July 92 - WAMADA Notes
May–A Review of the WWDC
The May WAMADA meeting was opened by Leslie Jeffries with a brief description of the costs and benefits of becoming a MADA chapter. WAMADA should go "official" this coming month. Those members who are purchasing video tapes from the WWDC agreed to coordinate their choices and offered to share their tapes with the rest of the group.
We then settled in for a marathon session dedicated to a review of the past week's World Wide Developers Conference. Host Mark Gerl of McDonnell Douglas ran through a list of the numerous technologies that we will be working with in the (near?) future. Most every member had a feature that was of specific interest to them. In particular, AppleScript, QuickDraw GX, and OCE generated a number of discussions. The lack of control structures and parameter passing in AppleScript was described. Some members are already familiar with Frontier and were looking for similar functionality. Perhaps this is another example of a "third party opportunity". We also were treated to a quick course on color theory, as well as the use of OCE mailers.
Of course the primary concern was how quickly Apple will provide MacApp support, or, at the least, C++ interfaces for these new services. The wide range of technologies that an application must support to be a "good citizen" on the Mac is reason enough to begin use of an application framework. The upcoming PowerPC and Apple's new cross-application framework would seem to clinch the deal. But the cost of yet another framework change, and a language change in some cases, is not a comfortable thought for many members. With details of the new framework delayed until early June we were left with some question about the amount of work that we must anticipate in order to reach the multiple markets that are promised by Apple. It was noted that a great deal more interest in MacApp was seen at this year's conference than in previous years. Apple's evangelism of object technology has begun to take hold outside the company and now they must begin to get their own teams to make the shift. There was some concern voiced over the small number of Apple employees assigned to the MacApp team. It was pointed out that Apple has promised an increase in development resources, but that some of this is directed towards third parties outside of Apple. I think the general consensus was an agreement with the use of object technology for future development, but some uncertainty over the speed at which Apple can deliver the tools and interfaces we need to gain an early entry into the world of PowerPCs and microkernel based Macs.
JUNE–Streams and frontier
The June WAMADA meeting featured presentations from Dave Buell and Andrew Demkin, both of Advanced Laser Graphics, a service bureau located in D.C. Andrew gave the group a complete description of the care and feeding of Streams. He covered the file, handle, resource and counting streams, and described their use for common data I/O. He then focused on the use of streams to provide object I/O in MacApp. Writing objects to a stream can present a number of problems, such as multiple or null references to other objects. In addition, the stream must carry the meta-information needed to re-create the objects. Andrew explained MacApp's solutions to these problems, along with a breakdown of the structure used to describe an object in a stream. Newcomers to MacApp (or just to version 3.0) received an excellent overview of the I/O services provided by MacApp, and we were all reminded of how nice it is to have someone else do the programming for us.
The second presentation of the night, by Dave Buell, focused on the latest version of Frontier™, UserLand's scripting utility. Dave gave us a hands-on demonstration, making changes on the fly as requested (or perhaps demanded) by the audience. In the process we quickly understood why Dave wants to see a browser of some sort added to Frontier. It is quite easy to end up with more open windows than an AppleLink thread! Frontier contains a database which allows data to be stored between invocations of a script. This feature, unavailable with AppleScript, allows a generic script to be written which can ask the user for a piece of information once, and then use that information in the future or from other scripts. The number of applications which support Frontier, or understand Apple Events, is slowly increasing, and this makes it easier for consultants to put together custom solutions at a much lower price than before.
You may be asking what Frontier scripting has to do with object programming technology. The answer is: "more and more every day". Perhaps I should expand on that. Developers, including independent consultants and in-house MIS programmers, (all of which were represented at this WAMADA meeting) are in search of faster and more complete prototyping and development tools. The ideal is a prototype which becomes the "final" product in an incremental fashion (as opposed to "first we animate it with Director™, then we write the program"). As applications begin to support the Object Model, and as tools like Frontier appear, it becomes much easier to put together a custom application. Indeed, if Taligent delivers on its promises, the terms "programming" and "custom programming" may become synonymous. It is obvious that object technology goes a long way towards helping to solve these problems, and we hope WAMDA will be of help to those of you who want to be an "early adopter" (we also keep you up-to-date on the latest buzz words). So come on by!
Upcoming in July - Component Software
Hot off their overwhelmingly successful premier at the May BAMADA meeting, Component Software will be showing their upcoming integrated C++ object development environment. (And given the current weather trends in the northeast, we could actually use some heat.) While somewhat like Apple's pictures (shown at the WWDC) of what might possibly, someday, become of MPW, Component Workshop boasts the enviable feature of actually existing. If ever there was a reason to be in D.C. in July, this is it!
upcoming in August - TBA
Hey, Congress isn't the only group that leaves D.C. in August. Still, we'll find something to talk about: stay tuned.
WAMADA meets every third Wednesday at McDonnell Douglas in Tyson's Corner, Virginia, beginning around 7:15 p.m. For a map, send a message to JEFFRIES.L on AppleLink, or call Leslie at (301) 340-5126 during business hours (EDT).