Archive for the 'Programming' Category

Apr 09 2010

Apple shows fear

Published by under Programming

Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

The above new restrictions are part of Apple’s EULA for the forthcoming iPhone OS 4 SDK. This restriction is designed to destroy competing development tools like Adobe’s Flash CS5, Novell’s MonoTouch or Unity Technologies’ Unity for iPhone. All of those tools use technologies and programming languages that have not been designed by Apple and are out of Apple’s control. And they all have in common that they either already are cross platform tools or can easily be enhanced to become cross platform tools that could deploy the same application on Google Android or Microsoft Windows Mobile. The competition uses more modern and easier to learn programming languages (for example C# or ActionScript/JavaScript) than Apple’s own Objective-C. And if I might say so, they also have much more advanced Integrated Development Environments than Apple’s Xcode is.

So, naturally, Apple is afraid. And once more, instead of trying to innovate, compete and be better than the competition, they try to build another legal Chinese Wall around their little garden, close their eyes and just shut off everything that they do not want to see.

That approach might work in the consumer market for a little while. But developers hate being restricted, they had being dictated and they will simply step out of this little Apple prison and move on to the next best thing that is open, welcomes them and lets them do and use whatever they want.

In other words, Apple will successfully kill itself with this new set of restrictions and will push the developers to Google’s Android platform. Android is OPEN. There is no content and programming language censorship. It is FREE.

Another thing that I could imagine is that Adobe might respond to this attack on their Flash platform by dropping their support for Apple’s Mac OS X platform. They could offer free crossgrades to the Windows versions of their applications to their existing Mac OS X customers. Maybe even negotiate a deal with Microsoft for subsidized Windows licenses – after all, all Macs that were produced in the last couple of years can run Windows.

This would be a GAME OVER message for Apple’s last niche in the professional market. Maybe Apple wouldn’t care much; after all, they’ve become a consumer company anyway and Steve Jobs already said more than ten years ago that Apple had lost the desktop war, that the Macintosh platform is dead and that Apple should focus on the next big thing – which, as it turned out, would be mp3 players and mobile phones. The Mac is no longer really important for Apple, and hasn’t been for several years. From Apple’s perspective, the Mac only has two roles left: It’s the development tool and home (content) server for the iPhone/iPod/iPad product lines – which, along with the iTunes store, are their real cash cows. The moment the iPad becomes powerful enough to be its own development machine, the Mac will be discontinued – just like the Lisa was killed when the Mac became mature enough.

Still, this new EULA restriction is going to hurt Apple. They don’t understand developers.

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Apr 04 2010

My respone to “The Right Spirit” by Miguel de Icaza

Published by under Programming,Software,Thoughts

Miguel de Icaza, the godfather of the great Mono project, recently posted a blog with the title “The Right Spirit”. He quotes Steve Jobs a lot in this blog to underline his statement that in order for Open Source to succeed, we don’t need Microsoft or Apple or anybody else to lose.

You can read his entire post here:

http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2010/Apr-03.html

And this is what I quickly posted as my response to it:

The problem with Open Source software today is the same that it was ten years ago: It does not focus on the user and it does not provide the user with the applications that the user needs. Linux is a great “Lego Land” if you want to build appliances or highly customized servers for certain purposes. Think of projects like Cacti, OTRS and the like.

But on the desktop? Nobody implements killer applications like Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom. There is no alternative to OmniGraffle or Visio in the Open Source world. Heck, there is not even something out there that can compete with Shareware applications like Scrivener, Montage, StoryMill or Journler. There are also reasons why Microsoft Sharepoint rules the corporate world. Or why nobody writes quality games like Civization IV for an Open Source platform.

All those apps are hard, BORING work. And you just don’t do that kind of work for free. You have to listen to your customers, your users, deflate your own ego and interests and focus on what the users demand and need. That’s no fun and not necessarily rewarding – it’s frustrating. It’s a job, and a difficult one.

Another problem with Open Source is the ridiculous amount of choice. Users don’t want dozens of different desktops. They don’t care for KDE, Gnome or Enlightenment. They care for ONE user experience and that is has to be EASY to use. They don’t want to learn. They just want to be able to use their favorite applications – and those applications are not MonoDevelop, Eclipse, Netbeans or Visual Studio or the GNU Compiler Collection. Their applications are Firefox, iTunes, iPhoto and the latest games. And in the corporate world, they need something that works as good as the ENTIRE Microsoft Office Suite for them – including Visio, Project, OneNote and stuff like SAGE. And they don’t want to learn everything anew.

Since you’re quoting Steve Jobs, Miguel… He also once said this: “I don’t care what powers my computer. It could be a hamster. I only care if it does what I want it to do.” (I only remember the German translation, so don’t take this literal. But I know that he was talking about a hamster in that context.)

So there is the next point: People don’t care if it’s Open Source or not. They might care if they have to pay for the software or not. But they certainly don’t care for “Free as in Speech.” The only thing they truly care for is whether the software gets the job done for them and if it’s easy to use – from a USER’S perspective.

So far, the only company on this planet that has a rather good understanding of what the users want is Apple. They don’t focus on features, they focus on user experience. How many Open Source developers do you know who focus on user experience? I cannot think of a single one. Again: User experience is hard and boring work. It’s much cooler to get that multi-threading crap working than developing an easy to use graphic user interface that makes everything look so… easy. It’s also more fun to invent yet another programming language for something. It’s the magic that attracted us all to this craft in the first place, and we want to be the sorcerers and high priests in this universe.

Unfortunately, this is not what the remaining 99,999% of this world’s population want from us.

If you want Open Source to succeed, begin to focus on your users.

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