TweetFollow Us on Twitter

June 93 - BE OUR GUEST

BE OUR GUEST

SYSTEM ENABLERS

C. K. HAUN

[IMAGE 107-108_Guest_col_rev1.GIF]

System 7.1 introducedsystem enablersto Macintosh system software architecture. Since their introduction on some of Apple's new machines, there's been some confusion about what system enablers are for, and developers have expressed interest in writing and using them. This column will shed some light on the subject.

THE BAD NEWS
Even before beginning to describe them, we have to emphasize that system enablers aresystem software,designed and intended solely for the use of Apple Computer. Detailed descriptions of their design and use will not be released. Their functionality and implementationwillchange; any developers who try to decipher enablers and implement their own are warned that they will fail in future system releases. Donot write your own enabler or modify a current one!

Kinda harsh, huh? But we really mean it: the functionality of system enablers makes sense only for system software. Also, modifying or creating an enabler without fully understanding how one works could cause the enabler mechanism to fail silently. This could result in a machine that appears to be working correctly but does not have the full enabler functionality active, causing very hard-to-isolate crashes or other problems.

OK, SO WHAT ARE THEY?
System enablers (which were called "gibblies" in early documentation and system development releases) replace the release strategy that Apple used in the past for minor system changes needed for new hardware. The old strategy was to release a new version of the system software, such as version 6.0.8 or 7.0.1. With enablers, the differences in hardware no longer require a new system release, but instead each new machine has its own enabler (if necessary) to make the system work for that hardware.

This change was made for two reasons:

  • Creating an enabler instead of a whole new system release reduces Apple's quality assurance and testing time. By creating an enabler, we're testing new code only on new machines; past machines aren't affected since the new enabler won't run on those machines. This also reduces your testing time as a third party, since you no longer have to install a new system release on all your older machines and test for compatibility; you know the system changes will affect only the newly released machines.
  • Enablers reduce user confusion and unnecessary upgrades. In the past, every time a machine was released, with its corresponding new software release, users of older machines were unsure whether they needed to upgrade to the new system. Many assumed that since it was newer, it was better. While this has been true occasionally, it usually isn't (upgrading from 7.0 to 7.0.1 on a Macintosh IIcx, for example, gives the user nothing new).

Apple will continue to use system extensions or components when new functionality is being added across the product line, as with QuickTime and Macintosh Easy Open. Enablers just broaden the range of options for enhancing the user's environment.

HOW DO THEY WORK?
Nope, no cheating -- we really won't be describing the internals of enablers. But here are some general rules about their behavior.

An enabler is essentially an extension to the System file; from a programmatic standpoint itis the System file. The Resource Manager was changed slightly to recognize references to the System file (CurResFile(0), for example) as being references to the System fileandthe current enabler. The code or other resources included in the enabler file appear to actually reside in the System file.

Any new machine may have a system enabler. The enabler will contain the system-level code necessary to implement changes required for that machine. A single enabler may be used for a family of machines, or a separate enabler may be created for each new machine.

If there are multiple enablers in a machine's System Folder, the system will use onlyoneof them. The system software (System file plus enabler) is responsible for arbitrating which enabler is used on a specific machine. It looks at the machine type it's currently running on, the machines that the enabler supports, and some enabler-internal applicability flags. Note that this is how the decision is currently made; as enablers are used for more machines and in different situations, more variables may be added to the decision process.

ENABLERS AND REFERENCE RELEASES
A specific enabler may not stay around forever. Apple has announced its intention to have "reference releases" every year to 18 months; these are the system upgrades that all users will be encouraged to install. Some enablers may be rolled into a reference release, so a machine that needed an enabler for System 7.1 may not need one for System 8. This is not a hard and fast rule; some enablers may stay around forever, depending on the functionality they enable.

THE BOTTOM LINE
System enablers make everyone's life easier by encapsulating system changes for new machines in one place. But they are not for non-Apple use, and developers cannot implement them with any hope of long-term success. The safest path to take is not to think of enablers as separate files. An enableristhe system; when you encounter one on a machine, you're looking at the System file. The traditional methods (INITs, cdevs, components, and so on) are still the only supported ways for developers to extend system functionality.

GIBBLY HISTORY

BY CHRIS DEROSSI
When system enablers were being designed, it was clear they were going to be a mechanism for extending the system. Engineers began calling them INITs, since they served much the same purpose. This caused some confusion with people who thought we really were talking about INITs, and issues were raised about possible conflicts with other INITs, loading order, and so on. (These issues don't apply to system enablers at all.)

It was obvious to me that we needed to change the name to differentiate system enablers from other types of system extension mechanisms. We couldn't use the term extension because that was the public name for INITs. We couldn't use addition because that term already referred to things like QuickDraw GX and AOCE.

So, I decided to use a made-up word. I wanted a word that would be memorable and one that would sound funny when used in all seriousness by executives and upper management. Hence the name "gibblies."

The engineering documentation for gibblies states that the singular is "gibbly" and the plural is "gibblies." It also states that the "g" may be pronounced hard or soft depending on the speaker's preference. In practice, the hard form (as in "give") became the one used by those in the know.

There you have it. And, yes, it was very amusing to hear the made-up word being used all over the company in serious conversation.

K. HAUN works in Apple Developer Technical Support, where he is the perennial winner of the coveted "Most Documentation Heaped on the Floor" award. Before coming to Apple he was a commercial developer, writing educational, game, and utility software on Macintosh, IBM, and Apple II platforms. His main focus in DTS is interapplication communication and application toolbox support. He's also single again; please see ad #298700 in the personal ads section of this issue.

We welcome guest columns from readers who have something interesting or useful to say. Send your column idea or draft to AppleLink DEVELOP or to Caroline Rose at Apple Computer, Inc., 20525 Mariani Avenue, M/S 75-2B, Cupertino, CA 95014.*

Thanks to Chris Derossi, Greg Marriott, and Dean Yu for reviewing this column. *

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Path Finder 6.5.5 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder is a file browser that combines the familiar Finder interface with the powerful utilities and innovative features. Just a small selection of the Path Finder 6 feature set: Dual pane... Read more
QuarkXPress 10.2.1 - Desktop publishing...
With QuarkXPress, you can communicate in all the ways you need to -- and always look professional -- in print and digital media, all in a single tool. Features include: Easy to Use -- QuarkXPress is... Read more
Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Are We Now In The Post-Post-PC Era?
A longtime and thoroughgoing laptop aficionado, I was more than a little dismayed by Steve Jobs’s declaration back in 2010 when he sprang the iPad on an unsuspecting world. that we’d entered a “post-... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 21-inch 1.4GHz...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 21″ 1.4GHz iMacs for $929 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $170 off the cost of new models,... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Bad Driver Database App Allows Good Drivers t...
Bad Driver Database 1.4 by Facile Group is a new iOS and Android app that lets users instantly input and see how many times a careless, reckless or just plain stupid driver has been added to the... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.