TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 00 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: From the Factory Floor

A Chat with Quinn "The Eskimo!"

By Quinn "The Eskimo!" and Richard Atwell, ©2000 by Metrowerks, Inc., all rights reserved

This months Factory Floor interview brings us back to Apple again for a visit with Quinn "The Eskimo!", co-creator of Internet Config. Quinn works in Developer Technical Support and took time out from helping us all write better code to sit down and talk about his world.

Richard: Who are you?

Quinn: Ah, a deeply metaphysical question, but for the moment I'll field it literally. I am Quinn "The Eskimo!" I do have a first name but I haven't used it for about 20 years. The epithet "The Eskimo!" is from an old Bob Dylan song, since covered by Manfred Mann amongst others. Listen to the words closely; it's a lot of fun.

Richard: Where are you from?

Quinn: Another deep question. I was born in Kenya and my folks are English. I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and I'm now living in California. Perth is a big city (more than a million people) but by American standards it's very isolated. My friends and I often say that the definition of isolated is that if you travel for a thousand kilometers in any direction from Perth, the nearest big city is... Perth. Because of this isolation, the Mac developers are a close knit group. I was very active in two areas of the community; namely, Mac developers and university support staff. There's not a lot of shrink-wrapped software development in Perth, so there was a large overlap between the groups.

Richard: What did you do after school?

Quinn: My first job after graduating was at the Computer Science department at The University of Western Australia <http://www.cs.uwa.edu.au/>. I spent a third of my time running the network, another third running the student Macintosh laboratory, and the rest programming. It was a great place to learn about the Macintosh. I handled both the user and developer side of things. And writing lab management tools is an excellent introduction to the underbelly of Mac OS!

Richard: What are your responsibilities in Developer Technical Support (DTS)?

Quinn: Since late 1995 I've been working at Apple in the Networking, Communications and Hardware group of DTS. During the day I answer developer questions, code samples and write technotes. I also review documentation, firefight, provide feedback to engineering, go to kitchens, and so on. It's a very diverse job, which keeps me from getting bored. I would find spending all day cooped up in my office coding for a single project a drag.

When I joined DTS I was cast into the role of "Open Transport guy", somewhat harrowing given that I had never programmed for either MacTCP or OT before. Hey, I knew people who had programmed for MacTCP, but I didn't actually do it myself! Since then I've supported OT through its (and Apple's) ups and downs. OT work is still a large chunk of my job, although I also support mass storage, external file systems, virtual memory, driver services, and so on.

Right now my day job is to support these existing technologies while gearing up for Mac OS X. In my spare time I'm working on a cool little tool called SystemFolderDiff <ftp://ftp.quinn.echidna.id.au/Others/Quinn/Development/>. Actually, I've been distracted from that by "MoreOSL", a C framework for implementing AppleScriptability in an application. It's a much harder job than I thought, so the code will eventually end up as a DTS sample.

Richard: You're famous for being one of the co-creators of Internet Config.

Quinn: Mostly I'm famous for being friends with Peter N. Lewis. Peter, myself, and a mutual friend (Marcus Jager), were all friends in high school and then we went on to university together. After finishing our degrees, Peter started working on his shareware business (at first after-hours, and now full-time <http://www.stairways.com/>) and I helped him out with miscellanea — like keeping his user interface honest, editing the documentation, and so on — in my spare time. The only major collaboration between Peter and I was through Internet Config <http://www.quinn.echidna.id.au/Quinn/Config/>. That project has a long history all to itself and I still have trouble groking that I've been working on it for over six years! It's great to make something that helps both users and developers. Another fortuitous outcome of the Internet Config project was that it raised my visibility sufficiently, so much so that Apple decided to hire me into DTS.

Richard: They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Was Internet Config conceived that way?

Quinn: Yes. It all started with a discussion on comp.sys.mac.comm sometime in mid-1994. Basically everyone was sick of having to enter the same Internet preferences into a gazillion (yes, that is the technical term!) Internet applications. This was particularly irksome for me because I didn't use Netscape as my web browser. In the days before Internet Explorer there was MacWeb and I got really tired of having to change the default preferences in every application that wanted to launch URLs, and then reapply the change on each new machine and also every time I reinstalled system software.

The newsgroup discussion quickly got out of hand (as they are apt to do) so Peter N. Lewis created a mailing list and he unilaterally subscribed all participants to the mailing list. The time we switched everyone over was midday, Oz time, so the US folks got a shock when they showed up to work the next day and found hundreds of messages from a mailing list to which they'd never subscribed! Fortunately we didn't get too many flame-o-grams.

The recipient list reads like a Who's Who of early Mac Internet types. With so much talent, there were bound to be some contentious issues. Should the system support multiple users? Should the system support layered preferences (e.g. a user layer above an application layer above a global layer)? Should the system be an extension?

Peter and I had a strong opinion on all of these topics. We wanted to keep it simple while allowing for future expansion, so we answered no, no, and yes to the above questions. To cut short the discussion, we designed a strawman API and posted it to the list. After incorporating some feedback, we set off to implement the API.

The actual coding of the extension took very little time, probably a week or so of part-time work. The original plan was for Peter and I to write the extension while another developer did the user interface. After months of waiting for a UI, we eventually caved in and wrote that as well.

It's interesting to examine the core design decisions with six years of hindsight.

The lack of multiple user support was a problem, but I eventually retrofitted "sets" into IC 2.0 (Mac OS 8.5). Afterwards, Apple introduced Multiple Users (Mac OS 9.0) which provided another solution to this problem.

I still believe that layered preferences are too hard for users to understand and believe we made the right choice by not including them in IC.

I'm very happy that we shipped IC as an extension rather than a statically linked library. It has allowed us to update the system easily; a facility we've used extensively over the years.

I'm very disappointed by the fact that I failed to think clearly about international issues in the original IC design. For example, we should have had a clear policy regarding international-friendly text in preferences like the email signature.

For a further read about the rationale and the implementation details of IC 1.0, read my article in develop magazine. <http://developer.apple.com/dev/techsupport/develop/issue23/quinn.html>

Richard: How difficult was it to get authors of shareware networking programs to adopt IC?

Quinn: With a few exceptions, convincing developers to adopt IC was surprisingly easy. Mind you, we made numerous design decisions that smoothed the path. Our basic goal was to give developers no excuse to ignore the technology.

We started with a critical mass of Internet developers from the mailing list on our side.

IC was simple enough for both users and developers to understand. IC was usable from all the popular development environments. IC APIs could be used with or without having the Internet Config Extension installed. IC supported System 6. In fact, the first version without System 6 support (IC 2.0) was released in June 1998!

We offered individual support to key players to promote adoption.

Richard: Why did you choose to release IC into the public domain?

Quinn: IC source code was put into the public domain so that, if Peter and I were killed in a 747 accident over the Pacific on the way to WWDC, another developer could pick up the development. This also helped to alleviate any fears of the technology being orphaned.

Richard: What have been the most recent Internet Config developments?

Quinn: The big news for Internet Config is its integration into Carbon. Universal Interfaces now includes "InternetConfig.h"! On traditional Mac OS, CarbonLib 1.0.2 provides glue that calls through to the existing Internet Config Extension. On Mac OS X, Apple will provide a re-implementation of the API based on CFPreferences. This gets me off the hook for future Internet Config development, which is a relief. It was fun while it lasted, but our mission was always to get Apple to adopt the technology.

Richard: Now that IC is part of Carbon, what will happen to the IC Programmer's Kit? Is there a new version planned? Quinn: Before Apple decided to adopt IC as part of Carbon, I had finished the core code for IC 2.5, which included full Carbon support for traditional Mac OS (and some limited support on Mac OS X). Given Apple's decision to support IC in Carbon, I've had to revise my plan.

I do intend to ship a new IC that fits in with this new world order and will probably still call it 2.5. In the meantime, I would recommend that developers just use the interfaces and libraries from UI 3.3.1.

Richard: Can you tell us what about anything new regarding networking?

Quinn: In the networking space, Apple has made much progress over the last year but much of it is hard to see. Open Transport 2.5 includes many internal changes that should allow us to deliver new features more quickly.

The next year promises to be very interesting for Apple followers. It's time for Mac OS X to start delivering on its promises so it should be exciting to watch and participate in.

Richard: I know you're a staunch Pascal developer. How strong is the Pascal movement in the Mac developer community these days?

Quinn: I wish that I had some hard numbers on this, but alas I don't. Moreover, I'm not really at large in the Mac development community these days (DTS keeps me plenty busy with my real job!) so I don't even have a rough feeling for this. I can tell you that I'm regularly called in to consult on Pascal issues for Apple. For example, I've helped a number of significant developers move their large legacy Pascal source bases to Carbon.

Richard: How much longer can we expect Apple to provide support in their APIs?

Quinn: As a current employee, I can't comment on the future of the Pascal interfaces. I can say that the current situation for Pascal interfaces is pretty good. Apple creates the Universal Interfaces from an internal representation (something that looks like a C header file, but isn't) using a custom tool. This tool outputs C, Rez, Asm, and Pascal headers automatically. As long as this system is maintained, Pascal interfaces can be easily generated by flipping a switch.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Little Snitch 3.5.3 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Cocktail 8.4 - 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
PDFKey Pro 4.3 - Edit and print password...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Kodi 15.0.beta1 - Powerful media center...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.4.12 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.0.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
Lyn 1.5.11 - Lightweight image browser a...
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
NeoOffice 2014.11 - Mac-tailored, OpenOf...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
LaunchBar 6.4 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Remotix 3.1.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more

Crossy Road Devs Hipster Whale are Bring...
Hipster Whale, the minds behind the rather popular (and rather great) Crossy Road, have teamed-up with Bandai Namco to create PAC-MAN 256: an absolutely bonkers looking maze runner chaser thing. | Read more »
Meet the New Spotify Music
Spotify Music  has a lot going on. They're introducing 3 new modes to serve all your musical needs, with the "Now" start page  gives you curated playlists based on your particular tastes. As you listen the app will learn more about your tastes and... | Read more »
What the Apple Watch Gets Right, and Wha...
| Read more »
Celebrate PAC-MAN's 35th Birthday W...
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America is celebrating PAC-MAN's 35th anniversary by releasing updates for PAC-MAN and PAC-MAN Lite for iOS. [Read more] | Read more »
Strike Wing Episode 2 has Landed on the...
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising is an exciting space combat simulator by Crescent Moon Games, which was recently updated to continue the story with Episode 2. [Read more] | Read more »
Kiqplan Expands its Interactive Coaching...
The makers of Fitbug have been hard at work on their Kiqplan lineup, and have added four new summer themed plans to help you get the most out of your workout. [Read more] | Read more »
Make a Photobook in Minutes with Pictyea...
What happens when you can't stop taking photos and have an urge to create a photobook? Pictyear saves the day. [Read more] | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: May 18-22, 2015
May Days 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 the... | Read more »
Biz Builder Delux (Games)
Biz Builder Delux 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Ah, there's nothing like the rhythmic bustle of a burgeoning business burg... especially when you're the one building it... | Read more »
Auroch Digital is Bringing Back Games Wo...
| Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

What Would the ideal Apple Productivity Platf...
For the past four years I’ve kept a foot in both the Mac and iPad camps respectively. my daily computing hours divided about 50/50 between the two devices with remarkable consistency. However, there’... Read more
New 13-inch 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from... Read more
12-inch MacBook stock status for Monday, May...
The new 12″ Retina MacBooks are still on backorder at The Apple Store with a 3-5 week waiting period. However, a few models are in stock today at Apple resellers. Stock is limited, so act now if you’... Read more
New 27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock with free...
Adorama has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac in stock today for $1999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Adorama will include a free copy of Apple’s 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: New 27-inch 3.3GHz...
Best Buy has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more
OtterBox Maximizes Portability, Productivity...
From the kitchen recipe book to the boarsroom presentation, the OtterBox Agility Tablet System turns tablets into one of the most versatile pieces of handheld technology available. Available now, the... Read more
Launch of New Car App Gallery and Open Develo...
Automatic, a company on a mission to bring the power of the Internet into every car, has announced the launch of the Automatic App Gallery, an app store for nearly every car or truck on the road... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 13-inch 1.6GHz Mac...
Best Buy has the new 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Memorial Day Weekend Sale: 27-inch 3.5GHz 5K...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2099.99 this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary.... Read more
Sale! 16GB iPad mini 3 for $349, save $50
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more

Jobs Board

Architect / Senior Software Engineer, *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
*Apple* Pay Support Readiness Project Manage...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
**Job Summary** The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with Read more
Sr. Payment Program Manager, *Apple* Pay -...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is an exciting environment and a…devices in a simple, private and secure way. The Apple Pay Team is looking for an experienced Senior Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.