Codewarrior and its 'siblings' continue to evolve

If you like CodeWarrior for the Mac, you'll really like version 7, which is due this fall, according to the folks at Metrowerks.

"The IDE [Integrated Development Environment], compilers, debuggers -- all work even better than they do now," Matt Henderson, Metrowerks' technical lead for Mac tools, told MacCentral. "And there'll be new optimizers for the 7450 G4 processors to make code run faster on the chip."

Of course, developers have a taste of version 7 via early access to new CodeWarrior tools for Mac OS X. Metrowerks provided Mac OS developers with these tools at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in May. The Early Access tools support the Mach-O object file format, providing developers with access to the full set of native Mac OS X application programming interfaces (APIs) and let developers create Java 2 applications on Mac OS X for the first time. With improved debugging capabilities for Mach-O and the Preferred Execution Format (PEF), the tools provide Mac OS developers with increased performance and reliability, Henderson said.

"The big focus is simply to get Mac OS X tools to work better," Henderson said. "CodeWarrior for the Mac 6 was specifically made to work with the new operating system and targeted the Mac OS X Public Beta. Version 7.0 targets the finished version of Mac OS X. The tools have been improved across the board. Everything has been enhanced and improved for Aqua and Mac OS X technologies. Everything has been Carbonized. The tools offer the equivalent functionality of those for the traditional Mac operating system."

The Early Access release includes a new CodeWarrior Integrated Development Environment (IDE) with support for Mac OS X frameworks. The IDE includes updated Mach-O compilers, the first Java debugger for Mac OS X, updated Metrowerks Standard Libraries (MSL), an updated PowerPlant framework, and many other new, improved, and updated components for targeting PEF and Mach-O on Mac OS X. At the same time, developers can use the same CodeWarrior tools to develop for Classic Mac OS.

The Early Access and CodeWarrior 7 releases have been a bit tricky as the operating system has been a bit of a moving target. Apple has been on a rapid development pace, and Mac OS X is "more ambitious" than the Rhapsody roadmap was, Henderson said. (Rhapsody was Apple's pre-X strategy for developing a next generation operating system.)

Meanwhile, Metrowerks' CodeWarrior Learning Edition for Macintosh 2.0 is doing well in the marketplace and plans for the next version are already underway, according to Andy Mastronardi, director of academic and desktop computing.

The tools -- which include a project manager, editor, compiler/linker, and debugger -- are designed to be easy to use by students and others who are new to computer programming. The Learning Edition is a simplified version of the tools Metrowerks provides to professional developers. It comes in three versions: one for the Mac, one for Windows and one (for the academic community) that includes both the Mac and Windows version in one box.

"When we first came out with the Learning Edition, it was targeted mainly to academic settings," Mastronardi said. "But then we took a good, hard look at programmers and developers new to this space or intermediate developers who wanted to learn our tools. We started looking at what they needed. We also took a look at the capabilities of what we were putting into the Learning Edition and decided to make it more streamlined and simpler."

Learning Edition 2.0 has an interactive multimedia tutorial, a streamlined development environment, lots of examples and free, self-paced courses available round the clock at CodeWarriorU.com. It also sports four basic buttons to get folks started. As they get familiar with the Metrowerks environment, they can customize the buttons to their satisfaction.

"Learning Edition is an entry level product," Mastronardi said. "Once users come to understand our IDE, they can start using more professional tools."

The CodeWarrior Learning Edition gives you the advantage to program in the language of your choice; C, C++ or Java. Its multimedia tutorial provides you with easy-to-follow instructions on using the CodeWarrior IDE, said Mastronardi. And the CodeWarrior Learning Edition's documentation is specifically written for the beginning programmer, he added.

While much of the programming/development talk is about Mac OS X, don't count the traditional Mac operating system out just yet.

"Everyone's bread is buttered by the classic Mac OS X," Henderson said. "Because of the way Carbon works, CodeWarrior 7 will work under Mac OS 9, for instance. We'll continue to support the classic environment as long as it's commercially viable."

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