inessential by Brent Simmons

Still Fearing the Reaper

Steve Troughton-Smith writes a lovely article (Don’t Fear) The Reaper — but I still fear the reaper. I do.

Steve’s point is that the Mac has been through transitions before. A transition takes time, and we don’t necessarily know exactly how it will end up, but it ends up marvelously.

I completely agree about the past: Mac OS X was a thrilling fusion of the classic Mac experience and NEXTSTEP, with a whole bunch of new stuff added.

I loved it.

I started writing NetNewsWire, a Cocoa app, during the 10.1 days, even though I had been a classic Mac developer. I had no interest in Carbon — because Cocoa was an amazing framework, so far ahead of what we had on the Mac before.

With OS X we had the power and ease-of-use of the Mac — including Apple events — and we had Unix under the hood and a Terminal app. This brought so much power and freedom to the Mac.

It was incredible. It‘s still incredible.

So, knowing how this has worked out in the past, why do I fear the reaper?

Because bringing UIKit brings no new power. If anything, it subtracts power. UIKit apps — at least so far — are all sandboxed and available only via the App Store. They don’t offer everything AppKit offers.

And, to make things worse, it’s reasonable to be somewhat skeptical of Apple leadership’s understanding of the platform. Daring Fireball quotes a source at Apple as saying they had “taken their eye off the ball on Mac.”

Getting the Mac OS X transition right was a priority for the company: if it failed, the company would fail. But with this? Not the same story at all.

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I will be delighted — and relieved, and singing hosannas — when it turns out I was wrong to fear the reaper. I hope so very badly that I’m wasting my time with my worries. I know what Apple is capable of — I just need to see it.