Every year, Apple graciously loans the Macs that populate the equipment room at the MacHack conference. Additionally, a good number of Apple representatives and programmers help developers and programmers with their specific problems and the finer points of Mac programming.
At the Big Apple Session, Apple publicly answered questions about Mac OS and Mac hardware problems, and listened to programmer’s problems with the Mac. Issues that cannot be handled at the conference are recorded and emails are sent later to settle the issue. This session was handled by Tim Holmes, manager of the Mac OS technology group; Steven Glass, vice president of Mac OS engineering; Dave Falkenberg, iBook software manager; and notes were taken by Godfrey DiGiorgi, development tools technology manager.
Understandably, Mac OS X was the major issue talked about. Here are some of the questions asked at the session, and Apple’s answers.
Mac OS X issues
Many told Apple that the performance of Mac OS X was too slow. The speed of OS X also captured the number one spot in the list of the top 100 problems with Mac OS X, submitted by MacHackers.
Apple said that the performance problems of Mac OS X are a known issue. Apple is working on it, and the performance of the new OS should improve over time. Holmes pointed out that a 10.0.4 update was recently made available by Apple.
Next on the Mac OS X list was the large changes between the finders in Mac OS 9 and X. Many present did not feel that Mac OS X was an improvement in this area. Also, it was suggested that the NeXT people at Apple are receiving preference over the traditional Mac people, and this was why so many changes were made.
Apple said that it was working on the Mac OS X finder issues that have been reported to them. Glass said that the technical issues of the new OS would improve over time. “It [Mac OS X] will never be as good as it was on the first day, it is always getting better. Apple must put the product out into the wild in order for people to use it and report issues. Only then can Apple respond to those issues and perfect Mac OS X.”
Apple also said that we could expect continued improvement in the finder.
Apple is working to provide steady, incremental improvements in Mac OS X. Glass said that they are attacking the places that make the most sense and where the biggest problems are.
A large number of those present asked Apple for more documentation of Mac OS X. One developer asked if it would be possible for Apple to host documentation written by other developers as well as Apple’s own documentation.
Apple said that it knows about the documentation issues, and that the company is working on them. Holmes asked those present how many would prefer documentation from Apple to other developers, and should Apple divert resources from its own documentation efforts to host documentation provided by other developers. Almost unanimously, the developers wanted Apple documentation; however, they pleaded that Apple provide documentation as soon as possible.
Developers also asked questions about driver issues with Mac OS X.
Apple said that many drivers need to be provided by third parties, and that Apple cannot track all of them. However, Apple is working on overall driver improvements. There will be a new printer SDK (Software Development Kit) in July that may spur a new round of printer drivers.
Apple says that the number of CD-R, CD-RW and DVD devices supported in Mac OS X is growing, as well as the number of PCMCIA cards and other supported hardware products. Apple expects more in the future. Glass said that Apple urges companies to put their drivers on iDisks.
Developer tool questions
One user asked about new developer testing applications and automated testing tools, saying that the current ones are old and need revision and new features.
Apple noted this question.
Another user complained that the Mac OS X user interface design guidelines are not always being followed.
Apple noted this question.
Apple announced at the session that bug reporter will improve over the next few months. Apple is transferring the bug reporter to World Wide Developer Relations to manage the system internally and more efficiently.
Apple also said that this year’s WWDC sessions are now available as streaming video to WWDC select and premiere members on the Apple Developer web site.
A PowerBook G4 user asked about a larger screen and if Apple was going to improve the AirPort reception on this model.
Apple said that the AirPort issues on the G4 PowerBook were well known to Apple. As to the screen, Apple does not comment on future products.
A user asked if Apple would ever make an AirPort card for a Wall Street PowerBook.
Apple said that Lucent will be making WaveLAN cards for Wall Street PowerBooks and will be doing a Mac OS X version of their software.