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The MacTech Spotlight: Philippe Casgrain, TransGaming, Inc.

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 09
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

The MacTech Spotlight: Philippe Casgrain, TransGaming, Inc.

What do you do?

Software Developer

How long have you been doing what you do?

I've been developing software, mostly on the Mac, since 1991. Since 2009, I have been working at TransGaming, Inc., helping a team of really smart people create a Mac and Linux portability engine for Windows games.

What was your first computer?

A Commodore 64 and a subscription to Compute! magazine. I would spend hours typing in BASIC (and later assembly) programs.

Are you Mac-only, or a multi-platform person?

Multi-platform. As a university contractor, some of my simulation software would run for weeks on PowerMacs, so we got time on the big-iron Unix computers and ran the calculations in a matter of hours on 30 machines, at night.

Painter is Mac and Windows from the same source code, so that was my introduction to Windows programming.

And of course TransGaming is Mac and Linux as an end-user product, but you have to know your way around Windows from a programming perspective in order to fully virtualize the Windows API, feature-for-feature and bug-for-bug.

What attracts you to working on the Mac?

Initially, it was simply the fact that it was different, and it seemed to work so much better than the other systems.

Since then, the combination of and the wonderful GUI makes me happy on a daily basis, as it appeals equally to the left side and the right side of my brain.

What is the advice you'd give to someone trying to get into this line of work today?

Create some software, experiment, scratch an itch, and release something, hopefully Open Source on a social site like BitBucket or Github, but it could be an app on the App Store. That will get your name out there, and before you know it people will start recognizing you and say things like "yeah, I follow your blog / twitter / tumblr!"

In fact, developing something for a mobile device has some big advantages as opposed to a desktop. The mobile platform is so limited that you have to make some choices early on, and you can get to the end a lot faster. Plus, you get to carry your app with you and show it to others whenever you meet them; that is so much better than a business card!

What's the coolest tech thing you've done using OS X?

I once tied together 30 PowerMacs in a lab to run chunks of calculations, in parallel, for a large simulation project. Very SETI@Home, but all my own code. This was before Xgrid, which makes this kind of application trivial.


I worked on a little-known project called Sketch Pad. It was a subset of Corel Painter, and was designed for a full-screen environment (especially the Wacom Cintiq monitor/tablet). It is instant-on, remembers where you are, all your drawings (like a real sketch pad), has no "Save" (only "Export") and the semi-transparent, rounded tools palettes faded out of sight when you started painting. It is very iPad-like in its design, but was released a few years ago. I say "little-known" because even though it is an awesome product, it never got any marketing. Talk about a missed opportunity...

Where can we see a sample of your work?

The last four versions of Painter (8-11) and the aforementioned Sketch Pad, which I'm particularly fond of.

I also had a hand in the Mac versions of DragonAge, Settlers 7 and Toy Story 3, amongst others

I infrequently post to my blog,, and my open source projects are hosted on and

The next way I'm going to impact IT/OS X/the Mac universe is:

I will help bring high-performance, high-impact games to the Mac, of course!

Anything else we should know?

I'm the co-host of a bi-weekly Cocoa podcast with my friend Philippe Guitard, where we discuss development news and spotlight libraries, frameworks and tools to help you build your applications better, faster and cheaper. We've been at it since February 2009. Have a listen at

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