October 2007
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Day October 31, 2007

Java on Leopard: Is it “Horribly Broken?”

Early reports concerning Java 5 on Leopard aren’t encouraging. John Gruber and Adrian Sutton hit back with blog entries, variously arguing either that the breakage isn’t important given shipping compromises, or that it isn’t really broken and that whiners should shut up.

My personal experience is that it’s broken in some significant ways. I’m not that concerned, given the scientific and mathematical programming I do, with Cocoa pipelines and graphics, but overall my fairly simple numerical simulations using RepastJ 3.1 run several orders of magnitude slower in Leopard than Tiger, given Log4J text logging in debug mode.

You can argue, as Sutton probably would, that nothing fundamental is wrong and that I shouldn’t judge “brokenness” by the performance of text I/O, but hey, let’s face it, if you can’t write ASCII text to a bloody text file before protons decay and the sun burns out, then Java 5 is horribly broken in Leopard.

Which sucks, because although Gruber doesn’t see any “significant” software being written in Java for the Mac, there sure are a lot of us using IntelliJ IDEA doing Java development on Intel Macs, and the compile and test cycle just got a lot worse. A *lot* worse.

Leopard was late, and compromises needed to be made, and sure Apple took a lot of flak for announcing the delay, but this OS needed more time in the oven.

UPDATE: This turns out to be the Quartz rendering pipeline switch, and is “fixed” by passing the following to the JVM as command line arguments:

-Dapple.awt.graphics.UseQuartz=true

My guess is that Apple might release a separate download to restore the Quartz pipeline as the default, but in the meantime this seems work. I would like to thank Pratik from Apple, who saw my post a couple of minutes ago and pointed me in the right direction.

Maybe Gruber and Sutton are right, it’s possible we all need to chill out a bit. This here upgrade might turn out to be alright, though I did follow Siracusa’s lead and turn off the pseudo-3D dock using the “no-glass” attribute — I have a zillion program icons and they’re incredibly hard to distinguish at very small sizes in pseudo-3D. Siracusa is also right, it’s almost impossible to read the very-similar grey “stacks” folder icons when my dock is so small….