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 rhapsody-dev-feedback@apple.com. 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.

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Path Finder 6.5.5 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder is a file browser that combines the familiar Finder interface with the powerful utilities and innovative features. Just a small selection of the Path Finder 6 feature set: Dual pane... Read more
QuarkXPress 10.2.1 - Desktop publishing...
With QuarkXPress, you can communicate in all the ways you need to -- and always look professional -- in print and digital media, all in a single tool. Features include: Easy to Use -- QuarkXPress is... Read more
Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 21-inch 1.4GHz...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 21″ 1.4GHz iMacs for $929 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $170 off the cost of new models,... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Bad Driver Database App Allows Good Drivers t...
Bad Driver Database 1.4 by Facile Group is a new iOS and Android app that lets users instantly input and see how many times a careless, reckless or just plain stupid driver has been added to the... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*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
*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
*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
*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
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.