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May 92 - BAMADA Notes

BAMADA Notes

James Plamondon

April

The Bay Area MacApp Developers Association (Bamada) met on Thursday, April 9th, in the De Anza Three Auditorium, to hear Eric Berdahl, MADA President and notorious Pinko, describe "MacApp, AppleEvents, the Object Support Library, and You: the Grand Unified Theory."

We lost about half our membership in the location change; only about 50 people managed to find the De Anza Three auditorium (on the corners of De Anza and Mariani Boulevards in Cupertino) on the right day (the Second Thursday) and time (still 7pm). The others may have been waiting for the dust to settle.

But no dust will settle on Eric, that's for sure; he's moving so fast through the MacApp Community, he's leaving a vapor trail. And his talk Thursday night showed why. He was able to explain, in two hours and a few dozen slides, what took hundreds of pages of documentation to confuse: the relationship between the Object Support Library and MacApp, and the role AppleEvents play therein.

If you'd like to see just exactly how dust-repellent Eric is, and how the Object Support Library, AppleScript, and such fit into MacApp's (and therefore your) future, you'll need to order the April '92 Bamada Tape from MADA. It's two hours of fact-packed videotape (NTSC or PAL); see below for ordering information.

MAY

What a meeting! The May meeting of the Bay Area MacApp Developer's Association (Bamada), held in conjunction with MADA at Apple's World-Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC), was just another meeting, like Secretariat was just another horse, or Babe Ruth was just another ballplayer. When we're old and toothless, our children's-children won't believe us when we tell 'em what happened that night. It's a good thing we got it all down on tape!

Knowing that the natives would be restless after a long day (and a long week) of WWDC presentations, we provided sandwiches and sodas for our attendees (compliments of MADA, Bamada, and those poor stiffs who weren't members of MADA, and so had to pay $5 at the door). Then we foolishly took our lives in our hands by standing between the attendees and the food. While none were hospitalized in the ensuing stampede, we had to calm the San Jose riot-control teams, who converged on the scene thinking De Anza Three was being looted. When quiet was restored, the meeting was begun, with much lip-smacking and soda-guzzling in accompaniment.

First up was Eric Berdahl, MADA President, reminding everyone that "it's not just for MacApp anymore." Like BMUG, which used to stand for "Berkeley Macintosh User's Group" but now just stands for BMUG, MADA no longer stands for "MacApp Developer's Association," but just for MADA itself - because MADA has broadened its charter to encompass the wider world. (Reality just insists on imposing itself upon us. It's really quite annoying.) As evidence of this, Eric pointed out that a MADA SIG was forming for object-oriented dynamic languages (or OODLs, if you just insist on Having an Acronym For Everything (HAFE)). If you want OODLs of fun, or just want to independently reinvent the same puns everyone else has with the OODL acronym, contact Kent Sandvik at Apple (ALink: SANDVIK).

Eric then introduced the Man who Needs No Introduction (MNNI), Tom Chavez, MacApp Product Manager. Tom thrilled the crowd with his description of the upcoming direct-to-native C++ compiler and incremental linker. Of course, these tools will be very memory-intensive; they'll bring a 8Mb machine to its knees in a nanosecond. 16, 24, even 32Mb is not too much to ask, is it? Lebensraum, that's what these tools need! In the meantime, we can console ourselves with the new ViewEdit and MacApp 3.01, both to be released on ETO next month. (We'd better hope that MacApp 3.01 is rock-solid, because history would suggest that it's the last version of MacApp we're going to see for a looooong time.)

Then the audience tensed in their seats, silenced their groaning gullets, and focused their eyes on the stage, for there in all of his recently-promoted glory was Steve Weyl, Apple's Director of Developer Tools. His talk could have been titled "Cross-Platform: the Future of MacApp." The rumors that had been circulating the WWDC - that this cross-platform framework would be the death of MacApp - were firmly and explicitly squelched in the presentation (hear, hear!). Steve reiterated the major points of his talks at the WWDC and at previous MADA/Bamada meetings: that the cross-platform framework was being written with the assistance of a couple of independent companies who had experience in that area; that there would be a smooth migration path from MacApp 3.0 to the cross-platform framework; and that an announcement would be made at PC Expo (in late June) regarding the details of the agreement to produce the framework. Steve was reluctant to discuss the arrangements in too much detail; clearly, because they had not yet been finalized. (I suspect that, had he announced Apple's partners in the venture and other similar details, it would have put Apple in a lousy bargaining position thereafter. Maintaining secrecy gives them room to maneuver without looking like they're rudderless. Compare that to...say... Kaleida.)

Steve stated that the cross-platform framework will benefit from Apple's porting of some of its key system software components to other platforms (e.g., Apple's planned QuickTime driver for Windows). Nonetheless, Steve emphasized that this wasn't a Mac-On-Windows port; the applications written for the framework would look like the native applications should look on the target platform: Mac UI on the Mac, Windows UI on Windows, with the same source. Memory management, views, platform-independent graphics, files, resources, dynamically-linked objects - all will be implemented such that the same code works on both platforms. He also mentioned that they'll be looking at putting the framework into a dynamically-linked library (DLL), so that the framework's object code is shared between applications, rather than being reproduced in each.

Steve gave the mission statement of the cross-platform framework as follows: "To give developers the ability to take advantage of the Mac architecture in an open world."

Charged up by Steve's presentation, but somewhat unsure of the Terra Incognita of the Windows world, the audience was happy to get back onto more familiar ground: programming tools for the hard-core OOPer. Ms. Nancy Benovich of Component Software took the audience by storm with her demonstration of the Component Workshop (CW). Designed to bring the flexibility of Smalltalk development environments to the C++ world, CW frees the developer from header files, make files, batch compiles, etc. Seeing the Component Workshop, after having slaved away with MPW for so long, is like waking up from a bad dream.

What can I say about the Component Workshop? The demo was interrupted by numerous spontaneous outbursts of applause - VERY rare at Bamada meetings. It splices, it dices, it makes Julienne fries - and it comes with a free Ginzu knife! Well, OK, you don't get a free knife, but you DO get a debugger, an editor, an incremental compiler and linker, a cross-platform application framework (NOT MacApp; not until CW version 2 in late '93, anyway), and the chance to ride the leading edge Where No One has Gone Before. (Well, actually, it's a lot like ParcPlace's ObjectWorks for C++, which has been out for a couple of years now. But, since ObjectWorks is from ParcPlace (nee Xerox PARC), it'll never sell no matter how good it is, right?)

But I hate to be a cheerleader - every product has flaws, right? - and I would be less than credible if I didn't mention at least ONE flaw in the Component Workshop. Fortunately, it's greatest flaw is really obvious: YOU CAN'T BUY IT YET! It's still in beta, and is only expected to ship in September of this year. And even then, it won't do MacApp; for that, you get to wait another year. Thus, the Component Workshop fails the Schmucker Test: Does it support MacApp? No. (I didn't think too highly of this test, until it successfully predicted the demise of Eiffel, despite Eiffel's clear superiority to C++ in almost every respect. Surely lack of MacApp support was the only factor significant enough to outweigh these advantages.)

Limp and exhausted, the crowd fell back in their seats, hoping for a respite, after the exciting culmination of the Component Workshop demo. But there was no relief. Larry Tesler of Apple's Advanced Products Group (APG), fresh from his TV appearance in PBS's "The Machine that Changed the World," introduced Ike Nassi, of Apple's Advanced Technology Group (ATG), who gave an update on the state of Dylan(TM), Apple's new object-oriented DYnamic LANguage (OODL). Dylan is beginning to condense from its previously-vaporous state; Ike was able to wave around a book describing the language's specification, hot off of the presses. (Of course, having such a book didn't help Eiffel much.)

If you've always suppressed a latent desire to add parentheses to your code, you should get a copy of this book. It'll introduce you a society in which such behavior is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. Only in California, you say? Sorry - Dylan is coming out of the Apple's ATG group in Cambridge, MA. And if you want further information, call Kent Sandvik at Apple, and ask to join his OODL SIG (which I mentioned waaaay back at the start of these notes).

At 10:30pm, after a long day, and in a crowded room without any air conditioning, you would expect the crowd to be pretty out of it, right? So I didn't expect Nick Nallick to get the audience very excited by his demo of Ad Lib, his ViewEdit replacement.

What is it about ViewEdit that spawns so many competitors? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, ViewEdit is the most-loved product ever produced by Apple. (OK, that's my interpretation.)

Now that Exis has IcePick in limbo, with no support for MacApp 3.0 views expected out any time soon, Ad Lib was very well received by the audience. What a view? Draw it, and it's yours. Floating palettes (rather than modal dialogs) make it easy to edit what you've drawn. Multiple selection of views is supported, as are application-specific view classes. With luck, MADA will soon be selling Ad Lib; call 'em if you want it. Send money. That always gets people's attention.

Speaking of sending money, I want to thank everyone who sent ten bucks to Joe Holt of Adobe Corp. when requesting a copy of Swatch, his really useful (and cool) memory-watching utility program. He told me that he'd received about $200, all of which he returned to those who had sent it (along with a copy of Swatch). It's comforting to see that there are still those gentle craftsmen whose self-esteem is based on pride in their work, not in how much money they can make. In fact, I think Joe is now taking pride in how much money he can turn away. Now, personally, I think that this attitude is warped beyond understanding, and poses a direct threat to the American Way of Life - but the way things have been going lately, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

The last item on the agenda was my resignation as head of Bamada. Actually, now that I'm working for Microsoft's Systems group (Technical Evangelist for Windows - no kidding), I saw running Bamada as a pretty clear conflict of interest. So I was pleased when Steve Friedrich, well-known as Chief Honcho of Apple's MacApp 2.0 team, and now President of SoftAnswer, a MacApp consulting house, accepted the offer to take the Bamada's reins. I have every confidence he'll make numerous improvements to Bamada from which we will all benefit.

In the meantime, I hope to retain my seat on MADA's Board of Directors, in which I will continue to work to widen MADA's focus, and to strengthen and foster MADA's local affiliates. You'll still see my "Postcards from WindowsLand" in FrameWorks, so long as they keep paying me by the word. Of those, I still have a ready store.

 
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