Being ‘Mac-like’

Steve Troughton-Smith writes for highcaffeinecontent.com, “With the rapidly-upcoming introduction of UIKit apps to the Mac, I’ve been reminiscing on Twitter quite a bit about Apple’s transition to Mac OS X, and just how NEXTSTEP and Mac OS found common ground despite being two very different OSes both architecturally and from a design standpoint.”

“For Mac OS X to actually work as a successor to Mac OS for Apple’s customers, they were going to have to gut it and start over,” Troughton-Smith writes. “The solution? Apple was going to port the legacy Mac OS toolbox into a new compatibility library, called Carbon, and make it the linchpin of the consumer Mac OS X experience.”

“Apple needed to show developers that Carbon was going to be a real and valid way forward, not just a temporary stopgap, so they committed to using Carbon for the Mac OS X Finder,” Troughton-Smith writes. “The Carbon version of Finder was introduced in Mac OS X Developer Preview 2, before Aqua was revealed; it acted a bit more like NeXT’s, in that it had a single root window (File Viewer) that had a toolbar and the column view, but secondary windows did not. At this stage, Apple didn’t quite know what to do with the systemwide toolbars it had inherited from NEXTSTEP.”

“Mac OS X shipped to consumers in 2001,” Troughton-Smith writes. “It had taken Apple four years to find the new ‘Mac-like’, and this is the template Mac OS X has followed ever since. Here we are, eighteen years later, and all of the elements of the Mac OS X UI are still recognizable today. So much of what we think of the Mac experience today came from NEXTSTEP, not Mac OS at all. AppKit, toolbars, Services, tooltips, multi-column table views, font & color pickers, the idea of the Dock, application bundles, installer packages, a Home folder, multiple users; you might even be hard-pressed to find a Carbon app in your Applications folder today (and Apple has announced that they won’t even run in the next version of macOS).”

Finder on Mac OS X (Carbon, 2001)
Finder on Mac OS X (Carbon, 2001 via highcaffeinecontent.com)

“I’m sure we will have great, genre-defining apps from both UIKit and AppKit on the Mac. With Carbon, we had iTunes, Photoshop, Microsoft Office and Final Cut Pro. Eighteen years on, Carbon is finally reaching its end date, and the transition of all these apps to Cocoa/AppKit is complete. If AppKit still has eighteen years left ahead of it, I think the Mac will be just fine,” Troughton-Smith writes. “Both classic Mac OS and NEXTSTEP came to an end; the Mac did not.”

Read much more, and see all of the screenshots, in the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: The ever-evolving Mac, as long as it retains its “Mac-ness,” is indomitable.

Yes, get ready for some growing pains that run the gamut all the way up to severe from non-Mac developers bringing their wares to the Mac for the first time. But, this’ll be fun – we promise! The Mac is all about experimenting and trying new things and, anyway, over time, it’ll all shake out and we’ll be back to quality apps that look, act and work as longtime Mac users expect. — MacDailyNews, May 8, 2019

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

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5 Comments

  1. If the Apple of today was managing the OS 9–X transition, they wouldn’t have bothered with Carbon or Classic — preferring to break compatibility with legacy applications and expecting developers to start from scratch in Cocoa. Machines sold before the release of Mac OS X would not get the OS, and those that shipped after would not be able to boot Mac OS 9.

  2. Macs haven’t been “Mac like” since OS 9. I remember when you could simply drag the system folder from one disk to another and reliably have a new boot drive. Error messages actually told you useful things that helped you solve the problem. We used to laugh at Windows users over “The disk that i’m showing on your desktop can’t be found.” I just got that error yesterday.

    1. …oh yes, and list view actually showed you the names of files without truncating them into uselessness. And if you spelled a file’s name correctly, it would appear in a “find” search, instead of having half your hard drive show up for everything.

      1. Remember when all files had comment windows in “get info”?
        Remember when Quicktime was the only player we needed because it played everything that existed perfectly?
        Remember saving files as a template?
        Remember when programs could almost always read each others files because there were a small set of universal file formats?
        Remember when anything you could type was a valid file name?

    2. Remember when you could buy a reasonably-priced Mac that was faster then anything Intel had to offer, (G3 233Mhz) had three slots, and user replaceable ram, hard drive, CD and monitor, all with standard parts?

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