TweetFollow Us on Twitter

WWDC 96 Report
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:9
Column Tag:Wwdc

Looking for the Future

What did you learn, Dorothy, in the Land of Oz?

By Matt Neuburg and others

Special thanks to our on-the-scene experts - John Clements, Chris Magnuson, Jim George, and Jeremy Roschelle - who gave selflessly of their time and expertise to provide us with reports, only to have them hacked to bits and buried in this article. We owe them for much more than the small snippets explicitly quoted here.

Another WWDC has come and gone, bombarding us with four and a half days of talks by Apple employees (and others), accompanied by large projected images, consisting mostly of: (a) the magnified talking head of the speaker; or (b) cryptic text summaries (see Figure 1); or (c) software demonstrations ranging from the suspiciously glitzy to the refreshingly crashy.

Assuredly, a genuinely instructional component is not entirely absent from the proceedings; and for this, of course, we’re always grateful. Still, the presentational mode does have a certain mind-numbing uniformity; and one does occasionally get the sneaking suspicion that the event is really an elaborate excuse for the carefully orchestrated peppering of press-release announcements that have been so obviously timed and reserved to be released at intervals throughout the proceedings (see http://product.info.apple.com/pr/library/1996/
may.html for a sampling).

At such an affair, hard information is like gold - highly valuable, but deriving some of that value from its scarcity. I felt a great sympathy for developers trying to make a living around the ramifications of Apple’s elephantine movements, seeking hints of what those movements might be likely to be. As Jim George says, “The ‘talk in the hall’ was centered on analysis of Apple’s technologies, plans, and tool offerings.” The sad thing is that such analysis had to be based so heavily on speculation. My own personal picture of where Apple might really be heading, what technologies it will really pursue, is not much less murky than if I had never attended the convention.

Figure 1. Get ready for forty-five hours of this (we particularly hope you like the logo at the left, because you’re going to see it a lot)

Mac OS 8

The biggest draw (largest number of sessions held in the biggest rooms) was surely Mac OS 8. Clearly, in some ways, Mac OS 8 is appealing. I’ve been ranting for years about the stupidity of the event loop and the back-and-forth between system calls and program response required just to put up ordinary objects like windows and buttons, a legacy from the days when a Mac had small RAM and tiny ROM. In this regard, Mac OS 8 should be the answer to a prayer; the event loop is doomed, ordinary GUI objects are maintained by the system, and my code isn’t alerted until there’s an event to which I really have to respond, all of which should make the Mac a lot easier for “the rest of us” to program.

Amongst the critics, though, debates on architectural and market issues were rife. Do we really need a whole new system to do this? Or, just the other way: isn’t Apple’s drive for backwards compatibility holding Mac OS 8 back to a dangerous degree? Is pre-emptive multitasking really the best way to go? Isn’t the much-touted memory protection model going to be a long time delivering benefits? Will the virtual memory model prove compatible with Apple’s best existing technologies? Will end-users really see a speed gain, and when? When will the Mac OS 8 architecture and details start settling down into something stable and reliable, and stop mutating like a Transformer toy?

The best way to get a firm feel for Mac OS 8 as it exists now was to sign up for time in the hands-on lab. From here, there emerged some vivid reportage. John Clements writes:

There was a hands-on demo of the current state of OS 8. There were tantalizing glimpses of the goodies to come, but the overall experience was awful. It does not yet support text editing, so you couldn’t actually do anything except open and view documents (any dialog field that needed something typed into it was blank and dead). Also, it was incredibly fragile and crashed repeatedly, often corrupting system files on the disk in the process. The demo staff reformatted and rebuilt the hard disks at regular intervals. It was incredible that they even let us see the beast.

And from Chris Magnuson:

One thing I discovered is that, with this build of the OS, development is difficult. The floppy drive wasn’t working under Mac OS 8, so I had to build code on my Powerbook, then boot the test machine with System 7.5, copy the files from the floppy to the test machine, then reboot the test machine with Mac OS 8 and run the code. This long process was a limiter on how much I could get done in the time allotted.

The application I was working with was a heavy Sound Manager 3.2 user. I had written this application over the last year and knew it inside out. The first thing I found was that the Gestalt call with the selector for a built-in sound input port wasn’t working. In fact, the machine would hang. I commented this out and went from there. The next place it hanged was querying (using Gestalt again) to see if Sound Manager 3.1 or better was present. Obviously it was supposed to be, so I commented this out too in order to get on with the job.

The next thing that I saw was visually shocking. One of my dialog boxes came up and the background was all grey (not white), with funny white regions around some of the dialog items (in particular, the sliders). I had been prepared for this mentally but nothing does it to you like seeing it. This dialog is going to take some work, because it uses custom defprocs (CDEFs) for the sliders. The assumption was made that the dialog background would be all white; this was now no longer valid. I will have to redo this code so that on Mac OS 8 a different slider will be used - one that is savvy about the Appearance Manager.

Internet and Java

Particularly noteworthy was the tendency to throw the incantations “Internet” and “Java” at everything like some sort of fairy dust. The public networked Macs were running Cyberdog, which seems to have been promoted from an OpenDoc proof-of-concept to some sort of killer-app wannabe (though the one I tried just crashed on me when I tried to send mail with it). Java applets were shown running inside OpenDoc and every other imaginable sort of container, and even poor old HyperCard seemed to be maintaining a lease on life only by promising that stacks would some day manifest themselves by way of a Web browser. Press announcements proclaimed distant sightings of Java on all horizons (Pippin, Newton, Mac OS), but I haven’t developed any personal internal sense of what this might mean in practice.

Jim George puts an interesting spin on the Internet situation:

Apple’s future is not entirely in its own hands, but lies in “strategic” alliances and partnerships with many other hardware and software developers and suppliers. On the surface, Apple is more dependent on these alliances than the reverse; either the Mac versions already constitute only a small percentage of their market, or the companies are expanding into the “more lucrative” Wintel market. Yet, it is important that alternatives and competition continue in personal computing platforms, as a guarantee for continued innovation. The Internet phenomenon happened with little help or leadership from either the Wintel or the Apple market; in fact, both are being changed by the Internet!

OpenDoc

There were a great many OpenDoc sessions, and certainly these generated the most striking demos, because, by its very nature, OpenDoc consists of curious actions occurring in unlikely contexts. Most eye-catching of these was a spreadsheet (codenamed “Baywatch”) by Adrénaline Software of Québec, which made a highly customizable animated three-dimensional graph out of its data - though this seemed to me an advertisement less for OpenDoc than for QuickDraw 3D, a technology of whose brilliance no one should need any convincing.

Once more, Java and the Internet were the props most heavily relied upon. The legerdemain included Netscape plug-ins or Java applets made to run inside OpenDoc, intimations of integration between Java and OpenDoc or Java and SOM, and, of course, poor old Cyberdog.

This analysis comes from Jeremy Roschelle, who, as long-time readers of this magazine will agree, ought to know:

The announcement that Netscape would become OpenDoc-compatible, along with the adoption of OpenDoc by the Object Management Group, is important because it means that CORBA distributed-object computing is going to have a home in Netscape through OpenDoc.

On the C++ framework front, Metrowerks showed their OpenDoc/PowerPlant bridge. “PowerPart” is now shipping on DR/9 (with a little help from yours truly).

Digital Harbor was showing WAV, a very cool OpenDoc-based “work processor” with an innovative “task bar” (http://www.digitalharbor.com/docs/wav.html). WordWrite also announced their intention to be a container app. Apple had their first set of “QuickStart” components that cover each standard Mac OS media type. Expect to see a lot of components by Macworld Boston.

On the cross-platform front, IBM said they have a Windows OpenDoc beta nearing completion, and the 1.0 releases of OpenDoc for Windows95 and WindowsNT should be completed this year (http://
www.software.hosting.ibm.com/clubopendoc/tools.html). Apple is preparing ODF to compile to Windows “as fast as they get stable code from IBM”.

On a technical level, the most significant announcements were related to OpenDoc under Mac OS 8. As I’ve long said, OpenDoc requires a better memory manager. Under Mac OS 8, documents will have no 'SIZE' resource, and in fact will not consume an application partition at all. There will be no fixed-size heap. Instead, the memory manager will allocate RAM and virtual memory on demand, until you fill your hard disk. This way, your doc will run no matter how many components are embedded. To be compatible, use only the OpenDoc Memory API calls.

Mac OS 8 will allow parts to launch pre-emptive tasks (e.g., for computation and communication). Bento, the OpenDoc storage architecture, will be highly optimized. Apple event encoding and decoding will be optimized by what sounds suspiciously like Jen Alfke’s AEGizmos. This will become part of the OS. SOM and Java will both be deeply integrated in Mac OS 8, too. The goal of the OpenDoc team is to be able to launch a document in two seconds or so. Let’s hope they achieve this, if for no other reason then to make iterative debugging faster.

Finally, at the human interface, Mac OS 8 will support OpenDoc seamlessly (Kurt Piersol is now assigned to that job). There will be OpenDoc viewers for every media type. Pop-up folders will support part stationery very gracefully. A new titlebar will make it easy to drag and drop an entire document. Perhaps most importantly, the new HIObjects (which replace the Window, Menu, Control, Dialog, and TextEdit Managers) will gracefully install into any OpenDoc facet.

Jim George adds a more sombre note:

Claris’s approach for ClarisWorks and OpenDoc is interesting and provoking. They analyzed ClarisWorks, their installed base, the OpenDoc architecture, and their business model, and concluded that implementing it as OpenDoc parts that the user could configure at will did not fit well with their business marketing/delivery model. So they decided to upgrade ClarisWorks to become a OpenDoc container. Further, they found that CALib was not the tool that was needed, and developed a tool, the Claris Container Library, which will be made available to developers; and Claris will upgrade it until the end of ’96.

OpenDoc component parts as a business model (i.e., how to make money with parts) is not understood: if Apple cannot even convince Claris to adopt the OpenDoc software model, how will they convince other developers?

To date, OpenDoc is available for Mac OS, OS/2, Windows (alpha) and AIX (beta). But this is not the ordered list that developers needed - no final product for Windows or UNIX with an appreciable installed base until mid-1997. Keep in mind that AIX is not the UNIX employed by high-end educational and scientific research laboratories; for them, SunOS, Solaris, and SIG are UNIX!

And So, Until Next Time

Apple continues to reorganize itself and its plans, so WWDC can be only a glimpse of where Apple might be at a particular moment in time. The glimpse we’ve presented here is limited also by our own resources; a full report would require the whole magazine, and besides, you just had to be there to enjoy the full cafeteria of pies in which Apple has a finger. Of course we’ll do our best to be informative about a wide range of Apple technologies, in our regular articles. If you want more information about what WWDC was like, you can see a sketch of the timetable for each day of the convention at http://www.info.wwdc.carlson.com/cmg/day1.html (and day2.html, and so on); and http://wwdc.carlson.com/ tells you how to purchase a CD of what you missed.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

GraphicConverter 10.5.1 - $39.95
GraphicConverter is an all-purpose image-editing program that can import 200 different graphic-based formats, edit the image, and export it to any of 80 available file formats. The high-end editing... Read more
Delicious Library 3.7 - Import, browse a...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Adobe Animate CC 2017 18.0.0.107 - Anima...
Animate CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Flash Professional customer). Animate CC 2018 (was Flash CC) lets you... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2018 15.0 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). The new, more connected After Effects CC... Read more
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 12.0.0 - Digi...
Premiere Pro CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Premiere Pro customer). Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 lets you edit... Read more
Alarm Clock Pro 10.3 - $19.95
Alarm Clock Pro isn't just an ordinary alarm clock. Use it to wake you up in the morning, send and compose e-mails, remind you of appointments, randomize the iTunes selection, control an internet... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 20170919-1412-ccb76bd] -...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 22.0.0 - Profe...
Illustrator CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Illustrator customer). Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 is the industry... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.3.0- - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Adobe InDesign CC 2018 13.0.0.125 - Prof...
InDesign CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous InDesign customer). Adobe InDesign CC 2018 is part of Creative Cloud.... Read more

ICEY (Games)
ICEY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ICEY is a 2D side-scrolling action game. As you follow the narrator's omnipresent voice, you will see through ICEY's eyes and learn the... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
We've made it, folks. Another weekend is upon us. It's time to sit back and relax with the best new releases of the week. Puzzles, strategy RPGs, and arcade games abound this week. There's a lot of quality stuff to unpack this week, so let's hop... | Read more »
Wheels of Aurelia (Games)
Wheels of Aurelia 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander guide - ti...
Halcyon 6 is a well-loved indie RPG with stellar tactical combat and some pretty good writing, too. It's now landed on the App Store, so mobile fans, if you're itching for a good intergalactic adventure, here's your game. Being a strategy RPG, the... | Read more »
Game of Thrones: Conquest guide - how to...
Fans of base building games might be excited to know that yet another entry in the genre has materialized - Game of Thrones: Conquest. Yes, you can now join the many kingdoms of the famed book series, or create your own, as you try to conquer... | Read more »
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (Games)
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander 1.4.2.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.4.2.0 (iTunes) Description: An epic space strategy RPG with base building, deep tactical combat, crew management, alien diplomacy,... | Read more »
Legacy of Discord celebrates its 1 year...
It’s been a thrilling first year for fans of Legacy of Discord, the stunning PvP dungeon-crawling ARPG from YOOZOO Games, and now it’s time to celebrate the game’s first anniversary. The developers are amping up the festivities with some exciting... | Read more »
3 reasons to play Thunder Armada - the n...
The bygone days of the Battleship board game might have past, but naval combat simulators still find an audience on mobile. Thunder Armada is Chinese developer Chyogames latest entry into the genre, drawing inspiration from the explosive exchanges... | Read more »
Experience a full 3D fantasy MMORPG, as...
Those hoping to sink their teeth into a meaty hack and slash RPG that encourages you to fight with others might want to check out EZFun’s new Eternity Guardians. Available to download for iOS and Android, Eternity Guardians is an MMORPG that lets... | Read more »
Warhammer Quest 2 (Games)
Warhammer Quest 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon adventures in the Warhammer World are back! | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12″ iPad Pros on sale for $50 off MSRP, no ta...
Adorama has 12″ iPad Pros on sale today for $50 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 12″ 64GB iPad Pro: $749, save $50 – 12″ 256GB iPad Pro: $899, save $50... Read more
9″ iPads on sale for $30 off, starting at $29...
MacMall has 9″ iPads on sale for $30 off including free shipping: – 9″ 32GB iPad: $299 – 9″ 128GB iPad: $399 Read more
Apple restocks full line of refurbished 13″ M...
Apple has restocked a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
13″ 3.1GHz/256GB MacBook Pro on sale for $167...
Amazon has the 2017 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale today for $121 off MSRP including free shipping: – 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXV2LL/A): $1678 $121 off MSRP Keep an... Read more
13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more

Jobs Board

Engineering Manager, *Apple* Retail Enginee...
# Engineering Manager, Apple Retail Engineering Job Number: 58139948 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 20-Oct-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Commerce Engineer, *Apple* Media Products -...
Commerce Engineer, Apple Media Products (New York City) Job Number: 113028813New York City, New York, United StatesPosted: Sep. 20, 2017Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
US- Apple Store Leader Program Job Number: VariousUnited StatesPosted: Oct. 19, 2017Retail Store Job Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at Read more
Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.