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Volume Number:10
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Useful Resources

Internet And The Macintosh Programmer

Find some of the best surfing with this handy guide

By Kevin M. Savetz, internet world traveler

It’s four in the morning - you’re at wits end because of six lines of C code that should work, but don’t. Or perhaps you’ve got a question for someone - anyone - who knows more about memory management than you do. Or maybe you’re looking for some public domain code to draw the Mandlebrot set. Where can you turn? Turn to the Internet.

Every day, some 25 million people in 200 countries access the Internet to exchange electronic mail, information and files. This article will show you where to find some of the best resources for Mac software developers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hacking the Mac since the beginning or are just getting past programs that print “Hello, World!” on the screen - on the Internet you can find expert advice, source code and ready-to-run applications, even at four in the morning.

This article isn’t intended to be an Internet primer or tell you how to get connected. Whole books have been written about these topics (something I too am guilty of.) If you’re interested in getting on the ‘net, trudge to your bookstore or library and pick up one of the books listed in the “Internet Books for Beginners” sidebar.

On The Usenet

The Usenet is world’s largest distributed bulletin board system, shared by millions of people swimming the seas of the Internet. Folks on the Usenet talk about everything - everything! - you can think of, from square dancing to motorcycle maintenance and from the Swedish Chef to Ronald Reagan. The Usenet is simply the largest, most active, and most varied discussion forum in the world. At last count, there were over 8,000 Usenet “newsgroups,” or discussion topics, covering every subject imaginable.

As you might expect, there are a lot of forums on the Usenet for programmers: definitely hundreds, possibly zillions. Here you can find public domain source code, ask questions about programming (and answer some) and find deliciously useful FAQs - lists of frequently asked questions and their answers.

Below is a list of newsgroups of interest to programmers. Most of their names are self-explanatory - for instance, comp.sys.mac.hypercard is a forum for discussing Hypercard on the Mac. Most groups are places for discussion - questions and answers, arguments and conversations abound on those newsgroups. Others (usually with the word “source” in the name) are dedicated to source code postings. Still others (those with “binaries” in the name) contain only ready-to-run (well, after you deBinHex and uncompress them) programs.

Here are the best and brightest Usenet groups for those interested in Mac programming:

comp.sys.mac.programmer - this is the most active forum for talking about Mac programming in general

comp.sys.newton.programmer - for Newton programmers

comp.sys.mac.hypercard - about Hypercard and Hypertalk.

comp.sys.powerpc - about the PowerPC chip and computers.

comp.programming - general discussion about programming. - for folks interested in programming games on any platform.

comp.sys.mac.oop.misc - for general discussion about object-oriented programming

comp.sys.mac.oop.macapp3 - discussion about MacAPP3

comp.sys.mac.oop.tcl - for discussion about TCL.

comp.binaries.mac - the place for ready-to-run applications

You may find the comp.lang newsgroups useful, too (see Figure 1). On these groups you can discuss any language you can imagine, from Ada to Verilog. Most aren’t specific to the programming on the Macintosh, and some are dedicated to talk about programming on other platforms.

A variety of newsgroups are dedicated to source code and discussion about it. Here’s a list of some source-oriented newsgroups you might find interesting:

Figure 1

Example of what’s on a Usenet group

comp.sys.mac.programmer          680 articles

a Arthur Cinader    5  Mac System Seven Questions
  Robert Rosenberg
  Peter Castine
  Jump Long
  Arthur Cinader
b Ken Long          3  >Creator Codes
  Svlad Cjelli
  Ken Long
d Mystery Man       1  Q: Think C 6.01 & the source server
e Stephen Jonke     1  Wanted: Example of Apple Scripting Excel charts
f Paul Hyman        2  >why update event won’t go away?
  Chris Athanas
g Howard Free       1  DSP libraries in C
i Ed Lai            1  >AppleScript: string as script command?
j Scott Lindsey     1  >TC 7.0 BUG in “register coloring”?!?!?!
l Paul Westbrook    1  Linked text file
o Bobby Thomale     2  Help please? Mac High Level Events
  Warren Leach
r fd                5  Are there any Disassemblers for Mac?
  Ray Fischer
  Ken Long
  Michael Peirce
s Paul DuBois       3  PenPat((ConstPatternParamgray - why illegal cast?
  John W. Baxter
  S Asgeirsson
t Marc Liyanage     1  How to update from Think C 5.0.3 to latest release?
u Juan Ingles       2  Q: Internal malloc abort?
  Ron Hunsinger
v Larry Himes       1  ARA 2.0 Security APIs
w David M Costello  1  Writing to Serial Port Example
x David Henry       2  determining playing length of ‘snd ‘

FTP Sites

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a tool that allows you to copy files between computers on the Internet. You can move your own files between computers, or - more commonly, use “anonymous FTP” to access huge online software libraries. Thousands of sites provide anonymous FTP service, allowing you to download everything from electronic books and magazines, to satellite pictures of the weather, to public-domain utilities and games for your personal computer. Here are a few interesting sites for Mac programmers: ( This is Apple’s semi-official repository for system software, developer tools, source code, Macintosh technical notes, and other things that come more or less straight from Apple’s mouth. Unfortunately, the materials at this site are arranged pretty badly, but you can unearth some true Apple treasures. You can get System 7, Tune-ups, QuickTime and much more. (Start by perusing the /pub/dts directory.) ( This is my favorite archive site for Macintosh stuff, complete with games, utilities, developer’s tools, virus programs and anything else your heart could desire. Look in the directories /mac/development/source for ready-to-compile program source and /mac/development/source/snippets for code fragments. ( This is one of the finest collections of Macintosh software, housed at Stanford University. Sumex is home to hundreds of megabytes of Macintosh freeware, shareware and demonstrations of commercial software. Hundreds of programs and source code snippets are available in the directories /info-mac/dev and /info-mac/dev/src. (While you’re there, pick up the latest edition of the comp.sys.mac.programmer digest - containing all the good stuff posted to the Usenet newsgroup of the same name. You’ll find it in the directory /info-mac/per/csmp.) ( This site contains a plethora of source of all kinds, and is perhaps the most comprehensive Macintosh source code archive. It contains source for lots of Unix-ported utilities as well as lots of original mac source code. Look in the directory /software/mac/src. ( This site carries archives of the material posted to the Usenet newsgroup alt.sources.mac. The good stuff in in the directory /pub/alt.sources.mac. ( This site is home of the develop magazine mailing list, also has lots of random stuff you can’t find elsewhere. It’s worth a look: look in the directory /Mac-Develop/Source.

MacTech Magazine: Yes, indeed, this very magazine has its own little spot in Cyberspace. At this FTP site, you can find source code from these pages, press releases of interest to developers and a few useful utilities, too. You can get there by FTPing to ( and looking in the /pub/xplain directory.

General information about FTP

Many FTP sites are overworked. To prevent overcrowding, many systems only allow a certain number of FTP users at any given time. If you attempt to connect to an overloaded site, you’ll see a message telling you to try again later. If you have access to Gopher, trying connecting to the site with Gopher rather than FTP. Gopher sessions are connected for much shorter periods than FTP connections, so many systems have more lenient Gopher connection limits. For instance, to access Stanford’s InfoMac archives, gopher to

If you don’t have access to FTP or Gopher, all is not lost. You can also peruse FTP sites and get files via electronic mail. For information on accessing FTP sites through e-mail, send mail to and include the words “send usenet/news.answers/finding-sources” in the message body.

Other Interesting Stuff

Alright, so perhaps “Other Interesting Stuff” isn’t the clearest way to group information, but I’ve found that a whole lot of the good stuff on the Internet falls very neatly in that category. I also admit that not all of this is only for Mac programmers, but we hope you’ll find them useful anyway...

Apple product information: For the latest Apple press releases and product information, gopher to

Example of that Gopher site:

 ->   1.   READ ME FIRST.
      2.  Apple Library Users Group/
      3.  Apple Press Releases/
      4.  Apple Support Area/
      5.  Apple Technologies/
      6.  Computing in Higher Ed Academics/
      7.  Higher Ed Marketing Info/
      8.  Macintosh Freeware and Shareware/
      9.  Power Macintosh/
      10. Product Information/
      11. Publications/
      12. USA Regional Market Information/

Scout Report newsletter: The Scout Report is a weekly publication offered by InterNIC Information Services as a fast, convenient way to stay informed about network activities. Its purpose is to combine in one place the highlights of new and newly-discovered online resources. To receive the Scout Report via electronic mail once a week, join the scout-report mailing list. Send e-mail to with the words “subscribe scout-report” in the message body.

PowerPC News: You can read the full text of an independent electronic magazine published every two weeks for developers and end users who want the latest news about the PowerPC microprocessor family. Use your favorite WorldWideWeb browser to connect to: “”.

Edupage: An excellent thrice-a-week newsletter summarizing of news items on information technology, Edupage is sort of like a miniature MacWeek - only you don’t have to lie through your teeth to get a free subscription. To add your name to the Edupage distribution list, send e-mail to In the body of the message type “sub edupage <your name>”.

TidBits newsletter: We’ve saved the best for last. TidBits is a wonderful online newsletter for Macintosh people. This weekly newsletter, published by Adam Engst (author of The Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh) includes lively features, hot news and roundups of all the hardware and software reviews in every other major Mac publication. For information on how to subscribe to TidBits and where to find back issues send e-mail to

Here’s an example of Edupage:

        Commodore Calls It Quits
        Bell Atlantic Chooses Multimedia Partners
        Novell Files Lawsuit
        TCI-Liberty Merger Approved
        Computer Viruses Rampant In Asia

        Government Support For Commercial Technology
        A Long Shot? ... U.S. Behind on Flat Panel Technology
        Interactive Advertising’s Not For Everyone
        Systems Failure Delays Computer-Controlled Airport
        Apple Speaks Out For Speech
        Who Will Control The Info Highway In Canada?
        Wireless E-Mail
        Canadian Provinces Have No Telecom Jurisdiction
        On-Line Media List
        EMF Alert
        No More Futzing Around ... Software To Block Game-Playing

        Commodore, a PC industry pioneer, is going out of business and
liquidating its assets for the benefit of its creditors. (Atlanta
Journal-Constitution 4/30/94 B3)

        Out of more than 14 bidders, Bell Atlantic chose AT&T Network
Systems and a team comprising General Instrument and DSC Communications 
build its $11 billion multimedia network. Bell Atlantic hopes to reach
eight million homes by the end of the decade, offering advanced voice, 
and video services. (Wall Street Journal 4/29/94 A4)

        Novell Inc. has filed federal lawsuits against Aqua Systems Inc.
and Digital Soft, alleging they illegally upgraded and sold versions 
of its
NetWare software. Novell maintains the companies reused serial numbers 
original software to obtain upgrades, and then sold the upgrades at a 
profit. (Wall Street Journal 4/29/94 A9)

        Tele-Communications Inc. and Liberty Media Corp. won federal
approval to go ahead with their planned merger after agreeing to a
settlement prohibiting anti-competitive discrimination against rivals.
(Multichannel News 5/2/94)

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