Crouching Leopard. Hidden Features.
No, this is not a spoiler posting. I’m pondering what other of the hidden features might leap out at us. What they might (or hopefully, might not) be. The role of Apple’s Developers and how that could change in the near future based on things like Google Gears. The real gem of my screed is at the very end.
First up? Everyone’s favorite (and hopefully, first) non-Apple app they run to when they buy a new Mac… QuickSilver. Apple has this quirky habit of glomming onto other people’s REALLY good ideas and making them, well, their own. I’m specifcally calling to mind things like Watson (aka Apple’s Sherlock), Konfabulator (aka Widgets) or VirtueDesktop (aka Leopard Spaces). I’m sure there are more which are not top of mind. I can only hope Apple doesn’t do to Black Tree’s QuickSilver or Delicious Monster what they’ve done to these other of their innovative developers.
Have to plead ignorance here… Do Sun, Microsoft or Linux pull these kinds of stunts with their OS builds? Swiping from their developers I mean…
The flip side of that is Apple does do right by some of their developers. CoverFlow for instance. Which seems to be taking more and more prominent positioning in their lineup with the new CoverFlow powered Finder.
Second up – Open Sourcing. When Apple’s not being strongly influenced by the innovations of others (pat on back,
nicely politely put) they’re doing some MARVELOUS stuff with open source bedrock. CalDAV. Mongrel. SquirrelMail. Ruby. Java. Blojsom. Some of the Teams components in Leopard Server we’ve been told in the public forum are based on lots of open source goodness. So, please, despite all my dissing on Apple this week… I can diss my own family. Someone else pulls that crap and I’m all over them 🙂 I LOVE Apple. I simply want to see them do right by their developers. I recall someone suggesting Apple’s coming up short in this regard ( must look at my CoComment threads – yep, it was The Scobleizer). I happen to think that’s spot on the money.
Which brings me to the third and final point. I’ve been an Apple Developer since I left Apple in 1994. Before that I was firmly in the camp of Apple’s internal developers as one of their “Systems Engineers” (what a GREAT job during such a DARK period… jogs self back to present). Ahem. We were secretive then and that was under Spindler and Amelio. I can only imagine how things have changed under Mr. We Will NEVER Do A Video Ipod. That’s all good and fine and I can certainly appreciate the mystique that promotes. Still, when you’re a developer and you’re trying to build the next best thing to page swapping… well, secrets kinda crimp your style.
This is one of the dirty little secrets of the Mac developer community. We have to route around Apple. Read another way, we have to route around the damage. On the one hand they say they love their developers. And, to a degree I believe them. But, then they do things that don’t match up with their declaration of love. The big example I wave around is probably the most important. I’m not the worlds best coder. I’m largely self-taught. Once upon a time I was among the first hundred or so Newton Messagepad developers. Even then (much as today) there has not been a place for Apple’s Developers to swap experience outside of the WWDC meeting. (EDIT: appears I didn’t finish out the thought… Apple is putting their developers in a position to go akimbo to their NDAs by talking outside of channels)
Why, in this day and age, can’t Apple break off a nice little chunk of their Web Crossing Forum software and make a petri dish for us? That way the conversation is contained in a hermetically sealed space. Apple can control the inning and outing of information. And, most importantly, we developers can discuss stuff like Leopard’s upcoming features under the watchful eye of Apple (but we both know I was thinking Mordor). I want to become a better developer. I want to hire people who share their coding talents with others (net “givers”, not net “takers”).
Anyway… I’m looking at Leopard (OSX in general) imagining all it can become and the pace at which it could get there. Apple’s not doing the platform any favors and they risk losing fine and innovative developers like Mark at ClamXav (and aspiring ones like me) who are expanding the utility of the platform more out of a sense of cause and community than anything. Hopefully, Apple swings closer to the middle for the sake of the platform rather than hang out in the relative safety of the cloister in Cupertino.
One more thing (ouch!)… IF Apple’s approach to developing for the iPhone is really (and I’m skeptical) centered on web deployable apps AND Google’s Gears is emerging as the take-your-web-apps-offline king of the heap AND Google and Apple are deep under the sheets THEN don’t you think it is reasonable to expect some day things like the iPhone and OSX even will no longer require an installed app? Think about that one and get back to me.