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Right Answers from Apple

Sunday, June 16, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Here's an open email to Heidi Roizen, heidi@applelink.apple.com.

We've been emailing privately, but she doesn't know this public email is coming. I feel like the host of a 1960s game show!

Heidi -- please take a deep breath.

We can have fun -- right now!


Dear Heidi:

I said in an earlier DaveNet that this would be an open process. I plan to stick to that. I believe it helps Apple accelerate its cleanup by doing this openly. But more important to me, I accelerate the cleanup of the Mac scripting market. Either way it comes out, with us competing with Apple at the API level, or working with Apple on future APIs, it's better if it shakes out quickly.

Right Answers from Apple Permalink to Right Answers from Apple

The Internet Config exercise was a warmup.

The loop could have closed more quickly. I sent an email to Larry Tesler, cc'd to you, on June 6, one day before I ran the piece. I got the first response from an Apple person the next day, but it was inconclusive. I gave them the date, time and location of the session I attended. That was all the info they needed. I answered this question several times during the week. I also got flamed a few times by Apple employees.

Apple's response was slow and at first impolite. Then it got serious and respectful. I asked to be excluded from the internal discussion. This request was respected. Then the loop closed on June 14 with a definitive and responsive statement. Total time between question and answer: eight days.

Internet Config was a hard-fought victory in the Mac market. Apple's ignorance of it was insensitive. Now Apple is publicly committed to IC. Progress! And the cleanup process was accelerated.

As I said previously, I am pleased that the answer was the right one, in the end. I want more right answers from Apple. Let's get the communication system more responsive, and get the disconnection cycles to be shorter or non-existent.

The Tight Little Box Permalink to The Tight Little Box

I feel I've reached an impasse in my discussions with Chris Espinosa about the Mac scripting market. I am being straight with him, but I don't think he understands what I'm saying or why I'm saying it. It's much more important that we get financed than I make Chris happy. And by giving him what he's asking for, I would give him the excuse to ignore the features Frontier has that Apple's runtime environment lacks. I don't believe that serves the interests of either of our companies, but it certainly doesn't serve the interests of mine.

We have already embraced your technology. The We Love AppleScript page, , just scratches the surface. It's time for Apple to acknowledge this, and to return the favor, and acknowledge what makes our product so valuble to Macintosh script writers. A full read of the DocServer website and the Frontier website are required to appreciate what Frontier uniquely offers to the Mac scripting market.

We do not fit into the tight little box that Apple has specified for developer opportunities. Frontier implements a much broader vision of scripting on the Macintosh. Integrated database, full verb set, scriptable outliner, editable storage system. Easy access to the file system and Mac OS. Multi-threading and synchronization. Object oriented websites!

The language syntax issue is too distracting. Frontier's syntax is actually more mainstream; it's like JavaScript and Java. Same lineage. AppleScript is carrying on the tradition of HyperTalk, a market which, while large, isn't growing as quickly as the Java market.

To ignore Frontier's advantages, as Apple has, is to ignore an important set of advantages for the Mac platform. This is market-leading stuff, Heidi, across all platforms.

So, I can't support Apple's official ignorance of Frontier and this raises Apple's ire. That's how I read the impasse.

The only way I know to get Apple's attention on this subject is to make an issue of it, and refuse to endorse Apple's direction statement until it reflects the reality of what we've already accomplished. I said "no more lies." That is what I'm invoking.

Based on Gil Amelio's email last week, I believe we will work together. But I also believe it could be a difficult process, as Apple shakes off its assumptions about me and my product and my market.

An acid test Permalink to An acid test

I'm working with Chuck Shotton on a major performance improvement in web serving.

Step one is at .

I would like a quick response. What do your technical people have to say? Will you FUD us, or will you be happy that we can squeeze a 5-to-1 performance improvement for high-traffic Mac based websites?

I think this is an acid test of how we might work together in the future. I'm looking for an embrace, of course. Make good on Amelio's pledge to use the developer's solution where it's available.

Anyway, the purpose of this email is to make sure there are no surprises when I write about our plans for the scripting market in DaveNet, and when Chuck and I announce the new web server software we've been working on together.

I feel I've done that now!

Still digging...


PS: People keep comparing Frontier to AppleScript, and I find this frustrating. It's actually a descendent of Framework, a landmark product shipped by Ashton-Tate in the mid-80s.

PPS: To Heidi: Our presentations at MacHack next week offer a great opportunity to tell the Mac developer community how we plan to work together. Chuck is speaking at the WebEdge conference at the same time. It would be cool if the three of us were singing the same song.

PPPS: I've posted Apple's draft statement on the scripting market at , along with my response.

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