Monday, December 31, 2018

The Old Guard of Mac Indy Apps

Glenn Fleishman:

The longevity of indie apps is more extraordinary when you consider the changes Apple put the Mac through from the early 1990s to 2018. Apple switched from Motorola 680x0 processors to PowerPC to Intel chips, from 32-bit to 64-bit code, and among supported coding languages. It revved System 7 to 8 to 9, then to Unix across now 15 major releases (from 10.0 to 10.14). That’s a lot for any individual programmer or small company to cope with.


But Siegel said what he would never have imagined adding is a “lorem ipsum” generator, which appeared in the recent 12.5 release. This generates placeholder text, and the option dates back decades in page-layout software. “There’s been a remarkable level of interest in that feature,” he said.


With core functionality relatively fixed—math doesn’t change over time, fortunately—Thomson has devoted efforts to make PCalc more customizable and more fun across multiple platforms. The About screen of macOS and iOS includes a banana physics simulator and a racing game. And those aren’t even Easter eggs. He’s also developed iMessage stickers using a panda motif that he adopted for PCalc along the way.


“To my surprise, Fetch flipped from being a tool that was mostly used for retrieving information to one that was mostly used for publishing information,” Matthews said.


[Lemke] said that while he developed most of the app himself, he’s relied on contract developers to handle transitions. Like most of the other long-running apps, that’s meant several, including shifting the underlying coding language from Pascal to C to the current combination of Objective-C and Apple’s newer Swift.

Previously: Congratulations.

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