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Jaguar Preview Is Stunning

by Daniel H. Steinberg

For the most part, I can't write about the news at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Except for the keynote, all of the sessions are covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement that attendees sign when they join the Apple Developer Connection.

Fortunately, there was quite a bit of news in the keynote. Last year the keynote was called a fireside chat. As attendees entered the hall a cozy fire in a beautiful, private library area greeted them. This year -- nothing. There was no music, no video, and none of the oversized Think Different posters that have adorned the walls of Apple conferences for years.

Before it began, this keynote had a different feel. Sure, some things were the same. As always, after the VIPs, media, and special guests are seated, the doors open and the attendees run to their seats. The stampede settled, people started creating local AirPort networks, and waited for Jobs and the anticipated preview of the upcoming Jaguar release of Mac OS X.

Funeral for a Friend

The video screen set the scene with the interior of a beautiful church while the hall was filled with the sounds of a powerful organ playing Bach's "Toccata and Fugue" in D minor. As smoke filled the stage, a coffin was elevated into place. Steve Jobs walked onstage, a somber look on his face, and moved to the casket. He opened it up and lifted an oversized Mac OS 9 box.

In his eulogy to Mac OS 9, Jobs made it clear that although consumers would be using Mac OS 9 for a while, developers should move on to Mac OS X. He pointed out that Apple had already done so. Recent applications from Apple such as iPhoto are only available on Mac OS X.

It was time for developers to say goodbye to an old friend: Mac OS 9.
Photo by Derrick Story.

This is the obvious next step in the evolution of Mac OS X. Last year Apple began to preload the OS on all new Macs. In January, Mac OS X became the default OS on all new systems. Jobs reminded the audience that a year ago there were about 500 shipping applications for Mac OS X and this year there are more than 3,000. Now that some of the core applications the target audience depends on (such as Microsoft Office and Adobe's Photoshop) are available for the new OS, Apple can be more aggressive about moving developers and consumers to adopt and use Mac OS X.

Jobs said, "The next step is ten only. It's time to drop nine. Everything at Apple is ten only." The remainder of the keynote was a demonstration of why, if you haven't made the switch yet, you will want to when the next version of Mac OS X is released in late summer.

Steve Jobs bid farewell to Mac OS 9 with respect
and a dash of humor. Photo by Derrick Story.

Something for Everyone

Phil Schiller was brought onstage to discuss some of the new additions in Jaguar (code name for Mac OS X 10.2) and who they were targeted at. In addition to the existing Mac user base that Apple is trying to shift over to OS X, there are three key markets Apple has identified.

Schiller began by pointing out that Apple is the largest vendor when it comes to shipping Unix desktops. There are already compelling reasons for Unix users to use Mac OS X, but Apple has identified some requirements of this core audience. Jaguar will update the Unix it sits on top of to Free BSD 4.4. In addition, GCC will move from GCC 2 to GCC3. Kerboros will be integrated into the OS for security support and there will be client and server support for LDAP that Apple calls Open Directory. In addition there will be improvements to the Internet and printing stacks.

Schiller next addressed the requirements of Windows users who are checking out the platform. For them, Apple is providing SMB browsing and sharing, VPN, Active Directory support, and an improved Microsoft Exchange support in Apple's Mail client.

Finally, Schiller talked about the needs of the education clients. Last week Apple announced the aggressively priced G4-based eMac for education. During the keynote Schiller talked about the software that will support these boxes.

Jaguar will include a Simple Finder for kids to simplify their access to applications and documents. For managing a classroom full of eMacs, Jaguar will have support for workgroup management and printer sharing. Jaguar will also have NetBoot and NetInstall. If you start up a Mac with the 'N' key pressed the Mac will boot off the network.

Many users have special needs -- Apple's Universal Access provides zooming audio assistance for those who are visually impaired; visual cues for those who are hearing impaired; and alternate input methods for those who may have difficulty with chord inputs (more than one key pressed at a time) and accurate mouse manipulation.

Thoughts for Developers

Next, Jobs introduced Avie Tevanian to talk about the development tools Apple is providing. Tevanian explained that the move to GCC 3 will give full C++ compliance, including support for the standard template libraries. As for Apple's IDE Project Builder, there will be an improvement in the performance of generated code, and the redesigned multi-window UI will be much more full-featured.

Another area Apple is addressing is compile time. Tevanian said that although the Cocoa Objective-C compile time is pretty good, the Carbon developer compile time is not acceptable. Apple is already seeing some improvements and expects more before the tools are released.

Related Reading

Mac OS X Pocket Reference
A User's Guide to Mac OS X
By Chuck Toporek

Tevanian then gave the developers advice on how to build a better Mac OS X application. You've heard much of this advice before, but as Tevanian pointed out, he's still seeing these same issues crop up. The recommendations were:

  • Ditch CFM and go native. Using CFM you don't get access to all of the APIs; also native applications will perform better.
  • Drop legacy APIs. For example, use Core Graphics instead of QuickDraw.
  • Embrace new technology. When it's appropriate use virtual memory, multithreading, and take advantage of symmetric multiprocessing. But be careful. Look to support sheets and drag-and-drop.
  • User the file system carefully. In particular, be careful where and how often you read and write files. There are two issues here. The first issue is that Mac OS X is a multi-user OS. The current user may not have permission to write in particular locations. The second issue is that the user may be running with a network directory as their home directory. This may particularly be true in education settings. There is a greater penalty for reading or writing over the network and the remote directory may not be HFS.
  • User performance tools. Tevanian said the biggest barrier with performance tools is getting developers to use them. There are performance tools from many sources running on OS X that measure everything from file-system activities and memory leaks to system performance.

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