According to Hoyle...
WWDC 2008 Preview
by Jonathan Hoyle
Once again, we are bumping our investigation of retro-computing so as to
give a preview of this year's Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference, the
annual conference about which the entire Macintosh programming world revolves.
Note that this June article is written at the end of May, prior to the start of
the conference. Those of you reading this after June 9th will have far more information
available about the conference. This is a preview based upon information
available to me at the time of this writing. The July column will cover more
in-depth the actual announcements made at this conference.
On May 14th, Apple announced that WWDC completely sold out, the first
time in this conference's history. With over 5,000 attendees planning to
attend, the Moscone Center fire and safety regulations require closing out any
more ticket sales. Those with spare WWDC e-tickets have been selling them on
Ebay, with winning prices much higher than the original purchase price. (One
sold his ticket for $3550, more than double the original purchase price.) Those
developers with ADC Premiere memberships each get a free WWDC e-ticket with
their purchase. Those companies with these free tickets who are not planning to
attend, may find that selling their unused tickets works out to everyone's
Here, kitty kitty kitty...
So, assuming the conference does indeed introduce the next version of Mac OS X,
what codename will Apple use? Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and Leopard were the names for versions 10.0 - 10.5, respectively. I doubt very much Apple will
break from the big cat tradition with 10.6. The smart money is on Cougar or Lynx,
as these are names Apple has trademarked but not yet used. Cougar seems to be the most likely, but Lynx is a smaller, lighter cat, one which may fit more
closely with the iPhone strategy. But what if Apple does not wish to yet
broach the topic of 10.6 yet? Perhaps this year will cover smaller Mac changes,
a Mac OS X 10.5.5 maybe? If so, it would seem a waste to use up another cat
name for a half upgrade. Snow Leopard could be used, as the snow leopard is truly a different species from
the leopard, yet the Leopard trademark may still apply. I find this an unlikely scenario, but if it does
turn out to be Snow Leopard,
remember you heard it here first! :-)
It's also possible that Apple will not address the next version of the
operating system at all, as Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has been out for only a short time. This happened seven years ago at
WWDC 2001, as it was essentially a repeat of WWDC 2000 (due to the fact that
Mac OS X 10.0 had been released just two months earlier in March 2001). I also
find this scenario unlikely. Apple always has something on the back burner, and I am
sure that it is in Apple's benefit to get developers excited about the future.
Assuming for the moment that Mac OS X 10.6 will indeed be introduced, I think that it is extremely probable that
this new operating system will be Intel-only. With Power Macintoshes being
resource-stretch just to run 10.5 Leopard, it seems unreasonable to assume that 10.6 will run any better on such
hardware. By the time 10.6 ships, it is likely that no PowerPC-based Macintosh
will be younger than 5 years old. For this reason alone, Apple will probably do
well if they optimize their next OS to be Intel-only.
Just for the Phone of It
Looking at Apple's preliminary schedule for WWDC,
and there is no mistaking that the iPhone will be a big deal this year. After
having to eat crow from last year's blunder of offering no iPhone SDK, Apple
has made a 180-degree turnaround. It appears that the Cocoa API will be
extended to include iPhone development, based upon the cross-over sessions
listed for both iPhone and Mac. Mobile Computing is the operative phrase this year, and it is pretty exciting to think
that with little effort, Mac developers can compiler apps that may perhaps run
on both iPhone and Mac OS X 10.6.
The Full Deprecation of Carbon
Well, here it finally comes:
The Death of Carbon.
It's not like this was
unexpected. Apple has been slowly killing the Carbon API for years now. Even when
it gave birth to Carbon, it did so begrudgingly. At WWDC 1997, Apple attempted
set the future of Mac OS with Rhapsody, a Mac port of the NeXTStep operating system. Rhapsody had Yellow Box (the equivalent of Cocoa) and Blue Box (its equivalent of Classic), but no Carbon. Rhapsody was rejected by the Macintosh development community
since it required all Mac applications to be completely rewritten from scratch
in Objective-C to be native. The following year, Apple changed direction to Mac
OS X, a mixture of Rhapsody and Mac OS which contained Carbon, an API evolved from the standard Mac Toolbox.
Carbon allowed developers to transition their Classic applications to Mac
OS X. Although Apple continued to push the
benefits of Cocoa, the vast majority of the Mac community stuck with Carbon.
With each passing year, relatively more functionality was added to the Cocoa
API, but Carbon continued to be embraced by developers. A major blow came to Carbon Developers at last
year's WWDC, when Apple reversed its decision to extend the Carbon API to the
64-bit arena. 64-bit apps must be rewritten in Cocoa. Furthermore, Senior Vice
President of Apple Software Engineering Bertrand Serlet made the following
ominous statement: "There will come a time when we will stop
investing in Carbon". I believe that
time is now.
It is also my belief that all new
functionality available in Mac OS X 10.6 will be Cocoa only, and the entire
Carbon API will be officially deprecated. Although well behaved Carbon apps
ought to continue to run just fine in 10.6, they will be living on leased time.
But Mac developers wishing to take full advantage of mobile computing will
have no choice but make the jump to Cocoa and Objective-C.
Introducing Xcode 3.1 and gcc 4.2
Apple has published its
preliminary schedule for WWDC 2008,
and at Tuesday 3:30 is Session 907: New Compiler Technology and Future
which discusses Xcode 3.1 and its
updated compiler gcc 4.2.
Version 4.2 is a great improvement over 4.0.1 (the version Apple is currently
using in Xcodes 2 & 3), particularly as it includes OpenMP, a compiler API with impressive multiprocessor
support. Last November's According to Hoyle... column covered gcc 4.2 in more detail,
so I invite those interested to visit that article. In addition, Xcode 3.1
will include LLVM compiler technology as well, which you can read about at this
Will Xcode 3.1 be available for Leopard, or will this be a 10.6 or
higher development environment? One would imagine that a compiler version for
the next big OS would be named Xcode 4, or at least Xcode 3.5.
However, such a big underlying change does not seem likely to go into a simple
dot upgrade. We should know soon enough, but I am hoping that gcc 4.2 capabilities will be available for the Leopard
It seems Apple is still trying to decide how to handle
Friday, the last day of the conference. No events are scheduled on that evening
of course, since many people are flying back. Friday sessions tend to be
lightly attended, especially the afternoon ones. In 2006, Apple decided that
Friday attendance was too small to warrant a full day, so it ended the
conference midday, not even providing lunch. Well, that simply caused
defections to take place earlier, with few Friday morning attendees, and many
people leaving Thursday night. (How is it that the geniuses who invented the
MacBook and iPod could not see something that obvious coming?) So, in 2007,
they returned to a full Friday schedule.
This year, they have done something in
between: they've kept Friday lunch and the first afternoon session (2:00PM), but
dropped the remaining two (3:30PM and 5:00PM) time slots. I am not sure that
this is a smart move, although keeping the Friday lunch was a good idea. I will
not be flying back until Saturday, so I would have been happy to stay for two
more sessions. We'll have to wait and see how Apple plans WWDC '09's Friday
schedule to know how successful this year's strategy went.
Lunchtime speakers are back for Wednesday through Friday
lunches, which is very nice. Why not Tuesday? I am not sure. There is no
pre-announcement as of yet for the topics of these lunch talks.
Perhaps they will be announced during the Stevenote? These lunchtime sessions
have been hit and miss in past WWDC's, the finest being the memorable Tim O'Reilly
talk a number of years back. I expect to see these and will report back next
The evening events remain the much same as they were in
previous years: ADC Reception for schmoozing on Monday night, the Design
Awards, Stump the Experts & the Scientific Poster Session on Wednesday
night, and capping off with the Apple Party on Thursday night. Oddly, no events
are scheduled for Tuesday evening (the second year in a row with a night off).
Why this is the case is a bit of a mystery to me. Why not split up all the
Wednesday events across both Tuesday & Wednesday (as they had in 2006)?
Tuesday night is too early for rebroadcasts of repeat sessions. Could there be
an Apple surprise awaiting that night? That is what many of the attendees
suspected last year when we read the intriguing "To Be Announced" as the only event listed for Wednesday evening.
Sadly, there was no announcement, and all were left with an anticlimactic
disappointment. I am not expecting much better this year, but I hope I am
proved wrong here. In any case, Tuesday has no lunchtime nor evening events
For the second year running, the Apple Party will be held
right there in San Francisco, at Yerba Buena Gardens, across the street from
the Moscone West convention center. Formerly known as the Apple Campus Bash,
this event was a party which Apple hosted on its Cupertino campus (usually on
Thursday night) with music, food and drink. When WWDC was held in San Jose,
buses would run continually all night between the Convention Center and
Cupertino, making it very easy for the two to three thousand attendees to come
and go as they please. The Apple (Employee) Store on campus was left open after
hours so that developers could buy souvenirs of their visit. Beginning with 2003,
WWDC was moved to San Francisco to accommodate the conference's ballooning
This caused a change in the bussing strategy, as a ride to Cupertino
went from 15 minutes to nearly an hour each way. I for one stopped going to the
party for this reason. With each year's attendance breaking the previous
year's record, it finally became a logistically impossible to continue, so
beginning in 2007 the party was moved to San Francisco, and I was able to
attend (the first time since 2002). Apple also brought a mini version of their
store to the Convention Center, so we developers could still get our souvenirs.
"WWDC Plays Your Favorite Hits!"
With the announcement of WWDC's being sold out, the following was also
mentioned: "Session videos will be available to purchase on iTunes
shortly after the conference. More details will be available soon." This is an interesting turn of events. Since Apple
cannot accommodate everyone wishing to physically attend, it can at least make
money selling session videos to these missed customers. Would these be $1.99
per session downloads? Or would all sessions become available by buying the
"album" at one high price? It's too early to tell, but it could
certainly be a great way for Apple to get its developer information out there.
In years past, Apple would sell video and audio tapes of
its WWDC sessions at the conclusion of the conference. I recall in the 1990's,
prices along the lines of about $30-35 for a video tape and around $10-15 for
an audio. Beginning with the 1998 conference (the one which introduced Mac
OS X), sessions became available free to
view online through QuickTime streaming. From 2001-2004, Apple provided
attendees with DVD sets of the QuickTime movies from conference (you can see
these sets crop up on Ebay from time to time). In 2005, Apple stopped shipping
the DVD sets and made the videos available to download via iTunes, at no charge
to attendees or those with Premiere ADC memberships. This continued for 2006
I assume that WWDC 2008 attendees will continue to have access to
these videos, although I have no confirmation to that supposition. But Apple's
willingness to sell these videos online to non-attendees shows a change in
Apple's focus. Up until now, Apple was concerned that by making these videos
available generally, it might potentially risk lowering attendance to the
conference itself. Now that Apple has more interested people that it can
possibly accommodate, it no longer seems necessary to restrict these videos. It
is analogous to local TV broadcasts of sold out football games. So those of
you not attending who wish they were, you will be able to download and
experience many of these sessions as well.
Coming Up Next Month: A full
review of WWDC 2008. See you in 30!
To see a list of all the According to Hoyle columns,