Developers Ramp Up for Snow Leopard Launch


Mac application developers have been hard at work preparing for the release of Mac OS X 10.6, and with the surprise move to launch at the end of August instead of some time in September, coders have shifted into high gear. Even with the early launch date, many of the applications Mac users rely on are already up to speed and ready to go when Snow Leopard goes on sale on Friday.

On the surface, Snow Leopard may not seem like a big upgrade, but under the hood Apple did some major reworking to improve performance and stability, and to set the foundation for future software and hardware updates. Those changes can potentially trip up app developers, but many companies have found that their products are ready to go with few -- if any -- changes needed.

"All our products are ready for Snow Leopard," SmileOnMyMac's Jean MacDonald told The Mac Observer. "This is the most unremarkable transition to a new version of the OS we've had."

SmileOnMyMac's experience seems to have been shared by several other Mac software companies, too, and that's good news for end users that are looking to upgrade to Snow Leopard. "The transition to Snow Leopard was smooth," added Cultured Code's Michael Simmons.

Ian Schray from Softpress shared similar sentiments. "Freeway 5.4.1 is fully compatible with Snow Leopard," he said. "This update was released some time ago. No further updating of the Freeway applications has been necessary."

While many applications are Snow Leopard ready, some are compatible, but with minor issues. In many cases, however, those issues may not be noticeable to users -- or at most will be minor annoyances. Culture Code's Things, for example, is Mac OS X 10.6-compatible in its current version, but includes a couple minor issues.

"The current version is still OK," Mr. Simmons said. "But version 1.2 is coming in time for Snow Leopard with full compatibility."

Adobe confirmed that its Creative Suite 4 applications are Snow Leopard ready, but warned that it hasn't tested the CS3 versions of its apps to see if there are any issues. If users uncover any major compatibility problems, many in the design community that still rely on Creative Suite 3 may be forced to stick with Mac OS X 10.5 or upgrade to CS4 when they move to Snow Leopard.

Other applications and utilities that reach deep into the Mac OS X code, however, may not be compatible with Snow Leopard, although many developers are hard at work to get their products up to speed. Mail ActOn 2.1 from indev will include Snow Leopard compatibility and should be available on August 28. indev's MailTags, however, will be getting a compatibility patch and fill Snow Leopard compatibility won't be coming until fall when version 3 is released.

Many companies are have already delivered Mac OS X 10.6 compatibility updates, and others are working to get theirs out the door in time for Friday's Snow Leopard launch. The art of coding, however, doesn't always mean companies can get their apps out the door as quickly as they like because unexpected problems can crop up. TMO's Dave Hamilton took the time to explain why some applications will have compatibility issues with Snow Leopard, and there's also a Snow Leopard compatibility Web site that's keeping track of what does and doesn't work with the new OS.

Apple and third party application developers have been hard at work preparing for the Mac OS X 10.6 launch, and now end users get to start ramping up, too. TMO's John Martellaro offered up some great tips on what to do before installing Snow Leopard, and his advice is well worth considering before making the leap into Mac OS X 10.6.

TMO is also working to keep our readers up to speed on which applications are Snow Leopard ready, so be sure to check out our Special Report for regular reports on application updates, warnings, and tips.