Memoirs of ResEdit

Jan 15, 2014

I really like messing around with creating user interfaces, a lot.

Lemme tell ya a story sonny.

In 1994 the first home computer my family got was the Macintosh LC 575. While I did get to play on my father’s work SE/30, this is the LC 575 first machine I really had to my own. It wasn’t the fastest or most powerful machine at the time, but it lasted me for years of play, exploration and creativity. Over the years , I loaded it up with all sort of quasi-legitimate software but one of my favourites was ResEdit.

ResEdit, which stands for Resource Editor, could get you into all sorts of trouble(fun) because it allowed you to create and edit resources in programs and files on your Mac. It was the easiest way to hack at the Macintosh system and Apple shipped it with every single OS from 7 through 9. Only Photoshop would compete for the time I spent in app. Games weren’t even close.

Before Mac OS 8 came out, with it’s fancy new “Platinum” interface, some intrepid developer created an extension called Aaron for 7.5 that aped the new UI onto the existing OS. This blew my 12 year old mind. I figured out that by opening Aaron in ResEdit I could access the resources used to paint the OS elements; like window boxes, close buttons and menus and edit them. I spent days of my life creating my own UIs for System 7.5. I loved it. It was what I looked forward to doing when I got home from school.

This was my introduction to UI design. Though at the time, I had no idea that’s what it was.

Later on a more advanced control panel called Kaleidoscope was released. It was similar to Aaron but allowed for “scheme” files to be made. This made the whole process much easier as extensions required a reboot the system and theme files in the control panel could switch on the fly. I made many UIs based on various different themes, Jurassic Park and Riven were two I remember being quite proud of.

ResEdit, Aaron and Kaleidoscope introduced me to a world of building and editing UIs. For that I am forever grateful. I’m both sad and glad that those aren’t sitting on a server still available for viewing and download. And, unlike some of the UIs that showed up around that time, I am proud of the fact that even at the tender age of 15, I liked my UIs clean.