Wed 25 Jan 2012
Early in the last decade, the number of requests we got for a Mac version started to increase dramatically. One of our developers at the time was particularly afraid he would be chosen to do this work because he had some Mac experience – but he really didn’t want to. Naturally, he came in one morning to discover on his desk an old Mac SE30 that used to be used for something around here (I believe it was used to print out labels for floppy disks) sitting on his desk with a Mac OSX CD hanging out of the floppy disk drive and a note that read “[Developer name changed to protect their identity] – see me – Clark”. (Note to our new users: SlickEdit has been around long enough that it used to ship on floppy disks) (Note to users under 30 – USB sticks did not always exist).
The prevailing wisdom at the time was that it would be easy for us to do a Mac version, “because it’s just UNIX now, and you guys are UNIX already – it’ll just be another port”. I remember hearing this over and over at trade shows in between requests for Ruby support, and “Do you guys have any free t-shirts?” (Right now, there’s a guy in his basement inventing a new scripting language, convinced his will be the one that will take over the world, obsoleting all other scripting languages. I really wish somebody would stop him, because it won’t take over and obsolete all other scripting languages, but it will become just popular enough we will have to support it. When I say “stop him”, I don’t mean hurt him or anything – just take him out to dinner or introduce him to a woman).
It turns out the “It’s just UNIX now” logic is a bit, what’s the word I’m looking for…. wrong. There is UNIX under there, and obviously that was a good place to start when they revamped MacOS. Plus, I can get a console window which was always my complaint about Macs “back in the day” (yes, I know you could install something, I maintain it should just be there). But what the fact that “It’s just UNIX now” got us was the ability to create an X11 application that would run on the Mac. So we did that – and customers loved it. Well, that isn’t exactly true. They acted more like we gave them a new BMW but first used it for one of those things you see at the county fair where you pay a dollar and get to hit a car with a sledgehammer (granted they usually do this with demolition derby cars, not new BMWs). It was SlickEdit – it worked, but it just didn’t look or feel like people expected it to. Hardcore SlickEdit fans were happy… ish. They were happy to have SlickEdit, but they missed all the Mac-isms, and were a little perturbed by SlickEdit’s menu being attached right to the top of the application window.
So, starting sometime in 2010 our CTO began the process of exploring how to get us a native version on the Mac – and the GUI overhaul that ensued stayed largely in his office until sometime this past spring when different team members began to have certain controls assigned to them to port to our new GUI framework (I’m not going into which one here, the evidence is “out there”). I was able to be part of this process, and it was very interesting work. It is an exciting time to work here at SlickEdit.
We had a nice long beta test – a little longer than we planned. I would like to take a moment to say that our beta testers were some of the best we’ve ever dealt with. Even when there were problems, the comments almost always went something like “It crashed, but thanks for doing a native Mac version, great work, looking forward to the next version!”. The beta testers this time were aces – some of them old SlickEdit fans we’ve known for a while, and I believe we made some new friends too. Thanks guys.
So, our native Mac version is “out there” now. We hope everybody likes it. Typically I haven’t been a big Mac fan, but I’m learning to appreciate the things that it does well. I only wish I could get a few people to join me in an Indiana Jones like quest to track down the eleven remaining single button mice on the planet and then Ctrl+Click could work properly.
If you bought any of our X11 versions on the Mac you can get the new version for free. Here’s the link,or you can give our sales team a call at (919) 473-0070.