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3/29/2007
05:15 PM
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10 Top Mac Apps For The Enterprise

These cool tools make it easy to manage your Mac.

Mac OS X is a top-notch operating system, but, like all systems, there are always things it can't do, or could do better. That's where applications come in. What follows are some cool and useful tools for the enterprise. No doubt, we can live without them, but they've made my Mac experience more complete and more fun, too.

ALL-IN-ONE TOOLBOX
There aren't a lot of applications that I'm a true fan of. I'm generally willing to change apps without hesitation if I need to. Bare Bones Software's BBEdit is an exception. It's nominally a text editor or a programmer's editor, but really, it's a text toolbox. If I'm not writing in BBEdit, it's because I'm required to use something else, or it's a blog post and I'm using Ecto.

The short list of the features I use includes multiple-file searching, language syntax support, HTML previews in any browser on my system or WebKit, and amazing AppleScript support. Yes, I know, I can replicate everything BBEdit does with the command line or other editors and tools. But for my needs, why bother when BBEdit gives me everything I could ever need or want in one package?

MOBILE SYNC

Missing Sync for Windows Mobile
(click image for larger view)


Missing Sync for Windows Mobile lets you easily connect and synchronize Pocket PCs and smartphones with your Mac.

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Mark/Space's Missing Sync is the best Windows Mobile to Mac OS sync software, bar none. Same goes for its Palm product and, based on past experience, its upcoming BlackBerry offering. It does exactly what I need and doesn't throw any surprises. The Sync Services integration means that I don't have to care about application conduits. It's been such a solid application that I refuse to buy a non-iSync-supported phone that isn't supported by Missing Sync.

APPLICATION GLUE
Long considered a hidden jewel, Apple's AppleScript programming language is enjoying yet another renaissance thanks to Automator, a rather nice GUI drag-and-drop interface for automation languages. While you can create Automator actions in many languages, AppleScript is the one that gives you the most access to Mac OS X and the applications on the Mac.

I've seen and helped write AppleScript scripts and applications that do serious, real-world work, yet AppleScript is truly the Rodney Dangerfield of programming. It gets no respect, probably because it breaks so many rules. It doesn't have a C-like syntax. It doesn't even have a Basic-like syntax. You'd be hard pressed to find many languages that AppleScript does represent. And it's inconsistent: Keywords and constants can change depending on what you're doing. You can have AppleScript additions, a.k.a. OSAX, that add completely different features and change the language even more.

As a standalone programming language, AppleScript isn't that powerful. Where it shines is as a glue between applications, taking all these different applications you have on your Mac and tying them together. If you have BBEdit, why would you need to have the extensive text-handling library that quite a few other programming languages have? If you have a scriptable e-mail client, why does AppleScript need to give you e-mail support?

I use AppleScript so often that I can't imagine working on a platform without it. I've used it to script almost every task I have to do more than once in a while, from translating e-mails into blog posts to software updates via Apple Remote Desktop to configuration changes to creating structured PDFs from Microsoft Entourage e-mails to ... well, it's just my problem-solving tool of choice, because it lets me use all the tools at my disposal, not just the ones it happens to provide me.

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