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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

A Better Finder Rename 10.00b1 - File, p...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
CrossOver 14.1.6 - Run Windows apps on y...
CrossOver can get your Windows productivity applications and PC games up and running on your Mac quickly and easily. CrossOver runs the Windows software that you need on Mac at home, in the office,... Read more
Printopia 2.1.14 - Share Mac printers wi...
Run Printopia on your Mac to share its printers to any capable iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Printopia will also add virtual printers, allowing you to save print-outs to your Mac and send to apps.... Read more
Google Drive 1.24 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Chromium 45.0.2454.85 - 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. Version 45.0.2454.85: Note: Does not contain the "... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.5 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
iFFmpeg 5.7.1 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a graphical front-end for FFmpeg, a command-line tool used to convert multimedia files between formats. The command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does... Read more
VOX 2.6 - Music player that supports man...
VOX is a beautiful music player that supports many filetypes. The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all... Read more
Box Sync 4.0.6567 - Online synchronizati...
Box Sync gives you a hard-drive in the Cloud for online storage. Note: You must first sign up to use Box. What if the files you need are on your laptop -- but you're on the road with your iPhone? No... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.4 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more

You Can Play Madfinger Games' Unkil...
Madfinger Games - probably best known for the Dead Trigger series - has officially launched their newest zombie shooter (that isn't called Dead Trigger), named Unkilled. [Read more] | Read more »
KORG iELECTRIBE for iPhone (Music)
KORG iELECTRIBE for iPhone 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: ** 50% OFF Special Launch Sale - For a Limited Time **The ELECTRIBE reborn in an even smaller form A full-fledged... | Read more »
I am Bread (Games)
I am Bread 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ‘I am Bread’ is the latest quirky adventure from the creators of 'Surgeon Simulator', Bossa Studios. This isn't the best thing... | Read more »
Rock(s) Rider - HD Edition (Games)
Rock(s) Rider - HD Edition 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: *** PLEASE NOTE: Compatible with iPhone 4s, iPad 2, iPad mini, iPod touch (5th generation) or newer *** Do you... | Read more »
Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville (Games)
Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's been a few years since the zombpocalypse turned the world's cities into graveyards and sent the few... | Read more »
Power Ping Pong (Games)
Power Ping Pong 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Do you wield your bat with zen-like focus or do your balls of fury give you a killer spin? Table tennis goes mobile with a... | Read more »
Z.O.N.A Project X (Games)
Z.O.N.A Project X 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: Z.O.N.A Project X - shooter in the post-apocalyptic world. | Read more »
Trick Shot (Games)
Trick Shot 1.0.6 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.6 (iTunes) Description: A game where all you have to do is throw a ball into a box, simple? Trick Shot is a minimalist physics puzzler with 90 levels... | Read more »
VoxelCity (Games)
VoxelCity 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Looking for a new city builder? Tired of social media anti-games with no strategy? Look no further! NO IAP EVER! VoxelCity is a... | Read more »
Goat Simulator MMO Simulator (Games)
Goat Simulator MMO Simulator 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICESiPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better.** Coffee Stain Studios brings next-gen... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Near-Office Input Functionality Virtually Any...
Today Logitech introduced the Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard and the Logitech M535 Bluetooth Mouse, giving users the freedom to work on any device, most anywhere. According to... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through September 4, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
Will You Buy An iPad Pro? – The ‘Book Mystiqu...
It looks like we may not have to wait much longer to see what finally materializes as a new, larger-panel iPad (Pro/Plus?) Usually reliable Apple product prognosticator KGI Securities analyst Ming-... Read more
eFileCabinet Announces SMB Document Managemen...
Electronic document management (EDM) eFileCabinet, Inc., a hosted solutions provider for small to medium businesses, has announced that its SecureDrawer and eFileCabinet Online services will be... Read more
WaterField Designs Unveils American-Made, All...
San Francisco’s WaterField Designs today unveiled their all-leather Cozmo 2.0 — an elegant attach laptop bag with carefully-designed features to suit any business environment. The Cozmo 2.0 is... Read more
Apple’s 2015 Back to School promotion: Free B...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
128GB MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP,...
B&H Photo has 11″ & 13″ MacBook Airs with 128GB SSDs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799.99, $100 off MSRP... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.... Read more
27-inch 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679, save $...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
Apple and Cisco Partner to Deliver Fast-Lane...
Apple and Cisco have announced a partnership to create a “fast lane” for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps. The alliance integrates iPhone with Cisco enterprise... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
Simply Mac *Apple* Specialist- Repair Techn...
Simply Mac is the greatest premier retailer of Apple products expertise in North America. We're looking for dedicated individuals to provide personalized service and Read more
Simply Mac *Apple* Specialist- Service Repa...
Simply Mac is the greatest premier retailer of Apple products expertise in North America. We're looking for dedicated individuals to provide personalized service and Read more
*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
Simply Mac- *Apple* Specialist- Store Manag...
Simply Mac is the largest premier retailer for Apple products and solutions. We're looking for dedicated individuals with a passion to simplify and enhance the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.