Archive for June, 2007

Worst Keynote Ever?

June 17th, 2007

Having recently gotten back from WWDC, I have a unique perspective on the state of Mac OS X and the future Apple has mapped out for developers moving forward. I’ve read some people have declared last week’s keynote as being the worst ever, even going so far as to make up t-shirts saying so. I find this a bit hard to take, as Apple is being held to an incredibly high bar compared to the rest of the computer industry. (This is the sixth update to Mac OS X in about 6 years, see Microsoft working that hard? I think not.)

Sure, the keynote was lacking in surprises and the “sweet solution” that Steve touted as the iPhone development strategy is very disappointing (You too can make a webpage!). But to call the keynote the worst ever, is most certainly not true. I don’t want to be an Apple apologist and it’s not the Apple Fanboy inside me talking, but Leopard is shaping up to be a very solid update to Mac OS X. Just look at the laundry list of new features in Leopard and you’ll start to see what I’m talking about.

Unified User Interface – about time! Apple has even gone the extra mile and finally made it possible to create modern looking applications using standard OS provided controls. (This is a big deal for someone like me who spends a lot of time creating custom controls to match stuff Apple’s been doing for years.)

Desktop – Stacks look very useful, and being able to drag stuff out of an expanded Stack is great.

Finder – new sidebar and “Back to Mac” is going to be very useful for .Mac subscribers (like myself)

Quick Look – might seem like a no brainer, but wow, this is going to be integrated into my Finder workflow instantly.

Spaces – I’ve been wanting virtual desktops for years and finally a supported solution from Apple.

Mail – new notes and to do lists which can be accessed throughout Mac OS X, highly useful… I can already think of a few places where we could add this to some apps I work on. 🙂

Front Row – new Apple TV-like interface is a nice improvement to an already nice full screen interface.

iChat – all I can say is “help me OB-1 Kenobi”… awesome! Oh, and tabbed chats have finally been added… bye Chax.

Screen Sharing – I have a Mac Mini setup as a media center and I currently use Remote Desktop to control it, so to have screen sharing available directly from the Finder’s sidebar is going to be a huge timesaver.

The above list are only *some* of the features that I’m excited about from a user perspective. I haven’t even mentioned the many internal changes and additions Apple has made to Mac OS X to support many of the new features in Leopard.

One of the more obvious and exciting features now available to developers is Core Animation. This technology will truly revolutionize the computer interface as we know it. Hopefully third party developers can contain themselves, otherwise we’re all going to be stuck with annoying animated transitions everywhere. 🙂 I’m not sure users truly understand the massive effort that’s required to make layered drawing work in such a way that Apple can provide an easy to use API for doing fancy animations. In my opinion, this alone is almost worth the price of Leopard.

Then there’s the iPhone. If Apple hadn’t announced the iPhone *early* last January it would have blown the doors off the keynote. But instead, people forget that it’s an all new device running Mac OS X… think about it, an ARM based device running Mac OS X… that’s a big deal and has HUGE implications for the future of Apple and computing. Would the disappointed Fanboys prefer that Apple not pre-announce iPhone and then spring it on the masses two weeks before release?

My point is keynotes have to be viewed in perspective and you have to look at the big picture to see what Apple’s up to. Sure there wasn’t any new hardware, but remember that a week before the keynote Apple announced new MacBook Pros. Apple surely could have waited and released those at WWDC, but then people would have complained that they weren’t “good enough” to warrant a keynote announcement, either way Apple loses.

From a developer perspective Mac OS X Leopard is looking like a dandy release and I think users will be surprised when they see what’s possible using the new technologies provided in Leopard. I just hope they can calm down enough to look at the substance of the keynote rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to the lack of surprises and shiny new toys.

Current music – “Open Door” by Lisa Ekdahl

# posted at 8:19 pm by Will

Thank you, may I have another?

June 12th, 2007

As I sit here at WWDC a day after the keynote I keep coming back to one thought. But first, let me recap. Back when OS X first appeared, we all had to suck it up and port (or rewrite) our apps. The API changed a lot and it took some effort to be a first class citizen, but we did it because we got all these great features in OS X. Sure performance & support was lacking but it was an all-new OS after all.

It took a while but Apple worked out the kinks. No sooner than that happened Apple introduced Intel machines and we had to convert our code again to be endian agnostic…but once again we did it. Well, yesterday all the developers that stuck with Apple for all these years got our reward. We all now get to write web page ‘applications’ for the iPhone. The Jobs boldly claimed this option was ‘sweet’ for developers not once, but twice in the keynote. First no iPod SDK, then no Apple TV SDK and now no iPhone SDK. As Apple expands its reach and puts less focus on computers, it turns around and limits 3rd party developer access to these new markets. For once, just once, it’d be nice if Apple threw us a bone.

cheers, will

# posted at 6:02 pm by Will

Netscape 9 beta

June 8th, 2007

We’re working on an update to Bookit that correctly supports Netscape 9 beta. Currently Netscape beta commandeers the Firefox creator code making it appear that Firefox is Netscape in the main Bookit window. This is a bug in Netscape which we’re working around. We’re also wrapping up a couple other minor issues that have come up and hope to have an update out soon. With WWDC next week, it will probably the week after so stay tuned.

cheers, will

# posted at 6:52 am by Will