How

The perfect way to make it possible for people to use Cardbox on (say) the Macintosh would be to create a “Cardbox for Mac” just as we have created “Cardbox for Windows”. It would work exactly like any other Mac application. It would use the same menu bar, the same mouse gestures, the same keystrokes and shortcuts.

This is not a small task. Although the inner core of what a program does is the same on every operating system, the way it interacts with the user is unique. The biggest part of a modern application program is it interaction with the user, and it follows that “XXX for Windows” and “XXX for Mac” are really different programs. To give one example of the difference: Microsoft finds it worthwhile maintaining separate development teams for Microsoft Office for the Mac and for Windows.

We are not about to invest man-years of effort on the speculative development of a version of Cardbox that perhaps hardly anyone will end up using. Fortunately there is an alternative.

Wine and CrossOver

Wine is a program that wraps itself round Windows programs and makes them think they’re running on Windows even though they aren’t. Wine is open-source, free to download and free to use.

CrossOver, published by CodeWeavers, is a family of commercial products (CrossOver Mac, CrossOver Linux) incorporating Wine. Compared to “bare” Wine, CrossOver is easier to install, easier to configure, and has more built-in tools. Support is more officially available.

Drawbacks

A Windows program running under Wine is a Windows program and it thinks in a Windows sort of way. It will look like a Windows program, not a Mac one (or a Linux one).

But even though it will work like a Windows program, at least it will work. Having a working program that is a bit ugly is better than not having a working program at all.

That is, if the program does work. How well a given program runs under CrossOver or Wine depends very much on how the program talks to Windows and how well Wine manages to imitate Windows. The CrossOver site has a compatibility table giving scores of Gold, Silver or Bronze to hundreds of programs. Gold programs are described like this:

The gold is awarded to applications that install and run as you would expect them to in Microsoft Windows. We expect that our customers can use these applications on an everyday basis with good results, and only minor bugs.

We aim to make Cardbox work at the Gold level at the very least. Because we are the manufacturer of Cardbox, we can provide better bug reports to the Wine team and we can modify Cardbox itself if that is necessary to work round bugs in Wine.

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