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
$105.22
Apple Inc.
+0.39
MSFT
$46.13
Microsoft Corpora
+1.11
GOOG
$539.78
Google Inc.
-4.20

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

f.lux 34.0 - Adjusts the color of your d...
f.lux makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow? Or wake... Read more
Ember 1.8.2 - Versatile digital scrapboo...
Ember (formerly LittleSnapper) is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you: websites, photos, apps or other things. Just drag in images that you want to keep, organize them into relevant... Read more
Tonality Pro 1.1.2 - Professional-grade...
Tonality Pro gives you the power to create stunning and dramatic black & white images. This is a complete monochrome image editor with more than 150 one-click style presets, totally unique... Read more
VueScan 9.4.49 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
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... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**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
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.