Why to avoid Appearance Manager.
With the Mac OS 8 came a new appearance for the Mac OS user interface called platinum. Developers creating apps for Mac OS 8 had a dillemma in terms of making the UI work between both Mac OS 8 and 7, with variations in thickness, operation, and colors. To help out lazy developers, Apple made Appearance Manager an option add-on to Mac OS 7 which would halphazardly make it *look* like Mac OS 8 (to an extent). For a short time, developers made some programs that would run under Mac OS 7, but required this Appearance Manager.

The Appearance Manager was never fully optimized for Mac OS 7, however, and the period where developers were making OS 7-compatible software that used the Appearance Manager was very short, so it was never given much attention. This article explains why I recommend you avoid the Appearance Manager on your System 7 machines, as well as software that *requires* it.

GUI Test
The best way that I know how to test the performance of GUI redraws is to benchmark how fast a standard window opens and closes. Fortunately a certain Rob Terrell has written a small program that does just that called Let 1k Windows Bloom. It tells the Mac OS to open and close 1000 stadard dialog boxes as quickly as possible, and reports how long it takes to do so.

256 Colors
First I ran the
test using 256 colors. "Standard" is the default appearance of Mac OS 7. "Appearance" is the Mac OS 8-style platinum appearance applied to Mac OS 7 via the Appearance Manager SDK. The test system was a PowerBook Duo 2300c/100 with Mac OS 7.6.1 installed. The results are displayed below. Shorter bars are better.

Standard
  67 Seconds
Appearance
  92 Seconds

In this average, the Appearance Manager's platinum GUI slowed the system down over 37%

Thousands of Colors
Next, I ran the same tests in thousands of colors. The test system was the same as above. The results are displayed below. Shorter bars are better.

Standard
  105 Seconds
Appearance
  128 Seconds


In this average, the Appearance Manager's platinum GUI slowed the system down over 21%

Other Considerations
Appearance Manager's platinum GUI is not just slower than
the standard UI of Mac OS 7, it also has bugs. The most noticeable is Window Shade. In short, traditional Window Shade of double-clicking the titlebar to collapse a window does not work correctly. Instead of redrawing the window titlebar properly, a portion of the window will remain, like this:

Other users have reported various artifacts and redrawing issues, even (in rare instances) system crashes. So in conclusion, I don't use Appearance Manager, and I think you shouldn't either. System 7 Today only features software that does not require Appearance Manager, so you can rest assured everything on this site will work without it.

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