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Jan 95 Dialog Box
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:1
Column Tag:Dialog Box

Dialog Box

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

Open Letter To Apple

To Apple, and the rest of the world - market share is a head-trip. It isn’t the issue. Developers are key. Apple’s economics are out of whack. Definitely. But increasing market share isn’t what it’s about.

Love is what it’s about.

This is going to take some explaining.

When I woke up this morning there was a bunch of flowers in my mailbox from Bill Gates. What a guy! At the end of my last essay I said that I didn’t have a Windows 95 beta to play with. Bill-the-Platform-Vendor correctly read the message. Dave wants flowers. The love letter in my mailbox began “Bill Gates requested that we add you to the Windows 95 Beta Program.” Ohhhh.

Another platform vendor who gets it, Jean-Louis Gassee (Be Inc,, had sent me a love letter too. I can’t repeat his message here, it was too sexy.

Have you read the Celestine Prophecy? These guys were getting me ready to write this angry love letter to Apple Computer. Reminding me that love is out there. There are options.

Developer relations is a mating game. The platform vendors are the guys. Developers are the girls. Send flowers. You always score big. Like wives and girlfriends, developers just want to be cared for. It’s the little things that count. That’s a big secret. You sent flowers last week? So what! You gotta send them every week, rain or shine.

Apple always made a big deal of how many girlfriends it had. And it went for the sluts (Lotus, Borland, etc) and ignored the ones that cooked the meals, cleaned the house, made the babies. You can hear a lot of that in the Gates piece on Apple.

I’ve gotten my share of flowers from Apple, mostly in 1986-87. There was a renaissance at Apple in that period. The Macintosh market was booming. Emerging from hard times, good people digging out, and a big party for the faithful and lucky developers who survived the mess of late 84-85. I remember those times very fondly. I did win-win deals, almost routinely, with Apple. Many thanks to Guy Kawasaki, Bill Campbell and Jean-Louis Gassee, who understood very well that a good developer is worth a hundred promiscuous girlfriends. In those days my mailbox overflowed with floral arrangements. And I cooked some great meals!

Then, a very predictable thing happened. Kawasaki, Campbell, Gassee and people of similar spirit were forced out. A legion of employees invaded the platform, hired by other employees to replace the developers with high-paid, low-output, loveless computer scientists. That’s the major reason Apple’s economics are way out of whack right now.

Back to Gates... I have never heard him say a negative thing about the Macintosh. Quite the opposite. An example. At the System 7 rollout, not a single Apple exec could explain why the new OS was so cool. I sat in the audience, amazed that Bill Gates was the only one on stage who could get me excited about System 7. (It was also amazing that I was in the audience. I was the only developer in the room that was actually building on System 7 in a meaningful way. I was being punished for that. I could have given a very stirring speech, but Apple people were afraid that some of them would lose their jobs if I was successful.)

On October 23, in an email to me, Gates said “Other large developers have humiliated the Mac thru their statements or by dropping support in some cases many times. Over the last few years we have introduced more new titles for the Mac than any other company. This is despite Apple suing us and discriminating against us ”

Has Apple ever thanked Bill Gates for developing for the Macintosh? What about Paul Brainerd? John Warnock? Tim Gill? Marc Canter? Nat Goldhaber? Don Brown? Leonard Rosenthol? Andrew Singer? What about me???

Why not take Gates at face value? If he’s produced so much Macintosh software without any gratitude from Apple, maybe he’d support the platform even more enthusiastically if Apple showed just a bit of appreciation.

1994 is the ten-year anniversary of the shipment of the Macintosh. Did Apple honor the developers who were there at startup? Absolutely not. Not even a plaque. Not even an email saying thank you. I was really pissed. Didn’t say anything.

At the ten-year celebration at Moscone Center in San Francisco on January 6, I sat in the audience, fuming, listening to Bill & Andy talk about the magic of the Macintosh, how great they were, without a single reference to any developers. Where was Spindler? Didn’t he have anything to say at this important milestone?

Today, Macintosh is an empty loveless house. Not a home. All the developers walked but left the babies behind. Not because of market share, that can be fixed with economic tweaks. We walked because Apple is a lousy lover.

A platform is a Chinese household. One rich husband. Lots of wives. If the husband abuses one wife, it hurts all the wives. All of sudden food starts getting cold. The bed is empty. All of a sudden husband isn’t so rich.

- Dave Winer,

Rolling On The Floor Laughing

I was ROTFL reading your recent editorial on people blaming debugging tools for bugs. I had a similar experience a couple of years ago when a >1000 Mac site for which we were doing tech support decided on a word processor. This thing was a complete disaster, written by a bunch of 98 weenies (NEC 98xx sort-of-DOS-compatible-series version of PC weenie). We were getting sporadic crashes, lockups and corrupted files. At such a big site, sporadic means that it is happening to at least 10 people a day, so we logged a lot of bug report time.

Finally, I spent about a day with Jasik (the debugger, not the human) and tracked about 10 mostly Resource/Memory Manager related bugs. The client invited a bunch of engineers and sales reps to come to a demonstration of why we were having so many problems. I turned Heap Scramble/Purge on, started the application, and it didn’t even make it to the splash screen.

The engineer saw the green menu bars, asked me what they were, and I explained that it was a debugger. He went over to an adjacent machine (without the debugger installed), fired up the app and beamed proudly, explaining to us all that their application just seemed to have an conflict with my strange third-party INIT. After I showed them a few concrete bug examples, they got the point and listened.

The real reason that I am writing is that halfway through the article, that readme excerpt started to sound real familiar. By any chance would the product in question be [name removed]? Then again, maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the readme fragment you reprinted is more widespread than I thought.

- Robert Coie,

Hall of Shame?

I got and installed EvenBetterBusError, and sure enough, it caused errors :-) What really struck me, within minutes of using it, was that I started finding culprits right away!! Perhaps MacTech could begin a hall of shame.

Thank you for the very good magazine, and I hope to see you at MacWorld Expo/SF.

- Michael Sattler, San Francisco

We received several requests for the name of the offending item, but we’re still not naming names because we had a message to get out first (that doesn’t rule out a hall of shame, though). Our intent in blasting the Read Me was to spread the word about EvenBetterBusError so others could follow Apple’s lead and test for a set of common errors before shipping software to customers. We’d all be better off if EvenBetterBusError, DoubleTrouble, DisposeHandle, Leaks, Blat, QC, and other tools were household names in our profession. At the very least, our customers would wonder what Apple did to make the machine so much more stable.

By the way, the maker of the offending item reports that they have taken the problem to heart. We hope to bring you a detailed report on the problems and the progress soon.

- Ed stb

Please, Sir, May I Have More?

Just to let you know, the single greatest thing you have done, in my humble opinion, is the addition of an ftp site for MacTech. The more of this the better. I also really appreciate the URLs. Keep it coming.

- Tim Orling,

Viva Sprocket

I eagerly await each new release of Sprocket. As you observe, using it as a common base for articles will make it easier to focus on new ideas and ignore well-trodden ground.

I am equally delighted to see that its code uses my own (i.e. the One True) indenting convention, and to hear that a lot of the Finder is written that way. At first I just thought, “Gee, this code sure is readable...” before I actually noticed.

- Andrew Duncan, Philips Interactive Media


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