TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 99 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Sep 98 Viewpoint

by Andrew Downs

Continuing from last month, we're inviting the contributing editors of MacTech to introduce themselves and their areas of interest to our readership, to share their Viewpoints with us. This month we've asked Andrew Downs to talk to about what makes him tick. Andrew programs in everything from Assembly, to Java, to AppleScript. Feel free to write to Andrew, with article ideas or opinions on these and other subjects. You can reach him at andrew@downs.net.

Nick DeMello, Editor

Hey, is this thing on? Okay, here I am at open-mike night on the MacTech Viewpoint page. I would like to say a few words about several of my favorite topics: Java, scripting, assembly language, and MacHack. I would also like for you to consider writing an article for MacTech. More on this later.

About Java...

One of the things that attracted me to Java three years ago was its relative compactness. The syntax was straightforward and the core API took months (but not years) to master. Since Java was so new, few people understood how to use it effectively. Applets were the rage, but in my mind the real power lay in the ability to easily write multithreaded, network-enabled applications. If I could firmly grasp those pieces, the rest would be easy, and I would be king of the Java world...

Or so I thought. Over the next few years, I was overwhelmed with all the additions to the core API, language extensions, integration and bridging of other technologies, a new component model, and even an entire operating system. But this hasn't resulted in erosion of my original skill set; rather there are numerous new areas to explore, and they complement each other. Sun seems to be turning out new technologies faster than most developers can absorb them. We should be thankful, since it means more opportunities in development, training, and documentation. This phenomenon also implies that most of us may end up being specialists, as the scope of Java technology expands beyond the grasp of mere mortals. Oh well, that's the relentless march of technology for you.

In the Macintosh arena, the Apple MRJ team has done a great job of bringing the Macintosh Java runtime environment up to or beyond industry standards. Java has a great future on the Macintosh.

Scripting

Several things impress me about the scripting languages (AppleScript, Perl) with which I am familiar: their power, compactness, and versatility. By "power" I mean a language that gives you access to system resources, network connections, files, and (ideally) threads. Compactness allows you to do so using only a few lines of code. Versatility manifests itself in the types of scripts you can write, and how close those scripts come to acting like full applications. Add-ons also enhance the versatility of scripting languages.

Scripts can act as wonderful "glue" to tie applications together. This is certainly true of AppleScript. We also see it in web development, with the use of Perl for CGI processing.

Since scripts are essentially interpreted (or compiled on-the-fly), I find scripting to be a bit more relaxing than the usual compile-link-run approach. If you haven't looked into scripting yet, consider it. You might be surprised by what they have to offer.

Assembly Language

What? Who programs in that anymore? Some people do. While I doubt many applications are written entirely in assembly, there are opportunities for using assembly code in projects. Plus, having an assembly listing available (and understanding it!) can be a great timesaver when the MacsBug "welcome" screen appears ten minutes into testing your new program.

I finally got around to reading "Where Wizards Stay Up Late", which is about the origins of ARPAnet and the Internet. The book contains a sentence or two about how early programmers really had to understand how specific computers worked, since most of the programs were written in machine language (of which assembly language is a much more legible abstraction). I think we may be in danger of losing this skill, since high-level languages (and their accompanying IDEs and debuggers) can do just about anything these days, including write the code for you! And those languages tend to attract new programmers. (By the way, I am pro-IDE, since in the right hands those tools are tremendous productivity enhancers.)

Besides, some of us think assembly language is fun. Cross-platform products may enhance revenue, but writing or debugging assembly code is more rewarding. Call me crazy.

Aside: I would like to see a PowerPC update to the book "Debugging Software with MacsBug". Is anyone working on this?

MacTech Articles

Finally, I want to encourage you to consider writing an article for MacTech. Why? Here are a few reasons:

Sharing: Mac developers form a fairly small community. But we also tend to be open. I don't mean giving up the source code to your company's sole revenue source. Rather, I am referring to showing techniques, programming style, and how to use emerging (and battle-tested) technologies.

Learning: this applies not only to the reader, but also to the author. I usually learn something new when I sit down to write an article, even if it's a topic with which I am already familiar. Continual learning is important to a programmer's career. How many of us are still doing exactly what we were doing three years ago? Not many: the industry changes too quickly.

Publicity: most programmers like to show their stuff now and then. Plus, you never know what may result: anything from a friendly email exchange to a job referral.

Whew, that was easier than I expected. Thanks for listening! Feel free to send me email containing article ideas, rebuttals, or even programmer jokes. My address is andrew@downs.net.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Capto 1.2.9 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Opera 51.0.2830.40 - High-performance We...
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
GarageSale 7.0.13 - Create outstanding e...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
1Password 6.8.7 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Evernote 7.0.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.2.0 - $20.00
MacUpdate Desktop brings seamless 1-click app installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.3.5 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a versatile desktop search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the... Read more
EtreCheck 4.0.4 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
WhatsApp 0.2.8361 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
iClock 4.2 - Customize your menubar cloc...
iClock is a menu-bar replacement for Apple's default clock but with 100x features. Have your Apple or Google calendar in the menubar. Have the day, date, and time in different fonts and colors in the... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Disc Drivin' 2 Guide - Tips for the...
We're all still playing quite a bit of Disc Drivin' 2 over here at 148Apps, and we've gotten pretty good at it. Now that we've spent some more time with the game and unlocked more powerups, check out some of these more advanced tips: | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey Guide - How to Tackl...
Alto’s Odyssey is a completely stunning and serene runner, but it can also be a bit tricky. Check out these to try and keep your cool while playing this endless runner: Don’t focus too much on tasks [Read more] | Read more »
Here's everything you need to know...
Alto's Odyssey is a really, really good game. If you don't believe me, you should definitely check out our review by clicking this link right here. It takes the ideas from the original Alto's Adventure, then subtly builds on them, creating... | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey (Games)
Alto's Odyssey 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Just beyond the horizon sits a majestic desert, vast and unexplored. Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless... | Read more »
Vainglory 5v5: Everything you need to kn...
Vainglory just got bigger. [Read more] | Read more »
Check out these 5 games that are a lot l...
So you're in love with Minecraft, but you're looking for something else to play as well? You've come to the right place then, because this list is all about games that are a bit like Minecraft. Some of them, more than others. [Read more] | Read more »
Our top 5 characters from casual RPG Cre...
Creature Quest definitely lives up to its name with a host of collectible creatures based on fantasy tales and world mythologies. To celebrate Creature Quest’s first birthday, we’re going to lay out what we think are the five best characters in the... | Read more »
Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Did you know that Steel Media has a whole swathe of other sites dedicated to all aspects of mobile gaming? Sure you'll get the very best iPhone news, reviews, and opinions right here at 148Apps, but we don't want you missing out on a single piece... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Oh hi there, and welcome to our round-up of the best games that are currently on sale for iPhone and iPad. You thought I didn't see you there, did you, skulking behind the bushes? Trust me though, the bushes aren't where the best deals are. The... | Read more »
The Battle of Polytopia Guide - How to H...
A new update just released for The Battle of Polytopia (formerly Super Tribes), which introduces online multiplayer. For all the fans of Midjiwan’s lite take on Civilization, this is certainly welcome news, but playing online isn’t as easy and... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon restocks MacBook Pros with models avai...
Amazon has restocked 15″ and 13″ Apple MacBook Pros with models on sale for up to $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go (and some sell out quickly), so check... Read more
Lowest price of the year: 15″ 2.8GHz Apple Ma...
Amazon has the 2017 Space Gray 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro on sale today for $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2148, $251 off MSRP Their price is... Read more
Apple restocks full line of Certified Refurbi...
Apple has restocked a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Lowest sale price available for 13″ 1.8GHz Ma...
Focus Camera has the 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB Apple MacBook Air on sale today for $829 including free shipping. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a current 13″... Read more
21-inch 2.3GHz iMac on sale for $999, $100 of...
B&H Photo has the 2017 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A) in stock and on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis in stock again st...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis 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
Tuesday MacBook Deals: $250 off 15″ 2.9GHz Ma...
Adorama has the Silver 15″ 2.9GHz Apple MacBook Pro on sale today for $250 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax for residents in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.9GHz Silver MacBook Pro... Read more
Save up to $350 with these Apple Certified Re...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: – 27... Read more
B&H offers $200 discount on Silver 15″ Ma...
B&H Photo has Silver 15″ Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
12″ Apple iPad Pro Sale of the Year! Models u...
B&H Photo has 12″ #iPad Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $719 $80 off MSRP – 12″ 256GB WiFi... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, 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* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 113523441 Orange, CA, California, United States Posted: 21-Feb-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are you passionate Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Sr. Experience Designer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Designer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.