TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jan 00 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: From the Factory Floor

From the Factory Floor

by Ron Liechty

This month's interview is with Ron Liechty, who gives us his insights on the past, present and future of Macintosh development.

As someone who's been involved with CodeWarrior development from its earliest days, you've had a ringside seat as the Macintosh community has matured. How do you think the Mac development community has changed over the years?

Ron: There is a new sense of competitiveness among Mac programmers today that didn't exist years ago. Not competitiveness between each other, but with programmers developing for other operating systems. There is a realization that Macintosh programs have to be better than the other operating system. In the early 1990s programmers relied on the interface to be superior and to sell their products for them. Now Macintosh developers have realized that no matter how superior the Macintosh operating system is, their products must also be better than their counterparts' on other operating systems.

What hasn't changed is the helpfulness of the Macintosh community online. I see Java programmers and catch a glimpse of the camaraderie that is evident in the Macintosh developer community. However, it never matches the amount and quality of help that Macintosh programmers give each other.

Where are some of the best places you've seen where Mac developers can go for help?

Ron: There are many avenues for help to both new programmers and seasoned veteran programmers. I wish I could mention all of the folks that are out there providing help internationally. It is amazing, the speed and depth of help you can get on the newsgroups and other Internet sources.

Of course, there are the institutional resources, like those provided by MacTech:

Macintosh C by K. J. Bricknell and Macintosh Pascal by Koryn Grant and K. J. Bricknell.

These online resources consist of a book and a package of demonstration program files easily downloadable from: www.mactech.com/macintosh-c

Apple has an excellent online source for developers at the Apple Developer Connection web site: http://www.apple.com/developer/

My personal favorite Apple link is the page for Mac OS 8 and 9 Developer Documentation: http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/FunctionIndex/FunctionIndex.html

This index provides links to function descriptions from Inside Macintosh and from new and revised Mac OS 8 documents. From there you can find sample code and white pages in regards to the various functions as well as a description of their use.

Individuals and groups also work together to provide help with programming. An example is the group of Mac programmers that help with online self-study groups known as MOST. You can access the MOST web site at: http://www.themost.org

The MOST web site and services are the gifts of altruistic Mac OS professionals and amateurs to anyone - high school/college students, developers for other platforms, or current Mac OS developer - who wants access to net-based resources which will help them produce high quality Mac OS applications

Another independent list server is AIMED-TALK, which is a discussion list for AIMED (the Association of Independent Macintosh Engineers and Developers.)

The purpose of AIMED-TALK is to discuss information that AIMED members are concerned with, new members want to know about, and interested (potential future members) want to find out about.

Send E-mail with a blank subject line and the command SUBSCRIBE as the first (and only) line of the message body to: aimed-talk-request@aimed.org

For Macintosh Pascal Programmers, Bill Catambay hosts Pascal Central, which can be found at: http://pascal-central.com/

The intent of Pascal Central is to provide the Pascal community one place to obtain Pascal technical information, Pascal source code, and Pascal-related Internet links.

Speaking of Pascal, there is the MacPascal list server, which is always eager to help others at any time: http://www.eGroups.com/list/macpascal/

Metrowerks is planning on having an online support FAQ and already has several white papers regarding our technology online.

It seems like some individuals are online helping others 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One of those is Miro Jurisic, who hosts a CodeWarrior FAQ at the following address: http://cw-faq.mit.edu/cw-faq/faq

But Miro is not alone. There are literally thousands of individuals that are online offering tech support and advice to each other on the newsgroups.

There are so many helpful people online that it would be impossible to name them all. They span the globe from Australia to the Austria, from South Africa to Sweden. What always amazes me is how contagious it can be. I see a person sign on as a newbie asking for help and within a few days that person is helping others with their problems.

I browse scores of newsgroups every day, and there are none with the camaraderie and brotherhood exhibited on the comp.sy.mac.programmer newsgroups:

When it comes to helping others, Mac Developers have an open heart and give sage advice. When I see this spirit and openness I know that the Mac will always be the premier operating system.

Looking back, what do you think were some of the most important developments surrounding the Mac over the years?

Ron: Clearly the PowerPC chip was the most significant change in the Macintosh over the past 10 years. When Apple introduced its PowerPC computers, the Macintosh was on a slow decline, losing market share every year. The PowerPC revitalized the entire Macintosh community. No longer did the Mac just have a better operating system, now it was faster. Many people have given Metrowerks a lot of credit for helping Apple's recovery with CodeWarrior and the early investment Metrowerks made in the PowerPC chip. Metrowerks believed in PowerPC, and CodeWarrior gave programmers a way to easily transition their 68k applications to PowerPC, to make them FAT so they would run on both operating systems.

The second most important development was the emergence of the Internet. Macintosh is the premier operating system for the Internet. Nothing interoperates with the Internet as fast as smooth or as seamlessly as a Macintosh. I have one of those other operating systems and trying to use it for mail or web surfing is painful compared to using my Macintosh. The Internet has helped level the playing field among operating systems and forced a commonality in file types. Five years ago I would estimate that 80 percent of the computers sold for the home market were sold for gaming. Now I would estimate that 80 percent are sold for Internet access. Apple has reinvented itself with the I-Mac and has created another resurgence in Macintosh development.

What lies ahead for Mac developers as we begin the new millennium?

Ron: Every five years the home computer reinvents itself. In the early 80s it was a toy - a gadget for gadget freaks. Then in the mid-80s it became a tool for students, necessary for word processing and small databases. In the early 90s it became the game players' machine, as faster graphics, cheaper RAM and processor speeds made dramatic improvements. In the late 90s and now at the turn of the millennium, we've seen the Internet become probably the most important factor in the use of home computers.

If I knew what the next reinvention would be, I'd certainly be a billionaire. One can, however, speculate on what will be happening in the years to come. Certainly a blending of television with computers is inevitable, in my opinion. With the new HDTV and the ability to transmit and receive side bands, this is an area in which Macintosh computers will excel. Home networking is another area where I see computers headed. No longer will there be one computer per home. Just as children have their own TVs and telephones, they will have their own computers. Personal robotics and the ability to program a robot are certainly in the future. Compression of sound and video will certainly impact the future of home computers, and again the Macintosh PowerMac will be an excellent choice for that.

How would you characterize Mac developers' attitudes towards the Linux movement?

Ron: The attitude of some Macintosh developers regarding the Linux movement has always been humorous to me as people pit the PowerPC-hosted Linux against the Intel-hosted Linux. I think the average Mac programmer has an interest in Linux and sees it as an alternative to Windows, but not to Macintosh. While the PowerPC is a great CPU for Linux, there isn't the incentive to change the operating system. It's not worth it just to be a renegade.

The open source philosophy has never been limited to Linux or to GNU tools. Netscape is an excellent example of open sourcing that benefits the company and the developer. I recall a posting written by a developer named Simon Fraser in response to another developer who was having a problem posting a dialog while handling a drag and drop. This problem points out the value of applying open source for one application to an entirely different application. Fraser advised:

"You should avoid posting a dialog while handling the drag receive; it's better to save state somewhere, and process the results of the drag the next time an event is handled. That way, you can debug the code, and handle user events with no problems. For an example, see the NewsWatcher source code."

Metrowerks has been an advocate of open source as well. GameCode was released under the Metrowerks Public License (MWPL), which is based on the Netscape open source model.

The GameCode web site is hosted by Søren Grønbech, the original engineer who developed GameCode for Metrowerks: http://sunsite.auc.dk/gamecode/about.html

GameCode is an open source, cross-platform multimedia development library. GameCode consists of three primary parts: an easy-to-use programmers API which takes care of the basic setup; a number of functions to display graphics, play sounds, display text, etc.; and a converter-tool which uses a simple script-language to convert graphics, sounds and other types of resource files.

Another source for code help is the PowerPlant contributed classes. On this site, Macintosh PowerPlant developers contribute their useful classes to aid other PowerPlant users and create better, more useful applications more quickly. You can contribute or search for these extensions to PowerPlant on the Metrowerks web page. http://208.226.102.11/powerplant.qry?function=form

Metrowerks also includes both PowerPlant and Metrowerks Standard Libraries in source versions. While still copyrighted and non-distributable in source code form, you can look at the code and see how it is done and change or alter it if necessary to make your own versions.

Metrowerks has always felt the power to make programming decisions should be given to programmers. Ultimately, this allows for better Macintosh code.

What emerging technologies do you think will have the greatest impact on Mac developers?

Ron: I'm very bullish on Mac OS X and new applications that will be created to take advantage of its power and capabilities. I see this as another boost to help Apple compete with Microsoft. I'm also very excited about Java. I don't think any language in such a short time has became so popular. In hardware, I am excited about video/audio compression technology.

However, what really excites me is the concept of personal computer cooperation as used for SETI, and the possibilities that other mass cooperation could achieve. A cure for cancer running on millions of home computers overnight is possible. Also, multiple weather forecastings linked together over the Internet, allowing for instant access to precise readings, could predict a tornado hours before it happens. Just about anything is possible, and that's what is so exciting.


Ron Liechty is the ombudsman and award-winning online representative for Metrowerks. His e-mail box is always open at MWRon@metrowerks.com. A grandfather with two grandsons Jaymz and Jaysn and a granddaughter Odessa, Ron works from his home in Michigan writing technical documentation and providing online support for Metrowerks' customers.

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Path Finder 6.5.5 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder is a file browser that combines the familiar Finder interface with the powerful utilities and innovative features. Just a small selection of the Path Finder 6 feature set: Dual pane... Read more
QuarkXPress 10.2.1 - Desktop publishing...
With QuarkXPress, you can communicate in all the ways you need to -- and always look professional -- in print and digital media, all in a single tool. Features include: Easy to Use -- QuarkXPress is... Read more
Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - 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
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - 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
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 21-inch 1.4GHz...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 21″ 1.4GHz iMacs for $929 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $170 off the cost of new models,... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Bad Driver Database App Allows Good Drivers t...
Bad Driver Database 1.4 by Facile Group is a new iOS and Android app that lets users instantly input and see how many times a careless, reckless or just plain stupid driver has been added to the... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 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
*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...
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
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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.