The Shell Is Where I Tinker — A Peppermint Review For Families Who Like To Build Stuff

October 29, 2014

The Shell Is Where I Tinker — A Peppermint Review For Families Who Like To Build Stuff → via @_patrickwelker

Family History Digression

My father was a business man. In his spare time he enjoyed building things with his own two hands. It was more than just balancing out his job in the office, he had an urge to build things he used and enjoyed looking at.

In my childhood I grew up in a rural area and watched him building things up from nothing to absolute stunning results. He had a Japanese phase and styled part of the house and the whole garden this way. He added to it by building smaller detail and also bigger architectural projects like a bridge, a tea house and a 13 feet (4 meter) tall gate with two golden Mortal Kombat dragons on the sides — guess twice who delivered the inspiration for those.1

2014-10-29-father-japanes-phase.jpg

He’s 63 years now and due do some unfortunate events in his career — a real white collar crime bombshell story, like the ones you’d normally read in a novel — today he hasn’t even 1/12 of his monthly income. Regarding his big-scale side projects, I thought that’s it because even the resources and the material costs some cash.

But necessity is the mother of invention. He proofed me wrong. In the last couple years my parents moved twice and with the tools at hand and a minimal budget he build several smaller things around the house they lived in. More recently he also constructed two stone ovens (yep, the ones which are also the best way to bake a pizza), because I infected him with the baker virus. It’s when you bake your own bread… and since it’s a virus you’re forced to bake at least two loafs of bread a week (not the whitish, toast-like sweet stuff).

2014-10-29-brick-oven.jpg

PS: Every stone in that picture is placed and arranged by my dad.

Meet The Welkers, A Tinker Clan

You know what they say… like father, like son. Actually, with 33 years I can say it has never been more true then now. I’m starting to see more and more similarities each day. The good and the bad ones. You have to picture my girlfriend nodding in agreement, because obviously I inherited not only the good traits. But I’m still young and there is time to grew, be it forwards or backwards.

One of the similarities I got in common with my old man is that I’m a tinkerer. Although I’m rather the digital version. With apps like Keyboard Maestro, bash scripting and AppleScript I can replace many smaller and some bigger apps that I’d have liked to purchase. I try to make the best out of it, and often I end up preferring this hand-crafted customized solution over a UI.

Since I build stuff for me on a daily basis I need some tools. Luckily OS X ships with most of them. With the UNIX base, extra Ruby, AppleScript and so on, there are enough of them at hand. If you’re a craftsman, you know the feeling. Plus you need something extra if you always want your tools at hand and build prototypes swiftly. What you need is a tool-belt and a working room.

Hammer, Saw, and, Craft Room

For OS X CodeRunner by Nikolai Krill (@nikolaikrill) was my long-time favorite to test scripts. It is able to run code written in AppleScript, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Shell and many more. It’s a superb app which does one thing well.

However, since I’ve signed up up for the Yosemite beta CodeRunner constantly freezes. Luckily, 97% of the time you just had force-quit the app, reopen it and wait until the crash message vanished after 12 seconds – the latter could be because my Mac is 6 years old, dunno.

Today a new app with a similar set of features was released: Peppermint by Ioannis Zafeiropoulos (a.k.a. Dr.Kameleon)

2014-10-29-neo-berlin.png

The name sounds like a homage to Panic’s Coda and is not to be confused with Peppermint the color wheel app.

Ioannis also runs INSILI.CO, his company has over 40 apps in the App Store, almost all of them are tools for people who live in code. Normally, I’m cautious if developers sell more than 4 apps, since I doubt that they can provide enough care, attention and support to all of their apps on an equal basis. But reading their blog posts I got the feeling that Peppermint is an absolute love child. It was planned 3 years ago and now the bun is out of the oven.

This is what Ioannis told me about Peppermint:

It’s something I’m really devoted to, almost a dream: make an editor that I really love, the way I have envisioned it. And since I’ve been a coder in-love for the past 20 years, I believe I fully understand a programmer’s heart and indset.

His version 1.0 also has some nice tricks up its sleeve. Here’s the list of features straight from the developers website:

Features:

  • 50+ different syntaxes supported
  • 10+ different themes
  • Lots of different plugins/tools for everything you need
  • Instantly Run/Preview your code, without ever living Peppermint
  • Included FTP/SFTP mapping support
  • Live JavaScript console
  • Fully customiseable & scriptable
  • Advanced Editing: Snippets, Autocompletion, Multiple cursors

I already added to it and build a theme called Neo Berlin (v1.0) for it which is based on Ahmet Sülek’s Flat UI Terminal Theme (which again is inspired by the colors in the Flat UI kit).

DOWNLOAD

For now, you’ll have to put the theme into /Applications/Peppermint.app/Contents/Resources/Data/Themes/. In the upcoming V1.1 you can drop them in ~/Library/Application Support/Peppermint/User/Themes/.

Disclaimer! I just installed this app today and like my theme, it’s a version 1.0. This also means that the app isn’t perfect yet. Preferences are basically not existing. Currently there are four options to toggle on/off by default: sidebar, tabs, status bar and panel.

The ground work is definitely done and the app is more than usable. Besides the themes, there are also templates for all supported languages to give you a starting point. Another bonus is code-folding, which I always find useful in larger scripts.

The utility view is a neat idea, too. It’s a panel on the right side which can…

  • render a Markdown Preview
  • display a (non-editable) copy of a file for reference purposes
  • search StackOverflow in a web view
  • show a basic RegEx Editor

The prospect of having more plug-ins and/or snippets available is also what really sets Peppermint apart from CodeRunner. If people with a bit more JavaScript knowledge than me customize the app, I imagine it can become quite versatile. Just like my favorite text editor FoldingText you can already do a ton of customization with a bit of code and a JSON file.2

For said reasons I haven’t really dug into the advanced editing capabilities. Right now I happy that I can test drive my scripts again in the quickest manner possible.

The tabbed view isn’t fully implemented yet, you can only have one tab at the moment, but you can still switch files in the sidebar.

I wished there was an option in the preferences to set a favorites in the sidebar, so that all of my folders or files are there when Peppermint starts up. A recent files smart folder would also be handy. Another minor UI thing is that it would be nice to have a setting where I can put the status bar at the top. It’s quite a way down to where it sits when the window spans from the top of the screen to the bottom.

Commenting/uncommenting worked for most file types I tested, only HTML didn’t work.

Lastly, good old CodeRunner has a feature that is really cool. You can take care of command line arguments or input sets which you might need to run your code. Plus, you can interact with your scripts and apps while they run. I guess this might be possible with Peppermint, too, but there’s no menu or plug-in for it at the moment.

Since I want to end on a positive note and haven’t found a major problem that keeps me from using the app, all I can say is: if you need a program like this and can spend $14.99, then Peppermint might be for you. Speaking for myself, I’m glad it’s here and works without hiccups in Yosemite.

I’m also eager to see what the future will bring for this little helper. After all, the real tool-belt from my father is a bit to wide for my waist and this app fits me much better.

  1. Sadly I couldn’t find better quality pictures. Those are ancient. I’d have really loved to show you the Mortal Kombat dragon up-close. Here are three slightly larger shots.

  2. Brett Terpstra might take care of some additions since he’s a big CodeRunner fan already. But I know he won’t ever read this, since this is a larger blog post (ᵔᴥᵔ).

Link List Special – October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

Link List – October 15, 2014 → by www.rocketink.net via @_patrickwelker

There are some browser extensions which occupy valuable space in my text file where I collect link list items. Since I’m a Chrome user on the Mac (not on iOS anymore) and I have my reasons why Google Chrome is my favorite browser, I decided to do a link list special.

Chrome Web Store

Dropbox, The Muppets And Attention To Detail

October 10, 2014

Dropbox, The Muppets And Attention To Detail → via @_patrickwelker

Dropbox is the home for your most important stuff—now we’re bringing it to life with a growing family of products. As we scale our global brand, there’s plenty of space for you to grow alongside us and simplify life for millions of people around the world.

There’s something about Dropbox that just clicked with me years ago. While this has been the case for many other tech brands, only a few were capable of keeping it that way. I still feel literally connected to Dropbox. Sync.

Despite slowly offering more than just sync, I still put the company in the category ‘one thing well’. With Google deemed evil some years ago and Apple focusing more and more each year on how to perfect their marketing, Dropbox has been “a constant” in my life.

In my mind I still see the 2007 version of Dropbox, 12 nerdy people hacking away to deliver the perfect sync every other major company chases after. The sync which the one company I own a lot of devices from just can’t deliver yet.

Anyhow, the truth is that Dropbox has become a huge company with over 300 million customers. This has it’s benefits like solid improvments, add-ons (Photo galleries, the PDF view, an iOS app, …) and it’s downsides. For me the latter mostly consists of (waiting longer for) nerdier things like an ignore file à la GitHub, Markdown support and generally more customization options.

I can live with that. Their core product is just so different from other big companies I like because they don’t have a vast range of products to offer. I thinks it’s this dedication, this belief in their product1 and the subliminal nerdiness at their foundation why I still feel good vibrations when I see that blue logo with a blue box.


That’s that. I just felt like getting this out. But the main reason why I started this post is, that the Muppets explaining for over a week now on YouTube what it’s like working at Dropbox. I just wanted to let you know.

One of the reasons why they produced this cool video is… they are constantly hiring. And if you feel up for the task, I’d give it a try. It might can’t beat working at Panic, because Panic is Panic, but it’s the next best thing.

On another note, Dropbox has recently published some beautiful manuals for users and admins. They sure to nice things and the manuals are definitely worth a look. Your design-spoiled eyes will enjoy the view.

PS: I envy those puppets for the Dropbox T-Shirt they own.

  1. Remember that they also didn’t like the idea of an acquisition and selling out?

Hacker's Guide to Setting up Your Mac

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LINK – Hacker's Guide to Setting up Your Mac → via @_patrickwelker

This is as nerdy as it gets. A brilliant article by Matthew Mueller for the aspiring hacker as well as developer teams.

By setting up automation, you can get up and running on a new Mac faster, you will stay up to date with the latest security fixes and you can minimize inconsistencies among your teammate’s computers.

Don’t forget to take a look at the comment section. And, most important: keep your fingers positioned over your ‘send to Pinboard.in’ shortcut.