TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jul 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 7
Column Tag: Viewpoint

July 1997 Viewpoint

by Eric Gundrum

Reality Distortion Field... Engage

WWDC is over, and I've just spent a full week listening to the official Apple message. Many weeks may have passed by the time you read this article, but my mind is still hashing out the things I heard just a few days ago. I must admit, I attended WWDC 1997 with pretty low expectations. Last year attendees had Copland forced on them as the only possible future for Macintosh development. This year was very different; Apple listened to developers and offered us several options for our future development. In fact, they even encouraged us to send our comments to rhapsody-dev-feedback@apple.com. I am pleased with how well Apple handled the conference.

Rhapsody Does Not Make Obsolete Programmer's Abilities

Since Apple and NeXT's merger, I have heard many Macintosh developers express concern that their skills programming the Macintosh will be obsolete. After all, Rhapsody replaces the Mac Toolbox with something new, code named Yellow Box. (Yellow Box is the combination of OPENSTEP and key Apple technologies.) The APIs to Yellow Box is dramatically different from the Macintosh Toolbox. However, what makes a good programmer is not merely knowledge of one system's API. Good programming is about bringing organization to a complex situation, providing a simple solution to solve a complex problem, and identifying what a user wants. Our skills as programmers rely more heavily on our ability to organize the problem and solution than they do on knowledge of any particular API. Anyone can look up API calls in a manual, but it takes an experienced programmer to know what routines to look for and how to connect them together to make a meaningful application.

Some of our greatest skills as Macintosh programmers are our abilities to design meaningful interfaces to help users solve complex problems. These skills can translate to any platform. (One need try only a few Windows applications to see how rare are these skills.) Even though we will need to learn a new programming environment, it also presents a fresh start for new and non-Macintosh programmers to join us. Those who have the high quality skills we have come to expect of Macintosh Progrmmers will do well; the others...well, who knows. Rhapsody offers many new opportunities to build more powerful and interesting tools; I very much look forward to using those tools, and creating some myself.

MacOS 8 is Alive and Well

Apple had many strong presentations about the future of MacOS 8. They presented a clear schedule for delivering significant upgrades well into 1999. They presented several new technologies being developed for MacOS 8. Most important, they told us Yellow Box would be made to run on MacOS 8 in addition to running on Rhapsody.

Apple is realistic about the addoption rate of Rhapsody; they expect 4-5 million Rhapsody users by mid 1999. That is a far cry from the current 27 million MacOS 7 users. Many developers have complained that they don't want to have to write their applications twice: once to support Rhapsody and a rewrite to support MacOS 8. Apple has responded by porting the Yellow Box APIs to MacOS 8. This will allow developers to use one API to write their code once and have it run on all Macintosh platforms.

This single API approach is especially important given how much we all (developers and Apple) rely on MacOS 8 for our bread and butter now and for the future. Enabling developers to take avantage of Yellow Box to build applications faster than ever before and deploy them on MacOS 8 as well as Rhapsody makes it that much more compelling for us to begin our Rhapsody development as soon as possible.

Rhapsody Provides Compelling New Opportunities

Many Macintosh developers have been dreaming for some time of entering the Windows software market. We see analists' numbers that generally have an extra zero or two at the end as compared to our own Macintosh market. (People tend to forget that those extra zeros apply to costs as well as revenues, and to the number of competitors.) I've talked with many developers struggling to deal with porting their software to other platforms. Rhapsody -- or more specifically Yellow Box -- offers a very different approach. Unlike Java, Yellow Box today offers a much more mature solution to the multiplatform software problem. With so many competing implementations, Java only dreams of solving the problem of write your software once, and deploy it anywhere. With Apple controlling all implementations, Yellow Box is actually delivering it.

Apple has promissed Yellow Box compatability in at least four flavors: Rhapsody for PowerPC, Rhapsody for Intel, Yellow Box for MacOS, Yellow Box for Win32 (that is, NT and 9x). Additionally, there are strong rumors that Yellow Box will also be available for Solaris and HP unix. That is a pretty broad market. The goal is that we developers can write our software to one API and merely recompile for each target platform. Apple is even working on multiplatform delivery mechanisms. In reality there are subtle differences between platforms that require some additioanl tweaks, but Apple is helping even there. For example, there is a specific nib file (resource fork) for each target platform, allowing platform-specific interface changes to override the platform's default behavior.

Another reason to develop for Yellow Box is the completeness of the application framework. We have had frameworks for Macintosh for many years now, but none fully hide the need to know the underlying Mac Toolbox. Yellow Box is the toolbox. When building an Yellow Box application, so much of the user interface code is already written, we developers are free to ship sooner or spend time adding more features.

Still Some Holes in Rhapsody

Rhapsody is not all peaches and cream. There are some holes; the poor networking support is the biggest. Between Apple's presentations and my conversations in the halls of WWDC, it is clear that Apple still doesn't understand how the Internet is changing; their "strategy" is limited to web content development and deployment. They seem to be ignoring many other areas including communications, collaboration and commerce. For example, Yellow Box does not provide any foundation classes for using common Internet protocols such as HTTP or FTP. It doesn't even provide a foundation class for basic IP networking. This means that every network-savvy Yellow Box application must use platform-specific network code. A Rhapsody application will use Rhapsody's version of BSD sockets, a MacOS application will use OpenTransport streams and a Wintel application will use WinSock. Given that networking is the fastest growing segment of the software industry, it seems absurd that Apple does not provide a network abstraction layer in Yellow Box as they have for the user interface.

This networking issue also raises the question of why Apple is using sockets instead of streams. Everyone I spoke with has made a strong argument for streams being a more flexible and generally superior architecture. When Apple asked us all to move our network code to OpenTransport (streams), they said it was a technology for the furture. Streams provides standard APIs at all levels, allowing developers to write code to adjust the contents of the network at the level that makes sense for their software. Some developers argued that Apple should develop a sockets interface to make porting code to other platforms easier. Apple answered that sockets could easily be implemented on top of streams, and some third parties offered libraries doing exactly that. It is very hard to go the other way because sockets implementations really define only the highest level API. The underpinings are specific to each platform.

Not only is it odd that Apple seems to have ignored their original reasons for moving all developers to a streams implementation, but Apple already has most of the streams code for Rhapsody, including complete network stacks for AppleTalk, IP, IPX, and TokenTalk. Instead, they are porting the NeXTSTEP sockets code and adding the AIX AppleTalk sockets code; then they have to find a way to make Blue Box's OpenTransport (streams) work on top of this. Many WWDC attendees asked Apple how they intended to solve specific, difficult problems with this scenario. Apple's most common answer was "Hm, we hadn't thought of that. That's is a hard problem, but we're sure we can solve it when we get to it." To Apple's credit, they repeatedly took some harsh critism from attendees, and they appeared to really listen. Hopefully they got the mesage that they should reevaluate the technical merits of choosing sockets over streams so we can have a networking architecture that can grow with the rest of the platform.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macs Fan Control 1.5.14 - Monitor and co...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
VueScan 9.7.96 - 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
FileMaker Pro 19.6.1 - Quickly build cus...
FileMaker Pro is the tool you use to create a custom app. You also use FileMaker Pro to access your app on a computer. Start by importing data from a spreadsheet or using a built-in Starter app to... Read more
Duet 3.1.0.0 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a iOS companion app. Release notes were... Read more
Firefox 107.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser...
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
War Thunder 2.21.1.91 - Multiplayer war...
In War Thunder, aircraft, attack helicopters, ground forces and naval ships collaborate in realistic competitive battles. You can choose from over 1,500 vehicles and an extensive variety of combat... Read more
Numbers 12.2.1 - Apple's spreadshee...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.8.7 - Knowledge base, i...
DEVONthink is DEVONtechnologies' document and information management solution. It supports a large variety of file formats and stores them in a database enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI). Many... Read more
Drive Genius 6.2.3 - $79.00
Drive Genius features a comprehensive Malware Scan. Automate your malware protection. Protect your investment from any threat. The Malware Scan is part of the automated DrivePulse utility. DrivePulse... Read more
VLC Media Player 3.0.18 - Popular multim...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Sling Min...
The world of PC games has always blown my mind because there’s just SO MUCH stuff out there that it’s not uncommon at all for there to be a game that’s well-liked and well-reviewed, and seemingly quite popular with a solid fanbase, and have it be... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 2nd, 2022. So, today turned out a little quieter than the usual Friday. It was so quiet, in fact, that I decided to pen a few reviews. The Knight Witch, Railbound, and Donut... | Read more »
Blue Archive reveals its latest event st...
Nexon has announced the new update for Blue Archive, under the name of An Unconcealed Heart. Featuring a battle between two academies, the story will follow a group struggling to gain recognition, and will bring three new students to recruit. [... | Read more »
Dead Cells+ Is Out Now on Apple Arcade a...
Following the major update for Dead Cells on iOS and Android a few days ago, Playdigious has brought Dead Cells+ () to Apple Arcade. As an App Store Great, Dead Cells+ includes all prior paid DLC and content updates. It also has exclusive mobile... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Romancing SaGa’,...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 1st, 2022. Wow, December. We’re already at the last month of the year? Phew. I have a lot of work to finish in the next few weeks. As for today, we’ve got a little news, a... | Read more »
‘Railbound’ Update Now Available Adding...
One of our favorite puzzlers released this year is Railbound from Afterburn Games, which hit in early September and earned our Game of the Week recognition for being an absolutely ace logic puzzler. The goal is to place rail pieces down in order to... | Read more »
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross celeb...
Netmarble Corporation has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the 3 and a half year anniversary of The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross. The Grand Cross 3.5th Year Anniversary the Ultimate One, a rather wordy title, brings with it a brand new... | Read more »
‘Skullgirls Mobile’ Major Update 5.2 Out...
Developer Hidden Variable pushed out a major update for Skullgirls Mobile (Free) a few hours ago. The version 5.2 update brings in Black Dahlia (before the console and PC game), Retakes, XP Treats, free gifts, and more. Since launch, Skullgirls... | Read more »
Out Now: ‘Disgaea 4’, ‘Romancing SaGa: M...
Each and every day new mobile games are hitting the App Store, and so each week we put together a big old list of all the best new releases of the past seven days. Back in the day the App Store would showcase the same games for a week, and then... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Elevator Action...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 30th, 2022. We’re finishing up the month on a quiet note, friends. There are five new releases to look at today, with a few notables amongst them. We’ve got summaries for... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New Holiday Sale: Apple retailers are offerin...
Several Apple retailers lowered prices on 10.9″ iPad Airs overnight to lows of $100 off MSRP starting at $499. Their prices are the lowest available for iPad Airs anywhere this Holiday season right... Read more
New Holiday sale at Amazon: Take $50 off Appl...
Amazon has Apple’s new 10th-generation iPads in stock and on sale, for the first time, for $50 off MSRP starting at only $399. Their discount applies to all models and all colors. With the discount,... Read more
Holiday Sale: Get an 8.3″ Apple iPad mini for...
Sams Club has 10.9″ 64GB iPad minis on Holiday sale for $80-$100 off MSRP through December 7, 2022. With their discount, prices start at $399 — the cheapest price for a new iPad mini from any of the... Read more
Sams Club Holiday December Event sale: Apple...
Apple AirPods Max headphones are on sale at Sams Club for $110 off MSRP ($439) as part of their December Event sale, ending on December 7, 2022, valid for all colors. Sale price for online orders... Read more
Apple’s 10.2″ 64GB 9th-generation iPads are o...
Sams Club has 9th-generation 64GB iPads on Holiday sale for $60 off MSRP through December 7, 2022. With their discount, prices start at $259 — the cheapest price for a new iPad from any of the Apple... Read more
11″ 128GB WiFi M2 iPad Pro on sale for $749,...
B&H Photo has the new 11″ 128GB WiFi M2-powered iPad Pro (in Space Gray or Silver) on Holiday sale for $749 including free 1-2 day shipping to most US addresses. Their price is $50 off MSRP and... Read more
Find the best Holiday sale price on an iPad u...
We’ve updated our iPad Price Trackers with the latest information on the new 10th-generation iPads, M2-powered iPad Pros, M1 iPad Airs, iPad minis, and 9th generation iPads from Apple’s authorized... Read more
Apple retailers are offering $100-$150 Holida...
Apple retailers have posted their most-recent Holiday sale prices on 13″ MacBook Airs. Take up to $150 off MSRP on M2-powered Airs with these sales with prices starting at only $1099. Free shipping... Read more
Holiday Sale: Apple’s 14″ MacBook Pros with M...
B&H Photo is offering $200-$300 discounts on Apple’s 14″ MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs as part of their Holiday 2022 sale, with prices starting at $1799. Free 1-2 day shipping is available to... Read more
Deal Alert! 50% off Apple MagSafe Chargers
AT&T has Apple MagSafe Chargers on sale for 50% off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Service is not required to take advantage of these savings. With the discounts, their sale prices are the... Read more

Jobs Board

Support Technician II - *Apple* Support - O...
…problems and acting as a liaison between customers and resolving groups. As an Apple Technical Specialist, you will be supporting many of our popular Apple Read more
*Apple* Electronic Repair Technician - PlanI...
…a highly motivated individual to join our Production Department as an Apple Electronic Repair Technician. The computer repair technician will diagnose, assemble, Read more
Lead Developer - *Apple* tvOS - Rumble (Uni...
…earnings, and positive sentiment About the role: We are looking for a Lead Apple tvOS Developer to join our application engineering team to expand our video centric Read more
Tier 1 Endpoint Engineer - *Apple* - Red Ri...
…Desk on site, at our Client's location, with a focus on support to Apple products. This position will handle technical support requests directly from customers and Read more
Product Manager II - *Apple* - DISH (United...
…you will be doing We seek an ambitious, data-driven thinker to assist the Apple Product Development team as our new Retail Wireless division continues to grow and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.