TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jan 98 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

by Eric Gundrum

A Call for a More Open Mac OS

In recent years, most Macintosh developers have looked to Apple to provide the innovation of the Macintosh platform. We had no choice. To change the look and feel of main components of the operating system meant unreliable, system-wide patches, and these left the developer to the whim of Apple engineers who changed the underlying data structures, on which the developer's patches relied, just because they could. This is a tough area to make a business, but some developers still stuck it out. Nonetheless, there are fewer such products available today, and they generally receive the blame before anything else for unexpected system behavior, rightly or wrongly.

It seems clear that the new Apple no longer has the resources to be as innovative as they once were; we developers have to do more of it ourselves. However, Apple can still help; they can start opening the OS to make it easier for third party developers to replace complete components for the entire system.

Recently, Apple has been developing support for multiple themes to provide the user with choices for the overall look and feel of the Mac interface. I just hope they go far enough. This technology can allow independent developers to produce alternative interface themes. We can have a Windows 95 theme to help the Mac better fit in Wintel environments. We can have a cartoon theme for the kids. Novices can have themes making it easier to learn their way around a computer. Expert users can have themes which allow them to be more productive. Because Apple (hopefully) is clearly defining the API between the various components of themes, we developers can easily explore new interface technologies without the risk of unreliable system patches.

If Apple opens the system enough, and in the right places, we can fix their mistakes (like the gray menus and window backgrounds of the Mac OS 8 Finder) and we can try out new things. In fact, I'd very much like to see a stronger separation between the Finder and the general operation of the operating system. (After all, the Finder is just another application, isn't it?) There are great opportunities to provide alternatives to the Finder. Some people want a Finder alternative that takes less RAM, and they are willing to give up features to get it. I'd like a Finder that makes better use of sound and motion to enhance productivity.

Does anyone remember Sonic Finder and Motion Finder of the late 1980s? Sonic Finder provided audible feedback to various Finder activities such as copying, moving and trashing files. Motion Finder allowed icons and windows to be thrown across the screen. Instead of dragging an icon from the upper left corner of a 20 inch display to the trash in the lower right corner, a simple flick of the wrist was enough to send the icon sailing in the direction of the Trash. If my aim was good enough, the icon made it in, and the file was deleted. There was even a version that combined these features. These tools were developed as explorations in alternative interfaces. Apple probably abandoned them because they would not work for a majority of users. Unfortunately, those of us on the fringe were abandoned in the process.

Now, if only Apple would open up the OS enough that we developers could plug in our own alternative interfaces, then we could again see some real innovation on the Macintosh.

Navigation Services, an Open Design?

One example of Apple moving in the right direction is their Navigation Services technology. This will be a replacement for the Standard File package we have all come to love and hate. Navigation Services will provide a new file system navigation interface for all applications that use it. It is supposed to provide a variety of hooks for developers to enhance its capabilities. I am hoping that with this new technology, Apple also allows developers to write complete replacements of the Navigation Services libraries. Apple is going to the trouble to define the API between Navigation Services and all applications and the API to the file system, Apple also should be open enough to let us developers completely replace the Navigation Services with our own version if we think we have a better idea how to implement it.

There are many similar opportunities for Apple to isolate collections of capabilities into separate libraries, encourage application developers to make use of the new libraries, and allow users to replace those libraries with alternatives written by other developers. (Text Services should be foremost on everyone's mind.) This approach to system software development is similar, in principle, to the component nature of OpenDoc. Rather than have all OS operations dictated by Apple, users could choose to replace Apple's standard behaviors with alternatives that better suit their needs.

Now, I don't advocate that Apple try to turn the Mac OS into another OpenDoc. There are a variety of factors that contributed to the demise of OpenDoc, but there also were some worthwhile features of that technology. We should not throw them all away simply because OpenDoc failed. As long as Apple sticks with their current policy of improving the OS incrementally, they will successfully avoid the single biggest reason for the failure of OpenDoc, QuickDraw GX, PowerTalk and others. Apple has to ease us into using the new technologies one step at a time, and as the hardware advances to support them, that the size of the OS doubles with every release, rather than dump so much on us at once.

Most of all, I want Apple to open the entire OS to third party enhancements, but cleanly. Then I can buy or write my own innovations if I don't like what Apple is supplying.

 
AAPL
$100.70
Apple Inc.
+0.13
MSFT
$45.19
Microsoft Corpora
+0.24
GOOG
$582.26
Google Inc.
-2.23

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

CleanMyMac 2.2.7 - Delete files that was...
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac 2 lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.2.4 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more
Videobox 4.1.1 - Download Flash video th...
Videobox allows you to quickly and easily download Flash video from most all of the popular video sites on the internet. Videobox will convert the video into a native Quicktime format so it's ready... Read more
Web Snapper 3.3.5 - Capture entire Web p...
Web Snapper lets you capture Web pages exactly as they appear in your browser. You can send them to a file as images or vector-based, multi-page PDFs. It captures the whole Web page - eliminating... Read more
Picasa 3.9.138 - Organize, edit, and sha...
Picasa and Picasa Web Albums allows you to organize, edit, and upload your photos to the Web from your computer in quick, simple steps. Arrange your photos into folders and albums and erase their... Read more
Tidy Up 3.0.15.0 - Find duplicate files...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more
Parallels Desktop 10.0 - Run Windows app...
Parallels Desktop is simply the world's bestselling, top-rated, and most trusted solution for running Windows applications on your Mac. With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can seamlessly run both... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Apple Compressor 4.1.3 - Adds power and...
Compressor adds power and flexibility to Final Cut Pro X export. Customize output settings, work faster with distributed encoding, and tap into a comprehensive set of delivery features. Powerful... Read more
Chromium 36.0.1985.143 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

DotEmu Summer Sale Cuts Several Games’ P...
DotEmu Summer Sale Cuts Several Games’ Prices to $0.99 Posted by Ellis Spice on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
King Announces its Newest “Saga” – Diamo...
King Announces its Newest “Saga” – Diamond Digger Saga Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Diamond Digger Saga, by King Digital Entertainment, promises to be another addictive, adorable game in the “Saga” | Read more »
Spacetime Studios’ Greg Mueller Tells Al...
| Read more »
TourStar Review
TourStar Review By Rob Thomas on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: BORING TOURINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad When The Ramones sang “Touring, touring/It’s never boring,” they clearly weren’t referring to TourStar.... | Read more »
Track Your Pregnancy with Glow Nurture
Track Your Pregnancy with Glow Nurture Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
Outcast Odyssey – An Interview with the...
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, fans got the chance to meet and mingle with several of the artists behind Magic Pixel Games and Namco Bandai’s upcoming card battler, Outcast Odyssey. Considering many of these artists have worked on comics in the... | Read more »
BoxPop Review
BoxPop Review By Jennifer Allen on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: UNTAXING PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Move from tile to tile to clear the board in this slightly too simple and easy puzzle game.   | Read more »
Breakdown Buddy Review
Breakdown Buddy Review By Jennifer Allen on August 21st, 2014 Our Rating: :: FLAWED CONCEPTiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad There’s a good idea here, but Breakdown Buddy isn’t as useful as it tries to... | Read more »
jamstik, the Guitar You Can Take Everywh...
jamstik, the Guitar You Can Take Everywhere, is Now Available for Purchase Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 21st, 2014 [ permalink ] Zivix has announced that their guitar-in-your-pocket, | Read more »
Star Walk 2 - Guide to the Sky Day and N...
Star Walk 2 - Guide to the Sky Day and Night 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The next generation of the best-selling Star Walk, winner of Apple Design Award, used by... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $... Read more
27-inch 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1698, save $...
Abt has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1698 including free shipping. Their price is $101 off MSRP. Read more
Mac Backup Guru 2.0 Drive Backup/Cloneing Uti...
Mac Backup Guru developer MacDaddy has released Mac Backup Guru 2.0, offering new and enhanced advanced features, such as bootable backups, synchronised volumes and folders, and a Snapshot mode that... Read more
Operate GE’s New Free-Standing KItchen Range...
Think you accidentally left the oven on? Switch it off while on the go. The new free-standing Profile™ Series gas and electric ranges are GE’s second cooking appliances, following their wall oven, to... Read more
Parallels Announces Parallels Desktop 10 for...
The no. 1-selling software for running Windows applications on a Mac becomes an even easier choice for millions of consumers and IT professionals worldwide with the launch of the most powerful... Read more
Apple now offering certified refurbished 2014...
 The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Best Buy’s College Student Deals: $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs, $50 off iPad Airs and iPad minis, at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through September 6th. Anyone with a valid .... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP, free...
B&H Photo has three 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for Laptops... Read more
Razer Taipan Mouse For Gamers And Non-Gamers...
If you’re a serious gamer on either Mac or Windows PCs, a serious gaming mouse is a necessity for first-tier performance. However, even if like me you’re not much of a gamer, there’s still a strong... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1899,...
Adorama has the new 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... 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
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's your job, as a Store Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You 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* 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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.