TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jul 00 Online

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 7
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Preparing for Mac OS X

By Jeff Clites <online@mactech.com>

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now that Mac OS X is just around the corner. At this point, every Mac developer should be preparing himself for this brand new operating system. Make no mistake — Apple has gone to great pains to make this transition as smooth as possible, and to ensure the widest possible range of backward compatibility, but Mac OS X is a whole new world. Developers should be extremely excited; I know I am. But it is, naturally, a bit unnerving to be faced with all this change — to go from being an expert to a beginner. The bright side (or, I should say, one of the many) is that learning new stuff is the fun part, and after you've gotten over the shock you'll find out that your job just became a whole lot easier, that it's a whole lot more fun, and that you're a whole lot more productive. The Carbon API is, refreshingly, more than just a compatibility shim on the Classic API — it's a real step forward. If you're a long-time Mac developer, you'll be glad to see that your tools are continuing to evolve, and not just change. Although you'll be able to continue developing in Carbon for quite a while, and will be able to take advantage of many of the operating system's new features by doing so, I would encourage you to take a serious look at the Cocoa API. It is completely different, but if you give it a fair chance, you're going to like it, and you'd be crazy not to use it for your new development. If you don't believe me, than just try to find anyone who was ever an OpenStep developer and didn't love it. You won't be able to. At the time of writing, I've just returned from this year's WWDC, and during most of the WebObjects sessions I was struck with just how many people, in the midst of voicing a complaint, took the time to point out just how much of a joy working with this technology is, and to thank the development team. Along with an operating system and a CEO, we've acquired a strong community from NeXT, and as we move forward you'll want to be a part of it, and to avail yourself of their expertise.

So what should you do to get "ready for X"? Step 1 is to learn either Objective C or Java. C and C++ programmers may be a bit irked that they need to learn a new language, but it will be less of a shock that you think, and well worth it. (And again, isn't learning a new tool supposed to be the fun part?) So which one should you use? That's easy — either. In fact, learn both, and see which you like best. As Mac developers we've always had a choice of languages: C, C++, Pascal, the BASICs, Perl — the list goes on. We had this range of choice because the Mac API was procedural, consisting of structures and functions, and so it was easy to access from just about any language — you just needed the right headers or wrappers. The Cocoa API is a framework, in the true sense of the word, and frameworks are inherently language-specific. So it's rather a miracle that we can use Cocoa from both Objective C and Java; they are just similar enough under the hood that Apple was able to arranged it so that we can use either. Cherish this choice—it's quite likely the only one we'll ever have. So learn both languages, and if you find that you love one of them and hate the other, you should still encourage Apple to support both, because choice is a Good Thing, and we'll all benefit from it in the long run.

As a first step, I would encourage you to read Apple's Object-Oriented Programming and the Objective-C Language, even if you don't plan to use Objective C, and especially if you are new to object-oriented programming. (You can find it online along with the rest of their developer documentation.) It's relatively short, and the introductory material is language neutral and gives an excellent explanation of what "OOP" is all about. If you're a C or C++ programmer, you'll probably find that you can pick up Objective C in a couple of hours, assuming you are already comfortable with object-oriented concepts. It's just a small syntax addition on top of C, and much less of a mouthful than C++. It does look a little funny at first, but after you get used to it, it becomes quite easy to read and to work with. (In case you're wondering, its basic syntax is "[object message]", or "[object message:parameter]", so you'll end up with usage which looks like "[dog fetch:stick]". This syntax is derived from the Smalltalk language, which is the "other" famous export of Xerox PARC.)

Object-Oriented Programming and the Objective-C Language
<http://developer.apple.com/techpubs/macosx/System/Documentation/Developer/Cocoa/ObjectiveC/ObjC.pdf>

Moving beyond the language issue, Apple has provided a large amount of documentation on their new operating system, and exactly where you should start will, of course, depend on what type of programming you actually do. But there is one general technology which you should be sure to familiarize yourself with: Unicode .

Unicode is not actually new to the Macintosh platform and has been supported long before Mac OS X, but it is used pervasively there and may be new to many Mac programmers. In case you haven't encountered it before, Unicode is an attempt to create one system which can encode all of the characters of all of the languages of the world. This is an ambitious goal, but it's necessary if first-class information processing is going to make it outside of the Western world. Without Unicode, different languages are forced to use different encodings, so that a byte which represents an "a" in one encoding might represent a Thai letter in another, and you have to have prior knowledge of the encoding in use if you want to make sense of the information. This is problematic, and only gets worse if you need to mix characters from disparate languages within one document. (On a very mundane scale, it also solves the problem that even if you think you are only working in ASCII, the Mac OS and Windows differ in their encoding of upper-ASCII characters, which can cause your curly quotes to turn into accented letters.) With Unicode, you will be able to faithfully transmit, process, and even display information in nearly all languages, even if you can't read it yourself. Cocoa uses Unicode internally for all if its string handling, and the ATSUI component of Carbon and Classic allow you to manipulate and display it there as well. The Unicode Standard itself is available in book form, and a much of the surrounding documentation is available on the Unicode web site, but this can be a bit overwhelming. (The Unicode book itself is quite large, although most of it is a listing of the glyphs for the characters.) In fact, you really won't need to know most of the details, because the system frameworks take care of them for you, but it will help to have a basic understanding of the concepts and limitations involved. A very useful source for this is the newly-published Unicode: A Primer (ISBN: 0-7645-4625-2), by Tony Graham, a member of the Unicode Consortium. I was happy to see that it explicitly mentions Unicode support in Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Server.

The Unicode Home Page
<http://www.unicode.org/>

There are many more interesting technologies underpinning Mac OS X, and I plan to cover more of them in upcoming issues. Until then, get cracking!

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
Backblaze 4.3.0.44 - Online backup servi...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Numi 3.15 - Menu-bar calculator supports...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
EtreCheck 3.3.3 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.8 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.14 - Subscription-based p...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.3.4 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.2.1- - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32-bit and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about... Read more
Slack 2.6.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.6.2: Fixed Inexplicably, context menus and spell-check... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The best new games we played this week
We were quite busy this week. A bunch of big mobile games launched over the past few days, alongside a few teeny surprises. There're lots of quality games to load your phone with. We've gone and picked out five of our favorites for the week. [... | Read more »
Magikarp Jump beginner's guide
Magikarp Jump is a mystifying little game. Part Tamagotchi, part idle clicker, there's not a whole lot of video game there, per se, but for some reason we can't help coming back to it again and again. Your goal is to train up a little Magikarp to... | Read more »
Goat Simulator PAYDAY (Games)
Goat Simulator PAYDAY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICES **iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better Goat Simulator: Payday is the most... | Read more »
GRID Autosport delayed until autumn
Sorry mobile racing fans -- GRID Autosport has been delayed a few months. The game is now expected to launch this fall on iOS. Feral Interactive announced that they wanted more time to work on the game's UI and overall performance before launching... | Read more »
Zombie Gunship Survival Beginner's...
The much anticipated Zombie Gunship Survival is here. In this latest entry in the Zombie Gunship franchise, you're tasked with supporting ground troops and protecting your base from the zombie horde. There's a lot of rich base building fun, and... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (Games)
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish 1.2.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.2.2 (iTunes) Description: Explore the ruins of the City of Mordheim, clash with other scavenging warbands and collect Wyrdstone -... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish brings tablet...
Legendary Games has just launched Mordheim: Warband Skirmish, a new turn-based action game for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Magikarp Jump splashes onto Android worl...
If you're tired ofPokémon GObut still want something to satisfy your mobilePokémon fix,Magikarp Jumpmay just do the trick. It's out now on Android devices the world over. While it looks like a simple arcade jumper, there's quite a bit more to it... | Read more »
Purrfectly charming open-world RPG Cat Q...
Cat Quest, an expansive open-world RPG from former Koei-Tecmo developers, got a new gameplay trailer today. The video showcases the combat and exploration features of this feline-themed RPG. Cat puns abound as you travel across a large map in a... | Read more »
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels (Games)
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** WARNING: iPad 2, iPad Mini 1 & iPhone 4S are NOT compatible. ** *** Special Launch Price for a limited... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Memorial Day savings: 13-inch Touch Bar MacBo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 11-inch MacBook Ai...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models recently discontinued by Apple), available for up to $170 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1449.99 $150 off... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
MacMall has the 15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW82LL/A) on sale for $2569 as part of their Memorial Day sale. Shipping is free. Their price is $230 off MSRP. Read more
Free Tread Wisely Mobile App Endorsed By Fath...
Just in time for the summer driving season, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has announced the launch of a new Tread Wisely mobile app. Designed to promote tire and vehicle safety among teens and... Read more
Commercial Notebooks And Detachable Tablets W...
Worldwide shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are forecast to... Read more
Best value this Memorial Day weekend: Touch B...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973 with free...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973, $16 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**509643BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 001482- Apple Valley-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Mac and Mobility Engineer - Infogrou...
Title: Apple Mac and Mobility Engineer Location: Portland, OR Area Type: 12 month contract Job: 17412 Here's a chance to take your skills to the limit, learn new Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, White P...
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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.