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Code by Kevin™

'I'm a bit unusual amongst indie Mac developers.'


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What OS X needs is more coders. Not 'coders' - CODERS. Professional coders.

Like the ones who work in IT departments at companies worldwide - often developing software for Sun and IBM and you know what platform. With things like the MFC and .NET. OS X needs them.

OS X needs them because they're good, they're professional, they're formally educated, and because if and when they come over the 'coders' presently polluting the Apple hemisphere will thankfully be drowned out in the ensuing noise.

As of February of this year, Kevin Walzer is doing a 'major makeover' of his OS X catalogue. Of his four software titles. He's was struck by profound thoughts while doing this and decided to publish his thoughts on the web. Where the link can currently be picked up by Brent Simmons' RSS feed.

As an example of what he's getting at Kevin cites his 'VuMan' manpage viewer, showing both 'before' and 'after' pictures.

Here's the 'before' picture - before Kevin started the 'major makeover'.



And here's the 'after' picture.



'The new version uses Mac-style toolbar icons', writes the confused Kevin, prompting one to squint.

Because even if it could be successfully argued the second set of glyphs ('icons') are more 'Mac-style' they're certainly not 'OS X style'.

Here's an 'OS X style' toolbar.



It has the 'unified' look available with today's Interface Builder but more importantly it uses the native NSToolbar engine.

Neither of Kevin's examples use it. Kevin's code isn't native.

It's script.

Kevin believes in scripting and thinks - along with other luminaries like the Daring Phuchead and the Red Sweater Ed Wood - that it's set to take over the industry. C is the new assembly, they opine. Today it's all C# and .NET and stuff like that.

Yeah right. What's really instructive is that most of these clowns don't know how to choose anyway - they don't have the formal chops to even speak in such matters.

I'm a bit unusual among indie Mac developers in using scripting languages as my tool of choice; most other developers use Cocoa/Objective-C, with some using RealBasic or Java. But my use of scripting languages is, for me, a competitive advantage; I can get busy writing applications, rather than slogging through months of learning the basics.

In other words: Code by Kevin™ never learned 'the basics'.

At the time, the learning curve for Objective-C looked too steep.

Apple have an excellent tutorial on Objective-C online - in fact it's a complete book on the subject. And despite it being a complete book, Apple tout - truthfully - that a professional developer can read through and learn what needs to be learned in a matter of hours.

A matter of hours. If you're a professional that is.

Developers sent on crash courses learn basic Cocoa programming in five days - and yes, they're expected to be able to churn out good code the following Monday. And they do. Because they're professionals.

Fred Brooks is another 'software engineer'. He received his PhD in applied mathematics at Harvard University and three years later was working for IBM.



At IBM Fred managed the development of System/360. As an afterthought he wrote 'The Mythical Man Month'. Then a few years later he founded the department of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Towards the end of his tenure Fred ran into a snag.

Fred's students at UNC started complaining he was too tough on them. He made them do things they didn't think they needed to learn. Stuff like writing drivers. Why work that hard? After all, everything can be done in script, can't it?

An ACP user working as project manager got a copy of K/R to learn better how computers worked and how his programmers thought. He brought the book into work and immediately one of his programmers reacted.

Oh you don't want to read that book anymore - today everything's done in JavaScript!

That alone more than paid for his investment.

The Royal Institute in Stockholm Sweden recently added a new curriculum to its computer science programme. The idea was to get more people - especially more girls - interested in the field. Not wanting to intimidate people too much, they designed the new programme to be 'easy' and only take three years.

They were flooded with applicants. The project was a success. Then three years later when the first litter graduated they saw it flop. No one wanted to hire them because they didn't know shit.



So they went back and beefed up the programme. Made it tougher - more attractive to corporations looking for professionals - and made it the normal four years instead of three.

And nobody wanted to take it anymore.

When the day comes wannabe programmers can say scripting is better because they don't have to learn how to really program and the astoundingly and pompously ignorant blogosphere back them up, then it's time to look for the empty lifeboats.

And then maybe it's a good thing Apple are beefing up Ruby and other scripting tools for Leopard. Because there won't be a single pro with a ten cent clue left on the platform.

PS. If you want a Cocoa based manpage viewer written by a professional click here.

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