WWDC 2004 wrap-up

Well, it’s about a week after the conference, and time to make notes about what I did at summer camp. There may be some things from the conference that I won’t be able to talk about, and I want to let you know about that right up front. I don’t want to screw up my non-disclosure agreement.

The big news mostly came on Monday. We got showed Tiger, and Apple has put up quite a bit of information about it already. Take a look at their site and see what they have to say. There was also the announcement of the 30″ LCD, which even thought it had been leaked before the conference still inspired many a case of hardware lust.

For me, there were a few important things. The first is that QuickDraw will be deprecated. This is probably the biggest thing for software houses, but it’s not a huge hurry—while the APIs are being deprecated, they’ll probably continue to work for the next few years, but there will be no further improvements planned for QuickDraw. It’s served us well for over twenty years, but it’s time to move on.

The replacement is Quartz 2D (aka Core Graphics). Apple has been hard at work on improving the performance of Quartz 2D, especially by way of hardware acceleration using the capabilities of modern graphics cards. In most cases, Quartz 2D is going to provide performance similar to QuickDraw at worst, and better in many cases. I think the best part is that we’ll be able to see more performance improvements over time, thanks to CoreImage, which would be a tough thing to do with QuickDraw without breaking a ton of applications. (Remember the QD hardware acceleration that was around for a while in the mid-90s?)

I think the change to Quartz 2D is going to be a good thing for me in the long run. I already understand the concepts behind Quartz 2D, since it’s very similar to Display PostScript. And I know PostScript pretty darned well. Also, I think a lot of my clients will (hopefully) decide they need to spend some time on converting away from QuickDraw so they’re not trying to play catch-up at the last minute, as many did with getting their applications ported to Carbon.

Then again, these are companies that have proven that they’re capable of putting things off until their hand is forced. I guess time will tell.

The other thing that strikes me is that there are a lot of technologies that are going to require Cocoa knowledge. Of the new technologies introduced at the conference, about ¾ of them only had Cocoa bindings. I think the time has finally come for me to spend some time learning both Cocoa and Objective-C, and from talking to people at the conference, I’m not going to be the only developer studying up during the next year.

Here’s a quick recap of the new technologies:

There are all these technologies that are available on the Mac, but many of them will be hard to replicate on Windows. You’d think that Apple moving ahead like this would be a Good Thing, but I find myself wondering what it’s going to mean for application vendors. It’s quite possible that many of them will end up working on a lowest-common-denominator version of their cross-platform applications. That is, they’ll only implement features that they can easily do on both Mac and Windows. That would not only mean less work for me, but would also mean that these companies will be facing a risk of a more agile competitor eating their lunch, which means they may not be able to afford my help in the long run. That’s something I’m going to have to continue to think about.

Looking at the long-term, I think the biggest question is that I need to consider whether I want to spend the next few years helping out the slower-moving companies, and reaping the rewards of helping to update older applications, or whether I’m ready to become one of those more agile competitors. I don’t think I’m ready yet, but if I want to go down that path, I’m going to need to start learning now. Then again, if I want to help other people, that learning will be valuable, too. Guess it’s time to crack open the books.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:36.