Archive for October 27, 2003

Monday, October 27, 2003 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Problems with NSController

Aaron Hillegass, EOF veteran and author of an excellent introductory Cocoa book, says that Panther’s NSController is poorly designed.


Sam Caughron at Proteron wrote a memo to Apple complaining that Apple didn’t credit Proteron’s LiteSwitch X when it developed Panther’s Command-Tab application switcher. By Proteron’s own words:

LiteSwitch has been called by some a Mac OS implementation of the Alt-Tab feature found in another unmentionable operating system, but LiteSwitch X offers a whole host of other features like drag and drop support, application exclusion, application termination and window layering control.

Thus, Proteron implicitly acknowledges that LiteSwitch was inspired by a Windows feature. Why doesn’t Caughron want Apple to credit Microsoft? Why does Proteron only credit Microsoft obliquely? Like Erik Barzeski says, I think Proteron should stop whining and instead tell us how much better LiteSwitch X is than Apple’s implementation.

By the way, I don’t see Proteron crediting Now Software’s NowMenus for the slick way that MaxMenus lets you assign keyboard shortcuts.

Caughron draws a comparison to Karelia’s Watson, which must now compete with Apple’s inferior but free Sherlock III. Apple has said that Sherlock III was in development before Watson, and Erik Barzeski corroborates this:

I saw Sherlock III before Dan Wood even began work on Watson, and [it] looked pretty much just as it ended up.

It’s not clear how Barzeski came by this information; was he working for Apple at the time?

In related news, Buzz Andersen expertly debunked a bizarre post, and somehow this got turned into a debate over his indie cred. You see, Andersen was a cool indie developer who wrote PodWorks, but now he’s sold out, joined the Borg collective, and can no longer be trusted. Or something like that.

The constructive part of the debate is the discussion of Apple’s tying practices. The iApps have always made me uncomfortable because, unlike Safari, I don’t think their functionality belongs in the OS. The iApps encroach on third-party turf. Robb Beal is probably the most vocal critic along these lines. The opposing position is that Apple thinks these are important apps that will sell Macs, thus aiding the platform and us all. As Andersen says:

What Microsoft did with Internet Explorer was clearly aimed at undermining a rival: Netscape. What Apple has done with the iApps is very different. They’re all about making absolutely sure that people have lots of reasons to buy a Mac. Apple did not create the iApps to “cut off some developer’s air.” What logical reason would Apple have to intentionally and single-mindedly undermine people creating apps for it’s [sic] platform? To spite them?

This is a complex issue, and I don’t have the answers. It’s certainly possible that the “free” iApps “saved” Apple and the Mac platform when the hardware was iffy. But perhaps it would have been better if Apple had pursued a middle-of-the-road strategy, whereby they developed the iApps but didn’t tie them to the OS. They could have been sold individually, or as an iLife Plus Pack. Would that have pleased the critics and encouraged competition? It’s hard to say. There were, and continue to be, many products that compete with .Mac Backup, but I have yet to see anyone take on the $99 Keynote.