On Monday, I mentioned that I’d write a review as I’d been playing with it all day. Well, here’s my quick review.
To start with, I’ll let John C. Welch do much of the work for me with his coverage of the basics and the in-depth coverage of the scriptability of ARD 3 and just comment on other areas of interest.
The user interface is probably the most important feature to me since I spend so much time in Apple Remote Desktop. The most notable changes to the UI are:
- Slimmed down, borderless windows
- More stats from the ARD 3.0 Client
- Nested Groups and Smart Lists
- Placement of Active Tasks
- Stats listed when observing multiple computers
And in terms of functionality, the following:
- Ability to heavily automate
- Improved and expanded reporting
- Spotlight search across multiple managed machines
- Expanded encryption options
While the Dashboard widget it cool and can allow me to quickly check on machines but not clutter my screen, I now run everything from a MacBook Pro, so efficient usage of screen space is quite important to me. With ARD 3, Apple’s gone back to the Aqua (although it’s the new Mail-like, not-quite-Aqua, with a unified Title Bar theme) and (thankfully) ditched the borders on the windows. Everything’s slim and efficient. I can fit a lot of columns on screen.
And, with ARD 3, there are a lot more columns to be had. The new ARD 3.0 Client software now reports back machine model, CPU information, amount of RAM installed, version of Mac OS X installed, and current Startup Disk. Now you don’t have to run reports just to see what OS somebody’s running when you’re just answering a question about what version of an application they should install. It’s all right in front of you (or can be, if you want it to be).
Also, when you’ve got a task running, it’s inserted just above the computer list so you can see the activity without devoting a whole chunk of the window real estate to tasks and history (or opening a separate window). I’ll argue the effects of it jumping up and forcing you into the Active Tasks list later, for now I think it actually works, as annoying as it may be at times.
With nested Groups and Smart Lists, I actually use Computer Lists again. With ARD 2, I used to mainly rely on scanners and fall back on my Master List because of the way we’ve got things set up here, but now I don’t need to and can work in a much more organized manner.
With the user’s name, icon, and activity status (active, idle, away) listed right in the “Observing [multiple] Computers” window, it makes it much easier to see who’s doing what. Also, with the vast speed improvement of viewing remote machines (atleast part of this may be attributed to my MacBook Pro, I’m sure) as well as file copies and software installs, the whole workflow is drastically improved.
As far as the functionality goes, all the new AppleScript-able and Automator-friendly goodness that Apple has included in ARD 3 (see John C. Welch’s review) will be great when I actually need it. For now, the improved (or as some would say, actually functional) reporting will be a great addition for me. Being able to track configurations of machines as well as what software is installed and, most importantly, how often it’s used it a big step up for asset management.
An added bonus is the