Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in August, 2006

So, I’m just back from getting my WWDC badge. I’ve seen the famous banner and all icons on it are known – the only one I had doubts on (above the SpotLight icon) is supposedly from a Mac OS X Server utility. Even the 64-Bit icon was previously used when the G5 came out. Ah right, we now know what the Leopard “Big X” looks like – black with a white border. Drat, I need to change the XRay II icon to reflect that…

The relative sizes and positions give no hints. There are a few hardware icons. One iPod Nano. 3 iMacs, 2 laptops and one desktop – the latter one from the side, so the front may be different. Or the banner might just be there as a misdirection and may be changed on Thursday… the Xcode icon is very large – so large that one can read the small print on it, but then it’s a developer’s conference. On the other hand, people “in the know” did tell me to make sure not to miss the developer tools sessions.

Certainly a major release of Xcode is in the works. 2.5 or 3.0, it doesn’t matter, but my personal hunch is that the superannuated Interface Builder application will be phased out and integrated into Xcode. Let’s hope that connections like outlets and bindings will be easier to visualize and debug, and that the IBPalette interface is finally officialized so that we can write non-trivial palettes.

I’ll be under NDA for details – things announced at the keynote excepted – so these will be my final pre-WWDC speculations. On the hardware front, 64-Bits is of course guaranteed, with one of the new “Core 2 Duo” chips. A Mac Pro will certainly be out, although the name may not be exact, and the casing will probably be a minor variation on the current one. There’s a good Ars Technica writeup about the new Intel CPUs, and expectations are that the whole new range will fit nicely into the spectrum from MacBook Pros to the Mac Pros – possibly with a dual-core, dual-CPU at the top, although it might also be that Intel has been reserving their quad-core chip for Apple to announce. Intel Xserves might also appear.

I don’t expect a new iPod to be announced in a big way, except as a footnote to the usual summing-up of past sales; at a developer’s conference, it’ll be big news only if it had an official API for developers to extend its functionality, which might actually be a neat way for Apple start a new iPod generation in a privileged position; stranger things have happened.

I’m reasonably certain that we’ll each get a Leopard preview DVD. I’ve seen rumors of changes to applications, which I consider less interesting as they’re not really a part of the OS itself, at least from my developer’s standpoint. I use relatively few of the iApps every day – Safari and iChat are the ones I leave open, and my wishlist for those is small.

Real Leopard features I expect to see:

RBSplitView adopted! Well, not likely, but it’d be nice… I’ve told Apple I’d gladly give them the code, anyway.

– A new UI theme, or at least a migration of the default windows theme to the new “cool gradient/smooth metal” look.

– Some new Cocoa widgets, especially the more successful ones from the Tiger iApps. I hope to see them do Brent Simmon’s “big time tabs control”; I need it badly for XRay II.

– A new Finder. I’ve mostly gotten used to the old one, but still…

– Resolution independence. We need to get away from the pre-rendered bitmap widgets. People are already starting to use object-based PDF files for that, but they’re a pain to make and don’t look good at all resolutions. My ideal solution here would be a new NSImageRep and corresponding file format that would do for images what the TrueType format did for fonts: resolution-independence with special hinting for small sizes.

– More extensions to Objective-C. Garbage collection should be a given. Unloading NSBundles is supposed to be in the works. Frameworks included inside applications can’t be easily updated and versioning is pretty much useless for practical purposes.

– Hopefully we’ll see expanded metadata capabilities and a more useable SpotLight. I hardly use it in Tiger because it’s so slow and limited. The ability to have additional named forks should go hand-in-hand with full NTFS support. Other file systems would also be nice (ZFS, anyone?).

– Virtualization. I’ve written about this several times. My personal opinion is that Apple should write a fully trusted hypervisor into the EFI (using the TPM) and run everything inside virtual machines, including Mac OS X for Intel itself. Booting some version of Windows into a second VM would be easy, then, and there wouldn’t be a full version of Mac OS X for Intel for people to run on standard PCs either. I don’t think dual-booting is a good solution, I believe Apple was just testing the waters with BootCamp. No idea what would happen to Parallels in this scenario; they might be bought out by Apple, or by Microsoft, I suppose. Here are more thoughts on virtualization from Daniel Jalkut and Paul Kafasis.

– 64-bit “cleanness”. Meaning, Carbon and Cocoa and everything else running in 64-bit apps. And very probably, also, on the G5s. However, I’m not sure (and no time to research at this moment) how mixing 32 and 64 bits works on the Intel CPUs. I remember reading somewhere that it’s not as easy as it is on the G5, where you can have 32-bit processes co-existing with 64-bit processes.

Unlikely or even impossible:

– A new kernel.

– iPhone, iPDA, iGame, iTablet. iAnything in fact. There are rumors about VoIP support and there might be some sort of hardware for that, but I can’t see Apple doing a me-too cellphone.

– Some goodie under the seat (like when the iSight was introduced, which I missed out on, argh!).

In the meantime, I’d better get back to my coding… more after the keynote!

The week’s results have been good, though some important stuff still remains to be done.

The basic hex viewer is working, although selecting and copying text is not (yet), and I’ve reworked infrastructure for plug-ins and views once again. As usual, I’ve also gone through another round of cleaning up little UI details. So I’m confident that everything is in place for me to make serious progress during WWDC; especially regarding the list of questions I’ll have ready for Apple engineers.

In another hour we’ll be off to have lunch with friends, and afterwards I’ll be at Moscone West to get my badge and meet people. Look for the graying geek in the XRay II t-shirt… icon_wink.gif

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