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.

 
AAPL
$97.67
Apple Inc.
+0.64
MSFT
$44.50
Microsoft Corpora
+0.10
GOOG
$589.02
Google Inc.
-4.33

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

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
Airfoil 4.8.7 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.8 - Connect...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
xACT 2.30 - Audio compression toolkit. (...
xACT stands for X Aaudio Compression Toolkit, an application that encodes and decodes FLAC, SHN, Monkey’s Audio, TTA, Wavpack, and Apple Lossless files. It also can encode these formats to MP3, AAC... Read more
Firefox 31.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals... Read more
Little Snitch 3.3.3 - Alerts you to outg...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activityAs soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Thunderbird 31.0 - Email client from Moz...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

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 »
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Ep...
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Episode 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Jacob Jones is back in Episode 2 of one of Apples 'Best of 2013' games and an App Store... | Read more »
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New K...
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New Kind of Card Battler Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Out this Fall is a new kind of card battle game: Outcast Odyssey. | Read more »
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming...
Garfield: Survival of the Fattest Coming to iOS this Fall Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Who loves lasagna? Me. Also everyone’s favorite grumpy fat cat, Garfield. | Read more »
Happy Flock Review
Happy Flock Review By Andrew Fisher on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: HERD IT ALL BEFOREUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Underneath the gloss of Happy Flock’s visuals is a game of very little substance. It’s cute, but... | Read more »
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Pay...
Square Register Updates Adds Offline Payments Posted by Ellis Spice on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Looking For Group – Hearthstone’s Curse...
For the first time since its release (which has thankfully been a much shorter window for iPad players than their PC counterparts), Blizzard’s wildly successful Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG is sporting some brand new content: the single... | Read more »
Poptile Review
Poptile Review By Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLY FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple yet a little bit glorious, Poptile is a satisfying entertaining puzzle game with oodles of the ‘one... | Read more »
Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review
Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review By Brittany Vincent on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: LESS QQ, MORE PEW PEWUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The fifth entry into the blockbuster Modern Combat series is what mobile... | Read more »
Watch and Share Mobile Gameplay Videos W...
Watch and Share Mobile Gameplay Videos With Kamcord Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

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
Save on 5th generation refurbished iPod touch...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
What Should Apple’s Next MacBook Priority Be;...
Stabley Times’ Phil Moore says that after expanding its iMac lineup with a new low end model, Apple’s next Mac hardware decision will be how it wants to approach expanding its MacBook lineup as well... Read more
ArtRage For iPhone Painting App Free During C...
ArtRage for iPhone is currently being offered for free (regularly $1.99) during Comic-Con San Diego #SDCC, July 24-27, in celebration of the upcoming ArtRage 4.5 and other 64-bit versions of the... Read more
With The Apple/IBM Alliance, Is The iPad Now...
Almost since the iPad was rolled out in 2010, and especially after Apple made a 128 GB storage configuration available in 2012, there’s been debate over whether the iPad is a serious tool for... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale starting at $799, free s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels... 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
*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
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full 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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.