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

OnyX 3.2.4 - Maintenance and optimizatio...
OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the startup disk and the structure of its system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the... Read more
Opera 43.0.2442.991 - High-performance W...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
VueScan 9.5.71 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.28 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more
GarageSale 7.0.7 - Create outstanding eB...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
Thunderbird 45.7.1 - Email client from M...
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
GarageSale 7.0.7 - Create outstanding eB...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.28 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more
Thunderbird 45.7.1 - Email client from M...
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
Opera 43.0.2442.991 - High-performance W...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more

Last week on Pocket Gamer
If you’re wondering what’s going on in the wider world of portable gaming, our sister site PocketGamer has you covered. Each week we like to check in on the PG team and see what they’ve been preoccupied with. From the latest on the Nintendo Switch... | Read more »
Mudd Masher arrives this week
Atooi Games, the minds behind Totes the Goat and Mutant Mudds, have a new game in the works -- Mudd Masher. The game, a hybrid of the independent studio's first two titles, is expected to launch this week on March 2. [Read more] | Read more »
The best sales on the App Store this wee...
The App Store has quite an exciting lineup of discount games this week that range across a variety of genres. It's a great opportunity to catch up on some of the premium games you may have been holding off on -- and some you can even grab for free... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
Ah, here we are again at the close of another busy week. Don't rest too easy, though. We had a lot of great new releases in mobile games this week, and now you're going to have to spend all weekend playing them. That shouldn't be too much of a... | Read more »
Rollercoaster Tycoon Touch Guide: How to...
| Read more »
Rabbids Crazy Rush Guide: How to unlock...
The Rabbids are back in a new endless running adventure, Rabbids Crazy Rush. It's more ridiculous cartoon craziness as you help the little furballs gather enough fuel (soda) to get to the moon. Sure, it's a silly idea, but everyone has dreams --... | Read more »
Tavern Guardians (Games)
Tavern Guardians 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Tavern Guardians is a Hack-and-Slash action game played in the style of a match-three. You can experience high pace action... | Read more »
Slay your way to glory in idle RPG Endle...
It’s a golden age for idle games on the mobile market, and those addictive little clickers have a new best friend. South Korean developer Ekkorr released Endless Frontier last year, and players have been idling away the hours in the company of its... | Read more »
Tiny Striker: World Football Guide - How...
| Read more »
Good news everyone! Futurama: Worlds of...
Futurama is finding a new home on mobile in TinyCo and Fox Interactive's new game, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow. They're really doing it up, bringing on board Futurama creator Matt Groening along with the original cast and writers. TinyCo wants... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Newegg has the 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (MMGG2LL/A) on sale for $1029.99 including free shipping. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Choose Newegg... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2099, sav...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K Apple iMac on sale for $2099.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP. Amazon also has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $111 off MSRP
B&H Photo has select 21″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $110 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1189 $110 off MSRP - 21″ 1.6GHz iMac: $999 $100 off... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $2...
Newegg has the 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook (sku MLH82LL/A) on sale for $1349.99 including free shipping. Their price is $250 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $899 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/... Read more
9-inch 32GB Silver iPad Pro on sale for $549,...
B&H Photo has the 9.7″ 32GB Silver Apple iPad Pro on sale for $549 for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off standard MSRP for this model... Read more
13-inch 2.0GHz Apple MacBook Pros on sale for...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 55676865 Los Angeles, California, United States Posted: Feb. 22, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Read more
Programmer/Editor *Apple* Music Dance - App...
# Programmer/Editor Apple Music Dance Job Number: 55565967 Culver City, California, United States Posted: Feb. 23, 2017 Weekly Hours: **Job Summary** Apple Music Read more
Digital Marketing Specialist - *Apple* iClo...
# Digital Marketing Specialist - Apple iCloud Job Number: 54729233 Culver City, California, United States Posted: Feb. 22, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
Marketing Specialist, iTunes & *Apple*...
# Marketing Specialist, iTunes & Apple Music Job Number: 55704205 Culver City, California, United States Posted: Feb. 23, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
*Apple* Wireless Lead - T-ROC - The Retail O...
…of knowledge in wireless sales and activations to the Beautiful and NEW APPLE Experiencestore within MACYS. THIS role, APPLE Wireless Lead, isbrandnewas MACYS Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.