TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 98 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Viewpoint

June 1998 Viewpoint

by Nicholas C. "nick.c" DeMello <editor@mactech.com>

Creating great software requires an odd mixture of humility and arrogance. The art of programming involves studying complex behaviors, accomplishing them with efficient logical processes, and expressing that logic so simply and clearly that even a machine can enact it. For someone to consider teaching a hunk of silicon the skill of piloting an airplane, the subtleties of quantum mechanics, or even the simple trick of announcing "hello world"... well, a little arrogant confidence is required. But the best among us temper their confidence with the realization that there is no profit in reinventing the wheel, that we can never foresee all the possible applications of our product, and that bugs happen. The outrageous confidence needed to try something untried and the necessary caution required to turn that something into reliable and efficient code is epitomized by the Mac OS and the modular, extendible program design underlying it. In this issue, MacTech presents a number of articles on modular software design and plug-in technologies. I want to introduce just a few of them here.

It's been estimated that the Lisa project, the precursor of today's Macintosh, took over 200 man years to accomplish. Lisa owed significantly to ground breaking work in the design of the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) GUI developed at Xerox. While the WIMP development at Xerox's Palo Alto research center (PARC) was occurring, the term "object-oriented" was being coined in the same facility. PARC developed the Smalltalk language - arguably the purest representation of the object-oriented ideal - at the same time they were working on the WIMP interface. The influence of object oriented design on Xerox's GUI is clear. That same influence affected Lisa and is an integral part of today's Mac OS.

The Macintosh operating system was broken down into a multitude of smaller, simpler goals. Many of these objectives are represented by independent code modules or runtime libraries. By breaking projects down into simple, self-contained and independently compiled objects bugs are isolated and easier to locate, while project goals become clearer and easier to define. It also makes your project adaptable and expandable. Consider all the powerful technologies, never dreamed of by the Lisa engineers, that have been added to the Macintosh operating system.

Your next project may not be as intimidating as writing a new operating system, but then it might feel that way. You probably will apply a modular design to that project, breaking the code down into smaller and more manageable pieces represented by different classes or code files. But, what if you took that a step farther and isolated fundamental logic to a separately compiled removable, replaceable plug-in? Not only would your next update be a little easier, your code base and bug space a little smaller, but I bet you've already started thinking about entirely different logic you could offer as a second plug-in. Rest assured, if you haven't - one of your users will. In this issue, Joe Zobkiw describes the fundamentals of adding a plug-in architecture to your next application. By providing a plug-in architecture you, or your more creative customers, can expand and adapt your product in new and exciting directions.

Or consider the problem from the other side. Perhaps your goal can best be achieved by creating new logic for an existing application. Tools like Resorcerer, FileMaker Pro, Netscape and CodeWarrior offer plug-in architectures and therefore opportunities to tune these powerful tools to your most specific needs. They also offer opportunities in that you can quickly create valuable companion products for existing markets. Photoshop is an essential tool for graphic artists, establishing a huge market for plug-in companion products like Kai's Power Tools and Alien Skin's Eye Candy. To get an idea of how easy it can be to create a plug-in, take a look at Steve Sheets article in this issue on crafting plug-ins for BBEdit - the Swiss army chainsaw of text editors.

Modular design isn't only about plug-ins. Most programmers have a folder someplace. That folder is filled with snippets and example code (a class for implementing a preferences file, a linked list code module, or just a snippet showing how to spin a cursor). Odds are you don't even read most of that code anymore, it's just copy and paste - plug and play. That's the way it should be. Detroit doesn't reinvent the wheel every time they build a new car and we don't need to reinvent Mercutio every time we want to create dynamic menus.

Ramon Felciano's Mercutio MDEF is just one example of elegant and powerful reusable code. Another is the SpriteWorld library. SpriteWorld let's you drop a wealth of powerful and intuitive graphics code right into your application. In this issue Stefan Sinclair explores SpriteWorld libraries and shows you the fundamentals of introducing spectacular effects into your next program. Are you curious what other mechanisms there are for incorporating libraries into your Macintosh programs or offering libraries to other developers? Jeremy Nelson's article provides a concise overview of the possibilities.

The technologies and opportunities for plug-in products and precompiled libraries on the Macintosh are varied and quietly growing. We hope that some of the information you find in this issue will help you to explore and profit from those opportunities. Enjoy!in this issue will help you to explore and profit from plug-ins. Enjoy!

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macs Fan Control 1.5.0.0 - Monitor and c...
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
Daylite 6.7.7 - Dynamic business organiz...
Daylite helps businesses organize themselves with tools such as shared calendars, contacts, tasks, projects, notes, and more. Enable easy collaboration with features such as task and project... Read more
OpenOffice 4.1.7 - Free and open-source...
OpenOffice.org is both an Open Source product and a project. The product is a multi-platform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet... Read more
Backup and Sync 3.46 - File backup and s...
Backup and Sync (was Google Drive) is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a... Read more
iClock 5.5 - Customizable menu bar clock...
iClock replaces the old Apple's default menu bar clock with more features, customization and increases your productivity. Features: Have your Apple or Google calendar instantly available from the... Read more
Garmin Express 6.18.0.0 - Manage your Ga...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more
MarsEdit 4.3.5 - 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
Xcode 11.0 - Integrated development envi...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
DaisyDisk 4.8 - $9.99
DaisyDisk allows you to visualize your disk usage and free up disk space by quickly finding and deleting big unused files. The program scans your disk and displays its content as a sector diagram... Read more
VMware Fusion 11.5.0 - Run Windows apps...
VMware Fusion and Fusion Pro - virtualization software for running Windows, Linux, and other systems on a Mac without rebooting. The latest version includes full support for Windows 10, macOS Mojave... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Marvel Strike Force is adding Agent Coul...
Marvel Strike Force, the popular squad-based RPG, is set to receive a bunch of new content over the next few weeks. [Read more] | Read more »
Lots of premium games are going free (so...
You may have seen over the past couple weeks a that a bunch of premium games have suddenly become free. This isn’t a mistake, nor is it some last hurrah before Apple Arcade hits, and it’s important to know that these games aren’t actually becoming... | Read more »
Yoozoo Games launches Saint Seiya Awaken...
If you’re into your anime, you’ve probably seen or heard of Saint Seiya. Based on a shonen manga by Masami Kurumada, the series was massively popular in the 1980s – especially in its native Japan. Since then, it’s grown into a franchise of all... | Read more »
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special...
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special Delivery is a terrifying new nightmare from developer Illumix. Last week, FNAF fans were sent into a frenzy by a short teaser for what we now know to be Special Delivery. Those in the comments were quick to... | Read more »
Rush Rally 3's new live events are...
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat... | Read more »
Why your free-to-play racer sucks
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re... | Read more »
Steam Link Spotlight - The Banner Saga 3
Steam Link Spotlight is a new feature where we take a look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry talked about Terry Cavanaugh’s incredible Dicey Dungeons. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience... | Read more »
Combo Quest (Games)
Combo Quest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Combo Quest is an epic, time tap role-playing adventure. In this unique masterpiece, you are a knight on a heroic quest to retrieve... | Read more »
Hero Emblems (Games)
Hero Emblems 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** 25% OFF for a limited time to celebrate the release ** ** Note for iPhone 6 user: If it doesn't run fullscreen on your device... | Read more »
Puzzle Blitz (Games)
Puzzle Blitz 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Puzzle Blitz is a frantic puzzle solving race against the clock! Solve as many puzzles as you can, before time runs out! You have... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2019 iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP,...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2019 21″ & 27″ iMacs now available starting at $929 and up to $350 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, shipping is free, and each... Read more
Get a clearance 2018 13″ 2.3GHz Quad-Core Tou...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2018 13″ 2.3GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1489. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free, and each MacBook has a new outer... Read more
11″ WiFi iPad Pros on sale today for up to $2...
Amazon has new 2018 Apple 11″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $200 off Apple’s MSRP. These are the same iPad Pros sold by Apple in its retail and online stores. Be sure to select... Read more
Select 12″ iPad Pros on sale for $200 off App...
Amazon has select 2018 Apple 12″ iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP. These are the same iPad Pros sold by Apple in its retail and online stores. Be sure to select Amazon... Read more
Get one of Apple’s new 2019 iPhone 11 models...
Boost Mobile is offering the new 2019 Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max for $100 off MSRP. Their discount reduces the cost of an iPhone 11 to $599 for the 64GB models, $899 for the 64GB... Read more
13″ 1.4GHz Silver MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has new 2019 13″ 1.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar Silver MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many addresses in the US. These are the same MacBook Pros... Read more
4-core and 6-core 2018 Mac minis available at...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2018 Mac minis available on their online store for $120-$170 off the cost of new models. Each mini comes with a new outer case plus a standard Apple one-year warranty... Read more
$250 prepaid Visa card with any Apple iPhone,...
Xfinity Mobile will include a free $250 prepaid Visa card with the purchase of any new iPhone, new line activation, and transfer of phone number to Xfinity Mobile. Offer is valid through October 27,... Read more
Sprint is offering the 64GB Apple iPhone 11 P...
Sprint has the new 64GB iPhone 11 Pro available for $12.50 per month for new customers with an eligible trade-in in of iPhone 7 or newer. That’s down from their standard monthly lease of $41.67. The... Read more
Final week: Apple’s 2019 Back to School Promo...
Purchase a new Mac using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $400 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution with a .edu email address qualify for the discount... Read more

Jobs Board

Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**734646BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001220-Issaquah-Store **Job Description:** The Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**734517BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000685-El Camino Real-Store **Job Description:** **What does Read more
*Apple* Mobility Pro - Best Buy (United Stat...
**734830BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobility Pro **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000423-West Broad-Store **Job Description:** At Best Buy, our Read more
Systems Analyst ( *Apple* & Android) (Jo...
Systems Analyst ( Apple & Android) (Job ID: 572513) + 11751 Meadowville Ln, Chester, VA 23836, USA + Full-time Company Description Computer Consultants International, Read more
*Apple* Mobile App Developer - eiWorkflow So...
…eiWorkflow Solutions, LLC is currently looking for a consultant for the following role. Apple Mobile App Developer Tasks the role will be performing: ? Mobile App Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.