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Archive for 2010


why you should switch to iTerm 2 (from Terminal)

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The iTerm 2 project has been around for a while, but it recently caught my attention again as development has become very active recently. They have fixed up the horribly convoluted profile/bookmark system that was present in iTerm, seemingly improved performance by measurable amounts, and also added a few nice features.

You can note in the above screenshot comparison ( is top, iTerm2 is bottom) that:

  • You can completely hide the scrollbar in iTerm 2 (YAY).
  • iTerm 2 shows tab activity (might be useful for some, but i’d still like a toggle).

Apart from that, they should look identical on the surface, which is a good thing. Of course, there are many hidden niceties which have made me jump boat:

  • IME (multilingual) input works correctly. On, input pending conversion (ie. japanese of romaji to hiragana/kanji) is reset every time the open terminal session does a screen redraw. This is actually the selling point for me, and I was already using iTerm (1) whenever I needed to use Japanese input.
  • Ability to set a different font for non-ascii characters.
  • Ability to disable anti-aliasing on any font.
  • ANSI colour customisation support is present without requiring SIMBL hacks.
  • Cmd-clicking URLs opens them in a browser (beats right-click, click in
  • There are many other new features such as growl notifications, aero-style blurred transparency, fullscreen mode which exist but I don’t use. You will probably want to check out the feature list.

Also the icon is pretty awesome:

There is only one minor gripe I have so far, being that you can only set one session to open at startup, but that’s not enough of an issue to hold me back from making the switch! iTerm 2 is being actively and openly developed, unlike Apple’s version (which occasionally gets an update on a new OS release), so I have hopes to see it get even better in the future :) .


xcode 4 preview 2 has problems

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I need somewhere to list my frustrations moving from xcode 3 to what is supposed to be the a move forward. Here is that place. Let me start by saying I don’t even see xcode 4 as an improvement just yet; while they seem to have finally understood people don’t want to manage 10,000 windows while working on a project, they still haven’t understood that one layout doesn’t suit all, and have in my opinion made some very bad design choices.

It has only been a few days though, so I’m willing to give things time to set in. Here are problems that make the current preview quite unusable:

  • “Navigate to Counterpart” shortcut combination no longer works (cmd-opt-up).
  • Designating shortcut keys gives no feedback if there are multiple assignments of the same key. It just chooses the first in the list and uses it.
  • You have to manually open new tabs! This leads me to believe that apple don’t understand how tabs are supposed to work, which baffles me as they usually understand user interface paradigms. Is the xcode team a bit out of touch?
  • Trying to bind “New Tab” to cmd-t fails. It seems there is a shortcut hard-wired to this key.
  • Project bookmarks are gone. In the migration guide it mentions their presence in the Organizer, but following instructions only gives help document bookmarks, not project bookmarks.
  • There is even less feedback while building (used to see “x of x files compiled”, now it’s just a progress bar). This is quite an annoyance for large projects.

  • Has problems saving project file to disk.  Should at least give an option to overwrite.

  • I can’t seem to find where the colour scheme configurations are stored.  Have yet to take the time to manually recreate my pastels-on-dark theme because of this.
  • Auto-completion of overrides no longer works correctly in classes which inherit; it seems to only show overrides from the base (NSObject/NSView) class.  This is a real hit, and actually makes working in the current build of xcode 4 a chore.

Then there are things I think should be added in order to bring xcode into the 21st century, which have still not been addressed:

  • There is still no automated handling of IBOutlets in a way that generates code-behind.  Microsoft have mastered this over the years, and while that may be an unfair comparison, MonoTouch also provides this functionality on the iPhone platform via their MonoDevelop IDE!
  • There is still no automated/shortcut method of making an instance variable, property, and @synthesize in one go.
  • The handling of linking delegates/outlets in the “interface builder” mode is still as painfully ugly as ever.
  • Files are still not automatically sorted alphabetically in project navigation pane.  I honestly don’t understand this.
  • Light-on-dark anti-aliased text still looks horrible.  Okay, so this is an OS-level problem, but it’s my one biggest gripe so I had to tag it on ;) .

I will be updating this post as I find more issues. If anyone has an obvious solution which I have overlooked to any, please fill me in!