TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 98 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Viewpoint

June 1998 Viewpoint

by Nicholas C. "nick.c" DeMello <editor@mactech.com>

Creating great software requires an odd mixture of humility and arrogance. The art of programming involves studying complex behaviors, accomplishing them with efficient logical processes, and expressing that logic so simply and clearly that even a machine can enact it. For someone to consider teaching a hunk of silicon the skill of piloting an airplane, the subtleties of quantum mechanics, or even the simple trick of announcing "hello world"... well, a little arrogant confidence is required. But the best among us temper their confidence with the realization that there is no profit in reinventing the wheel, that we can never foresee all the possible applications of our product, and that bugs happen. The outrageous confidence needed to try something untried and the necessary caution required to turn that something into reliable and efficient code is epitomized by the Mac OS and the modular, extendible program design underlying it. In this issue, MacTech presents a number of articles on modular software design and plug-in technologies. I want to introduce just a few of them here.

It's been estimated that the Lisa project, the precursor of today's Macintosh, took over 200 man years to accomplish. Lisa owed significantly to ground breaking work in the design of the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) GUI developed at Xerox. While the WIMP development at Xerox's Palo Alto research center (PARC) was occurring, the term "object-oriented" was being coined in the same facility. PARC developed the Smalltalk language - arguably the purest representation of the object-oriented ideal - at the same time they were working on the WIMP interface. The influence of object oriented design on Xerox's GUI is clear. That same influence affected Lisa and is an integral part of today's Mac OS.

The Macintosh operating system was broken down into a multitude of smaller, simpler goals. Many of these objectives are represented by independent code modules or runtime libraries. By breaking projects down into simple, self-contained and independently compiled objects bugs are isolated and easier to locate, while project goals become clearer and easier to define. It also makes your project adaptable and expandable. Consider all the powerful technologies, never dreamed of by the Lisa engineers, that have been added to the Macintosh operating system.

Your next project may not be as intimidating as writing a new operating system, but then it might feel that way. You probably will apply a modular design to that project, breaking the code down into smaller and more manageable pieces represented by different classes or code files. But, what if you took that a step farther and isolated fundamental logic to a separately compiled removable, replaceable plug-in? Not only would your next update be a little easier, your code base and bug space a little smaller, but I bet you've already started thinking about entirely different logic you could offer as a second plug-in. Rest assured, if you haven't - one of your users will. In this issue, Joe Zobkiw describes the fundamentals of adding a plug-in architecture to your next application. By providing a plug-in architecture you, or your more creative customers, can expand and adapt your product in new and exciting directions.

Or consider the problem from the other side. Perhaps your goal can best be achieved by creating new logic for an existing application. Tools like Resorcerer, FileMaker Pro, Netscape and CodeWarrior offer plug-in architectures and therefore opportunities to tune these powerful tools to your most specific needs. They also offer opportunities in that you can quickly create valuable companion products for existing markets. Photoshop is an essential tool for graphic artists, establishing a huge market for plug-in companion products like Kai's Power Tools and Alien Skin's Eye Candy. To get an idea of how easy it can be to create a plug-in, take a look at Steve Sheets article in this issue on crafting plug-ins for BBEdit - the Swiss army chainsaw of text editors.

Modular design isn't only about plug-ins. Most programmers have a folder someplace. That folder is filled with snippets and example code (a class for implementing a preferences file, a linked list code module, or just a snippet showing how to spin a cursor). Odds are you don't even read most of that code anymore, it's just copy and paste - plug and play. That's the way it should be. Detroit doesn't reinvent the wheel every time they build a new car and we don't need to reinvent Mercutio every time we want to create dynamic menus.

Ramon Felciano's Mercutio MDEF is just one example of elegant and powerful reusable code. Another is the SpriteWorld library. SpriteWorld let's you drop a wealth of powerful and intuitive graphics code right into your application. In this issue Stefan Sinclair explores SpriteWorld libraries and shows you the fundamentals of introducing spectacular effects into your next program. Are you curious what other mechanisms there are for incorporating libraries into your Macintosh programs or offering libraries to other developers? Jeremy Nelson's article provides a concise overview of the possibilities.

The technologies and opportunities for plug-in products and precompiled libraries on the Macintosh are varied and quietly growing. We hope that some of the information you find in this issue will help you to explore and profit from those opportunities. Enjoy!in this issue will help you to explore and profit from plug-ins. Enjoy!

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Google Earth 7.1.7.2602 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
ClamXav 2.10 - Virus checker based on Cl...
ClamXav is a popular virus checker for OS X. I have been working on ClamXav for more than 10 years now, and over those years, I have invested a huge amount of my own time and energy into bringing... Read more
Tweetbot 2.4.4 - Popular Twitter client.
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more
Sierra Cache Cleaner 11.0.1 - Clear cach...
Sierra Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for macOS X. SCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
Things 2.8.8 - Elegant personal task man...
Things is a task management solution that helps to organize your tasks in an elegant and intuitive way. Things combines powerful features with simplicity through the use of tags and its intelligent... Read more
Remotix 4.1 - Access all your computers...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
Airfoil 5.1.2 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Firefox 49.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser.
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Default Folder X 5.0.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 10.1 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more

4 games like Burly Men at Sea to inspire...
Burly Men at Sea is out today and it looks a treat. It tells the tale of three Scandinavian fishermen who leave the humdrum of their daily lives to go exploring. It’s a beautiful folksy story that unfurls as you interact with the environment... | Read more »
3 reasons you need to play Kingdom: New...
Developed by a tag team of indie developers - Thomas "Noio" van den Berg and Marco "Licorice" Bancale - Kingdom is a vibrant medieval fantasy adventure that casts players as a king or queen who must expand their empire by exploring the vasts lands... | Read more »
JoyCity have launched a brand new King o...
Great news for all of you Game of Dice fans out there - JoyCity have just released a brand new limited edition pack with a really cool twist. The premise of Game of Dice is fairly straightforward, asking you to roll dice to navigate your way around... | Read more »
Burly Men at Sea (Games)
Burly Men at Sea 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. | Read more »
3 tips for catching the gnarliest waves...
Like a wave breaking on the shore, Tidal Rider swept its way onto the App Store charts this week settling firmly in the top 10. It’s a one-touch high score-chaser in which you pull surfing stunts while dodging seagulls and collecting coins. The... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to destroying...
Age of Heroes: Conquest is 5th Planet Games’ all new turn-based multiplayer RPG, full of fantasy exploration, guild building, and treasure hunting. It’s pretty user-friendly as far as these games go, but when you really get down to it, you’ll find... | Read more »
Infinite Tanks (Games)
Infinite Tanks 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders (FULL)...
Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders (FULL) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders Your weapon is your knowledge. Your wits will be put to the ultimate... | Read more »
HeadlessD (Games)
HeadlessD 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: HeadlessD is hand-painted dungeon crawler with intuitive touch controls and NO in-app purchases. | Read more »
Leaf for Twitter (Social Networking)
Leaf for Twitter 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Social Networking Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799 $100 MSRP - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 12-inch 128GB iPad Pros ava...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 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 12″ iPad... Read more
Phone2Action Unveils New Voter Turnout Techno...
Phone2Action, a leading digital advocacy platform, today launched its Tech to Vote Civic Action Center digital advocacy and communications platform on National Voter Registration Day September 27.... Read more
Apple & Deloitte Team Up to Help Business...
Apple and international professional services firm Deloitte have announced a partnership to help companies quickly and easily transform their workflow dynamics by maximizing the power, ease-of-use,... Read more
Chop Commute – See Traffic and Drive Times on...
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts based Indie developer, InchWest has released Chop Commute 1.61, a Mac app that takes the guesswork out of daily commute by showing real-time traffic and drive times right on... Read more
12-inch 32GB WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $50 o...
B&H Photo has 12″ 32GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP -... Read more
Recent price drops on refurbished iPad minis...
Apple recently dropped prices on several Certified Refurbished iPad mini 4s and 2s as well as iPad Air 2s. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 16GB iPad... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $928...
Overstock has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $927.99 including free shipping. Their price is $171 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
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
*Apple* Wireless Lead - T-ROC - The Retail O...
…wealth of knowledge in wireless sales and activations to the Beautiful and NEW APPLE Experience store within MACYS.. THIS role, APPLE Wireless Lead, isbrandnewas Read more
Lead *Apple* Advocate - T-ROC - The Retail...
…Company, is proud of its unprecedented relationship with our partner and client, APPLE ,in bringing amazing" APPLE ADVOCATES"to "non" Apple store locations. Read more
*Apple* Advocate - T-ROC - The Retail Outsou...
…Company, is proud of its unprecedented relationship with our partner and client, APPLE ,in bringing amazing" APPLE ADVOCATES"to "non" Apple store locations. Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.