TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 96 Dialog Box
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:5
Column Tag:Dialog Box

Dialog Box

By Matt Neuburg, letters@mactech.com

If They Build It, Will Anyone Come?

We thought that readers might be interested in these excerpts from a thread that occurred a while back (September, 1995) on the Apple internet providers mailing list (subscription info
at
http://www.solutions.apple.com/apple-internet/) between ZiyaOz@aol.com (Ziya Oz) and jon@comvista.com (MacTech Magazine contributing editor Jon Wiederspan). Obviously the details of the situation have changed in the meantime on many of these products (please bear this in mind while reading!), but the point remains valid, the more so since, as this issue went to press, Apple was actively soliciting internet strategy advice from users.

Ziya: Are you bothered by the alarming absence of serious HTTP servers (as well as site-management, clients/browsers and visual authoring tools) for the MacOS? I’ve just begun to compile a list of all significant servers, clients and tools available for Windows NT and Unix, but not for the Mac. The objective is, first, to document the severity of the situation (so that perhaps Apple can put it on its radar screen) and, second, to pressure some of the companies that completely ignore the Mac, to pay more attention to it.

PRODUCT CLIENT/Browser SERVER DEV TOOL

OpenUI Q4 95 No No

WebObjects/Next-OpenStep No No No

Netscape/LiveWire Yes No No

Verity Topic Agent/Server Soon? No No

ATT Interchange No No No

Microsoft Network/Blackbird No No No

Hyper-G Soon? No No

Vermeer FrontPage Q1 96 No No

RAD PowerMedia Soon? No No

SapphireWeb No No No

ArchiText Yes No No

Sun Java Soon? NA Roaster

W3 Website Toolkit No No No

WebBase (ODBC) No No No

NaviSoft/NaviServer Yes No No

OpenMarket No No No

O’Reilly WebSite No No No

InContext Spider No No No

Microft Explorer No No No

Wollongong Emissary No No No

Jon: I’m a bit confused by the point of your list. Do you really mean that every server that runs on another platform should also run on a Mac?

Ziya: This is not just about HTTP servers. It’s also about developer tools, browsers, site managers, editors, etc. It’s really about what I called an alarming trend on the Mac. Here’s what I mean:

At the last MacWorld Expo in Boston, I asked myself: If Ceneca was not formed by ex-Taligent people, would they have developed Page/SiteMill for the MacOS first? Would they even have developed for the Mac at all? After seeing at the Fall Internet/Boston last week the preponderance of Windows NT and UNIX, and the widespread neglect of the Mac, my answers are: No and No again.

By now it’s futile to cling to an unreasonable hope that the Mac’s role in corporate “business” computing (databases, enterprise apps, servers, CAD, network management, etc.) won’t become less and less consequential. Instead of engaging in quasi-religious discourse on this, let’s move on. Is there a future for the Mac in other areas? Certainly, in education, 3D, digital video, graphics, DTP, interactive authoring and, I’d have thought, Internet.

I watched Spindler tell the audience at the launching of the PowerMacs that “Apple would do Internet right.” Two years later, Apple has precious little to show for it, with the possible exception of the promise (and no more) of Cyberdog. How else could it be when (as I’m told by the OpenDoc evangelists) there’s no person(s) in charge of Apple’s Internet strategy, product and marketing? Of course Cyberdog is a great concept, but so were PowerTalk, QuickDraw GX, GeoPort and a host of others Apple introduced in the recent past. Is Internet important? A lot of people think so. Is it important, or even vital, to Apple? How can you tell?

Internet is essentially a client/server architecture: browsers request and servers serve data of some kind. Apple is not in the browser business; that’s owned by Netscape (and soon to be shared by Microsoft). Cyberdog can’t really change that in a 90% non-Mac marketplace. Well then, is Apple in the HTTP server business? Not really. The only commercial HTTP server of any size is WebStar. (InterServe, Web Server 4D, Netwings, etc., may change that. We’ll see.)

It’s admittedly difficult to make a great and attractive server. When your share of the OS market is 9%, though, you cannot afford not to be really great. Currently, lack of true multitasking, multithreading, multihoming and myriad file and bus I/O issues cripple the Mac against many others in the NT and UNIX world. OpenTransport may alleviate some of these problems (and Copland others), but NT and UNIX don’t have these problems now, and they sure won’t remain stagnant either.

If you were a Windows user, say, two years ago and went to the Seybold show (for the digital graphics, DTP and prepress industry), you were alienated and felt virtually ignored. Sure, you had PageMaker and CorelDraw for Windows, but all the exciting technology came out on the Mac and developers concentrated on its advantages. Yet when I went through the Internet World last week, and stopped by nearly 100 booths, the overwhelming majority of them made me (a Mac developer) feel, well, irrelevant.

That to me means that those who develop for and profit from Internet are finding the Mac not so relevant. I’ve also talked to countless “corporate” types who are searching for tools to publish internal data and conduct commerce on a large scale. Uniformly, they did not consider the Mac as a viable platform for the server/backend operations. In the end, business people are pragmatic. If your product does not offer demonstrable superiority, they’ll ignore it. (Mac is still superior to Win 95, NT and UNIX in DTP and graphics, so it’s still favored.) Since the Mac does not offer sufficient unambiguous advantage for the Internet, unless something drastic happens soon, it will eventually be ignored.

When the browser used by 80% of Internet announces that it will not release its servers, visual HTML editors or scripting tools for the Mac, you have to wonder why and worry some. When a large number of people start developing with Blackbird and you cannot even use it on the Mac, you don’t need to wonder but you’ll have to worry a little.

If your business needs to access AT&T Interchange or Dow Jones Personal Journal on-line, or conduct sophisticated commerce with an Open Market server, or integrate your internal Oracle or Sybase databases with Web access via object-oriented tools such as WebObjects, or if you want to serve disk- and CD-ROM-based search engines like the Verity Topic Servers - well, you are out of luck if you are a Mac shop.

And if the Mac is not a serious player at this early stage when tools are simpler, what happens to more sophisticated Mac technologies like QuickDraw, QD 3D, QT VR, etc., in terms of future acceptance? You think it’ll get any easier? When increasingly more sophisticated plug-ins via Navigator talk to increasingly more capable and varied servers that don’t and won’t, apparently, exist on the Mac, how does that help the Mac user? If a developer of an HTTP browser or server plug-in has the impression that there are only a few servers on the Mac and, more importantly, throughput of the Mac servers is limited compared to, say, an NT box costing about the same as a PowerMac, do you think he will worry too much about that 9% Mac market share?

OpenDoc Solves the Wrong Problem

I’ve been worried about OpenDoc. My worry is that Apple and its allies are spending a lot of time working on a technology which is ultimately going to turn out to be irrelevant to users. A columnist in PC Magazine pointed out that compound-document technologies seem oriented towards enhancing the applications of today, rather than those of tomorrow. Then, last night, my misgivings crystallized at last, in a form that I think I can explain coherently.

Consider a sheet of paper. Do I hear someone ask, “Do you mean a word-processing sheet of paper, or a graphics sheet of paper?” Of course not! Stupid question. A sheet of paper is a sheet of paper. Contrast this with the modality of most current software: before you create a new document on your Mac, you must first decide whether it’s going to be a word-processing document or a graphics document. (ClarisWorks fans should not start smirking just yet.)

The essence of pre-OpenDoc software: an application is a mode. Remember, a mode is a state which is not quite the one you want to be in to do what you want to do next, and you have to consciously think about switching to the right state. Having different states for your software is not evil in itself - the secret is to match them to the problem at hand, and to make it as easy and natural as possible for the user to move between states, without even thinking about it. When a state becomes restrictive and unnatural to the problem at hand, then it becomes a mode.

Back to that sheet of paper. I pick up a pencil, and write some words in one part (a word-processing part!), draw a table with some numbers in another part (a spreadsheet part!) and put a graphic in another part (a graphics part!).

So far, so OpenDoc. Now, just for fun, I want to put a graphic into one of the table cells. Will OpenDoc allow me to do this - use the tools of one part to work on another part? No it won’t. Whereas, on a sheet of paper, every tool (pencil, pen, charcoal, eraser, paintbrush, typewriter, finger, whatever) works in some way on every part.

Hence, the essence of OpenDoc software: a part is a mode. Sure, a spreadsheet part could allow embedding of other parts within its cells, but you can appreciate that this only gets you a little closer to the modelessness of a sheet of paper.

So how should we approach the problem instead? The beauty of a sheet of paper is not just the variety of ways in which you can make marks on it, but that these different ways can interoperate - a mark made by a paintbrush can freely abut or even overlap a mark made by a pencil, unlike OpenDoc, with its demarcation of the document into parts. If you could make the granularity of parts fine enough, you might manage it, but I don’t think the part idea is set up to deal efficiently with a page containing hundreds of parts.

In short, the problem needs to be rethought in terms of the basic technology for putting marks on the computer screen. In order to achieve true, paper-style modelessness, different tools need to be able to operate on a common graphical representation of their data.

OpenDoc is a step in the right direction, in the sense that building a very high tower is a step towards getting into outer space - in short, it’s a step that I don’t think is worth taking. I think the effort would be better expended on solving a larger chunk of the problem, on the rockets that will take us closer to true modelessness.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro, ldo@waikato.ac.nz

 
AAPL
$116.47
Apple Inc.
+0.16
MSFT
$47.98
Microsoft Corpora
-0.72
GOOG
$537.50
Google Inc.
+2.67

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cobook 3.0.7 - Intelligent address book....
Cobook Contacts is an intuitive, engaging address book. Solve the problem of contact management with Cobook Contacts and its simple interface and powerful syncing and integration possibilities.... Read more
StatsBar 1.9 - Monitor system processes...
StatsBar gives you a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the following areas of your Mac: CPU usage Memory usage Disk usage Network and bandwidth usage Battery power and health (MacBooks only)... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
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
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
Evernote 6.0.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
calibre 2.11 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Herald 5.0.1 - Notification plugin for M...
Note: Versions 2.1.3 (for OS X 10.7), 3.0.6 (for OS X 10.8), and 4.0.8 (for OS X 10.9) are no longer supported by the developer. Herald is a notification plugin for Mail.app, Apple's Mac OS X email... Read more
Firetask 3.7 - Innovative task managemen...
Firetask uniquely combines the advantages of classical priority-and-due-date-based task management with GTD. Stay focused and on top of your commitments - Firetask's "Today" view shows all relevant... Read more
TechTool Pro 7.0.6 - Hard drive and syst...
TechTool Pro is now 7, and this is the most advanced version of the acclaimed Macintosh troubleshooting utility created in its 20-year history. Micromat has redeveloped TechTool Pro 7 to be fully 64... Read more
PhotoDesk 3.0.1 - Instagram client for p...
PhotoDesk lets you view, like, comment, and download Instagram pictures/videos! (NO Uploads! / Image Posting! Instagram forbids that! AND you *need* an *existing* Instagram account). But you can do... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Ubisoft Gives Everyone Two New Ways to E...
Ubisoft Gives Everyone Two New Ways to Earn In-Game Stuff for Far Cry 4 Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Golfinity – Tips, Tricks, Strategies, an...
Dig this: Would you like to know what we thought of being an infinite golfer? Check out our Golfinity review! Golfinity offers unlimited ways to test your skills at golf. Here are a few ways to make sure your score doesn’t get too high and your... | Read more »
Dark Hearts, The Sequel to Haunting Meli...
Dark Hearts, The Sequel to Haunting Melissa, is Available Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Meowza! Toyze Brings Talking Tom to Life...
Meowza! | Read more »
Square Enix Announces New Tactical RPG f...
Square Enix Announces New Tactical RPG for Mobile, Heavenstrike Rivals. Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] With their epic stories and gorgeous graphics, | Read more »
Quest for Revenge (Games)
Quest for Revenge 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The great Kingdom of the west has fallen. The gods ignore the prayers of the desperate. A dark warlord has extinguished... | Read more »
Threadz is a New Writing Adventure for Y...
Threadz is a New Writing Adventure for You and Your Friends Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] In the tradition of round-robin storytelling, | Read more »
SteelSeries Stratus XL Hardware Review
Made by: SteelSeries Price: $59.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 4.31 out of 5 stars | Read more »
ACDSee (Photography)
ACDSee 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Capture, perfect, and share your photos with ACDSee. The ACDSee iPhone app combines an innovative camera, a powerful photo... | Read more »
ProTube for YouTube (Entertainment)
ProTube for YouTube 2.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 2.0.2 (iTunes) Description: ProTube is the ultimate, fully featured YouTube app. With it's highly polished design, ProTube offers ad-free... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $17...
 B&H Photo has the 2014 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1749. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available... Read more
21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $979, save $1...
B&H Photo has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $979.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
B&H Photo has lowered their price on the 13″ 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air to $1059.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this... Read more
Save up to $400 with Apple refurbished 2014 1...
The Apple Store has restocked 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 shipping... Read more
New 13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $8...
 Adorama has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook... Read more
Apple Expected to Reverse Nine-Month Tablet S...
Apple and Samsung combined accounted for 62 percent of the nearly 36 million branded tablets shipped in 3Q 2014, according to early vendor shipment share estimates from market intelligence firm ABI... Read more
Stratos: 30 Percent of US Smartphone Owners t...
Stratos, Inc., creator of the Bluetooth Connected Card Platform, has announced results from its 2014 Holiday Mobile Payments Survey. The consumer survey found that nearly one out of three (30 percent... Read more
2014 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $...
 B&H Photo has lowered their price on the new 1.4GHz Mac mini to $449.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this new... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**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 (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
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Store Leader Program - College Gradu...
Job Description: Job Summary As an Apple Store Leader Program agent, you can continue your education as you major in the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.