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!

 
AAPL
$111.78
Apple Inc.
-0.87
MSFT
$47.66
Microsoft Corpora
+0.14
GOOG
$516.35
Google Inc.
+5.25

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

LibreOffice 4.3.5.2 - 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
CleanApp 5.0.0 Beta 5 - Application dein...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more
Monolingual 1.6.2 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
NetShade 6.1 - Browse privately using an...
NetShade is an Internet security tool that conceals your IP address on the web. NetShade routes your Web connection through either a public anonymous proxy server, or one of NetShade's own dedicated... Read more
calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.2.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Make your own Tribez Figures (and More)...
Make your own Tribez Figures (and More) with Toyze Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
So Many Holiday iOS Sales Oh My Goodness...
The holiday season is in full-swing, which means a whole lot of iOS apps and games are going on sale. A bunch already have, in fact. Naturally this means we’re putting together a hand-picked list of the best discounts and sales we can find in order... | Read more »
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode f...
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode for Angry Birds Epic Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minec...
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minecraft: Story Mode – A Telltale Games Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their...
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their New Game: Tempo Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] WarChest Ltd and Splash Damage Ltd are teaming up again to work | Read more »
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Fre...
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Free for the Holidays Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The Apple Store offering free next-day shippi...
The Apple Store is now offering free next-day shipping on all in stock items if ordered before 12/23/14 at 10:00am PT. Local store pickup is also available within an hour of ordering for any in stock... Read more
It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Pros for...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Airs for...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: iMacs for up to $...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 1.4GHz... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac minis availab...
B&H Photo has new 2014 Mac minis on sale for up to $80 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459 $40 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $500 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2599, $400 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3499, $... Read more
Save up to $400 on MacBooks with Apple Certif...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs, $30 on iPads with Ap...
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
iOS and Android OS Targeted by Man-in-the-Mid...
Cloud services security provider Akamai Technologies, Inc. has released, through the company’s Prolexic Security Engineering & Research Team (PLXsert), a new cybersecurity threat advisory. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Store Leader Program (US) - Apple, I...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on experience, 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* 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...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.