Saturday, June 11, 2005

WWDC - Some Impressions

I'm in the Detroit airport on a 3.5 hour layover awaiting the flight to Manchester after a week at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference. As a "rank and file" developer, I've a few observations of the conference as a whole.

Firstly, the big news was the announcement of the Intel transition. When it comes down to it, I just don't care very much. I've never done any Altivec programming, and I've never written a line of PowerPC assembly. If Apple thinks they can make future Powerbooks which are both cooler and faster than staying with PPC, well that would be very nice. I was already going to have to put in a huge amount of modernization/refactoring on my next project and this will just force the issue. I know there are people out there who've warred for years with PC bigots about which is better PPC or X86, and to them this is a premature surrender; luckily I don't have that kind of baggage. I also don't think it will affect my near term hardware buying decisions, I always knew that if I bought a new Powerbook, there would be one 30% faster within 6 months, and it's going to be a long while before Apple ships a 64-bit Intel PowerMac.

Secondly, there was no second biggest announcement. I was hoping for the release of dual core Powerbooks or some other improvement which would have some immediate affect on my computing experience. The keynote was a bit too short for my taste. No, "one more thing."

Thirdly, I am always impressed by the joyful professionalism of the Apple engineering staff. They love their jobs and are always friendly and helpful even when I'm struggling to even know what words to use in a question. I spent some time talking to the maintainer of the AppleUSBAudio driver, and he is a great young guy, who actually seemed enthusiastic about my little Turtle Beach project.

Fourthly, I think the developers who need to write in C++, and by extension have to use Carbon are getting tired of their second class status. I would love to use Cocoa and Objective C for everything too, thus the name of this blog, but sometimes on cross-platform projects, or where there is a huge amount of legacy code, that is just not possible. It would be helpful if Apple devoted more engineering time to keeping Carbon and Core Foundation on par with Cocoa. For example, the Core Data classes in Cocoa are fantastic, but they won't do a cross-platform developer a lick of good. On the other hand, people who don't use Cocoa just because the Objective-C message calling syntax makes them queazy should suck it up and just learn it.

Fifthly, the new generation of developers are so amazingly young. I talked to the Delicious Library guys and I don't know if they can legally drink yet. I feel so old.