Panther: Address Book sluggishness

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 17th, 2003 • 8:09 am

This is something that I had not noticed on my dual 1.25 GHz G4, where things are reasonably fast. But I’ve just installed Panther on my PowerBook G4/400 and… boy is Address Book ever slow!

Apple might have added all kinds of improvements to the application, but they certainly don’t seem to have optimized it for speed. I had to import all my wife’s contact information from Eudora (using the ever-handy Eudora Mailbox Cleaner), and then some cleaning up needed to be done.

Well, the cleaning up part turned out to be quite painful, mostly because whenever I am editing something, there is always a lag of several seconds, with the spinning pizza.

I understand the rationale behind providing instantaneous “live” updates of all parts of the UI, i.e. in this case the contents of the “Name” column in the middle. But when there is a lag of several seconds between user actions and their results, you have to question whether the live updating is worth the significant loss in usability.

It’s even worse for the “Live Search” toolbar widget. Since it’s the only form of searching available in Address Book, and it starts searching as soon as you’ve typed one letter, unless you type very quickly, it’s unbearably slow!

It’s clearly a case of “anticipatory software design” that we have here, and I pity those who have to do lots of work in Address Book on a slower G4 machine (I won’t even mention G3s…). It’s simply unacceptably slow, especially for an application that deals mostly with text! As a comparison, the interface in FileMaker Pro databases is usually snappy, even with hundreds or thousands of records.

Yet another reason for a third-party developer to come up with an integrated Mac OS X address book software application that uses the AB data without imposing the use of the lousy AB interface. You can read an interesting discussion about this here (in the “Comments” section).

4 Responses to “Panther: Address Book sluggishness”

  1. Robin Crosslin says:

    I just bought a G5 a few days ago with a clean Panther installation. Then I imported all my addresses from my G4 which has been running Panther’s Address Book for months successfully. When I try to do ANYTHING with Address Book on my G5, my pizza spins indefinitely until I force it to quick. Pretty weird, huh?

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    That doesn’t sound “normal” to me… The sluggishness I am experiencing is more subtle. It’s just delays of a fraction of a second in most operations — and it’s obviously related to the number of entries in the AB.

    How did you import the entries from your G4?

  3. Garret says:

    Argh! I’m so glad I’m not alone on this. This is so aggrivating. I just made the switch from Eudora (which I have loved for 10 years) to Address Book and Mail and I’m getting the same agonizing slowness. I hope I find some way to fix this. It’s strange that I can edit huge movies with Final Cut Pro, burn DVDs with Studio Pro, but when I search for a last name, I get the spinning ball. Crazy. I want to go back to Eudora, but I like the idea of having my Palm addresses and email working with each other.

    I’m running a dual 1 gig G4.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    It’s up to Apple to optimize Address Book so that it runs acceptably on what is a fast enough machine!

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