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.

 
AAPL
$99.02
Apple Inc.
+1.35
MSFT
$43.97
Microsoft Corpora
-0.53
GOOG
$590.60
Google Inc.
+1.58

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Acorn 4.4 - Bitmap image editor. (Demo)
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.2 - 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
Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
TinkerTool 5.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Intermission 1.1.1 - Pause and rewind li...
Intermission allows you to pause and rewind live audio from any application on your Mac. Intermission will buffer up to 3 hours of audio, allowing users to skip through any assortment of audio... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.6 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Traps n’ Gemstones Review
Traps n’ Gemstones Review By Campbell Bird on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CASTLEVANIA JONESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fight mummies, dig tunnels, and ride a runaway minecart to discover ancient secrets in this... | Read more »
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Review
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition Review By Jordan Minor on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: GHOSTS BUSTEDUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The Phantom PI is an exceedingly clever and well-crafted adventure game.   | Read more »
More Stubies Are Coming Your Way in a Ne...
More Stubies Are Coming Your Way in a New Update Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
The Great Prank War Review
The Great Prank War Review By Nadia Oxford on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PRANKING IS SERIOUS BUSINESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Though short, The Great Prank War offers an interesting and fun mix of action and... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at...
Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at Comic-Con Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] Announced over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con was the fairly exciting looking Marvel Contest of Champions. | Read more »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review By Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DULL SWIPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The pizza power is weak when it comes to this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.   | Read more »
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbudd...
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbuddy Set to Make Transition from PC to iOS this September Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
PlanetHD
PlanetHD By Nadia Oxford on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SPACE MADNESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PlanetHD will keep players busy for a while, though its unpredictable physics are a handful to deal with.   | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 21-25, 2014
Another Week of Expert App Reviews   At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little... | Read more »
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client (...
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: News Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Reddme for iPhone is an iOS 7-optimized Reddit client that offers a refreshing new way to experience Reddit... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1099,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $1099.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished MacBook Pros, th...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. Their prices... Read more
Record Mac Shipments In Q2/14 Confound Analys...
A Seeking Alpha Trefis commentary notes that Apple’s fiscal Q3 2014 results released July 22, beat market predictions on earnings, although revenues were slightly lower than anticipated. Apple’s Mac’... Read more
Intel To Launch Core M Silicon For Use In Not...
Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai, report that Intel will launch 14nm-based Core M series processors specifically for use in fanless notebook/tablet 2-in-1 models in Q4 2014, with many models to... Read more
Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion: $100 g...
 Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion includes a free $100 App Store Gift Card with the purchase of any new Mac (Mac mini excluded), or a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of an iPad or iPhone,... Read more
iMacs on sale for $150 off MSRP, $250 off for...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP, starting...
Best Buy has Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup. Prices are for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: 2.5GHz Mac mini: $499.99 2.3GHz... Read more
Global Tablet Market Grows 11% in Q2/14 Notwi...
Worldwide tablet sales grew 11.0 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation... Read more
New iPhone 6 Models to Have Staggered Release...
Digitimes’ Cage Chao and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed sources in Apple’s upstream iPhone supply chain, the new 5.5-inch iPhone will be released several months later than the new 4.7-... Read more
New iOS App Helps People Feel Good About thei...
Mobile shoppers looking for big savings at their favorite stores can turn to the Goodshop app, a new iOS app with the latest coupons and deals at more than 5,000 online stores. In addition to being a... Read more

Jobs Board

*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
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring 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
*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
WW Sales Program Manager, *Apple* Online St...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.