TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jan 00 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

by Andrew Downs

Why I write Macintosh software

Why do you write software for the Mac? Or, how do you judge your success as a software developer? It is one of those intangible issues that each of us deals with occasionally. It is also what keeps us coming back for more when the going gets rough.

Like many of you, my livelihood depends (at least in part) on the success of the Mac. Anything Apple does to enhance the Mac's appeal to the masses (both business and consumer) improves the long-term picture. The continual stream of innovations coming out of Cupertino gives me confidence in the Mac's future. The iMac and iBook, Mac OS 9, the G4, QuickTime...knowing that most of those cool technologies were invented or refined at Apple (or one of its close partners), leads me to believe that the spirit of creativity is burning brightly. As long as that creativity keeps getting channeled into marketable products, my confidence will remain strong.

I think my motivation as a developer stems from a desire to not only see something done, but to see it done right. I can walk into any computer store or office and see hardware and software that is acceptable. But when I fire up my iMac, or my PowerBook, or my 6100 (considering its age) I see something that was done right. It just kicks ass.

Sometimes this motivation borders on fanaticism. For example, I would guess that most software gets written during non-work hours. (This hypothesis is simply based on the sheer number of freeware/shareware vs. commercial titles. I could be wrong.) Have you ever tried explaining what you do during the hours when most people are sleeping, and received an uncomprehending stare? There is something about this business that probably baffles most outsiders, but is obvious to the participants: this is a seriously cerebral endeavor, and it is easiest when the outside distractions are fewest. For some people, that's the middle of the night.

Plus, when you're caught up in the excitement of adding the latest and greatest feature to your new project, it is very difficult to stop. Have you ever tried halting a twenty-file debugging session in the middle and coming back ten hours later? The computer may still be in the same state, but your mind needs time to reacclimate to the situation. (Developer conferences reinforce this non-stop programming mode, although someone once remarked that it's good that MacHack only lasts three days, otherwise he'd be dead due to lack of sleep.)

Some developers have tremendous vision, always knowing exactly where their project is heading. For the rest of us, it can be hard to explain what you're trying to do when you're discovering as you go. But eventually the vision (and product) takes shape. When you do reach your goal, and deliver version 1.0, it all becomes worthwhile.

Writing Macintosh software has always been, for me, a process of learning by doing. Although you can find Macintosh software development courses offered professionally or at some universities, I suspect most programmers learned the intricacies of Macintosh programming through hands-on experience. I spent a lot of time reading and experimenting for a few years. I originally (and naively) expected it would take a few months to master the Mac. Now I see no end in sight, which I find very encouraging. There is always something new to learn.

Software development, both now and in the foreseeable future, is by no means a simple endeavor. I think the ascendance of "Internet time" has made it more difficult to master development skills, not for technical reasons, but because the perceived need for immediate payback warps one's judgement and patience.

In addition, the delivery mechanism for programming materials has changed over the past five years. Printed material has declined, and electronic files have proliferated. The increased number of online tutorials partially compensates for the decrease in the number and variety of Macintosh programming books, but there's often a lot of noise mixed in with the signal. And since the underlying technology gets more complicated everyday, we continually need simpler APIs and programming languages to help ease the burden. It may be a little tough for new developers. On the other hand, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

These days I spend most of my time working with CodeWarrior and MRJ. I write more Java than C/C++, building applications rather than system extensions, and I'm learning MRJ's strengths and weaknesses. Apple's Java offering has come a long way in the last few years. The performance of the current release on my iMac is great. But like many other developers, I am eagerly anticipating the version they decide to release with OS X. Although Apple isn't committing at this time, I'm hoping for Java 2 compatibility.

This industry is unique in its willingness to let the future be directed by relative newcomers. Today's ideas are tomorrow's products. (And sometimes, today's engineers are tomorrow's millionaires. That can be attractive too.) The result is a continual influx of fresh ideas and talent that eliminates stagnation and generates competition. As developers we need to encourage this process. After all, thinking different is the essence of the Mac.

In the end, for me it boils down to making a difference in peoples' lives. If I can make someone's online time more fun or productive, or their life easier, then I've succeeded. When I receive email about software I've written, I know I've touched someone. And, it keeps me coming back for more.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Monolingual 1.6.4 - 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. If you use your computer in only one (human) language, you... Read more
CleanApp 5.0 - Application deinstaller a...
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
Fantastical 2.0 - Create calendar events...
Fantastical is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event details... Read more
Cocktail 8.2 - 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
Direct Mail 4.0.4 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for OS X. It lets you create and send great looking email campaigns. Start your newsletter by selecting from a gallery... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.6 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.6 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Lyn 1.5.9 - Lightweight image browser an...
Lyn is a lightweight and fast image browser and viewer designed for photographers, graphic artists and Web designers. Featuring an extremely versatile and aesthetically pleasing interface, it... Read more
Sublime Text 3080 - Sophisticated text e...
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. Goto Anything. Use Goto Anything to... Read more
WALTR 1.0.11 - Drag-and-drop any media f...
WALTR is designed to make it easy to upload and convert any music or video file to an iPad or iPhone format for native playback. It supports a huge variety of media file types, including MP3, MP4,... Read more

Bio Inc's New Expansion is Infectin...
Bio Inc., by DryGin Studios, is the real time strategy game where you infect a human body with the worst virus your evil brain can design. Recently, the game was updated to add a whole lot of new features. Now you can play the new “Lethal”... | Read more »
The Monocular Minion is Here! Despicable...
Despicable Me: Minion Rush, by Gameloft, is introducing a new runner to the mix in their latest update. Now you can play as Carl, the prankster minion. Carl has a few new abilities to play with, including running at a higher speed from the start.... | Read more »
Dungeon of Madness (Games)
Dungeon of Madness 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon of Madness is an action game where you rotate tiles to create our own route. Help the hero by connecting the... | Read more »
Filters for iPhone (Photography)
Filters for iPhone 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Jump'N'Shoot Attack (Games)
Jump'N'Shoot Attack 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A mobile game for gamers! Join Louise Lightfoot, the legendary "Master of Jumping and Shooting", on her mission to save... | Read more »
Space Bounties Inc. (Games)
Space Bounties Inc. 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: SuperGameDroid: 4/5 "Satisfying futuristic RPG combat, high replay value, and a heavy dose of nostalgia make Space... | Read more »
Gamebook: Pocket RPG (Games)
Gamebook: Pocket RPG 1.0.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.11 (iTunes) Description: Walk into the Land of Lanthir Lamath ruled by wicked skeletons and fight for your life in a thrilling adventure.... | Read more »
Kids Can Mix, Match, and Catch with Tata...
Tatadada MixMatch, by Tatadada Ltd, is a mobile version of the classic game of mix & match. The game uses brightly colored creatures to train your children's pattern matching skills and hand-eye coordination. It's aimed at children around age 5... | Read more »
The Trace: Murder Mystery Game (Games)
The Trace: Murder Mystery Game 1.2.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.2.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: March 16-20, 2015
Spring Roars In At 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Logitech Says MX Master Is Its Most Advanced...
Logitech’s new MX Master Wireless Mouse incorporates the best of Logitech’s many computer mouse innovations into a striking hand-sculpted design. The company claims that the MX Master creates a new... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
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
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store lowered prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs recently, with models now available starting at $679. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and... Read more
Mac Notebook Evolution; A Desktop Replacement...
More often than not right from the beginning, Apple’s Macs have tended to skew toward small. The original Macs were called “compacts,”, and notwithstanding a few exceptions like the honking Big Mac... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air (Apple refur...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Airs available for $759 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $240 off original... Read more
YEP! Alternative Browser for iOS Now Supports...
Pfaeffikon, Switzerland based Power App AG has announced the release of an update to their Yep! Web Browser (v1.3.0) for iOS8 iPhone and iPad. Yep! hit the App Store shortly after the release of iOS... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has leftover 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1098... Read more
Clearance 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $180 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $789.99 110 off original MSRP - 11″ 256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available for...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for $100 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $199, $100... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - D...
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* Systems Engineer - Pre Sales, Educat...
…is responsible for proactively providing technical expertise to drive sales of Apple solutions into assigned accounts. The SE architects, validates, and assists in Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.