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

Apple macOS Sierra 10.12.3 - The latest...
With Apple macOS Sierra, Siri makes its debut on Mac, with new features designed just for the desktop. Your Mac works with iCloud and your Apple devices in smart new ways, and intelligent... Read more
Lyn 1.8.5 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a fast, lightweight image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists, and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it delivers... Read more
iClock Pro 3.4.7 - Customize your menuba...
iClock Pro is a menu bar replacement clock for Apple's default clock. iClock Pro is an update, total rewrite and improvement to the popular iClock. Have the day, date and time in different fonts and... Read more
Opera 42.0.2393.137 - High-performance W...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
Apple Security Update 2016-003 Supplemen...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/... Read more
Apple iOS 10.2.1 - The latest version of...
iOS 10 is the biggest release of iOS ever. A massive update to Messages brings the power of the App Store to your conversations and makes messaging more personal than ever. Find your route with... Read more
BetterTouchTool 1.992 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
Viber 6.5.5 - 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, so... Read more
Lyn 1.8.5 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a fast, lightweight image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists, and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it delivers... Read more
Apple iOS 10.2.1 - The latest version of...
iOS 10 is the biggest release of iOS ever. A massive update to Messages brings the power of the App Store to your conversations and makes messaging more personal than ever. Find your route with... Read more

Clash Royale gets some serious balance u...
| Read more »
Ironhide Game Studio prepares for a busy...
Kingdom Rush breathed fresh life into the tired tower defense genre way back in 2012. The game was a robust challenge that somehow managed to lift you up, rather than leaving you feeling crushed and hopeless. The rich array of unit types and... | Read more »
Collect pets and sling arrows in Arcane...
Mobile gaming is a crowded market, but regular updates are a good way to keep us attention-short players keen. The brand new content in Arcane Online is a prime example. Published by Japanese developer Gala, Arcane Online is a fantasy MMO that... | Read more »
Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Deal alert! 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pros for $...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $225 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro... Read more
Free LibreOffice Portable 5.2.4 Complete Offi...
PortableApps.com and The Document Foundation have announce the release of LibreOffice Portable 5.2.4. LibreOffice Portable is an Open Source full-featured office suite — including a word processor,... Read more
Apple Planning Three New Tablets For 2017 – D...
Digitimes’ Rebecca Kuo and Joseph Tsai say that unnamed insider sources report Apple having three new tablets in the pipeline for 2017 release: a 9.7-inch model with a friendly price range, a new mid... Read more
Roundup of 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro sale...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Pros available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 9″ and 12″ Apple iPad Pros available for up to $160 off the cost of new iPads. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 32GB 9″... Read more
16GB iPad Air 2, Apple refurbished, available...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 16GB iPad Air 2s available for $319 including free shipping. A standard Apple one-year is included. Their price is $60 off original MSRP for this model. Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2199 $100 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
Save up to $350 with Apple Certified Refurbis...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
2015 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refurbish...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks available for up to $410 off original MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Manhattan, NY Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Stamford, CT We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most well-known 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
*Apple* Site Security Manager - Apple (Unite...
# Apple Site Security Manager Job Number: 54692472 Culver City, California, United States Posted: Jan. 19, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Apple Read more
*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.