Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Apple's failure to link to UserLand

Author:Paul Snively
Posted:10/30/1999; 9:48:36 AM
Topic:Today's scriptingNews Outline
Msg #:12546 (In response to 12544)
Prev/Next:12545 / 12547

Dave Winer wrote:

It wouldn't surprise me if it were a matter of me stepping out of bounds, at least as far as their view of what a software developer should do.

I was there, of course, '89-'91, and within MacDTS I basically "owned" AppleEvents and, to a lesser extent, AppleScript... ironically, one of the reasons for this was that I was naive; the guy everyone assumed would be interested in covering this stuff wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole for political reasons. Ex post facto, I can understand why...

In any case, as I wrote long, long ago, it was brutal within the hallowed halls. You, Dave, were the unfortunate target of far too many people who thought you didn't "get it" (UserTalk was too much like C; AppleScript would be English-like and easy to use; AppleScript would address international markets; Frontier is incomprehensible... at worst, even the most adolescent ad hominem personal attacks, including--I wish I were kidding, but I'm not--"Winer's a whiner.")

Given what you just wrote about word processors having a common scripting interface being a foolish idea because, internally, their views of the world are fundamentally different, I wish I had made a personal effort to communicate with you back then. I had made exactly that argument to Dave Szetela, who had inherited management of MacDTS temporarily after Phil Williams' departure. Dave was a good guy, a fun guy, a sharp guy, but not close enough to the programming process and therefore not really in a position to grasp the argument. (FWIW, Phil Williams was sorely missed--he was one of those managers who, when he's there, makes you wonder what the hell he does all day, and only when he's gone and it's too late do you realize what an awesomely effective, quietly competent buffer he's been).

In any case, there were maybe two, three people I knew involved with AppleEvents/AppleScript who took the attitude of: well, AppleScript will be good for casual end users and Frontier will appeal to the geekier crowd; what's wrong with that? No one to my recollection--including myself--cottoned to the idea that, hey, having a hierarchical object-y database behind the scripting environment is pretty cool.

I did have a good friend outside Apple who seriously got it, and got into it, though: Leonard Rosenthol.

Once they've made their move, all of a sudden every bit in every program we've written should reprogram itself to work the way their spec says it should. Give the New Apple a lot of credit, they don't waste a lot of time with those Grand Visions anymore. They're focusing on making products that users want to buy.

*sigh* All we really wanted was for Mac software to talk to each other in a nice, uniform kind of way. Unfortunately for us, there was only one, say, Larry Tesler who really had the background to put the cognition into addressing the semantic issues involved (or, more likely, to realize that the semantic issues were intractable and drop the idea). The result was the impression you have: that we were basically holding a gun to our developers' heads and forcing them into a regime that didn't have a clear value proposition for them, and in fact might have been perceived in some quarters as having a negative value proposition: "we want you to expose your functionality to your competitors."

Frankly, I think we did an absolutely abysmal job of explaining to the community why interoperating software on a network was a good idea. We built the technology and threw it out there, hoping that everyone would be as excited about it as we were... but ironically, the one developer who not only took the ball and ran with it but made it a bigger ball we essentially treated with disdain, if not outright contempt.

Maybe, as you suggested, it was the "made it a bigger ball" thing.

I still think some of that lives at Apple, the Who Does He Think He Is attitude, some of which I get right here on the DG. For better or worse, I will probably always be the kind of person people say that about. Whatever. My software still sells Macs, though, and between adults, that's probably all that should matter.

That, and having the courage of your convictions. Heaven knows, Dave, you and I don't always agree on things, but I've always respected you for putting your money where your mouth is and I'll staunchly defend your right to your views even when I personally disagree with them.

There's another guy a lot like you that I admire and respect: my boss. Here's what he once said on the subject:

"If a site doesn't make people angry enough to sue then it probably isn't saying much." -- Philip Greenspun


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