A Windows Developer Returns from Macworld

Last week I attended my first Macworld, but it won’t be my last.  I had a great time, in large part due to the hospitality of Brent F. Simmons and a host of his fellow Mac developers (see you at Denny’s next year, folks!).

The announcements from Macworld this year paled in comparison to last year’s iPhone announcement, but the buzz among attendees was still very high.  It was especially high among developers, which I found somewhat surprising since my impression is that Apple doesn’t do nearly as much for third-party developers as Microsoft does.  In fact, more than one Mac developer I spoke with stated that they develop for the Mac not because of Apple but in spite of it.

Of course, it’s hard not to be excited when you see your potential customer base growing over the next few years.  Several developers I met believe – as I do – that the number of Mac users will increase substantially, thanks in large part to the fact that more and more people are being exposed to the Apple UI via the iPod and the iPhone.

Last week I also had a brief tour of the Mac development tools, and I have to say, I found them underpowered compared to Windows development tools.  What I saw of the development process reminded me of the early days of Visual C++ Windows development.  However, it could be argued that this is offset by the powerful APIs that the Mac exposes to its developers.  And I have to admit, I could be convinced to downgrade my development tools to get access to thing like Core Animation.

Speaking of Core Animation, my favorite product demo at Macworld was Plasq’s upcoming Comic Life Magic, which really shows off how to effectively use Core Animation to improve a product’s UI.  I’d never get any work done if I had that application.

Of course, the downside of Macworld for me was that – as with pretty much every tech conference I attend – connectively was dismal.  So, my apologies if you’re waiting for me to reply to your email, blog comment, forum post, etc.  I’m getting to it, I promise :)

6 thoughts on “A Windows Developer Returns from Macworld

  1. I am intrigued what it is about xcode/ib that you find underpowered? It is something I’ve seen mentioned before, but nobody gives any details of why xcode/ib isn’t as powerful as VS.
    Any chance of some elucidation?

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  2. @RJ: To me, the most obvious limitation is the poor event navigation between IB and Xcode. Windows tools (Delphi, VB, VS.NET) typically enable easily navigating to the code assigned to a specific event, whereas on the Mac it’s awkward by comparison.
    Take this with a grain of salt, though, since my exposure to Mac development is extremely limited so far.

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  3. The good news is that Apple’s working on a new parser/compiler (“clang”, for C, C++ and Objective-C) which will be tuned to parse fast and deliver ASTs (abstract syntax trees) to make refactoring and navigation possible to the extent that it is in Visual Studio with C#. This is a year or two out.
    In my experience, Interface Builder kicks Visual Studio’s UI parts’ ass, and vice versa for Xcode and Visual Studio’s text editor and IDE.

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  4. While it’s true that IB doesn’t automatically generate stub code for you, everything that happens after the stubbing is working *much* better on the Mac side. Try reconnecting an event in Visual Studio for extended fun…
    Then there’s the whole support by automatic guidelines. (Maybe .NET has that by now – haven’t checked in some time). IB actually helps you create non-ugly forms, while the Windows environment seems to actively encourage haphazard UIs.
    But where the Mac *really* shines is Shark/Instruments. As profiling tools, those are lightyears ahead of anything Windows has to offer.

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