Archive for June, 2008


Apple buys Coherent

I’m sure you all remember back on May 1st we posted here about Coherent, a JavaScript effort to bring Cocoa Bindings to the web? In a post that Coherent’s author showed up to comment on no less? And no doubt you headed over to check it out immediately?

Well, if you didn’t … now it’s too late.

If you go to the Coherent site now, you will see:

I’ve long felt Apple would provide the best environment for Coherent, and since I joined the company last year, I’ve been thrilled that we’ve been able to use Coherent in a number of projects.

Today, I am delighted to announce that I have assigned ownership of the Coherent library to Apple. Naturally, I can’t speak for my employer regarding what future products might include this library, but I can say my hope is that this will ultimately make Coherent a better tool for Web developers.

Or, is it not too late at all, perhaps? There’s some speculation over on Ajaxian that this is something deeper than Apple simply picking up a piece of useful code for themselves:

I heard from a little birdy that Apple is going to be doing some interesting things with respect to JavaScript libraries.

Recently there has been a lot of buzz around SproutCore / Mobile MeObjective-J / 280 Slides and remember the Coherent Cocoa Databinding framework?

I think that Apple took note of the recent buzz, and it was at that point (not before) that execs suddenly saw that they really had. They have taken control of Coherent where “it could become the Cocoa library for JavaScript and is made available under a similar license to Cocoa and Cocoa-Touch…”

Interesting, no?


Torches and pitchforks, oh my!

Well! It certainly seems that news of Rogers’ data plan tariffs for the iPhone has not precisely been greeted with unanimous hosannas of joy, to put it mildly.

Whilst we can’t exactly say with a straight face that we were pleased with the tariffs, hey, paying a lot for everything is what happens when you live in The Best Place On Earth™, so we were actually prepared for the plans to be significantly worse. And even the cheapest Rogers plan more than comfortably covers the usage we actually make of a phone, which is pretty much nothing other than “message storing service,”  and virtually all our data transfer will be done over WiFi, so personally there’s nothing there that bothers us enough to get upset about. And in any case, hey, it’s still a significantly better deal than a Crackberry plan from Rogers, which is about the most we figure one could reasonably have expected.

However, others most certainly disagree! We find particularly amusing a 2225 2614 3277 and counting post on digg which directs the reader to a site which expresses their displeasure in extremely direct terms indeed. Whilst generally we wish to avoid the profane and scatological in our posts here, as that merely demonstrates one’s lack of true wit, in this particular case we’ll make an exception to underline the rage Rogers has provoked. OK, fine, we’re not being highbrow, we just think their link is funny:

Hard to mistake their sentiment, indeed. [UPDATE: Aw, they've toned the rhetoric down to G-rated. Shucks. It was much funnier originally!]

And if you’re a Facebook person, like we’re not, there’s a group for you:


and there’s another petition to sign here:

Rogers Canada iPhone Data Plan Petition

and even more rage-enabling links to be found here: (redirects to a blog post as I write)

In the meantime whilst we wait to see if these various initiatives do indeed serve as an epiphany for Rogers to change their ways — good luck with that, guys — Rogers’ subsidary Fido seems to be providing nontrivial additional benefits for identical cost with their plans — specifically, the evening option starts at 5 PM instead of 6 PM (and I would suspect that the non-optioned also starts at 7 PM and lasts until 8 AM instead of 7 AM, in keeping with non-iPhone differences between Fido and Rogers plans), membership in their FidoRewards program, and Fido provides per-second billing which I do not believe the Rogers plan does. So of your choices (well, choice-and-a-half or so) looks like Fido is the clear winner here. Good doggy!

And as a final note to you all — hey, it could be a whole whack worse. Check out what you’ll be paying if you live in Norway, for instance — $80 for 100 minutes and 100 megabytes? OK, that does strike us as over the top; the Rogers plans are positively generous compared to that!


iPhone plans revealed!

Attention all Canadians: The iPhone subscription plans are now out!

Canadian cell provider Rogers Wireless and its sub-brand Fido today listed its iPhone 3G plans, revealing its strategy for carrying the device in the country. All plans will need both voice and data and have finite data limits; unlike previous rumors, there will be no option for unlimited access with either service, though all will include Visual Voicemail as well as unlimited weekend and evening calling; incoming SMS messages are also unlimited, as is access to Rogers- and Fido-owned Wi-Fi hotspots.

Both Rogers and Fido plans are identical. A base $60 plan gives callers 150 minutes of air time, 75 outgoing SMS messages, and 400MB of data for use with any app; a $75 plan boosts call time to 300 minutes while almost doubling the transfer limit to 750MB and increasing the number of outbound messages to 100. A $100 monthly plan gives 600 minutes of calls, 1GB of data, and 200 messages, while an ultimate $115 plan supplies 800 minutes, 2GB of data, and 300 messages.

Additional data is 50 cents per megabyte through the first 60MB, but drops to three cents per megabyte afterwards.

Unique among most current iPhone plans are the ability to add Value Packs. A $15 pack adds Call Display, WhoCalled, ringback tones, 2,500 minutes of call forwarding time and increases the number of outgoing SMS texts to 2,500. A $20 pack both supplies 10,000 SMS messages and drops the 9PM evening calling threshold to 6PM for very frequent users.

Every iPhone plan requires a three-year contract; the company has already outlined pricing for the phones themselves, which match the US prices of $199 for an 8GB model and $299 for a 16GB version. Both the plans and the phones become available on July 11th.

h/t: electronista!


Home stretch!

w00t! Eighth AND FINAL-TESTING QUALIFIED iPhone SDK is out now! Grab it, polish up, and list your goodies on the Apps Store!



Here’s another heads up for all of you whom might be looking for a job in Vancouver, The Best Place In The World To Live™  – five years running now! — the good folks at apparently are on a roll, and are looking for inhouse programmers for both Mac and Windows that have experience creating multimedia applications.

If you’re still old school enough to not be solely devoted to the iPhone yet, we definitely recommend you consider them seriously; hey, we would if we still did desktop stuff — the publisher there is the fellow who had the stunningly great idea to write the book on LiveStage back in the day, which struck us as pretty seriously cool, as there’d never been a book written about a program we’d designed ever before. A rather flattering development, that!

There’s no official posting, but anyone with the good sense to be reading this blog counts as a personal referral no doubt, so fill in the contact form here, and good luck!


Embedded Web Fonts

Here’s a useful resource for all of you Web designers out there interested in taking advantage of CSS3 embedded webfonts — the wiki! A particularly good reason to bookmark it would be the list of fonts available for the specific purpose of @font-face embedding, always good to keep on the right side of the law.

For those of you who haven’t bothered looking into this design feature since it only works on WebKit platforms, perhaps it’s time to take a gander: it’s rumoured that Firefox 3 release supports them as well. If you’re reading this in the ‘fox, check here to see if that’s true for you. If that rumour is indeed so, that would leave Internet Explorer users as the only ones you’re not addressing. And, seriously, who cares what they think? If they deserved a decent typographic experience, they’d have already ditched their browser at least and more likely the whole OS long ago!


Sproutcore Grows!

So, if you’ve been following the last few posts, you’ve no doubt got the idea that SproutCore is intended to fulfill the destiny of the YellowBox APIs in bringing Mac development to the rest of the world. Here’s a supporting link to demonstrate that emerging realization:

Apple formally adopted a new web design framework at the end of last week’s WWDC conference, accounts say … The technology is in fact said to form a key component of its MobileMe service, allowing basic online apps that function across multiple platforms. This may eventually expand to more complex programs, however, including iWork software that would substitute for local copies. It is speculated that third-party companies may be invited to build their own MobileMe apps, whether as a default part of the service, or for a separate fee.

Interesting, no?

h/t: MacNN!


WWDC Reflections

So, after going through WWDC this year, it’s quite clear that my wild speculations that “Snow Leopard” might actually refer to the return of Yellow Box for Windows were completely wrong. Moreover, it’s pretty much certain that there will never ever be a Yellow Box in its historical form as a Windows-hosted runtime, for a variety of reasons.

However, we weren’t completely nonsensical in our thinking; it looks like we did, in our fumbling way, correctly identify Apple’s interests and goals — we just weren’t thinking outside the box enough in figuring that the resurrection of Yellow Box was the way Apple would choose to achieve them.

Unfortunately, the direct evidence that we have to support this new thinking is all under NDA, although most of it can be pieced together from publicly available tidbits; however, the basic reasoning can all be found in the latest piece up at the always-invaluable RoughlyDrafted Magazine. Money quotes:

Instead, Apple is refining Cocoa for deployment within the web browser to enable developers to build those so called “Rich Internet Applications” that Adobe wants users to build in Flash/Flex/AIR, Microsoft in Silverlight, Sun in Java, and so on…

If you were waiting for the resurrection of Yellow Box or Cocoa for Windows, stop waiting and start coding. SproutCore brings the values of Leopard’s Cocoa to the web, domesticating JavaScript into a functional application platform with lots of free built-in support for desktop features…

Yep … I think Messr. Dilger is pretty much spot on with his various prognostications and recommendations in this article, and when I casually dismissed the idea that MobileMe was the Big Unexpected Thing™ I’d heard hints would be announced, I was completely overlooking the possibility (and most people still are!) that it wasn’t just a rebranding of the .mac web services, it actually does presage a fundamental shift in the capabilities of cloud computing paired with a blurring of the line between native and web applications.

The next couple of years are going to be very interesting indeed!


iPhone developer demographics

There’s something really quite interesting about the iPhone-focused sessions we’ve attended here at WWDC; they have a demographic distribution which we have never, ever, seen anything even remotely akin to in over 20 years in  professional programming.

Specifically, as we write this, we’re sitting on the side platform at “Controls, Views, and Animation on iPhone”, which is a pretty solidly geeky session even as the general run here goes, and of the four people immediately adjacent, two, that’s 50%, are women.

Those of you who have never been to a programming conference are, perhaps, thinking “yeah, women are 50% of the population, so they’re 50% of your neighbours, and why would that merit a post?”

On the other hand, those of you who have actually been to a programming conference before — well, you probably just figure we’re flat out lying. That would indeed be the rational response, as normally at these conferences, well, let’s put it this way, the pretend women — not that there’s anything wrong with that! — outnumber the biological women by a significant multiple. WWDC is noticeably less imbalanced than your typical Microsoft conference in that regard, and way less imbalanced than any Linux conference in that regard, but even in our comparatively-enlightened Apple world, the number of women in any engineering session could historically be most accurately quantified as “rounding error”. But here in the iPhone programming sessions, there’s an utterly unprecedented number of women. And generally attractive women, no less.

Looks like The Babe Theory of Political Movements applies to programming platforms as well … it’s just that until the iPhone came along, there never was a platform that qualified. Be interesting to see if these anecdotal observations of ours turn out to portend a statistically significant difference in iPhone programmer demographics from the general industry, won’t it now?



Keynote lineup report

So it’s 60 minutes or so to show time. And the tension is can you feel it? palpable in the air over the feverishly enraptured lineup!

Well, ok, it’s more like a collective “I can’t believe that many people got up before I did” bemusement.

At least, unlike most here, we took the time for a good hearty breakfast, so we’re not knifing the others for scraps of Danish over at the snacks table. (Well, ok, I exaggerate, there’s no actual knifings so far, but that’s probably only because the knives are plastic.) And providing further evidence of my long standing theory that if you take a seat at the counter at Mel’s Drive-in the entire Mac community will eventually drop by for a chat, this morning our neighbour was the renowned Aaron Hillegass who, as you really should know already, is the/an author of the two most essential books on OS X programming, Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X and Advanced Mac OS X Programming. Which, if you don’t have the 3rd and 2nd editions of respectively, you should click those links and order, RIGHT NOW. We were planning to get around to doing an actual review of Cocoa 3 Ed. at some point, but we’ll settle for “Yeah, get it now” as being adequate. If you program in Cocoa, you should have it, simple as that. And while we’re on the topic, these books apparently are more or less the course notes from Messr. Hillegass’ Big Nerd Ranch in person training courses. We’re really much more book people than course people ourselves, but different strokes and all that, and if you are you should probably look into those!