Land of the Free


The Mac AppStore had a strange effect on my software setup: Over the past few months, I gradually refreshed my software toolkit with a bunch of freebies from it, lured by the shininess of new, easy to grab software and the newfound laziness in reinstalling them on the other machines I use.

Here are the highlights:

  • First off, I replaced TextMate (which is, sadly but to all intents and purposes, old and lacking significant updates) with TextWrangler, which is much faster and a nice counterpoint to MacVim and (which I use for pretty much everything else, except when diving into Xcode). It has plenty of bells and whistles, and even though I sometimes miss TextMate bundles, those occasions are few and far between.
  • I then realized that my tinkering with QSB would get nowhere without at least 12 more hours to the day, and despite Quicksilver’s renaissance, I soon started using Alfred everywhere.
  • Along the same lines, I dumped ShiftIt (which I haven’t had time to maintain anyway) and went with DoublePane.
  • finally, I picked up Navicat MySQL lite, a nice mySQL graphical UI that can do tunneled connections via SSH and that, despite being free and relatively light on the feature side, is plenty good enough for occasional use.

The strange thing is that these apps all have, in general, rather less features than their counterparts. Alfred, in particular, has a lot less features (only making up for it by being significantly faster and less crufty than the alternatives) and can only be expanded by purchasing an add-on pack outside the App Store (something I’m not exactly keen on doing).

A notable exception to the rule is DoublePane, which can actually move windows between displays (a big win when, like me, you have 3 displays in a row).

The big benefit, I think, is convenience. Of course that the storefront and ease of discovery are a big advantage, but the clincher is ease of installation - when I got my SSD, I reinstalled all of my “purchases” through the App Store without any hassles.

I am, however, somewhat annoyed at Apple for pulling such a dumb stunt like putting up Xcode for download in what has to be one of the worst possible ways: You download a 4GB installer that then expands itself into /Developer and takes up nearly twice the room as the finished install, and if you have an update, you then download another 4GB installer instead of getting that as part of Software Update.

This is utterly insane, and borders on the asinine. It makes it look as if the App Store has so much hard-coded behavior (or that someone at Apple was so set in their ways) that you are unable to a) install anything outside Applications (which is very likely) or b) download delta updates (which is just plain stupid).

I wish they come to their senses soon and fix that somehow.


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