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Statements about Scripting

Sunday, June 16, 1996 by Dave Winer.

From: Chris Espinosa, cde@apple.com, 6/13/96 Permalink to From: Chris Espinosa, cde@apple.com, 6/13/96


Here's the message I sent to the [AppleScript mailing list]. I'd appreciate a careful read and thoughtful reply, because I think it represents a genuine effort to change the way we deal with OSA and AppleScript. Here's it again:

First Principles for Apple Scripting Permalink to First Principles for Apple Scripting

General Business Model

1) We are committed to satisfying our customers--to ensure that they have complete solutions for their needs with the expected level of quality and support.

2) We are committed to creating business opportunities for developers, so that they can profitably participate in the complete solutions our customers need.

3) We are committed to increasing the shareholder value for Apple by creating distinctly superior user value for Apple products. This is only possible through satisfying customers and creating business opportunities for developers.

4) Our business model is to initiate and perpetuate a cycle of innovation:

  • Working with developers, Apple creates an API for a new technology area and clearly defines the technologies we'll develop and distribute.

  • Apple seeds users with the technology to do innovative things with it, creating demand for more and better tools and add-ons.

  • ISVs sieze the opportunity to satisfy the customer demand and create complete solutions.

  • Broader and deeper use of the technology creates customer needs for improvement.

  • Apple and developers address the need for improvement by refining the API and base implementation in a compatible and open way, starting the cycle again.

Apple derives revenue at four places: a) in increased value or volume of platforms that use the technology; b) from packaged soutions of Apple and developer products; c) from licensing the technology for use on other platforms; and d) from derivative products and upgrades in later stages of the cycle. Apple does NOT extract direct revenue from architecture or enabling technologies, or from licensing to developers.

Open Scripting Architecture Permalink to Open Scripting Architecture

5) Apple's chief value in Apple Scripting to build a large, interrelated set of scripting languages, runtimes, development environments, scriptable applications, and scripting additions that give users choice in creating solutions. Our primary work is to define architecture and standard behaviors, design APIs that reflect them, and build standard products that implement them. We will avoid "closed" solutions that are focused on Apple technologies.

6) We will pursue customer satisfaction as a holistic goal that can only be achieved with a combination of Apple and developer products. We defer to developers to satisfy needs that are better met there than in Apple offerings. We avoid gratuitious overlap with developer-supplied functionality.

AppleScript Permalink to AppleScript

7) The AppleScript language and runtime is centered on a human-language syntax and the beginning to intermediate scripter. Our design center is simplicity of syntax and semantics. As part of the System 7.x distribution, we trade advanced scripting concepts and features for a low disk and memory footprint. We defer advanced features to other OSA languages or to development environments.

8) Customer and developer feedback has directed that the goal of AppleScript 2.0 is to optimize man-machine efficiency, getting tasks done more quickly. This implies both machine performance and human understandability.

9) For AppleScript 2.0 we will select a scope of work achievable with the resources given in a reasonable period of time. Other tasks will be deferred to ISV opportunities or to a later version of AppleScript. When we need to bring externally-available capabilities into AppleScript, we'll use a sensible make vs. buy process to optimize time to market, maximize compatability with existing scripts, and give developers a chance to profit from their innovation.


From: dwiner@well.com, 6/14/96 Permalink to From: dwiner@well.com, 6/14/96


Rather than play phone tag, I'll try to respond to this and see where it gets us. These are just my reactions. I don't claim to understand your intent or goals. I'm going to react according to my interests and hopefully you will take my comments at face value.

Overall, I don't see the change. Apple has always attempted to put itself at the center of this market, and your proposal still does this. I don't see it that way. It creates problems, look at menu sharing as an example, a protocol that should have been in OSA, but Apple wouldn't acknowledge it. So it happened anyway without Apple. There are other examples of cases where we have worked with developers to exploit a capability of Frontier that Apple didn't cover or didn't understand. We continue to do this, I hope to have an announcement next week.

I object to the Open in OSA for the same reason. It isn't really an open process. If you want to be open about it, we need to be peers, you need to implement our APIs too.

Another criteria, either stop bundling AppleScript or bundle Frontier too. I'd prefer to see you stop bundling AS. With a net distribution system there's no need to bundle.

The term 'AppleScript' has been bastardized so many ways, AppleScripting, AppleScriptable, AppleScripts; you're feeding the process by calling this "First Principles for Apple Scripting". I suggest coming up with another title. Apple's name shouldn't be all over this, as it has been in the past. We want Microsoft's support. They could have the same objection. Don't repeat this mistake, it's how we got the awful OSA term.

Your message doesn't say that Apple will build on our technologies. Many missed opportunities here. As we move forward the deficit gets deeper.

Anyway, overall, my major concern with this is that it doesn't reflect the truth. The Mac scripting market is much deeper than Apple and its APIs.

I suggest that someone at Apple do an inventory of capabilities that Frontier has to see how you might help promote wider use of those capabilities in the market. That would really be taking the high road, and serving your shareholders in the best way possible by quickly making the Mac platform more competitive. Software development is a tough business. It took many years to create what we have created. It takes much less time to inventory those accomplishments.

I've created an initial draft of that inventory on our AppleScript page. http://www.scripting.com/applescript/.

The bottom line: I will go for a peer arrangement, I will not go for an Apple-at-the-center arrangement. I have a lot of reasons for this, among them being the desire to return value for my shareholders, and to pay myself a salary. Enough charity work.

As a student of various software competition strategies, I believe this one is clearly an implementation of FUD. We can't move forward until Apple says it's time to move. It doesn't reflect reality, we *can* move forward without Apple. I think an Embrace & Extend strategy would be more appropriate here. I wrote about this in May, not sure if you were on the list in that period.

I think it would be a refreshing change if Apple's statement said something like this --

"UserLand has been doing great work in the Mac scripting market. We support their users, everything Apple does will be compatible with UserLand's technologies. We're working with the people at UserLand to push the scripting capabilities of the Macintosh even further and make it accessible to broader audiences."

I would counter that by saying:

"Apple has made a major contribution to the Mac scripting market. AppleScript has helped to introduce the concept of system level scripting to many Mac users. The Mac OS is the best platform for Internet content development and web serving, its capabilities go far beyhond that of Unix or Windows. There's been a major change in direction at Apple, and now we're comfortable making a substantial investment in the future of our technology on the Mac platform. We're working with Apple to push the scripting market into the next generation and make it more broadly accessible."

I believe that pair of statements would trigger an investment in this market by our user base (a very influential group of large institutions with lots of money to invest and creative entrepreneurs betting their futures) and would make it possible for us to raise money from the VC community and perhaps even do an IPO.

Otherwise we have to dilute our efforts, us fighting you and you fighting us. It may not be worth the effort. I don't want to sit on the sidelines while other people with less developed technologies go public making hundreds of millions of dollars, while I'm camped out waiting for Apple to dominate us.

That's how I see it.


© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."