Monthly Archives: May 2009

Apple’s Terminal: Its hard to find something more retarded

Compared with a real X11-Terminal application, the Apple Terminal sucks. Big Time.

“Whats wrong with it?” you may ask.

Lets start simple. Command-line applications cannot receive mouse events when running inside the Apple Terminal. And the keyboard is messed up (yeah, I’m running Apple, so I probably are supposed to use the Mouse to enter certain keys, like Page-Up and Page-Down.).

Since switching from a real System to the Mac (superior hardware, but dont get me started about the soft side), I really started to appreciate the power of the X11-Terminals you find in all Linux distributions. I’m a command line guy, so working with a Mac feels like being a Catholic Priest sitting in a Nudist Colony – Sin whereever you look.

Gettin Midnight Commander was easy, once I found MacPorts. But working with it was pain. No, torture. I can live without a mouse – but without a Page-Up and -Down key, browsing directories or looking at files becomes a nightmare. And without a insert-key, selecting files is not fun either. I was about to give up and end my days using muCommander. MuCommander is a Midnight-/Norton Commander clone, but copying files over the network is horrible slow and there is no command line either, so navigating complex directory structures is a keystroke hell.

But then a heavenly voice spoke to me: “Thomas. You are using Apple software.” And I remembered. Apple software usually comes good looking but not neccessaily “complete” – more like prove of concept things than real applications. So maybe its not the Mac OS (its Unix after all – and thus hard to get wrong) – its the application. Fireing up X11 and xterm convinced me: Yes, that Apple was a foul one.

Its not that mouse support is a experimental one. Its has been there since at least 9 years now. Have no rush, Apple, I can wait another 9 years. Who needs Mouse support anyway. (Note that I say that to a audience that did not manage to make UI elements like comboboxes navigatable via the keyboard. I have seen Comboboxes on my C64′s GEOS system and yes, they where usable via a keyboard.)

But not getting the keyboard right is a killer. Running X11 and XTerm on the same machine gets it right out of the box. So its not that they dont have the tools. They dont have either a clue how to adapt the XTerm code to their own codebase or they dont care. (Guess what I think what the reason is.)

I would happily drag the XTerm application on the launcher bar. BUT I CANT. The launcher does not launch just anything – it must be a blessed application bundle. So to start the XTerm, I need a command line, which Xterm would provide. Thanks again, Apple.

(If anyone knows a sensible terminal application that supports ncurses mouse-events, please drop me a line. I start to get desperate.)

Its May – and Pentaho Report Designer is rushing towards the release ..

Its May, and thus all the animals big and small go wild on their eternal quest to spread their genes. Thats fine and nice, and unless they make their mess in my backyard (not that I have a backyard) – so all is OK by my standards. But not just animals feel the need to go all wild – the report designer feels this urge too. Look how it peacocks around, spreads its features to attract data.

Today, the last feature implementation sprint ends, and thus we are now in a fairly feature complete state. There are bits and bolts that need adjustment, and a whole family of bugs needs to be sent to the next, hopefully better world, where all code is written in C++ with lots of places to hide and procreate. During the comming six weeks we will now concentrate on hardening the code to make this the best report-designer the BI space has to offer.

If you haven’t seen the new breed, then now is a good time to do so, and you will see that comparing Citrus to the older releases is like comparing monkeys to humans – some features are still recognizable, but the effects of evolution are clearly visible.

Despite the fact that I talked about feature completeness a few lines earlier, I’m not to cheap to contradict myself immediately saying that one big feature will make it into the engine during the next days: Rich text support is comming to the reporting engine. Technically, we already supported this for a very long time – but without a sane user-model to create rich.text this was not a usable feature at all. Now that we finally came up with a decent specification, we can solve that task once and for all.

The last three weeks saw great changes (again). The Report-Design-Wizard, which now has a slick (or in CEO speak: sexy) design and a groovy Mortal Combat like logo. Managing datasources and queries got easier – a right click on the query now allows you to select that query as the active one or to edit it directly. The platform integration now allows to schedule the XAction-less reports and Will Gorman sneaked some more crosstab-editing in. The inspector is back from his vacation, and tells you (whether you want to hear it or not) about all the wrongs in the report-definition. And last but not least, a new display mode now highlights overlapping elements that would be removed when the report gets exported to any of the table-export output types.

So if you haven’t done it yet, then go to our Hudson server right now and check out the latest Citrus release.