Miscellaneous Ramblings

Lion Compatibility for Some Favorite Legacy Apps: Mostly Good News

Charles Moore - 2011.08.30 - Tip Jar

Last week in my contribution to the Low End Mac Round Table on the 20th anniversary of Linux, I mentioned that at least four of my core production applications - Tex-Edit Plus, Color It! 4.5, Mail Beacon, and Eudora 6 won't run in OS X 10.7 Lion.

That observation needs updating.

Tex-Edit Plus and Lion

Coincidentally, just about the time I composed that commentary, Tex-Edit Plus (TE+) developer Tom Bender was posting a new "universal" build of the application, Version 4.9.9 beta 3, that does support Lion. Tom emailed me on the weekend to say that he's sorry about the slow pace of getting a Lion-compatible TE+ upgrade out, but that the new beta seems to run fine so far on 10.7. He's running Lion on a pre-unibody MacBook to test TE+ Lion compatibility,

Tom says he was always satisfied with performance using Rosetta - until he finally got an Intel version running, with which he's noted a "fairly impressive speed jump" on his iMac (still running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard). I'm composing this article in it right now, and he's right. Tex-Edit Plus has always been lively and nimble, but this Intel native beta is the quickest yet. The universal beta uses its own preferences file, so you can run the PPC and Intel versions on the same system and not commit to the upgrade until you're sure you like it.

Tom says the main caveat is lack of full compatibility between the old and new document formats, and that RTF works best for transferring docs back and forth between multiple Mac systems, versions, and so forth. Too true. Documents saved by the Universal beta in TE+ format won't open with the classic PPC application. Tom also notes that Lion apparently tags TE+ read-only docs as containing executable code (news to him as the program's author), and each one throws an "are-you-sure-you-want-to-launch-this-new-app" warning the first time it's opened.

Those glitches notwithstanding, an OS X 10.7 compatible build of Tex-Edit Plus is super good news for me, because the prospect of losing TE+ was probably the single biggest obstacle to my upgrading to Lion (although there are still plenty of other Lion issues I'm not at all happy about).

I depend heavily on in TE+, thanks especially to its implementation of AppleScript. Lots of applications support AppleScript, but none comes even remotely close to doing it as elegantly and slickly as TE+. Thanks to that feature, I've customized TE+ over the years to perform beautifully and efficiently as my main HTML markup and text cleaning tool. It's not 100%, and I still need the "Zap Gremlins" feature in TextWrangler too, but it's close, and another big TE+ advantage is that it also supports enough text styling and formatting that I can use it for most everything I would ever use a word processor for. I've been working mostly in plain text or HTML for more than a decade now.

There's also an official AppleScripts for Tex-Edit Archives site maintained by Doug Adams, chockablock with hints, tips, examples, and step-by-step instructions as well as dozens of downloadable AppleScripts that can be used to tailor TE+ to a user's particular needs and tastes.

Add to that a 15 year accretion of archived files in TE+ format numbering in the thousands, and I have some pretty compelling reasons for not wanting to say good-bye to this wonderful tool. Now I won't have to at whatever point I transition to Lion.

New in Tex-Edit Plus 4.9.9 beta 3 for OS X:

  • Small changes to interface cosmetics for Lion compatibility.
  • New Intel preferences file allows both TEP versions (PPC/Rosetta and Intel/Universal) to coexist on same volume. This also causes fewer problems when replacing old versions of TEP.
  • Fixed "Show Fonts" bug.
  • Improved memory handling when saving files that contain big resources (e.g. TIFFs).
  • Universal build.
  • Requires 10.5 or newer.
  • Lion compatible.
  • Document format is not fully cross compatible with old Tex-Edit documents. Read the warnings.
  • Check out version 4.9.8 if you need the formal PPC release version.

Color It! and Lion

As for Color It!, the program's developer, Digimage Arts, confirms that the current version, Color It! version 4.5, will definitely not run under OS X 10.7 Lion - not surprising, given that Color It! dates back to well beyond even the Mac PowerPC era, with the earliest versions of the program being contemporary with Macs powered by Motorola's 68020 processors, if my somewhat hazy memory serves, and it wouldn't surprise me if there is still some old 68K code lurking in the program. (Version 4.5 has been around since 2006, about the same time that OS X 10.5 Leopard was introduced.)

OS X 10.7 Lion will not run Color It! 4.5
OS X 10.7 Lion will not run Color It! 4.5.

As with Tex-Edit Plus, Color It! remains one of my core production tools - my workaday image editor of choice. It's not as powerful or richly-featured as Photoshop Elements (PSE) or Pixelmator, but it sure starts up a lot faster than Elements especially (Pixelmator is pretty good in that department too) and has a light, quick, nimble feel to its user interface compared to the formidable but ponderous Elements. I've used Color It! as my workhorse graphic app since way back on my old 25 MHz 68030 LC 520 running System 7.1, and it was even speedy on that hardware.

Bitmap graphics or "paint" software programs are all essentially descended from the MacPaint application that shipped with the original Macs back in 1984. There used to be a passel of paint programs for the Mac, including Photoshop, Canvas, Painter, SuperPaint, UltraPaint, Expert Color Paint (a licensed version of Color It! version 1.0), the painting module in HyperCard, PixelPaint Pro, MacPaint itself, and more.

Of all of these, Color It! came closest to being an all-round Photoshop substitute ("Photoshop for the rest of us") at a fraction of Photoshop's price, which is probably why it is still around while most of the others are pushing up daisies in the software boneyard.

My first acquaintance with Color It! was Version 3.0, which came bundled with a scanner I bought back in the mid-'90s. I was impressed that the bundled image editing software was such a complete and comprehensive program, and not a "crippleware" come-on to buy something more expensive. Color It! quickly became my main image editing and scanning program.

Color It! just flies on my 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook, and it's much faster than any other image editor I've tried, save for the minimalist freeware ToyViewer, which I also use extensively, but it does require Rosetta emulation on Intel Macs, and banefully Apple has decided to drop support Rosetta in OS X 10.7 Lion - and consequently for all applications with PowerPC code.

Happily, Digimage Arts report that they've been working hard on a new version of Color It! that is being built from scratch that will run in 10.7, taking fullest advantage of things like running native on Intel processors and accessing the full range of the system's Services. The new version will run faster and permit working with much larger images, and it will be able to utilize the Core Image visual effects that are built into the operating system.

However, while this will expand the venerable old program's capabilities and significantly update the code, it's a massive undertaking, with much of Color It's existing underlying code being older - which has meant it's very efficient and stable and has weathered most updates to the operating system with virtually no problems. Unfortunately, with Apple arbitrarily dumping Rosetta in OS X 10.7, there's no simple way to modify the existing code to run in Lion, so the new version will be an improved program with modern capabilities that's also easier to update, with Digimage Arts assuring us that it will still retain Color It's legendary ease of use.

However, until the new version is out, if you depend on Color It!, you'll need to either postpone upgrading to OS X 10.7 Lion or set up a dual-boot situation where you can still start up your Mac in OS X 10.6 or earlier Mac OS builds to run Color It! version 4.5.

Personally, losing access to Color It!, while painful and unwelcome, would not be the showstopper for me that losing access to Tex-Edit Plus would be. I can get along using ToyViewer, Pixelmator, PSE, and by times the quite good Open Source Seashore image editor, which is a sort of streamlined version of the industrial strength Open Source GIMP program. Nevertheless, that Color It! will live on into the 64-bit Intel Mac era is wonderful news, and I eagerly anticipate checking it out when it's ready.

Eudora and Lion

Moving along, my stated apprehensions about Eudora OSE and Lion were evidently groundless. The roaringapps.com Lion compatibility site says Eudora OSE "works fine" in 10.7.

The cause of my previous misapprehension was a link on the Eudora OSE site to a page that reads:

Important Announcement about Mac Eudora and Apple OS X 10.7 "Lion"

June, 2011

In Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion", Apple has removed support for "Rosetta". It is Rosetta that allows Mac Eudora to continue to run under Mac OS X (up to and including OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard"). Once you upgrade to OS X 10.7, Mac Eudora will no longer function.

Let's repeat that:

Mac Eudora WILL NOT run under Mac OS X 10.7 and later.

Before upgrading to OS X "Lion", be sure to transfer all of your mail to another email client as you will no longer be able to access your mail using Mac Eudora.

Had I been more observant, I would have noticed that the message was on former Eudora developer Qualcomm's website and refers only to the classic Eudora email client application, not to the Mozilla Thunderbird-based Open Source Edition. My sincere apologies for the miscue.

Mail Beacon and Lion

Finally, I was unfortunately right about the little POP email account-checking utility Mail Beacon, development of which was long since discontinued by its developer even for PowerPC machines. There are other applications that can check your messages on a POP3 server without downloading them, but none I've found that do it as well in my estimation. Not a dealbreaker, but I'll definitely miss it.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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