July 93 - WAMADA News
The April WAMADA meeting garnered a turnout of 26 people to discuss the latest news from Apple and Microsoft, swap employment requests, get a review of New York's Object Expo, and see a MacApp technical demonstration. The industry news continues, for the most part, to be in the "just you wait; wonderful things are right around the corner" vein. In the D.C. area the use of object technologies, judging by our attendees, remains small but committed, at least on the Mac. The separation of the Mac from the rest of the industry was highlighted by Adam Wildavsky's report on the goings on at the Object Expo software show in New York. While there are an increasing number of object oriented databases, CASE tools, and frameworks available in the Unix world, few include the Mac among supported platforms. Perhaps Apple's recent announcement of a Mac environment for Unix will help increase vendor's commitment to the Mac platform. Microsoft's increasing dominance in operating systems may also help drive other companies towards the Mac. To finish off the evening, Rich Gillam, of GE Information Services, gave us a preview of his FrameWorks article on a GDevice iterator for MacApp (see the May/June issue for the complete article).
The May meeting convened a week after the WWDC and consisted of reports from our agents (remember: we keep up with the latest terminology) on Apple development news. Mark Gerl and Phil Flack of McDonnell Douglas, and Yvon Perreault of Cactus gave us the bulk of the news. We began with a review of the week's keynote speeches, and then covered as many other items as we had time for. As a '92 attendee, but not one in '93, I have the impression that last year's WWDC was the alpha version, this year's was beta, and next year will be the "It Shipped" party. By then consumers may actually be able to get their hands on things like GX and AOCE, giving developers an audience to which to sell their own work. That is, if developers are willing to do the work in the first place.
There are three primary ingredients to Apple's growth in Macintosh sales. The first is competitive hardware. The arrival of the PowerPC will put a solid check mark in that column. The second is the system software which establishes the Mac's unique identity. Deadlines seem to have slipped, and the delivery of a bunch of semi-independent system enhancements promises to complicate people's lives. Still, Apple has targeted certain areas and is producing software to hit those targets. The last item needed is a sufficient number of third party products to convince people that the preceding two items are "real". Thus the consumer's herd instinct is appeased.
But developers, too, must feel confident that they've chosen the right machine. The third party products they want to see are development tools. And in this area there is some uncertainty. The total number of tools available on the Mac is actually quite small. And the products needed to satisfy Apple's own recommendations for "doing the right thing" are not all here yet. Bedrock has gone from late to very late, and additions to the framework for such things as QuickTime, GX, and AOCE (not to mention AppleScript recordability) seem even farther in the future. While the joint agreement with Symantec is welcome news, there is some sense that it was a last minute deal primarily done to fill the gap from yet another failure to produce a follow on to MPW. The "L-compiler" that was to be Apple's dual platform (68K and Power) compiler for MPW was barely mentioned (Apple can't seem to get it running in the Mac environment). The future replacement for MPW, described with pictures last year, also seems to have disappeared. The Symantec replacement will probably take a while to move to the native PowerPC environment, leaving a potential gap between the arrival of the machine and of the native applications that can help sell that machine. Let's hope that Apple's increasing reliance on Symantec does not kill off plans by other companies to enter the Mac development tools arena.
WAMADA Hit by Defense Cutbacks!
As a result of office changes at our host site (McDonnell Douglas, in Tyson's Corner, Virginia) we now use a new room for WAMADA meetings. The good news is that the room is larger and can hold more people. The bad news is that we lost the use of the video projection system. (A few of our past guests may be wondering "What video projector?" and the answer is "The one that wasn't working that month.") While casting about for a way to display a computer screen to a lot of people at once, one of our long-time members announced that they too had moved, in this case to a facility with a training room. Advanced Laser Graphics is a local VAR, print shop, and software training company. They have offered to host WAMADA meetings, and we have decided to hold the June meeting at their offices. The Georgetown location may be farther for some attendees than they presently travel, and parking sounds a bit problematic, but we presently plan to meet there every other month. More later. (Hey! The new Apple slogan for the '90s!.)
If you're in the D.C. area, and interested in object oriented programming, give WAMADA a visit. We meet every third Wednesday beginning around 7:15 p.m. For information on the next meeting (and location), send a message to JEFFRIES.L on AppleLink, or call Leslie at (301) 340-5126 during business hours (EDT). If you leave her an e-mail address, she can place you on her mail list for WAMADA meeting announcements.