Leopard Preview, iPhone SDK Strategy

Apple will offer plenty of useful goodies for sysadmins when Leopard is released in late October. Plus: the strategy behind the iPhone SDK.
Posted October 18, 2007

John Welch

John Welch

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Two, two, two updates in one!

In moves that should surprise no one, Apple announced both a release date for Leopard and Leopard Server (Oct. 26th, 2007), and that there would indeed be a "real" iPhone SDK, along with a general availability timeframe (February of 2008).

The Leopard announcement should not be "news" in and of itself. Apple has been saying October for a while now, this just gives us all a day work with. Apple is of course, touting the "300+ New Features" in Leopard, and while I'm not going through all of them, there are some that should be quite welcome to sysadmins.

AppleScript, long a favored and, for many, a critical part of the OS gets some significant updates in Leopard. Among them: Full Unicode support, the Objective-C scripting bridge, which will allow for more languages to use the mechanisms that AppleScript has to such great effect, improved scripting support in various system preferences and applications, improved Folder Actions, and one that all scripters will appreciate, the long-awaited update to the AppleScript Language Guide. (How long you ask? The one I have was last updated in May of 1999. It's been a while.)

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AppleScript, and scripting in general, are technologies that are hard to sell to the general public, but critical in the enterprise, so any improvements here are welcome. Along with AppleScript, Automator has picked up a some new tricks, including UI scripting recording, and a command line utility.

While much has been made of the new Menu Bar and Dock in Leopard, a new Desktop feature that I have wanted, literally since Mac OS X 10.0 has finally moved from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. Namely, spring-loaded folders in the Dock, so I can drag items to subfolders of folders in the Dock. It may not seem all that great, but it's something I've dearly missed.

For those of us doing remote support for remote users, Apple has finally given us free built-in screen sharing in Leopard. No need to buy Apple Remote Desktop, or set up VNC just to remote into a Mac, it's now a part of the OS. Along with that, there's the Back to My Mac feature, that allows you store your current IP address in your .Mac account, so you can connect to a Mac over the Internet. If you've ever tried to walk a relentlessly non-technical user through giving you the connection information you need when they're in a hotel somewhere, you'll appreciate this. Another feature in Leopard that folks without a formal file server will appreciate is the ability to share any folder on your Mac, not just the specific ones Apple allowed you to share in Mac OS X 10.4 and earlier.

Since Mac OS X Server is gaining a calendar server in Leopard, iCal has been updated to support a more Outlook-like way of dealing with appointments, room reservations, et al. While it's not as full-featured as Outlook or say, Notes, it's also quite a bit easier to use.

New printing tricks include better print previews, kerberized printing, location-aware printing and more. (Apple buying CUPS probably helped a bit here.)

Next page: Active Directory. Plus: iPhone SDK

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