Personally, I'm a big fan of Webistrano, a neat web app that sits on top of Capistrano, adds some nice features, and generally makes the deployment process a little bit easier.

But I didn't want to have to be in the web application all the time to monitor the deployment's progress. Plus, I wanted to have a project to play around with RubyCocoa. Webistrano comes with an XML-based REST-API. So why not throw all these together, and build a nice application around it?

I originally started working on it last April (I think), using plain Ruby APIs, but quickly discovered that they just don't match with Cocoa's view of the world, especially when it comes to asynchronous things. It's still not a perfect match, there are some glitches, but the current state works out pretty well.


Enough blabber, in the spirit of Getting Things Done, I'm officially announcing the first public release of Macistrano. It allows you to run and monitor deployments from the comfort of your desktop. That's pretty much all it does, but the goal is to make it do that perfectly of course.

If you're using Webistrano (which you should, go and install it asap), give a Macistrano a whirl, and let me know how you like it. Head over to the project's page for more information and download. Check the GitHub project page if you're interested in the source code.

Tags: macosx, ruby

It's true, I did write my diploma thesis using Vim. Old-school with LaTeX and C++. When I came to the Mac five years ago I was still using the now pretty much dead Carbon version of MacVim. And well, it just didn't feel right. I'm very comfortable on the command line, but on the Mac I wanted something that integrated well with the rest of that system, that behave like a real Mac application.

Of course, like a lot of people, I found TextMate. Who could resist the cool stuff as seen on the first Rails screencasts? I sure couldn't. I've been using it a good three and a half years now, and I still like it.

But recently the new Cocoa version of MacVim scratched my itch. It was Jamis Buck's blog entry that eventually pushed me over the edge, and had me trying out working with Vim for the last week or so. And holy crap, a lot has happened in the world of Vim since I left it for good. Omni completion, a really good Rails script package, and lots of other cool stuff.

So I gave it a go, and it was like Jamis said, it kinda felt like coming back home. I spent most of my university days with Vim, actually the first years using the old-school Solaris vi. So it basically felt like I never left.

I got pretty fluent with it pretty quickly, and started looking for a nice set of scripts that would fit my workflow. I found

It all felt pretty good in the beginning, especially rails.vim is an amazing package. But after using it for a week it made me realize one thing: That I haven't dived into the Rails bundles deep enough. There's a lot of things in rails.vim that the TextMate bundle also has. What is seriously cool in Vim is the completion, but I just don't use it that much, and it can be frickin slow if you're on a big project.

And that's mainly my main gripe, it all didn't feel very speedy. It took one to two seconds for a normal file to load, what with all the BufRead action going on for Ruby and Rails project files. I didn't mind it that much in the beginning, but it got really annoying. Plus, a lot of the plugins, like NERD tree, or taglist felt kinda bolted on.

So here I am working in TextMate, still loving Vim for it's flexibility and simple effectiveness, promising myself to delve deeper into what the bundles offer. It was a great week, and I'm glad that Vim gets the love it deserves.

One issue that drove me back to Vim was the fact that there's no news on what's happening in TextMate development, and what will be in 2.0. What the week in Vim made me realize were that TextMate could use stuff like split-screen editing, the ability to handle bigger files without hogging memory and CPU, and maybe some real good SCM integration.

My biggest gripe though was that file types didn't stick, switching from Rails to RSpec and Shoulda and back just seemed to confuse TextMate. I was made aware that there actually is a "fix" for that problem, but that just isn't a full solution. It helps right now, but I can only hope that TextMate 2 integrates something like TabMate, just maybe not with modlines but with metadata.

I recently remembered that there used to be a nice plugin for SIMBL that'll put e.g. TextMate into full screen mode. Something TextMate itself doesn't support out of the box, but that comes in handy to reduce distractions while working with it.

I looked for the plugin, and found it, but the last update was in 2006, so it very likely wouldn't run nicely on Intel Macs. Other people on MacUpdate were asking for a Universal version of the plugin, so I gave it a try.

Luckily it compiled without any problem, so I give you megazoomer as a Universal Binary. The code is practically unchanged, though I did put it up on GitHub (you'll also find the simple installation instructions there) to preserve it for the near and distant future (whatever it beholds). All credit (and copyright) belongs to Ian Henderson who wrote it in the first place.


Tags: macosx

Steven Frank gives you a whole bunch of reasons not to use FTP anymore. For me, SFTP (the SSH version), together with scp, have replaced FTP long ago. FTP reminds me of the good old PHP days, when your deployment would consist of just copying your files over FTP, without backup of course, and then frantically trying to revert the change that cause your production application to break.

"FTP has served us well, but it's time to move on. You wouldn't use a 23 year old computer to do your work, so don't use a protocol from the same vintage. Demand modern transfer protocols from your host."

Well said. Me, I still use Transmit. Still one of the best pieces of Mac software out there.

I've been using xScope for a while now, and I highly recommend it for everyone pushing around pixels, divs and whatnot. Its rulers and the loupe have become invaluable for me.

The recent upgrade to 2.0 (current is 2.1) introduced a neat new feature which quickly measures the dimensions of anything under the cursor. It'll find the next border in every direction and give you nice and easy measurements.

Picture 1

Of course that's far from being all it does. Go check it out. It's a neat little gem. Available from the IconFactory.

In other news, I finally decided to go on the Twitters.

Tags: macosx

Lots of open tabs to be swept. Brace yourselves.


Can you tell I'm looking into Git right now?



Mac OS X

  • Secrets. An ever-growing list of hidden preferences. Comes with a handy-dandy preference pane.
Tags: links, macosx, rails, ruby

Now here's a little gem I've been waiting for a long time, and that I just discovered today. Usually i just implemented custom scripts that would check the build status in CruiseControl and use Growl to notify me of build errors. I don't like having my email client open all the time just to see if the build failed, so this is a god-given.

CCMenu wants to remedy that, and comes along with support for all the CruiseControls out there, sitting in your menu bar, and checking your dashboards for the build status. It also signalizes, if a build is currently running.


Just as you'd expect it to, in good pragmatic automation fashion, it'll notify via Growl of the build status.

CCMenu Growl Notification

Apparently the tool has been written by ThoughtWorks people, no surprise here. Well done is all I can say. It still has some rough edges, but it's open source, so no need to complain, just more reasons to dig in.

Been using it with CruiseControl.rb all day, and it's working neatly.

Just like last year, MacSanta opened its doors right on time for the holiday season. They have some pretty good deals on some excellent Mac shareware. I stacked up already during last year's sale, but their daily deals are well worth keeping an eye on.

Also jumping on the Christmas deals bandwagon are Give Good Food To Your Mac and another MacUpdate sale. Though I gotta say I prefer the variety over at MacSanta. So go out and support those indie Mac developers.

Tags: macosx

The Mac OS X spell checker offers the weirdest suggestions. Restmüll means residual waste.

Tags: macosx

MarsEdit 2.0 has been released recently. It's been my blog editor of choice for more than two years now, and the UI facelift it got was long overdue. No more drawers, just like Apple Mail, and best of all, Flickr integration.

MarsEdit 2.0 Flickr Browser

Since I use SimpleLog (which I can highly recommend, by the way) which doesn't support file uploads, I use two options: Skitch (for which I have two invites left, if you're up for it) and Flickr. The former is useless other than for quickly dumping a snapshot, but that you can do pretty quickly. Flickr on the other hand is my personal dump of photos, so when posting something about these (like last week, for example), the integration comes in handy.

By the way, while writing your posts in MarsEdit you can get a perfectly usable preview of how it will look like in your blog. I already edited my template accordingly before MarsEdit 2.0 came out, but Daniel Jalkut (author of MarsEdit) posted a blog entry on how to do that.

MarsEdit is among my favourite tools on the Mac, and I highly recommend giving it a go.

Have a RESTful weekend with some REST-related reading, some of it already a little older, but it's gotten more important to me recently: * Refactoring DayTrader to REST. An article on refactoring an existing application to use REST.

Tags: links, macosx, rails

I get distracted easily. E-mail, instant messaging, the mighty and fraudulent web, you name it. However, recently I've surrounded my workspace with a couple of tools that help me reduce distractions, both explicitly and implicitly.

There are two tools that I've grown particularly fond of, Lightroom and WriteRoom. Accident? I don't think so. Both take a rather simple approach to reduce distractions. They fade everything else out and spread themselves all over the screen with their black UI, leaving nothing but their GUI on the screen. Simple, huh?

The concept of Lightroom is pretty clear. With film photography you went into a darkroom to develop film and prints. With Lightroom you basically do the same on your computer. Besides Lightroom being an excellent tool for post-production I really started to like the approach.


Soon I ran over WriteRoom again, having checked it out a while ago, a simple writing tool that basically does the same. It spreads out all over your screen, and everything that's left is a green, blinking cursor. Just like in the good old days, when your text had to fit on a screen 80x25 characters in size.


While I don't wish to be back in those days, I enjoy writing in this environment, and I enjoy working with my photos in an environment where I can have my focus solely on them. Both tools are highly recommended. Especially Lightroom, not only for blackening out all other tools if you want it too, but because it’s a top-notch post-processing tool.

Something that I’ve gotten used to are virtual desktops, the simplest way to reduce distractions. Basically I spread my applications over different desktops based on their purpose. Everything involving the usage of the net goes on a separate desktop. Tools like OmniOutliner, OmniFocus, VoodooPad, Pages and the like go on a separate one, and everything involving development on another one. That way I can focus on a specific task, be it office-related work, developing or using the internet. This approach is so common in the Unix-world, where I originally started using it, yet only now will this be an actual feature in Mac OS X 10.5.

The last trick in my box is Desktopple Pro. It serves two purposes. With the press of a button it can hide your desktop. Want to hide all those cluttered documents during a presentation at a client’s? Desktopple is the tool for you. It can also hide unused applications after a certain amount of time. The latter is basically what I use now, since I found a more decent way to deal with desktop clutter: reducing it. My Desktop is basically empty. Just a simple desktop, no icons, no documents.

To start with I adopted Ethan Schoonover's Kinkless Desktop which helped a bit. I'm not the person to put much stuff on the desktop, but basically it always bothered me to have stuff lying around there. So I moved the Inbox, Outbox and Support folders to my Documents directory et voila: an empty desktop. No volumes, no external drives, no DVDs, nothing. Distraction-B-Gone!

MacRabbit today released CSSEdit v2.5, a release sporting some nice new features, amongst them tabs (gotta have those), a shiny inspector for X-ray to get all the details on the styles a particular element has, and last but not least, a selector builder to make the sometimes-hassle of building the right selector a visual pleasure.

CSSEdit is one of my favorite tools on the Mac. It's a perfect example how design and function can be integrated into a focussed and usable application.

Go grab it while it's hot.

In other news, the good folks at Panic today released Coda, an integrated web development environment. Mind you, it's not Dreamweaver, no, it looks better. Though I prefer my stack of tools it definitely looks like a thought-through and well-designed tool. I'll definitely take it for a spin.

Tags: macosx