Strong opinions, weakly held

How the iCal dock icon in Leopard works

One of the minor annoyances with OS X over the years had been that Apple’s iCal application’s icon has a date on it, but only showed the correct date if the application was open. When the application was closed, it showed the date July 17. The fact that the incorrect date was prominently displayed on the screen whenever iCal was closed was a slight annoyance.

With OS X 10.5, the problem is solved. The latest version of iCal shows the correct date whether or not the application is running. How this was accomplished has been a bit of a mystery, but Mac developer Ahruman has figured it out.

This is the sort of thing that separates Apple from most other companies. When you use Leopard, you find that Apple tried to improve just about everything in these small but important ways. Granted, some of those attempted improvements have backfired — I’ve read complaints about the changes to how the Terminal application works (I find it vastly improved), the fact that help windows now float above other windows on the screen all the time, and the updated appearance of the Dock. Compare that to Windows, where users have had to deal with the same rotten command prompt window for over fifteen years. A total overhaul was promised for Vista, but didn’t make it in, so people still make do with a tool that doesn’t behave in any way like a normal application window and doesn’t even offer decent support for copy and paste.

It’s the little sorts of improvements like the new iCal icon that explain why I like Apple’s products so much.


  1. Apple may try hard but…

    iCal is displaying the wrong date. It says it is Dec 5 when it is Dec 6. A Google search for “wrong date ical leopard” shows I’m not the only one with this problem.

    A poorly implemented feature is worse than not having the feature. Before I could ignore the date on iCal. Now I can’t trust it and have to unlearn looking at it.

  2. <p>Agreed. The blind enthusiasm of this article takes more punches at Microsoft than thoroughly reviewing the new iCal feature. Mine does the same thing, and just today it almost got me in trouble, thinking the date was minus 1 of the current date.</p>

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