TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Dec 00 Online Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: MacTech Online

The New Basics

by Jeff Clites <online@mactech.com>

What Mac user out there doesn't remember Apple's famous 1984 commercial? It only aired once, during the 1984 Super Bowl, but it won numerous awards and is held by some to be the greatest commercial of all times. It was directed by Ridley Scott, director of Blade Runner and more recently Gladiator. I still get chills every time I see it. The interesting thing to remember is that when that commercial came out, Big Brother was IBM — they were the competition, the bad guys, the enemy. Now, the villain might be Microsoft (if anyone), and IBM is, well, just there. They seem like neither enemy nor ally, just more of a quiet neighbor — you know they're around, but you're not sure what they do. They've reinvented themselves, and there's almost no overlap between their target market and Apple's. But the landscape of computing is changing, and there's a party going on. It's more of a Rave than a party, actually — there's all kinds of strange stuff brewing, and lot of people are going but nobody's really talking about it during the day. The theme of the party is Unix, in a way, but it's more than that. Suddenly, Unix underlies every important operating system out there — except Windows. It's the basis of Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, and all of the heavyweight server software by IBM, Sun, SGI, and HP, and even smaller niche OSes like QNX Neutrino. This doesn't mean that we are all going to band together to fight Microsoft, because the new world isn't about fighting with Microsoft. It isn't about something so negative. The real point is that there's an incredible landscape wide open for the cross pollination of technologies, and this exchange isn't dependent on explicit alliances, but rather on standards — on just having things in common. It's an unconscious union. This is important — it means that a flow of ideas will happen even in the face of competition, because company A is better off if its software and hardware can talk to company B's than if it can't, and vice versa. And it's just icing on the cake when they are enlightened enough to share implementations rather than just specifications — to realize that it's to everyone's advantage to just share the code rather than waiting around for everyone else to reimplement it. This is what the Open Source movement is all about, from a purely practical perspective at least. This isn't a completely new thing of course, but it's new that the Macintosh will be fully a part of this standards-based, Unix-centered community, and it's new that this community will include just about everyone — and this is going to continue to push us forward as a whole.

So what does this all mean to the Macintosh developer? At the most obvious and literal level, it means that there's a bunch of software out there which will suddenly run on Mac OS X with little or no modification, ranging from applications to frameworks to libraries to individual routines — things directly useful to the consumer, to the system administrator, or to the developer. But more fundamentally, it means that there's a new set of basics out there — a new range of technologies that every developer needs to know about. And really, it won't be enough to just know that these technologies exist — developers will have to know how to use them as a matter of course. And these New Basics are new in two ways: there are technologies which will be new to Macintosh developers (and they may be new to everyone), and it's new that the essential basics are cross-platform — they're the same for almost all developers, independent of operating system or type of development. So this month, we're going to touch on the first of these, XML, and point you to my picks for the essential references. In the coming months, I hope to cover the rest of the New Basics. And when we're done, pass the list on to your Unix and Windows friends — they'll need them too.

By the way, you may be wondering why I singled out IBM to start off the discussion. They came to mind because their developerWorks site gives great coverage of the New Basics, and I'm constantly lead back to it. IBM has gone from a threat to a resource. Visit their site frequently to find ongoing information about important technologies.

XML

The first New Basic is XML. As a technology, it has been hyped, over-hyped, and re-over-hyped in the press. It doesn't solve every problem under the sun, as some have implied, but it has done one important thing: it has gotten everyone thinking about information formats, and given us a common starting point to flock around when designing new ways to store and interchange data, which makes it more likely that the formats we settle upon will be sensible and reasonably easy to process by anyone who wants to. For better or worse, it is being used just about everywhere possible, and this trend is only going to grow for the foreseeable future. Developers will have to be comfortable using it when reading and writing documents and when writing applications which talk to other applications, either locally or over the internet (which includes almost all applications being written today). So here are my picks for the essentials: First, the annotated XML specification on XML.com. It's the specification itself, with additional notes added by Tim Bray, on of its authors. It isn't what you'd want to use to learn about XML for the very first time, but it's very handy to have around when you need the final word on whether some piece of syntax is legitimate, and it can be quicker to just go to the source rather than searching for someone else's explanation. But when you're learning about XML as a developer, you're ultimately more interested in how than what — you need to process XML, and the specification doesn't cover strategies for this. The two best resources I've found are books. Professional XML (ISBN: 1861003110) weighs in at over 1000 pages, and it gives coverage to almost every major technology surrounding XML. Some of these technologies have evolved since the book was published almost a year ago, but it's still relevant to answer the "what's that?" and subsequent "okay, now how do I use that?" questions. A newer reference is Essential XML: Beyond Markup (ISBN: 0201709147). It covers a more focussed range of topics, but as a result it gives thorough coverage of all of the areas on which new technologies are likely to be built — methods for processing, specifying, navigating, linking, and transforming XML documents. And this book is refreshing and unique in two ways: For one, it focuses on the XML Information Set (Infoset), which gives the abstract definition of XML, independent of its syntactic detail. The Infoset almost never gets coverage elsewhere, but it's really the most important specification, and it makes explicit the notion that what we normally think of as XML is just one way to write it down on paper, just one syntax out of many possibilities for serializing XML data. In the push for standards, this distinction is being overlooked, and there's an undue focus on the syntax of XML over its concepts — people are forgetting that the angle brackets aren't what's important, and an alternative syntax might be a good thing to have around. The other refreshing thing about Essential XML is that it explicitly acknowledges that XML has been over-hyped, and in fact the authors wrote it to help them sort out what really is important to the programmer.

Finally, my last essential reference for XML is the xmlhack web site. It's a news portal site, which gives summaries and links to relevant new bits of XML information on the internet. Just glancing at it from time to time will give you a feel for what areas are important and evolving, in addition to giving you pointers to new developments in technologies of specific interest. (I should mention too that these pointers will sometimes lead you to the XML.com site mentioned above, which is actually a great place to look for in-depth articles.)

So, that's it for the first of the New Basics. Remember to check back in the coming months, when I hope to cover more of them. Until then, I'll keep you in suspense about the rest of the technologies on my essentials list....

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Yasu 4.0.0 β - System maintenance app; p...
Yasu was created with System Administrators who service large groups of workstations in mind, Yasu (Yet Another System Utility) was made to do a specific group of maintenance tasks quickly within a... Read more
Skype 7.37.0.178 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
EtreCheck 3.0.5 - 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
Amadeus Pro 2.3.1 - Multitrack sound rec...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac computer for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its... Read more
NeoFinder 6.9.3 - Catalog your external...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
WhatsApp 0.2.1880 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
Hazel 4.0.6 - Create rules for organizin...
Hazel is your personal housekeeper, organizing and cleaning folders based on rules you define. Hazel can also manage your trash and uninstall your applications. Organize your files using a familiar... Read more
Apple iBooks Author 2.5 - Create and pub...
Apple iBooks Author helps you create and publish amazing Multi-Touch books for iPad. Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPad. All... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.0.26 - $39.99
MYStuff Pro is the most flexible way to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new images, or... Read more
MarsEdit 3.7.8 - Quick and convenient bl...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more

How to get past Vulture Island's tr...
Vulture Island is a colorful and quirky mish-mash of platforming and puzzles. It’s creative and fresh, but sometimes the game can throw a curveball at you, leaving you stuck as to how you should progress. These tips will help you explore smoothly... | Read more »
The new Clash of Kings is just for Weste...
If you’ve played the original Clash of Kings, you’ll probably recognise the city building, alliance forging and strategic battles in Clash of Kings: The West. What sets this version apart is that it’s tailor made for a Western audience and the... | Read more »
Frost - Survival card game (Games)
Frost - Survival card game 1.12.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.12.1 (iTunes) Description: *Warning: the game will work on iPhone 5C and above and iPad Pro / 4. Other devices are not supported* | Read more »
How to build and care for your team in D...
Before you hit the trail and become a dog sledding legend, there’s actually a fair bit of prep work to be done. In Dog Sled Saga, you’re not only racing, you’re also building and caring for a team of furry friends. There’s a lot to consider—... | Read more »
How to win every race in Dog Sled Saga
If I had to guess, I’d say Dog Sled Saga is the most adorable racing game on the App Store right now. It’s a dog sled racing sim full of adorable, loyal puppies. Just look at those fluffy little tails wagging. Behind that cute, pixelated facade is... | Read more »
Let the war games commence in Gunship Ba...
Buzz Lightyear famously said, “This isn’t flying, this is falling – with style!” In the case of Gunship Battle: Second War, though, this really is flying - with style! The flight simulator app from Joycity puts you in control of 20 faithfully... | Read more »
How to get a high score in Fired Up
Fired Up is Noodlecake Games’ high score chasing, firefighting adventure. You take control of a wayward firefighter who propels himself up the side of a highrise with blasts of water. Sound silly? It is. It’s also pretty difficult. You can’t... | Read more »
NBA 2K17 (Games)
NBA 2K17 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Following the record-breaking launch of NBA 2K16, the NBA 2K franchise continues to stake its claim as the most authentic sports video... | Read more »
Dog Sled Saga (Games)
Dog Sled Saga 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: A game by Dan + Lisa As a rookie musher, foster a dogsledding team whose skills will grow if they're treated right. Week by... | Read more »
60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure (Games)
60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure 1.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.2 (iTunes) Description: 60 Seconds! is a dark comedy atomic adventure of scavenge and survival. Collect supplies and rescue your family... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sa...
Amazon.com has the 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $151 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro (sku MF840LL/A): $1348 $151 off MSRP Read more
Apple TVs on sale for up to $50 off MSRP
Best Buy has 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs on sale for $40-$50 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Duplicate Sweeper Free On Mac App Store For O...
To celebrate the launch of Apple’s latest macOS Sierra, Stafford, United Kingdom based Wide Angle Software has announced that its duplicate file finder software, Duplicate Sweeper, is now available... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1174.99 $125 off MSRP - 13... Read more
Evidence Surfaces Pointing To New A10X Chip F...
Citing a job description for a Project Lead position at Apple’s Austin, Texas engineering labs, Motley Fool’s Ashraf Eassa deduces that development is progressing well on Apple’s next-generation in-... Read more
Check Print’R for macOS Allows Anyone to Easi...
Delaware-based Match Software has announced the release and immediate availability of Check Print’R 3.21, an important update to their easy-to-use check printing application for macOS. Check Print’R... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more
Apple refurbished 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. *Apple* Mac Engineer - Net2Source Inc....
…staffing, training and technology. We have following position open with our client. Sr. Apple Mac Engineer6+ Months CTH Start date : 19th Sept Travelling Job If Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions-Norfolk,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 51829230 Detroit, Michigan, United States Posted: Sep. 19, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC is an Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.