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

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

How to evolve Eevee in Pokemon GO
By now, almost everyone should be hip to how to evolve Pokemon in Pokemon GO (and if not, there's a guide for that). Just gather enough candy of the appropriate type, feed them all to the Pokemon, and evolution happens. It's a miracle that would... | Read more »
CSR Racing 2: Guide to all game modes
It might not seem like there are all that many ways to go fast in a straight line, but CSR Racing 2 begs to differ. [Read more] | Read more »
Bulb Boy (Games)
Bulb Boy 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Multi-award winning 2D point & click horror adventure about a boy with a glowing head. | Read more »
5 top free emoji keyboard apps
If we're not at peak emoji yet as a society, it feels like we definitely should be. The emoji concept has gone far beyond what anyone in Japan could have envisioned when the people there unleashed it on an unsuspecting world, but the West has... | Read more »
How to unlock more characters in Disney...
One of the big charms of Disney Emoji Blitz is seeing a wide variety of beloved Disney and Pixar characters transformed into smiling emojis. Even someone like the sneaky Randall from Monsters Inc., who probably never cracked a smile on film, is... | Read more »
Cubway (Games)
Cubway 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubway is a journey with an abstract story of lifecycle of rebirth, called Samsara. Guide the cube through the long way full of dangers... | Read more »
Colorcube (Games)
Colorcube 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Turn pieces and blend colours in this minimal yet visually stunning puzzler.Over 200 handcrafted and challenging levels. Features... | Read more »
Doodle God Griddlers (Games)
Doodle God Griddlers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Crusader Kings: Chronicles (Games)
Crusader Kings: Chronicles 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crusader Kings: Chronicles is an interactive text based game that puts you in the shoes of Guy de Rose as you make... | Read more »
Roads of Rome: New Generation (Games)
Roads of Rome: New Generation 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Charitybuzz Set to Auction Unique Apple-1 Com...
Offering an opportunity to own the computer that sparked a revolution, on Monday, July 25, leading online charity auction platform Charitybuzz will auction what is claimed to be the world’s most... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
Amazon has 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $899.99 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Apple iPad Pro Sales Far Outpacing Microsoft...
A report on Appleinsider notes that despite Microsoft Surface tablet PC sales growing by 9 percent year over year, revenues remained below $1 billion, and are down sequentially from the $1.1 billion... Read more
DEVONthink 2.9 Features Ultra-fast, Robust, A...
DEVONthink 2.9 allows users to keep databases synchronized using many means of transport. It transmits them between Macs on the local network or stores them in a syncable form on removable hard... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $100 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP - 12″... Read more
Apple refurbished 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Mac Sales Finally Colliding With ‘Innov...
After successfully swimming against a tide of diminishing PC sales through 2014 and 2015, it appears that Apple has finally stopped defying gravity and is running up against the unwritten “innovate... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Phoenix, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
*Apple* Picker - Apple Hill Orchard (United...
Apple Hill Orchard, Co. Rte. 21,Whitehall, NY 9/7/16-10/228/16. Pick fresh market or processing apples Productivity of 60 boxes and 80 boxes processing fruit per Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.