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In defense of old Mac software

Glenn Fleishman | June 29, 2016
Plenty of older software is good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, still works. A writer keeps his old tools sharp.

I’ve used many other tools, including Panic’s excellent Web-development environment Coda 2 (and the original Coda), many versions of the graphical Dreamweaver, and the Web-management and syntax-coding features in text-only BBEdit, which added in-app CSS templates and previewing. Yet CSSEdit remains perfect for when you haven’t built a site from scratch in any of those tools. For sites you built long ago and need tweaking or that are built using Web hosting systems, like Squarespace, that also allow the addition of custom CSS, CSSEdit is perfect.

I can load a Web page as a preview in CSSEdit, extract the linked CSS file (or multiple ones), and then override the preview’s style sheets using those local extractions. Then I can modify the CSS and witness the effects, or modify a page to add new classes or containers, reload it, and see the effects locally. As the final step, I grab the modified CSS file or additional CSS selectors and drop them back in my site.

Web-design and Web-management tools tend to be idiosyncratic, and all long-lasting tools besides Dreamweaver have either gone through substantial interface and functionality overhauls or been abandoned. My father, for instance, has kept using Adobe GoLive CS2, one of the better and most stable versions of that web-design and site-management software. (Fellow Macworld contributor Jeff Carlson and I wrote three editions of book about Adobe GoLive.) I can testify that I’ve also never found another tool that has the same complete set of editing, design, and synchronization capabilities paired with simplicity as GoLive, though I advanced all the way to CS4 at one point.

The old tools you can’t do without

A query on Twitter led to a flood of reminiscences from people about software that’s either abandoned or supported only with maintenance updates that many can’t live without, either:

  • Several votes for outdated media-editing software: Adobe Director (once Macromedia Director), Adobe Soundbooth CS4, Final Cut Pro 7 and Compressor, Soundtrack Pro, and GarageBand ’11. Austin Tichenor noted of GarageBand, “Updates dropped Podcast template & changed keyboard shortcuts.”
  • Levelator is a much-loved (and free) “sound leveling” app, used heavily by podcasters. It performs multiple passes of analysis of an audio file for relative loudness, and then produces an output file that compresses, normalizes, and boosts levels in a way that makes all speakers sound roughly as loud as each other. It’s been updated for El Capitan compatibility.
  • QuickTime Player 7 received several votes for how easily it allowed certain quick editing tasks that were removed in later revisions. Some have been restored, but it’s still not as easy.
  • Notational Velocity, a note-taking app that uses an encrypted database, remains a favorite of several.
  • One colleague likes iScrobbler, a client. “Scrobbling” describes automatic submission of now-playing lists to a Web site, and that’s one of the features of the app.
  • My brother-in-law Michael somehow continues to use the last release of QuicKeys, software I relied on endlessly in the 1990s and early 2000s. He noted, “It’s the only macro program I’ve found that elegantly allows for mouse clicks.”
  • Some folks preferred the features in NetNewsWire 3.3.2 to later updates, and continue to keep it running.
  • Magic Number Machine makes Janice Collier happy: “It’s really helpful for visualizing math problems, instead of just punching in numbers.”


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