TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jul 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 7
Column Tag: Viewpoint

July 1997 Viewpoint

by Eric Gundrum

Reality Distortion Field... Engage

WWDC is over, and I've just spent a full week listening to the official Apple message. Many weeks may have passed by the time you read this article, but my mind is still hashing out the things I heard just a few days ago. I must admit, I attended WWDC 1997 with pretty low expectations. Last year attendees had Copland forced on them as the only possible future for Macintosh development. This year was very different; Apple listened to developers and offered us several options for our future development. In fact, they even encouraged us to send our comments to I am pleased with how well Apple handled the conference.

Rhapsody Does Not Make Obsolete Programmer's Abilities

Since Apple and NeXT's merger, I have heard many Macintosh developers express concern that their skills programming the Macintosh will be obsolete. After all, Rhapsody replaces the Mac Toolbox with something new, code named Yellow Box. (Yellow Box is the combination of OPENSTEP and key Apple technologies.) The APIs to Yellow Box is dramatically different from the Macintosh Toolbox. However, what makes a good programmer is not merely knowledge of one system's API. Good programming is about bringing organization to a complex situation, providing a simple solution to solve a complex problem, and identifying what a user wants. Our skills as programmers rely more heavily on our ability to organize the problem and solution than they do on knowledge of any particular API. Anyone can look up API calls in a manual, but it takes an experienced programmer to know what routines to look for and how to connect them together to make a meaningful application.

Some of our greatest skills as Macintosh programmers are our abilities to design meaningful interfaces to help users solve complex problems. These skills can translate to any platform. (One need try only a few Windows applications to see how rare are these skills.) Even though we will need to learn a new programming environment, it also presents a fresh start for new and non-Macintosh programmers to join us. Those who have the high quality skills we have come to expect of Macintosh Progrmmers will do well; the others...well, who knows. Rhapsody offers many new opportunities to build more powerful and interesting tools; I very much look forward to using those tools, and creating some myself.

MacOS 8 is Alive and Well

Apple had many strong presentations about the future of MacOS 8. They presented a clear schedule for delivering significant upgrades well into 1999. They presented several new technologies being developed for MacOS 8. Most important, they told us Yellow Box would be made to run on MacOS 8 in addition to running on Rhapsody.

Apple is realistic about the addoption rate of Rhapsody; they expect 4-5 million Rhapsody users by mid 1999. That is a far cry from the current 27 million MacOS 7 users. Many developers have complained that they don't want to have to write their applications twice: once to support Rhapsody and a rewrite to support MacOS 8. Apple has responded by porting the Yellow Box APIs to MacOS 8. This will allow developers to use one API to write their code once and have it run on all Macintosh platforms.

This single API approach is especially important given how much we all (developers and Apple) rely on MacOS 8 for our bread and butter now and for the future. Enabling developers to take avantage of Yellow Box to build applications faster than ever before and deploy them on MacOS 8 as well as Rhapsody makes it that much more compelling for us to begin our Rhapsody development as soon as possible.

Rhapsody Provides Compelling New Opportunities

Many Macintosh developers have been dreaming for some time of entering the Windows software market. We see analists' numbers that generally have an extra zero or two at the end as compared to our own Macintosh market. (People tend to forget that those extra zeros apply to costs as well as revenues, and to the number of competitors.) I've talked with many developers struggling to deal with porting their software to other platforms. Rhapsody -- or more specifically Yellow Box -- offers a very different approach. Unlike Java, Yellow Box today offers a much more mature solution to the multiplatform software problem. With so many competing implementations, Java only dreams of solving the problem of write your software once, and deploy it anywhere. With Apple controlling all implementations, Yellow Box is actually delivering it.

Apple has promissed Yellow Box compatability in at least four flavors: Rhapsody for PowerPC, Rhapsody for Intel, Yellow Box for MacOS, Yellow Box for Win32 (that is, NT and 9x). Additionally, there are strong rumors that Yellow Box will also be available for Solaris and HP unix. That is a pretty broad market. The goal is that we developers can write our software to one API and merely recompile for each target platform. Apple is even working on multiplatform delivery mechanisms. In reality there are subtle differences between platforms that require some additioanl tweaks, but Apple is helping even there. For example, there is a specific nib file (resource fork) for each target platform, allowing platform-specific interface changes to override the platform's default behavior.

Another reason to develop for Yellow Box is the completeness of the application framework. We have had frameworks for Macintosh for many years now, but none fully hide the need to know the underlying Mac Toolbox. Yellow Box is the toolbox. When building an Yellow Box application, so much of the user interface code is already written, we developers are free to ship sooner or spend time adding more features.

Still Some Holes in Rhapsody

Rhapsody is not all peaches and cream. There are some holes; the poor networking support is the biggest. Between Apple's presentations and my conversations in the halls of WWDC, it is clear that Apple still doesn't understand how the Internet is changing; their "strategy" is limited to web content development and deployment. They seem to be ignoring many other areas including communications, collaboration and commerce. For example, Yellow Box does not provide any foundation classes for using common Internet protocols such as HTTP or FTP. It doesn't even provide a foundation class for basic IP networking. This means that every network-savvy Yellow Box application must use platform-specific network code. A Rhapsody application will use Rhapsody's version of BSD sockets, a MacOS application will use OpenTransport streams and a Wintel application will use WinSock. Given that networking is the fastest growing segment of the software industry, it seems absurd that Apple does not provide a network abstraction layer in Yellow Box as they have for the user interface.

This networking issue also raises the question of why Apple is using sockets instead of streams. Everyone I spoke with has made a strong argument for streams being a more flexible and generally superior architecture. When Apple asked us all to move our network code to OpenTransport (streams), they said it was a technology for the furture. Streams provides standard APIs at all levels, allowing developers to write code to adjust the contents of the network at the level that makes sense for their software. Some developers argued that Apple should develop a sockets interface to make porting code to other platforms easier. Apple answered that sockets could easily be implemented on top of streams, and some third parties offered libraries doing exactly that. It is very hard to go the other way because sockets implementations really define only the highest level API. The underpinings are specific to each platform.

Not only is it odd that Apple seems to have ignored their original reasons for moving all developers to a streams implementation, but Apple already has most of the streams code for Rhapsody, including complete network stacks for AppleTalk, IP, IPX, and TokenTalk. Instead, they are porting the NeXTSTEP sockets code and adding the AIX AppleTalk sockets code; then they have to find a way to make Blue Box's OpenTransport (streams) work on top of this. Many WWDC attendees asked Apple how they intended to solve specific, difficult problems with this scenario. Apple's most common answer was "Hm, we hadn't thought of that. That's is a hard problem, but we're sure we can solve it when we get to it." To Apple's credit, they repeatedly took some harsh critism from attendees, and they appeared to really listen. Hopefully they got the mesage that they should reevaluate the technical merits of choosing sockets over streams so we can have a networking architecture that can grow with the rest of the platform.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »
The best cooking apps (just in time for...
It’s that time of year again, where you’ll be gathering around the dinner table with your family and a huge feast in front of you. [Read more] | Read more »
Square Rave guide - How to grab those te...
Square Rave is an awesome little music-oriented puzzle game that smacks of games like Lumines, but with its own unique sense of gameplay. To help wrap your head around the game, keep the following tips and tricks in mind. [Read more] | Read more »
Snowboard Party 2 (Games)
Snowboard Party 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crowned the best snowboarding game available on the market, Snowboard Party is back to fulfill all your adrenaline needs in... | Read more »
One Button Travel (Games)
One Button Travel 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: “To cut a long story short, If you like interactive fiction, just go buy this one.” - “Oozes the polish that... | Read more »
Light Apprentice Volume 1 (Games)
Light Apprentice Volume 1 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Light Apprentice Volume 1 includes Chapters 1 to 4, all gathered in a new exclusive game. When life in the world of... | Read more »
The best games like Animal Crossing on m...
Animal Crossing amiibo Festival is out right now for the Wii U, reminding us of just how much fun that world can be. Or at least to go back and check in on our villages once in a while. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via

iMobie Releases its Ace iOS Cleaner PhoneClea...
iMobie Inc. has announced the new update of PhoneClean 4, its iOS cleaner designed to reclaim wasted space on iPhone/iPad for use and keep the device fast. Alongside, iMobie hosts a 3-day giveaway of... Read more
U.S. Cellular Offering iPad Pro
U.S. Cellular today announced that it is offering the new iPad Pro with Wi-Fi + Cellular, featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels — the most ever in an iOS device. U.S. Cellular... Read more
Newegg Canada Unveils Black Friday Deals for...
Newegg Canada is offering more than 1,000 deep discounts to Canadian customers this Black Friday, available now through Cyber Monday, with new deals posted throughout the week. “Black Friday is... Read more
Black Friday: Macs on sale for up to $500 off...
BLACK FRIDAY B&H Photo has all new Macs on sale for up to $500 off MSRP as part of their early Black Friday sale including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Black Friday: Up to $125 off iPad Air 2s at B...
BLACK FRIDAY Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available): - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $399, save $... Read more
Black Friday: iPad mini 4s on sale for $100 o...
BLACK FRIDAY Best Buy has iPad mini 4s on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store for Black Friday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available): - 16GB iPad mini 4 WiFi: $299.... Read more
Black Friday: Apple Watch for up to $100 off...
BLACK FRIDAY Apple resellers are offering discounts and bundles with the purchase of an Apple Watch this Black Friday. Below is a roundup of the deals being offered by authorized Watch resellers:... Read more
Black Friday: Target offers 6th Generation iP...
BLACK FRIDAY Save $40 to $60 on a 6th generation iPod touch at Target with free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: -... Read more
Black Friday: Walmart and Target offer iPod n...
BLACK FRIDAY Walmart has the 16GB iPod nano (various colors) on sale for $119.20 on their online store for a limited time. That’s $30 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if... Read more
Black Friday deals on the Apple Watch and App...
Apple resellers are offering discounts and bundles with the purchase of an Apple Watch this Black Friday weekend. Below is a roundup of the deals being offered by authorized Watch resellers: Apple... Read more

Jobs Board

Storefront Operations Coordinator, *Apple* -...
# Storefront Operations Coordinator, Apple -Latin America Job Number: 43587750 Miami, Florida, United States Posted: Oct. 16, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Read more
*Apple* Enterprise / Government Professional...
# Apple Enterprise / Gove ment Professional Services Engineer Job Number: 42292976 Reston, Virginia, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
iOS Wallet & *Apple* Pay Engineer - App...
# iOS Wallet & Apple Pay Engineer Job Number: 40586801 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 16, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The iOS Read more
Software Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Clock Fa...
# Software Engineer, Apple Watch - Clock Face Team Job Number: 44368761 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 14, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
Administrative Assistant, *Apple* Online St...
# Administrative Assistant, Apple Online Store Job Number: 43992352 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 9, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.