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

LibreOffice 4.4.3 - Free, open-source of...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
FoldersSynchronizer 4.2.1 - Synchronize...
FoldersSynchronizer is a popular and useful utility that synchronizes and backs-up files, folders, disks and boot disks. On each session you can apply special options like Timers, Multiple Folders,... Read more
Simon 4.0.2 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Cocktail 8.1.2 - General maintenance and...
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
Cyberduck 4.6.4 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Herald 5.0.2 - Notification plugin for M...
Note: Versions 2.1.3 (for OS X 10.7), 3.0.6 (for OS X 10.8), and 4.0.8 (for OS X 10.9) are no longer supported by the developer. Herald is a notification plugin for Mail.app, Apple's Mac OS X email... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.8.3 - Knowledge base, i...
Save 10% with our exclusive coupon code: MACUPDATE10 DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research... Read more
Boom 2 1.0.1 - System-wide pro audio app...
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more
Apple Security Update 2015-001 - For OS...
Apple Security Update 2015-001 is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.... Read more
Drive Genius 4.0.1 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius 4 gives you faster performance from your Mac while also protecting it. The award-winning and improved DrivePulse feature alerts you to hard drive issues before they become major problems... Read more

Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with th...
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with this special 148Apps code Posted by Rob Rich on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] Robo-fighter Ironkill has been out on iOS a | Read more »
Crossroad Zombies Review
Crossroad Zombies Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: CROSSWALKING DEADiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Crossroad Zombies is a rough draft of a cool genre mash-up.   | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 – Tips, Cheats, and Str...
War is hell: Is it the kind of hell you want to check out? Read our Blood Brothers 2 review to find out! Blood Brothers 2, DeNA’s follow-up to the original Blood Brothers, is an intriguing card collecting / role-playing / strategy hybrid. There’s... | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 Review
Blood Brothers 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: AN AGGRAVATING RELATIVEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Blood Brothers 2 is built on a simple, solid foundation, but its free-to-play system... | Read more »
I AM BREAD, the Toast of the Town, is Ro...
Have you ever dreamt of being deliciously gluten-y? Do you feel passionate about Rye and Wheat? The guys at Bossa Studios do and that is why they are bringing I AM BREAD to iOS soon. The loafy app will feature all the new content that is being... | Read more »
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered R...
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered Review By Jennifer Allen on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad 10 years after its initial release and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy still feels like a... | Read more »
Evolve: Hunters Quest is a Match-3 That...
Evolve: Hunters Quest is a Match-3 That Has You Hunting Up Some Big Game. Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Destructamundo Review
Destructamundo Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: WRECKING CREWUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Destructamundo blows up real good.   | Read more »
The Sandbox Gets Exclusive Update, Adds...
The Sandbox Gets Exclusive Update, Adds Invincible Characters Campagin Posted by Tre Lawrence on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Mean Girls: The Game Review
Mean Girls: The Game Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: FETCHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A Mean Girls tower defense game makes way more sense than you’d think.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Back in stock: Refurbished iPod nanos for $99...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 16GB iPod nanos available for $99 including free shipping and Apple’s standard one-year warranty. That’s $50 off the cost of new nanos. Most colors are... Read more
New Good Management Suite Simplifies Enterpri...
Good Technology has announced the availability of the Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives. Built on the... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2319.99 including free shipping. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller. Read more
iPad Turns Five – The ”Book Mystique
Five years ago this week, the late Steve Jobs took the stage at an Apple special press event to unveil the first Apple iPad — a slab-shaped, hand-holdable device that was to shake the personal... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1889.99... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 of...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Apple Releases New Tranche Of OS Updates For...
Apple has released incremental bugfix and security updates for its most recent Mac and iOS versions. OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update Apple says this update includes the following improvements: Resolves... Read more
Samsung To Be Main Supplier Of A9 Chips For i...
Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper reports that Samsung has beat out its chipmaking rivals, Taiwan’s Qualcomm and TSMC, as supplier of chipsets for the next generations of both its own Galaxy S6 and... Read more
Save up to $340 on iMacs with Apple Certified...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $340 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more

Jobs Board

SW QA Engineer - *Apple* TV - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple TV team is looking for experienced Quality Assurance Engineers with a passion for delivering first in class home entertainment solutions. **Key Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions(US) - Ap...
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
*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
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.