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

Freeway Pro 7.0.3 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Cloud 3.3.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.5 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Firefox 36.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and... Read more
Thunderbird 31.5.0 - Email client from M...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
VOX 2.4 - Music player that supports man...
VoxIt just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features & support for all audio formats you should ever need... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.46 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
WALTR 1.0.9 - Drag-and-drop any media fi...
WALTR is designed to make it easy to upload and convert any music or video file to an iPad or iPhone format for native playback. It supports a huge variety of media file types, including MP3, MP4,... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.14 - Enhances Open...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Boom 2 1.1 - System-wide pro audio app f...
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more

Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming F...
Check Out the Trailer for the Upcoming FINAL FANTASY: Record Keeper Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] DeNA and Square Enix have announced that | Read more »
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like T...
Legacy Quest is an Upcoming Rouge-like That’ll Kill the Whole Family Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Nexon Co. | Read more »
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review
Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: MUSCLE MENUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Regular Show gets an above average game.   | Read more »
Action RPG League of Angels – Fire Raide...
Gaia is being invaded by the Devil Prince and the demonic Devil Army at his disposal, and it’s up to you and your avatar to defeat him in League of Angels – Fire Raiders. Raise a mighty army from hundreds of recruitable angel heroes and take the... | Read more »
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars:...
Burn Rubber on the Ice With a New Cars: Fast as Lightning Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 26th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
AdVenture Capitalist Review
AdVenture Capitalist Review By Jordan Minor on February 26th, 2015 Our Rating: :: DAS KAPITALUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad An inadvertent Marxist manifesto.   | Read more »
Monster vs Sheep Review
Monster vs Sheep Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SAMEY FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad What Monster vs Sheep lacks in variety it makes up for with stress relieving fun. At least, for a... | Read more »
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitter...
Is Your Face Ready for the New Outwitters 2.0 Trailer? Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 25th, 2015 [ permalink ] One Man Left Studios has announced that their turn-based strategy game, | Read more »
HowToFormat Review
HowToFormat Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: USEFUL TIPSiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Making a presentation and want to get it just right? HowToFormat teaches you how... | Read more »
Thermo Diem Review
Thermo Diem Review By Jennifer Allen on February 25th, 2015 Our Rating: :: GETS TO THE POINTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want to know whether it’s warmer or colder tomorrow? That’s precisely what Thermo Diem will... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New Travel Health App “My Travel Health” iOS...
Rochester, Minnesota based Travel Health and Wellness LLC has announced that its new iOS app help safeguard the user’s health when traveling abroad — “My Travel Health” is now available on the Apple... Read more
Sale! MacBook Airs for up to $115 off MSRP
B&H Photo has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $799 100 off MSRP - 11″ 256GB MacBook Air: $999 $100... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more
Wither The iPad mini? End Of The Road Imminen...
AppleDailyReport’s Dennis Sellers predicts that the iPad mini is going to be left to wither on the vine, as it were, and then just allowed to fade away — a casualty of the IPhone 6 Plus and other... Read more
Android and iOS Duopoly Owns 96.3% of Smartph...
IDC reports that Android and iOS inched closer to total domination of the worldwide smartphone market in both the fourth quarter (4Q14) and the calendar year 2014 (CY14). According to data from the... Read more
13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
MacMall has the 2013 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro available for $999.99 for a limited time. Shipping is free. Their price is $300 off original MSRP, and it’s the only sub-$1000 new Retina... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Mac minis available for up to $75 off MSRP
MacMall has Mac minis on sale for up to $75 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest available for these models from any reseller: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459.99 $40 off - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
WaterField Unveils Versatile Padded Gear Pouc...
San Francisco manufacturer WaterField Design’s new Padded Gear Pouch is a light and handy-sized, yet protective, organizer for every kind of take-along gear: technology, travel, toiletries,... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $50 off Mac...
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through April 11, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC)- Retail S...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.