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Aug 92 Editorial
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

Can Symantec Grow Apples in Bedrock?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

Last month, I spent a lot of time complaining about a lack of direction from Apple. Such is the power of the press, that almost immediately, Apple and Symantec Corporation made a joint announcement about the development and marketing of a cross-platform development tool. Ok, the bad news is that my column had nothing to do with it; the good news is that it looks like a major step in the right direction!

The announcement

June 23, 1992 - New York City. In the usual computer industry logic, two California-based companies held a major press conference on the east coast. Together, they announced a framework, called Bedrock, which “enables developers to provide applications tuned to a specific graphical user interface. With the Bedrock framework technology, a specific Macintosh application will look like a Macintosh application, a Windows application will look like Windows.”

The technology has been under development at Symantec for some time for use with their TimeLine and Q&A products. Now, Apple will be assisting in the technical direction and will be providing engineering support. Sometime in the first half of 1992, Symantec will bring the completed framework to market. Apple will have the rights to distribute this framework.

What does this mean?

Well, it’s good news! The company that produces some of the best development tools we’ve ever seen (Symantec) is now helping Apple to bring a much needed standard to our development world. Symantec has proven themselves to be the runaway leader in the Macintosh development tool market. Without their involvement, it would be difficult to get a solid standard going.

Now, it seems that those who are using MacApp and those who are using THINK Class Library will all be given a growth path into Bedrock. We can safely keep working in MacApp and TCL.

What about Microsoft?

Some people are concerned about Microsoft’s recent cross-platform development announcent. I believe that Symantec’s class library approach will work better than MS’s API. Second, I get the distinct impression that Symantec is closer to shipping a solution than Microsoft.

Integrating with the OS

Both Apple and Symantec have said that Bedrock could become an integral part of System 7. They figure that it fits somewhere between an operating system and an application. Further, it makes sense to build a lot of applications on a common framework reaping the benefits of sharing resources.

But will it be fast?

One question at the press conference related to the speed of Bedrock. The concern was that there would be a loss of efficiency with an extra layer stuck on top of the OS. Symantec’s response was that there probably will be some degradation, but machine speeds today are making that somewhat less important. Further, the development time benefits far outweigh this minor inconvenience.

I have to agree with this having seen some of the other cross-platform success stories in the industry. Take Neuron Data’s Open Interface product. This product is clearly aimed at a rich, powerful and complete toolkit that is completely portable. Their emphasis is not on speed, but on the quality of the tool and the market is buying it. So, is efficiency important? Probably not as much as one would think.

What about Taligent?

Apple/Symantec says that the agreement has nothing to do with Taligent’s project, but given the object oriented nature of both, they are natural cohorts. Taligent appears to view Bedrock as a great starting place for developers to cut their teeth on object programming.

The bottom line

First, Apple/Symantec has given us a clear path to the future of Macintosh/PC programming. Apple has allowed Taligent to hint that that path may continue to Pink and PowerPC. The pathway is object oriented, and will lead to a much larger market than ever before.

What do we do?

Start thinking about when you are going to learn OOP. C++ will be the first language supported. Second, tell Apple/Symantec what you want to see (yes, this is a call for you to write letters to Xplain Corp. We’ll help you to get to Apple/Symantec’s ear by publishing them) and we’re working on Taligent too.

What else do we need?

We need to see the rest of the path, through PowerPC all the way to Newton. Oh Apple more announements, please!

Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

The Publisher's Column

Shaking things up

By David Williams, Publisher

Soon, they tell me, the Big One is going come and demolish southern California. Keeping in mind that our offices are there, and that I spend a lot of time there, I find this very unpleasant to think about. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of being in one, a large earthquake is somewhat like being inside a box that some giant is rattling around in his hand. First you get to wonder when the shaking will stop. Then, you evolve an intense curiosity about the details of the structural engineering of whatever box you happen to be in. If the box happens to be in a high-rise, you have a long time to think about all this, because the building sways back and forth while making the most awe inspiring groaning noises as the steel works against the concrete. A little later, you discover that you are, in fact, capable of holding your breath for eternity, or about a minute, whichever seems longer.

Neil tells me that the computer world is about to be shaken by a major upheaval of technology. In geologic terms, the Apple continental plate is slowly drifting towards the IBM plate, and where they meet, there will be intense activity. The two main fault lines are PowerPC and Newton. A helpless populace of users, lead by developers, frantically studies the faults, which are unwilling to provide any useful foreknowledge of their movements. Both of these corporate continents should keep in mind that earthquakes are not popular.

Last month, Neil wrote that developers need immediate guidance on a platform and tools. No doubt that’s true, but as the computer idiot, I wonder, what about me? I don’t personally develop. Instead, I have the unenviable position of saying yes or no to Neil’s continual requests for more equipment. Also, as Neil becomes interested in new technologies, I have to allocate the budget to learn them and to become able to act as a forum for them. Essentially, I am no different from thousands of corporate vice-presidents who are asked daily to decide what to buy to keep their companies competitive.

As with the earthquake, I need to know how to prepare. Lately, the local authorities have been diligently putting out earthquake preparedness literature and warnings of all kinds. Well, I think it’s time that Apple and IBM acted responsibly and did the same kind of thing. It is no longer allowable to build unreinforced brick structures in L.A. It shouldn’t be possible to purchase a system that simply can’t be made to work with the future as Apple plans it. IBM last tried this full secrecy until the last minute trick with MicroChannel. It was certainly a surprise when it wasn’t compatible with anything and there was almost no software for it. It was also a dismal failure. How many EISA machines are out there now?

The lesson here is that IBM and Apple are not the only continents drifting around out there. There is a very large independent industry segment that is not going to sit by and be put quietly out of business. IBM and Apple should not exclude the independents as IBM tried before, because the industry will not just go away. They will develop a parallel product quickly and will bring it to market with enough force that there will again be two competing continents of personal computing: Apple/IBM versus the cheaper independents.

I found it especially interesting that Motorola is now selling a 38 MIPS RISC file server for Macintosh networks, at a cheaper-than-Apple price. PowerPC won’t be alone very long before a variety of less expensive alternatives come out. What Motorola can do, Intel can do too, and AMD, and Cyrix, and

I’d like to hear from Apple and IBM, if they’re listening. If they’re not, I can tell that Motorola is, and I’d be happy to talk to them too. So if anyone at Motorola wants to do an interview on your newest toy, give us a call. As for the corporate continents, just whistle, we’ll come running and ready to take notes.

 
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