16.1 for Mac. This version replaces our previous iterations that used the X11 windowing system. Although we are using a cross-platform UI library which uses Cocoa for UI, and we’re writing quite a bit of our own Cocoa code for other Mac features like the Services menu, it doesn’t look like every other Mac application. And there are reasons for that.

SlickEdit is an MDI application
While there are some very well known applications that support a multiple document interface on the Mac, there is no real standard for how they should look and feel. Each application has a slightly different interpretation. As such we have chosen to keep our MDI implementation very close to what we have used in recent versions.

SlickEdit does a lot
This mostly affects how we present our application configuration options. Most Mac applications have a relatively small Preferences pane, perhaps with half a dozen categories, and a half-page screen of options for each category. But SlickEdit has 20+ years worth of features and configuration settings. Developers come to SlickEdit from a wide variety of editing environments, and our users want to be able to mold the application to their tastes.

SlickEdit is not just for the Mac
Like all multi-platform software, we have to make trade-offs between what might look best for a particular operating system, and what makes the most sense for a feature that needs to work on all of the supported platforms. There is also quite a bit of bias toward keeping functionality and appearance consistent with what long-time customers want and expect. SlickEdit has always placed a premium on letting you work with multiple languages on disparate platforms without having to retrain your brain and fingers. When implementing and tweaking features, we are constantly evaluating what a Mac user would expect, and what a SlickEdit user (regardless of platform) would expect.

SlickEdit will continue to evolve
While we do want to keep our product familiar across platforms, we aren’t going to be sitting stock still. While our immediate focus for the Mac is improvements to Objective-C language support, and better interoperability with Xcode project formats, we are looking forward to changes we can make in the user interface to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Getting this first non-X11 release ready was a big effort. And now that it’s almost done, we’re looking forward to making it the best it can be. We’re excited, and we hope that you will be too.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at SlickEdit 2011 for Mac, we invite you download our most recent beta version.