TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Software Reuse
Volume Number:9
Issue Number:12
Column Tag:Inside Information

The “Re” Decade

Out with the old, in with the new

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

In 1982 I was working in the Macintosh group at Apple, managing the team that was preparing the original technical and user documentation for the intro in 1984. I spent a lot of time with Creative Services (for those who don’t speak Applese, that’s the art department). At that point in history Apple’s graphic design was on the cutting edge in the design community, at the point in American history where New Wave Graphics were sliding slowly into the Yuppie era. The Macintosh design team was acutely aware of this, and pushed the design ethic of Macintosh into the public consciousness, with lots of white space, the characteristic Garamond typeface, and Windham Hill music. When you opened the box, you could almost smell the sushi.

I realized that there was something very important about being in synch with a social trend. The Macintosh became one of the key symbols of mid-Eighties Yuppiedom, and doubtless a lot of its popularity came from the fact that it embodied the spiritual values of the times-it was high tech but soft tech; it was more expensive than alternatives; and it was from a small upstart company challenging the establishment on its own turf. The reverberations of those values have carried the Macintosh ethos nearly ten years, into a different era.

And it’s clearly a different era in the Nineties. Price doesn’t impute value like it did ten years ago. More of the general public are computer literate; more of the computer literate are computer experts, and make more sophisticated buying decisions. Most importantly, the continuing recession, environmental awareness, and a bad hangover from the eighties excesses has brought in a new ethic, based on frugality, common sense, and the making of hard choices now for benefits far in the future.

You can see this ethic in the Nineties mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Make do with less. Don’t throw it away; be clever about adapting things to new uses. And when you can, remanufacture old products into new ones. In public life, we talk about reengineering corporations, reinventing government, and repaying the defecit. It’s as if the “me decade” has turned into the “re decade.”

I’m convinced that the re-ethic that’s cresting over society will affect software design, and that the people who surf the reengineering-and-reuse wave will travel the farthest. When you look at the technologies of object-oriented programming, visual applications design, and cross-platform development, they’re all directed at something broader than using technology to make development faster or whizzier. They’re fundamentally changing the ethos of programming from conspicuous code consumption to frugal, common-sense use of resources over and over.

To software designers, this new ethos gives some guidance to what customers will want to purchase in the coming years, and how they’ll purchase it. To tools designers, it gives inspiration to new categories of architectures and tools that software designers can use to reinvent the process of developing products.

Start with the basics: reducing waste. Up to a couple of years ago, the value of starting from scratch - for example, to jump from DOS to Mac or Windows - was greater than the value of retaining your investment in old code. But as programs get larger and more expensive to maintain, it’s increasingly important to be able to take advantage of new hardware or OS features with no changes. Apple’s transition to the PowerPC is a huge shift, the kind that previously would have forced tens of millions of dollars worth of rework just to run on the new machine. But with the bug-for-bug compatable emulation built into the upcoming PowerPC models, and the C environments from Apple, Symantec, and others, we’re trying to deliver basic benefits with no work, and great benefits with a straightforward port.

Next, reuse: being able to write code once and use it again and again. Frameworks like MacApp and Bedrock foster reuse in two ways: they let many developers reuse code provided in the framework, and they let you write class libraries that you can bind into several applications. Good developers encapsulate the worth of their company into a few solid class libraries, with clean and abstract interfaces and killer implementations, and base a family of products on the same core technology.

Finally, recycling and reengineering. The people who will succeed in the Re Decade will be the ones who will take their products the closest to the customer as possible, so that users can dynamically change the solutions to their problems as conditions change. Unlike the Eighties when a “killer app” was mass-produced and upgraded every year or so, the killer apps of the Nineties will be unique to the situation and reengineered constantly. The most valuable products will be flexible, reusable parts and efficient, clear tools to combine them. The OpenDoc architecture being assembled by Apple, Novell, IBM, Word Perfect, Lotus, Taligent, and others should provide you a unique opportunity to create the parts and tools that customers will use to constantly reengineer their solutions.

It’s hard to tell how long an ethos will last. It’s possible that in a couple of years, an economic recovery and some unforseen technical innovation will take us back to the wild days when code was write-once and disposable, and customers would happily pay for painful upgrades just to have the latest version. But somehow I don’t think so. There’s a series of ads (for a whiskey, I think) where each shows a fashion item in a cycle of styles from the 50s through the 90s, with the modern style somehow wierdly the same as the 50s one. The tagline is “You always return to the basics.” I think the ideas of reducing waste, reusing good work, and recycling valuable tools close to the customer are the kinds of ideas that endure.

 
AAPL
$108.00
Apple Inc.
+1.02
MSFT
$46.95
Microsoft Corpora
+0.90
GOOG
$559.08
Google Inc.
+8.77

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vitamin-R 2.20b1 - Personal productivity...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Dropbox 2.10.44 - Cloud synchronization...
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
Sandvox 2.9.2 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Monster Flash Review
Monster Flash Review By Jordan Minor on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ALONE IN THE DARKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Solid shooting and a surprising amount of spooky tension make Monster Flash a great portable... | Read more »
Retry Review
Retry Review By Rob Thomas on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SOARING HIGHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Flappy who? Let Retry wash all those bad bird-related memories away on a cool retro-flavored flight… right... | Read more »
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review By Lee Hamlet on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: A TOUGH READUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A witch hunter is sent after a demonic book in the spooky but short-lived Dementia: Book... | Read more »
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguel...
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguelike, Has Been Renovated Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Logitech Protection + Power iPhone5/5S C...
Made by: Logitech Price: $99.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars | Read more »
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanentl...
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanently Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Swap Heroes Review
Swap Heroes Review By Campbell Bird on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: STRATEGIC SWAPPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rotate a cast of heroes to fend of waves of monsters in this difficult, puzzle rpg.   | Read more »
Night Sky Pro™ (Reference)
Night Sky Pro™ 3.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Reference Price: $2.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Night Sky Pro™Wonder No More™ Night Sky Pro™ is the ultimate stargazing experience. From the creators of the original... | Read more »
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 2014 13-inch R...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more

Jobs Board

Solutions Specialist with *Apple* Knowledge...
Company Description: We are an Apple Authorized Sales and Service Provider. We have been selling and servicing Apple computers in the Fairfield County area for over Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Sr. Manager, *Apple* Deployment Programs fo...
**Job Summary** Apple is seeking candidates for a new position on the Education Content and Technology team. iPad and Mac is in the hands of millions of teachers and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.