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Nov 98 Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Unwrapping the Yellow Box

by Jeff Clites,

Very soon now, the initial betas of OS X should be going out to developers. For the first time, we will have a real choice between two very powerful and very different sets of programming interfaces - the Carbon API and the Yellow Box API. Since the Carbon API is mostly identical to the current OS 8.x API, it will be very tempting for developers to continue programming "classical" Mac applications, and Apple has been emphasizing this backward compatibility. On the other hand, you could make a case that most of the $350 million that Apple spent a little less than a year ago was paying for the Yellow Box, and the technologies supporting it. From all reports, the Yellow Box is far superior to the current Mac APIs, allowing programmers to develop powerful applications in a fraction of the time. But what if no one uses it?

It seems unthinkable that Apple would abandon it, but OpenDoc, QuickDraw GX, and PowerTalk were excellent technologies as well, and they were dropped in part because developers failed to adopt them. Call me paranoid, but with Apple's current silence on the subject there is danger that they may be unwittingly scaring away potential Yellow Box developers. This month, I am going to point out some resources available to new Yellow Box programmers, with the hope that every Mac developer will give the Yellow Box a test drive, and see if it lives up to its claims. If you like it and decide to do Yellow Box development professionally, then by starting now, you'll gain a leg up on the competition.

The News

If you want to stay up-to-date with Yellow Box goings-on, your best bet is StepWise, which tracks current news as well as technical aspects of Yellow Box development. You should also take a look at The Rhapsody User, which has extensive references to articles all over the web, and RhapNet, which hosts a collection of editorials.

Stepwise NEXTSTEP/OpenStep Server
The Rhapsody User

General Information

For general information on the Yellow Box and its technologies, start with Apple's Mac OS X Server page, and their Rhapsody FAQ. (Note that much of the Yellow Box-related information you will find on the web is still labeled as Rhapsody or even OpenStep but is likely to be relevant.) The Rhapsody Basics page has pointers on how to get started, and the RhapsodyOS and Reality web sites have pages which summarize unofficial information on the upcoming system releases.

Apple - Mac OS X Server
Rhapsody Developer FAQ
Rhapsody Basics
RhapsodyOS: FAQ
Reality's Mac OS X Page

Dive In!

I hope I have convince you to take a serious look at the Yellow Box and all it has to offer. NeXT made its mark by creating a sophisticated, modern OS and object framework, and refining it over many years while serving a corporate clientele. With this enterprise pedigree, Apple has the tools to aggressively pursue the business market. Will the Mac be the business platform for the next decade? Many of the larger software companies seem hesitant to commit to migrating their code base to the Yellow Box, and this provides a golden opportunity for new companies to step in and take the lead. Apple Enterprise is the jumping off point for the business end of things.

Apple Enterprise

If imagining the potential of a world without Microsoft Word is too much for you, stroll over to the home of the new Hello World, the 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall site, where there is source code for rendering the classic song in more programming languages that you ever knew existed (although, ironically, not in Objective-C). It has to be seen to be believed.

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

These and piles of other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at


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