TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Toolmaker Advice
Volume 9
Number 11
Column Tag Inside Information

Advice for the Toolmaker

Keeping pace with an ever-changing industry

By Chris Espinosa, Apple Computer, Inc., MacTech Magazine Regular Contributing Author

I’ve been working with development tools for personal computers for almost eighteen years now. The first development system I used on a personal computer was Microsoft BASIC on a hand-built IMSAI machine in the summer of 1976. (Don’t tell Bill Gates where I got the BASIC papertape). Since then, I’ve worked with the Apple I and Apple II monitor and BASIC systems; the Apple II and Apple III Pascal systems; the Lisa Workshop, with the original Lisa Toolkit (predecessor of MacApp); the Macintosh Development System, A/UX, MPW, HyperCard, and AppleScript.

That’s a lot of systems to work with, and luckily, I didn’t have to master more than one or two at a time. But now I’m working with the development of a number of new tools, as well as the evolution of Apple’s current ones: future versions of AppleScript, HyperCard, and Macintosh Common Lisp; the evolution of MacApp into Bedrock; the cross-pollination of MPW and Symantec C; the OpenDoc initiative; the tools of Apple’s collaboration with IBM, including Kaleida’s ScriptX and Taligent’s object-based system; as well as new developments coming out of Apple’s advanced technology group (like SK8) and other Apple divisions (like the Newton Toolkit and the Apple Media Kit). That’s as many new tools - simultaneously - as I’ve worked with in my life. And like everyone else, I have to keep an eye on other tools, like Visual BASIC and Visual C++, PowerBuilder, AppWare, and on and on.

So I think I have a feeling for how complicated it is for software developers to follow the tools business. For me it’s a full time job just to follow what’s happening and why. A developer has to not only do the same legwork, but actually bet money and resources on those tools. These days, making a bet on which tool to use could be as important as making a bet on what product to develop or which platforms to support.

All tools developers, including Apple, face a fundamental dilemma. On the one hand, software developers know that there’s too much complexity and inefficiency in their current tools, and want something better. On the other hand, changing development tools and methodologies is a big expense and a big risk - especially for companies with large amounts of current code to maintain.

What’s worse is that there are new opportunities - mobile computing, PDAs, digital multimedia, etc. - that tempt developers to take a different risk to get in at the beginning of another huge industry. Normally, you’d think that people would minimize risk, and pick one or the other. But it’s possible that the winners in the next five years will be the ones who take both risks - who adopt new tools to create products in new categories.

In talking to developers I notice that the ones that are most aggressive about adopting object technologies also seem to be the ones that are the most visionary about the new development opportunities. At first I thought that this was simply the early-adopter phenomenon; that they’re just being aggressive across the board. But the more time I spent with them, the more I understood that these organizations were adopting object technology almost defensively, as an explicit strategy to be able to take advantage of the new opportunities. And it makes sense. A developer with a three- or four-year-old application that’s competing version by version in the marketplace isn’t about to spend a year retooling the application using object technologies, losing a year of the feature and performance improvements that the installed base wants (and the competition is providing). Sometimes the only groups who can afford to spend the time to do it right are the ones who don’t have competition, who don’t have an installed base, but who intend to break in to a brand-new business.

The lesson for toolmakers, then, is that there may not be much value in helping people write traditional applications better and faster. Though the authors of those traditional applications certainly could use the improvement in efficiency, the competitive environment doesn’t allow them to take the time to retool. These developers will only adopt new tools that let them take their current code base with them. New tools that require a developer to start from scratch shouldn’t focus on creating the traditional, single-platform, monolithic application; those toolmakers should look to the developing industries of component applications, content authoring, PDAs, and cross-platform or client/server solutions to find an audience for the new tools.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Dropbox 24.4.17 - Cloud backup and synch...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
OmniPlan Pro 3.7.1 - Professional-grade...
With OmniPlan Pro, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success... Read more
OmniPlan 3.7.1 - Robust project manageme...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Adium 1.5.10.4 - Popular instant messagi...
Adium is a fast and free instant messaging client which supports AIM, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Yahoo! Japan, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Novell Groupwise, SIP/SIMPLE (Text), and Lotus Sametime... Read more
SteerMouse 5.1 - Powerful third-party mo...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
File Juicer 4.57 - $18.00
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. In computer... Read more
1Password 6.7 - Powerful password manage...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
CleanMyMac 3.8.1 - $39.95
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
Monolingual 1.7.8 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. If you use your computer in only one (human) language, you... Read more
Lyn 1.8.9 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a fast, lightweight image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists, and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it delivers... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Sudoku Sweeper (Games)
Sudoku Sweeper 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A minimalist mashup of Minesweeper and Sudoku. Logic puzzle perfection. Every row, column and zone contains a bomb and one of... | Read more »
Under Leaves (Games)
Under Leaves 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Journey into the forest, the jungle or the depths of the deep blue sea. Find chestnuts for the pigs, a caterpillar for the... | Read more »
Ninja Pizza Girl (Games)
Ninja Pizza Girl 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: In the not-so-distant future, rampart traffic congestion has resulted in only one way to deliver pizzas across town in thirty... | Read more »
SCRAP (Games)
SCRAP 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: That day, for no apparent reason, SCRAP decided to wake up and run. He had to, because his activation was a mistake the "Factory" could... | Read more »
The Bunker (Games)
The Bunker 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: The critically acclaimed console hit "The Bunker" comes to iOS, The groundbreaking live-action thriller adventure set in a real... | Read more »
Die With Glory (Games)
Die With Glory 1.2.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.2.0 (iTunes) Description: Die with Glory is an epic adventure game where your goal is to die in glorious fashion. You must help Sigurd, a brave old... | Read more »
Get Ike in the new Fire Emblem: Heroes u...
One of the most popular Fire Emblem characters is finally available in a new update to Nintendo'sFire Emblem: Heroes. [Read more] | Read more »
Die With Glory in a new viking adventure...
If you're a fan of classic adventure games you'll do well to pick upDie With Glory, the gorgeous new title from Cloud Castle inc. Die With Glory updatesthe gameplay of the same kind of adventure classics such asMonkey Island for modern, mobile... | Read more »
Get up to speed with everything you need...
In case you haven’t heard, MU Origin just got a colossal new update with new all-server events, battle modes, and systems making their way to the land of MU. Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know about the latest content. [Read... | Read more »
Minimalist puzzle game, Cuts, free on iO...
If you're looking for a gorgeous puzzle experience on iOS devices, developer Gamebra.in's aesthetically interesting puzzler, Cuts, is discounted to free on the iOS App Store right now. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $260 with Apple refurbished 12-inc...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
Digital Paper Tablet Offers Distraction Free...
I typically spend 8-10 hours a day gazing at the screens in my laptops and iPad, as tools of my livelihood, I don’t as a rule use electronic devices for pleasure reading. I subscribe to a daily... Read more
“Today at Apple” Bringing New Educational Ses...
Apple has announced plans to launch dozens of new educational sessions next month in all 495 Apple Stores ranging in topics from photo and video to music, coding, art and design, and more. The hands-... Read more
Smart Finance Free Comprehensive Personal Fin...
Moscow-based indie developer, Alexander Survillo has announced the release and immediate availability of Smart Finance: Personal Finance, Budget & Money 1.1.4, an update to his comprehensive... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $1...
B&H has 12″ 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 12... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $1169 $... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros available...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro available for $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A): $1799.99 $200 off... Read more
13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $160 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1439.99 $160 off MSRP - 12″ 1... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**501042BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000416-East Lansing-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**501195BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 000211-Colorado Blvd-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
*Apple* Mac Computer Technician - GeekHampto...
…complex computer issues over the phone and in person? GeekHampton, Long Island's Apple Premium Service Provider, is looking for you! Come work with our crew Read more
Product Manager, *Apple* Platforms - Viacom...
…Product Manager to drive the execution of its iOS and AppleTV experiences. The Apple Platform Product Manager will be a leader in our Agile/Scrum environment and Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**500662BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Location Number:** 000286-Canton-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Geek Squad Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.