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From the Editor, April 2008

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: Editorial

From the Editor, April 2008

"Best practices." It's a phrase that's been on my mind lately. A lot. Possibly because I've had interactions with what I can only consider "worst practices." However, I really dislike the phrase altogether - there's no such thing, really. At least, not in the way it's typically presented. The best practices applicable to any given situation change with the situation, as no two are perfect matches. There are ways to try to make processes more efficient and predictable. Those are the tools you need in your toolbox. Reach for them often, and understand how they work. That way, you can turn any situation into one using "best practices."

Speaking of which, we have some articles this month that fall right into this category. Philip Rinehart leads us through an introduction to afp548's InstaDMG, a more formalized way of creating full OS installs through packages. Deployment of systems in a large environment is a huge challenge, and OS X has all of the software built-in that you'd need. You just have to decide how to use them. This month's MacEnterprise column tries to make your image-creation process a bit more consistent, modular and automated.

Following this, Andy Sylvester presents us with an article on test-driven development using AppleScript. On one level, it's a methodology - line up your tests in software before you write the code. While this article is specific to AppleScript, the method sits at a higher level than that and is interesting in its own right. If you're an AppleScripter, this article can show you how to build larger, more well-tested applications.

Leopard brought developers and sys admins a lot of new toys to work and play with. Xcode 3 alone brought great change. One of the beautiful updates is that more scripting systems have templates built-in that even interact with Cocoa. Ruby is one such language, and Rich Warren starts showing us how to take advantage of that. Check out the great sample application and get your Ruby groove on!

Dave Dribin, our resident Cocoa master, brings us further down the road and teaches you how to write a GUI application. If you've been following along, this is the first time that we're breaking out the GUI while learning Objective C, Xcode and Cocoa. Dave shows you the secrets to Interface Builder and hooking up your code to the GUI. It's the next stop on The Road to Code.

Also in the "best practices" category: mistakes. We all make them, and we need a way to recover. End-users have come to expect undo support in their favorite applications as a way to return to a state pre-mistake. But not every application supports undo. After reading Marcus Zarra's "Grokking OS X's Undo Support," you'll wonder why. Marcus teaches the ins and outs of OS X's built-in Undo Manager, and how you can make it work in your application.

This month's Mac In The Shell continues to talk about PHP as a general scripting language, outside of any web use. This time, we specifically start to deal with database support and data manipulation. Moving data between systems, or even reporting on a data in a single database are common tasks. If you've been stymied by doing so in the past, read all about it here.

Last, but not least, the MacTech Spotlight shines on Eberhard Rensch, Founder of Pleasant Software. Before GarageBand, and before Podcast Producer, Pleasant Software brought us Ubercaster, a podcast producing "studio." If you're deep into podcast, well, you're probably already using Übercaster. If you want to get into podcasting, Übercaster is a great way to go. Pleasant Software also makes some other cool tools, but, more importantly, we get some insight from the founder and main developer!

Until next month, keep working on your best practices.

Ed Marczak,

Executive Editor


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