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March 95 - Letters

LETTERS

BOOKMARK CD ALIAS PROBLEM
On the develop Issue 19 Bookmark CD, there's an alias in the OpenDoc folder that can't be opened because it apparently thinks it's supposed to be on a disc with a different name than "Bookmark CD 19." What's the problem?
-- Eric Shepherd

There was an alias (to "AppleScript TM 1.1") in the OpenDoc A6 folder that pointed to the Developer CD. This slipped by us on the Issue 19 Bookmark CD; it should have pointed to a file explaining that the software was on the Developer CD or could be obtained through APDA. (Occasionally, we're unable to publish certain software packages on the Bookmark CD.) Thanks for pointing this out; we're now checking more carefully for such things. -- Alex Dosher

HOW NOT TO DO PREFERENCES?
When I saw the article on writing preferences files in Issue 18, I thought it would be great to finally have someone explain how to do it properly. But the article didn't really do that, at least not in my opinion, and it didn't agree with what Apple software does.

For one thing, I really think preferences files should use the 'pref' file type; it keeps down the time it takes for the Finder to display the contents of the Preferences folder, it automatically gives the files the correct icon, and it avoids the foolishness of having to register two creators for every application. The Finder should be revised so that double-clicking a file of type 'pref' gives the "can't open preferences file" alert. Programmers should not need to put what is effectively a fixed string in every preferences file. Balloon Help on a file of type 'pref' should yield something sensible instead of erroneously naming the file as the Finder's preferences file, especially since many other preferences files already use the 'pref' type.

Most of the rest of the article was on target, especially the bit about not putting static data in the preferences folder. But there was no comment about where static, shared data should go. The trend seems to be to drop everything into the Extensions folder, but it would be better if a new "Data" or "Shared" folder were created in the System Folder to support these shared resources.
-- Peter N. Lewis

I find little to disagree with in your note. I've received other messages on this subject, many containing the same good suggestions, among others.

I'll be the first to admit that several of the methods I describe in the article are, in their best light, convoluted, and at worst, an unpleasant hack. The article reviewers and I discussed the issues with Apple engineers and human interface folks, and nobody could come up with a better solution for the system as it exists today. (Maybe the title should have been "A Good Way to Implement Preferences Files" instead of "The Right Way . . .") I tried to codify the current thinking at Apple on the best way to handle preferences files in the existing system software environment, and I think I achieved that goal.

I'm actually pleased (in a perverse sort of way) that the article has created somewhat of a stir: it highlights the problems in this area faced by developers better than anything I might write. Granted, in the overall scheme of things preferences files are rather low on the totem pole, but still, this discussion may provide some impetus at Apple to fix things in a subsequent system release. At that time, I'll be more than happy to revisit the topic and do away with the two-creator hack forever!

It was also pointed out to me that the preferences library doesn't include any provision for handling cross- platform issues, and that because it's resource-based, it precludes the possibility of being cross-platform. What can I say? This is what happens when your thinking is too Mac-centric. Even though I don't work at Apple any more, I'm still a hopeless Mac fanatic!
-- Gary Woodcock

OBJECT-ORIENTED LISTS
The article on hierarchical lists in Issue 18 was especially interesting to me because I'm writing an object-oriented database and need to display large amounts of hierarchically organized objects. I'm using the PowerPlant library LListBox class; however, I want to be able to display icons and triangular buttons along with styled text, so I've started adding LDEF modifications to achieve that. The LDEF approach, being ultimately based on the List Manager, will have problems with large lists. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.
-- Maynard Chen

You're in luck; we just happen to have a followup article with the information you need. See "An Object- Oriented Approach to Hierarchical Lists" in this issue.
-- Caroline Rose

FLOATING WINDOWS UPDATE
Recently, when I tried to use the floating windows library that was described in develop Issue 15, I ran into a few problems getting it to work with the universal headers (the library relies on SysEqu.h for the existence of the WindowList global variable). I'm trying to recompile this library for use with my CodeWarrior projects (MPW and I have had a falling out over speed!) but I'm having problems. Is there a more recent version of the code than the one on the June 1994 CD? If not, can you tell me how to fix it?
-- David A. denBoer

An updated version of the floating windows code appears on this issue's CD. The only changes to the code were to replace SysEqu.h with LowMem.h in the includes, and to change GetWindowList and SetWindowList to use the new low-memory accessor routines. The sample application was also revamped slightly to compile in CodeWarrior.
-- Dave Johnson

SPOTTED DICK REVEALED
The British dessert "spotted dick" seems to have become a running joke in develop . You've got me curious. Can your technical staff do some research and give us the scoop on this?
-- Steven C. Johnson

Spotted dick is Reason #87 on the list of Why There Will Always Be an England. (Reason #112 is "The word Worcester is pronounced Wooster.") A dick is a steamed dessert cake, or "pudding," made of suet (or shortening), flour, and other ingredients (like sugar) to make it taste good. It's usually served hot, with a milky syrup the British refer to as custard. If you add currants to the recipe, the dick ends up having spots, hence the name "spotted dick."

In a recent edition of The Patrick O'Brian Newsletter (he being a favorite author of mine), I was surprised to see a reference to this dessert as Spotted Dog, along with the variations Drowned Baby (glutinous surface), plum duff (prunes), figgy-dowdy (raisins), and roly-poly (rolled and spread with jam).

Surely this is more than you ever wanted to know. But for the terminally curious, I've got an actual recipe. Douglas Norton (of -- you guessed it -- Great Britain) sent it in "just to show that someone does read the little pieces at the bottom of the page."
-- Caroline Rose

IF YOU WRITE, WE WILL ANSWER We welcome timely letters to the editors, especially regarding articles published in develop . Letters should be addressed to Caroline Rose -- or, if technical develop -related questions, to Dave Johnson -- at AppleLink CROSE or JOHNSON.DK. Or you can write to Caroline or Dave at Apple Computer, Inc., One Infinite Loop, M/S 303-4DP, Cupertino, CA 95014. All letters should include your name and company name as well as your address and phone number. Letters may be excerpted or edited for clarity (or to make them say what we wish they did). *

 
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