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 Topic: Why is Appearance Manager the Devil? (Page 1 of 2)
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  Bandit (Profile)
  32 MB
 
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:01 pm
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Evening,

I have spent the last few hours reviewing the site and reading through the forums and the most striking thing I've come across is that while numerous enhancements, both from Apple, Inc. and third-parties, are encouraged or even considered required in order to use System 7, specifically Mac OS 7.6.1, Appearance Manager is considered about the most evil thing that can be installed.

Since I wasn't able to find a specific thread dedicated to it (I may have missed it) or an article on the site (I could have missed that as well), I thought I'd ask:

Why is Appearance Manager considered the Devil?

If this has been laid out some where on the site and I overlooked it feel free to just direct me.

As Always,

The Bandit
  
  dpaanlka (Profile)
  1024 MB
 
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:10 pm
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Here is some fun information:

http://main.system7today.com/a.....rance.html

Not installing Apperance Manager doesn't mean having it installed and shutting it off by default in the Appearance Control Panel. It means not having it at all.

Of course anyone is free to do whatever they wish with their systems, but having Mac OS 8's heavy GUI placed on top of System 7 takes away a large reason to use System 7 in the first place.

A short summary of why not to install Appearance manager is:

  • It is slow.
  • It is buggy.
  • It takes up more screen space.
  • It isn't the *traditional* look.

Now, we don't really know exactly why Platinum (Mac OS 8's GUI) runs so slow. It actually runs slower on Mac OS 7 than it would on Mac OS 8 on the same machine. We've tested this quite a bit, and I presume it's because Mac OS 7's interface is still largely 68k code, whereas Mac OS 8's may be more PowerPC. So running Mac OS 8's more complex GUI on Mac OS 7 slows it down quite a bit. Mac OS 7's default GUI is still faster than all of them though, even Platinum on Mac OS 8.

So, from fastest to slowest, it would go like this:

1. Mac OS 7 w/Mac OS 7 GUI
2. Mac OS 8 w/Mac OS 8 GUI
3. Mac OS 7 w/Mac OS 8 GUI
  
  Bandit (Profile)
  32 MB
 
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:00 pm
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Well, I tend to look past, "it doesn't look like Mac OS 7," since it is essentially a personal preference.

The official release date of Appearance Manager is some time in 1996. Mac OS 8 "Tempo" didn't ship until July of 1997. I am unsure if Appearance Manager was available as a standalone installer download or with other ala carte software but being released in 1996, one may conclude that the developer planned it for use with Mac OS 7.6.1. If Apple has a Knowledge Base article stating that Appearance Manager is not supported under Mac OS 7.6.1 that you know of please direct me to it, I admit I have not looked yet. Many have noticed in the forums that Appearance Manager was distributed with several third-party applications, a typical distribution method for Apple during this period (other examples of software updates for the OS distributed in this way include the USB Support System Extension and Input Sprockets under both under Mac OS 8 "Tempo").

But again, how one wants to view their Mac was entirely personal preference during the Classic Mac OS period so choosing not to use Appearance Manager for this reason seems fair on a personal preference level.

Interesting article, I missed it my first time through thanks for pointing me at it. I was previously unaware of what it outlines and I have several followup questions after reading the article that I am posting here.

With benchmarks I am always curious when performance becomes an issue, certainly it does appear quite evident that on the PowerBook Duo 2300c/100 used to test there is a performance hit. But the question is, when does a user begin to experience that performance hit. Many performance hits are non-linear, i.e. performance only degrades after a certain point.

Since I am guessing very few people here are opening upwards of 1,000 independent windows of any kind at once, does the performance hit also occur during more regular use scenarios? Say the opening and manipulation of a dozen individual windows?

Curiously, sometimes a specific piece of software requires less resources under more powerful Macs and other times it does not (a good example is iTunes 6.5.x which uses about the same amount of processor time on about any PPC G4, yet uses almost no processor time on an Intel Core Xeon for the same tasks). This is generally because of differences in system hardware architecture. Since users on this site seem to have hardware all over the map and System 7.x supports such a wide range, it would be interesting to know if the performance hit is the same on a Power Macintosh 8600/300 as on a PowerBook 1400c/166 as on a Power Macintosh 7300/180 with a Sonnet G3 Upgrade Card of some speed. I am just tossing out examples but sticking to PPC based Macs since Appearance Manager was released roughly two and a half to three years after the release of the 6100/60 and is highly likely to contain only minor amounts of 68K code. I am also wondering if the performance hit varies based on the PPC chip in question since under System 7 all video display rendering is done on the processor; also that is why I left out the Power Macintosh 9600 models since they require a dedicated video card that would impact redraws to a degree.

So, does this performance hit change on different hardware?

My last, "off the top of my head," performance related question is does this performance hit remain when Appearance Manager is installed but the Platinum Theme is turned off? Does it persist under other themes? There were many unreleased Apple theme as well as numerous third-party themes that were very popular during this period.

Perhaps you would post an update to your article with benchmarks addressing these curiosities?

With regard to the visual display bugs

The Window Shade System Extension for System 7.x was available years prior to Appearance Manager's release. I do not recall it having the display bug that you describe occurring with Appearance Manager installed when Window Shade was installed alone, so it seems possible the issue in this particular case is linked to the Platinum Theme. Does the Window Shade display bug persist with Appearance Manager installed but the Platinum Theme disabled?

The fact that this issue could be caused by a conflict on the side of Window Shade, Appearance Manager, or the Platinum Theme is also curious. By the time of Mac OS 8 Apple had removed the Window Shade System Extension and folded that functionality in else where.

You state that some have reported display artifacts and redraw issues but you also seem to indicate there are other display bugs more along the lines, though less noticeable than, the Windows Shade issue. Where do those crop up?

Thanks for the fast reply, I wasn't expecting to see anything yet this evening. Hope to hear back from you and anyone else who has input on these questions as I am very curious.
  
  dpaanlka (Profile)
  1024 MB
 
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 1:42 am
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Bandit wrote:

Well, I tend to look past, "it doesn't look like Mac OS 7," since it is essentially a personal preference.


Perhaps, but it's what this site is all about.

Quote:

The official release date of Appearance Manager is some time in 1996. Mac OS 8 "Tempo" didn't ship until July of 1997. I am unsure if Appearance Manager was available as a standalone installer download or with other ala carte software but being released in 1996, one may conclude that the developer planned it for use with Mac OS 7.6.1. If Apple has a Knowledge Base article stating that Appearance Manager is not supported under Mac OS 7.6.1 that you know of please direct me to it, I admit I have not looked yet. Many have noticed in the forums that Appearance Manager was distributed with several third-party applications, a typical distribution method for Apple during this period (other examples of software updates for the OS distributed in this way include the USB Support System Extension and Input Sprockets under both under Mac OS 8 "Tempo").


Appearance Manager was never "supported" under Mac OS 7. It was always considered rogue software that may or may not work, and was available simply as a way for developers of Mac OS 8 to ensure compatibility of their apps with Mac OS 7, which at the time was far more prevalent. While the USB and Input Sprockets were included with a limited number of apps that were compatible with Mac OS 7, none of them altered the operating system as much as Appearance Manager. Think of them more as "drivers" where Appearance Manager literally alters the operation of the OS. Whether or not you desire the alterations is irrelevant as this site focuses on using System 7 in more or less it's original form (even recommending you disable Speed Doubler 8's multitasking copy routines).

Quote:

But again, how one wants to view their Mac was entirely personal preference during the Classic Mac OS period so choosing not to use Appearance Manager for this reason seems fair on a personal preference level.


Well, yes, of course. Any user can choose what they will or will not run on their computers. This site officially frowns upon Appearance Manager, but you are free to do whatever you'd like.

Quote:

Interesting article, I missed it my first time through thanks for pointing me at it. I was previously unaware of what it outlines and I have several followup questions after reading the article that I am posting here.


Perfect! I'm glad you found it interesting, if nothing else.

Quote:

With benchmarks I am always curious when performance becomes an issue, certainly it does appear quite evident that on the PowerBook Duo 2300c/100 used to test there is a performance hit. But the question is, when does a user begin to experience that performance hit. Many performance hits are non-linear, i.e. performance only degrades after a certain point.


Again, as you start to go up in the hardware level (for example, a Power Macintosh 8600 with a G4 upgrade and a Radeon 9700) it begins to become irrelevant. But the official policy of this site is to keep everything Appearance Manager-less. I believe that avoiding Appearance Manager gives you the benefits of Mac OS 7's well-designed GUI, as well as faster performance, so that will continue to be the policy of this site. You are free to do whatever you'd like.

Quote:

Since I am guessing very few people here are opening upwards of 1,000 independent windows of any kind at once, does the performance hit also occur during more regular use scenarios? Say the opening and manipulation of a dozen individual windows?


Yes, it does. Think of it this way... if it takes 2/3ds as long to open windows and menus and move things around 10000 things in Mac OS 7 with platinum appearance as it does with Mac OS 7's GUI, it will be the same ratio when opening only one window, however insignificant that may be. System 7 Today is all about maximizing performance and benefit with Mac OS 7. The maximum performance is with Mac OS 7's GUI, nothing else comes close. We feel that the benefits of having Mac OS 8's platinum GUI do not outweigh the benefits of having Mac OS 7's GUI, and quite frankly, I personally prefer Mac OS 7's clean, black and white GUI to Mac OS 8's. It feels more elegant to me, and I'd like everyone to know about it.

Quote:

Curiously, sometimes a specific piece of software requires less resources under more powerful Macs and other times it does not (a good example is iTunes 6.5.x which uses about the same amount of processor time on about any PPC G4, yet uses almost no processor time on an Intel Core Xeon for the same tasks). This is generally because of differences in system hardware architecture. Since users on this site seem to have hardware all over the map and System 7.x supports such a wide range, it would be interesting to know if the performance hit is the same on a Power Macintosh 8600/300 as on a PowerBook 1400c/166 as on a Power Macintosh 7300/180 with a Sonnet G3 Upgrade Card of some speed. I am just tossing out examples but sticking to PPC based Macs since Appearance Manager was released roughly two and a half to three years after the release of the 6100/60 and is highly likely to contain only minor amounts of 68K code. I am also wondering if the performance hit varies based on the PPC chip in question since under System 7 all video display rendering is done on the processor; also that is why I left out the Power Macintosh 9600 models since they require a dedicated video card that would impact redraws to a degree.


Your questions are very interesting. I'd like to let you know that I have over 80s Macs... ranging from 68030s to Power Macs with 400mhz G4 upgrades, all of them running Mac OS 7. Some have no third party video card, while some have RasterOps 24x cards, to even ATI Radeon 7000s. They all, however insignificant, show a degradation of performance using Mac OS 8. Because of this, among other reasons, I have chosen to frown upon Appearance Manager. Individual users are free to use whatever they'd like.

Quote:

So, does this performance hit change on different hardware?

My last, "off the top of my head," performance related question is does this performance hit remain when Appearance Manager is installed but the Platinum Theme is turned off? Does it persist under other themes? There were many unreleased Apple theme as well as numerous third-party themes that were very popular during this period.


Yes, I have performed benchmarks with Appearance installed an Platinum turned off, and it is still slower (although not as significantly).

Quote:

Perhaps you would post an update to your article with benchmarks addressing these curiosities?


I think that is a very good idea, and hopefully I'll have time in the near future to do so.

Quote:

With regard to the visual display bugs

The Window Shade System Extension for System 7.x was available years prior to Appearance Manager's release. I do not recall it having the display bug that you describe occurring with Appearance Manager installed when Window Shade was installed alone, so it seems possible the issue in this particular case is linked to the Platinum Theme. Does the Window Shade display bug persist with Appearance Manager installed but the Platinum Theme disabled?


As far as I can remember, it does. The Window Shade bug (among others) appears in Appearance Manager, and it is impossible to fix it without disabling Window Shade all together (even enabling it in the Appearance Control panel doesn't fix the problem in Mac OS 7).

Quote:

The fact that this issue could be caused by a conflict on the side of Window Shade, Appearance Manager, or the Platinum Theme is also curious. By the time of Mac OS 8 Apple had removed the Window Shade System Extension and folded that functionality in else where.


Correct, but because Window Shade was not built into Mac OS 7, but rather a separate extension, it does not function properly with Appearance Manager, no matter what.

Quote:

You state that some have reported display artifacts and redraw issues but you also seem to indicate there are other display bugs more along the lines, though less noticeable than, the Windows Shade issue. Where do those crop up?


In menu and window redraws when positions changed, mostly. Some users report no problems, but some do. Also, Appearance Manager seems to have derogatory effects on full-screen games that are not Appearance aware.

Quote:

Thanks for the fast reply, I wasn't expecting to see anything yet this evening. Hope to hear back from you and anyone else who has input on these questions as I am very curious.


Well thank you so much for posting your concerns and ideas to System 7 Today! I'm so excited to see new challenges posted, and hope you found my answers satisfactory.
  
  Bandit (Profile)
  32 MB
 
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:49 pm
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The concern over this issue, in my opinion, should be if Appearance Manager closes more doors than it opens. Appearance Manager does open the door to more software this will be important to some users. Appearance Manager may also cause issues for some users I am trying to understand the extent of those issues.

I have some concerns about your answers:

Have any reference for Appearance Manager being widely considered "rogue" software? I used System 7 exclusively through this period 1993 until a good while after the Mac OS 8 "Tempo" release in July 1997 and I do not recall such an opinion.

On the notion of Appearance Manager affecting the system more than other control panels and system extensions I can see why one would perceive this since it affects the GUI. However, the actual impact on the OS is equal to that of any other system extension including device drivers since all system extensions are treated equally and are all "always-on" unlike device drivers under Mac OS X and other *nix systems where many drivers are loaded on-demand.

The significance or insignificance of the performance impact is paramount to whether it matters. If the performance impact is insignificant on more powerful hardware then it is not a reason to object to Appearance Manager on more powerful hardware. If it is not an issue during general use for the average user you must see where I am going with this.

Performance impacts are often not linear, so opening one window is likely not to be proportionally slow to opening 1,000 windows. Any performance impact on opening a window should be weighed against say waiting for the hard disk drive to spin up something that is not going to change. If the delay is less than the access latency of your hard drive, then it makes no difference as it does not impact use.

Is the goal of the site to assist users of System 7 to find it useful today? Or to determine the theoretical speed of Mac OS 7.6.1?

What games are you aware of that do not work properly with Appearance Manager? Is the number of them and their impact on this site's membership greater than the number of applications that Appearance Manager enables for them?

Lastly, how much does this play into the discussion:

dpaanlka wrote:

and quite frankly, I personally prefer Mac OS 7's clean, black and white GUI to Mac OS 8's. It feels more elegant to me, and I'd like everyone to know about it.


vs the actual impact on the user?

As Always,

The Bandit
  
  dpaanlka (Profile)
  1024 MB
 
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 11:23 pm
Quote
  
Bandit wrote:

Have any reference for Appearance Manager being widely considered "rogue" software? I used System 7 exclusively through this period 1993 until a good while after the Mac OS 8 "Tempo" release in July 1997 and I do not recall such an opinion.


No, I do not have quotable third party resources stating this exactly. I have only the experiences of users, the bugs, the slowness, and the extremely short time that programs were developed for this to go by. It is my judgement that it was rogue software, a "quick-fix." If you absolutely cannot see how obviously un-optimized Apperance Manager is for Mac OS 7, then you can feel free to use it.

Quote:

On the notion of Appearance Manager affecting the system more than other control panels and system extensions I can see why one would perceive this since it affects the GUI. However, the actual impact on the OS is equal to that of any other system extension including device drivers since all system extensions are treated equally and are all "always-on" unlike device drivers under Mac OS X and other *nix systems where many drivers are loaded on-demand.


No, Appearance does effect the OS more substantially because it is in a constant state of direct interaction with the user. It is never waiting silently in the background.

Quote:

The significance or insignificance of the performance impact is paramount to whether it matters. If the performance impact is insignificant on more powerful hardware then it is not a reason to object to Appearance Manager on more powerful hardware. If it is not an issue during general use for the average user you must see where I am going with this.


Honestly I don't know where you're going with this. You are free to use Appearance Manager if you'd like. I've been using Mac OS 7 on a daily basis since 2000. From my experiences and the experiences of many people who I am in contact with, I dis-recommend Apperance Manager. Everyone is free to do whatever they want, but this site will not post software that requires Appearance Manager (which really isn't that much anyway).

And it's not just about performance anyway. It's a combination of performance, bugs, and GUI preference. All three of those combined make me not recommend Appearance Manager to other users.

Quote:

Performance impacts are often not linear, so opening one window is likely not to be proportionally slow to opening 1,000 windows. Any performance impact on opening a window should be weighed against say waiting for the hard disk drive to spin up something that is not going to change. If the delay is less than the access latency of your hard drive, then it makes no difference as it does not impact use.


I have yet to meet anyone claiming to not notice the slow down of Platinum versus the standard Mac OS 7 interface. The Window test is just a simple demonstration. Rest assured, my decision to frown upon Appearance Manager is not based entirely on that simple benchmark.

Quote:

Is the goal of the site to assist users of System 7 to find it useful today? Or to determine the theoretical speed of Mac OS 7.6.1?


Both...

Quote:

What games are you aware of that do not work properly with Appearance Manager? Is the number of them and their impact on this site's membership greater than the number of applications that Appearance Manager enables for them?


The selection of apps that will run on Mac OS 7 with Appearance Manager is not compelling enough to me and other members here. Office 98, Photoshop 5.5, Netscape 4.8, Internet Explorer 5, Toast 4, Bryce 4D, Adobe Premiere 5, QuarkXPress 4, various games... these and more all work without Appearance, and none have later versions compatible with Mac OS 7 via Appearance Manager.

Quote:

Lastly, how much does this play into the discussion:

dpaanlka wrote:

and quite frankly, I personally prefer Mac OS 7's clean, black and white GUI to Mac OS 8's. It feels more elegant to me, and I'd like everyone to know about it.


vs the actual impact on the user?


I would say about 50%.
  
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