Tuesday, September 3, 1996 by Dave Winer.
I spent the weekend in Seattle at the Bumbershoot music festival. I had the best time. Dancing, music, lots of people and great experiences. Probably the most exciting part was riding the roller coaster. My neck is loose now. Thanks! And thanks to Marc Canter, and his friends, the Preacher Boy band, for the great entertainment.
I heard more about bees after my last piece, Bee Season, 8/28/96.
From Kevin Compton, firstname.lastname@example.org, a publicist at AT&T: "Dave, I wouldn't worry about the bees; they're such socialists. I saw a frightening documentary on insects while in college (71ish), where ants would march in a line, get to a stream, and form an ant-bridge with their bodies for the others to walk across (drowning in the process, of course). I still recall the horror of the closeup where an ant would sink, and another would step right into its place."
From Dave Carlick, email@example.com, an ad man at Poppe-Tyson: "David, plant some rosemary, lots of rosemary, in a sunny spot not too close to your patio. The bees will hang around there, favoring rosemary over most any patio comestible, and you won't need to grapple with the meaning of life, leaving you more time to read the paper, write your writings, and nurture the press."
I also learned that yellowjackets are not bees, they're wasps. And people say that they do sting, but, as I reported, I've never been bit.
In Macarena!, 8/23/96, I reported that we're moving our web development tools and server operating system to Windows 95 and Windows NT. Reports are starting to come out in the trade press, and while accurate, they're leading some people to conclude that we're abandoning the Mac.
It's not true. We're working on Frontier 4.1, a new release with major new features that will only be available on the Mac. At the same time, the core technology underneath Frontier, the object database, is being ported to Windows. From there, we are thinking seriously about other platforms.
But for the forseeable future (i.e. the future I can see) the Mac platform is our home base. The Mac version of Frontier will be the most powerful version because the Mac OS has a broader scripting culture than any other platform. We'll work to develop the culture on other platforms, but it will take time.
In the sometimes perverse world of software logic, our support for Windows may actually help the Mac/Frontier combo, because it makes the Mac a more acceptable web content tool. A Windows version is a growth opportunity for my company, but it's also a safety net for people who build on Frontier. Cross-platform scripts? Yes, that's what we're doing. And a cross-platform verb set, object database, outliner, threaded runtime, and content tools.
It's an appealing story. Over the last couple of weeks I did demos for execs at major technology companies. They were totally excited. I don't think these people could have seen it if there was no Windows story. And for me it was refreshing to see powerful people I respect getting excited about my software. That couldn't have happened if it were Mac-only.
To the people who say we're abandoning the Mac: How do you know? I can't see how it will turn out from here, so how can you? A request -- please be positive. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to tune into a powerful product that you think you're losing? That could keep you from losing it. We're still aggressively building on the Mac platform. Tune in and use it. Let's have fun guys and gals. That's what it's about. Not gloom and doom.
One final perspective, the Mac is not a religion, it's just a platform. The disappointment some people feel these days is related to accepting that idea. It may be a better computer, but it's not a cause. I've always been offended by the idea that the Mac is morally superior to other platforms. That idea led to the mess that the Mac is now. To be competitive, a platform has to grow. Maybe once the idea that it's just a (very good) computer sinks in, the Mac platform can grow once again.
System people, app developers and script writers, need a programmable foundation to access the Internet through. Neither Netscape or Apple is providing such a foundation at this time. Last month Microsoft announced the Internet Services Library, or ISL. I was briefed on this software in April. It's one of the reasons I decided to work with Microsoft and have been supportive of their presence on the Mac platform.
ISL provides all the basic Internet protocols and a low-level stream layer so we can build our own clients and servers on top of their software. It makes it easier to define new Internet protocols, because they develop much more quickly in a scripting environment with its own database. With native performance, scripts run very quickly, keeping up with faster net connections which are becoming cheaper and more commonplace. ISL is more than a breakthrough, it will allow other breakthroughs to happen.
Microsoft is committing professional resources to this project and building on it themselves, providing the quality we need to commit to developing to their interfaces. And it's interesting that the Mac is leading Windows in this area and Microsoft is doing the development.
Microsoft is taking a pragmatic step, looking for ways to develop relationships with Mac developers. They got here first. They're providing technology and resources we need. It's a totally acceptable proposal, so we accept it.
We hope to release a test version of the ISL with Frontier bindings before the end of September. Please watch the Frontier website for news. If given the opportunity, we'll work with Netscape and/or Apple or others to assure that the scripting interface for Internet services is uniform across all software and perhaps cross-platform.
From Bill Gates, firstname.lastname@example.org: "One thing I forgot to mention in my other mail: Thanks for supporting Windows. We also believe that Windows and Macintosh are both important platforms."
That's how you do it. Gates, for all the negative energy people direct at him, is a class act. Actions speak loudly, so do words. It costs nothing to say thanks. Then why do some people refuse to do it?
On the Macintosh Scripting list, a discussion of the relative merits of the Be Operating System and the Macintosh Operating System. From an Apple developer... "Be is going to have a difficult time selling this machine to the masses and developers. As long as they stay small, they can survive, but getting over the numbers hurdle is tough. Apple has a substantial head start and look at how tough it is for them."
My response: "As many girlfriends have pointed out, it isn't how big it is, it's how you treat them that matters."
I'm aware that many programmers will find this uncomfortable, but as always developer relations is a mating ritual. It's amazing how well the metaphor translates. Jean-Louis doesn't cut corners. He sends flowers. He's patient. A feature many wives and girlfriends, and developers, wish for.
No doubt some people still view the world in terms of labor and management, so I suggest we keep Labor Day a national holiday, but add another one, sometime in early-mid-October, called International Check It Out Day. On that day, you could ask any question of anyone and the person or people could choose to respond in one of three ways: decline to respond, tell the truth, or lie. That's the normal thing. The new thing is that you'd be able to ask anything, without anyone getting angry with you or assuming you're trying to make a point. And maybe you'd get some interesting answers. You'd certainly get more to think about.
To Esther Dyson, email@example.com:
I've seen you say in print and on TV that every man in the software business must compare himself unfavorably to Bill Gates. Wow!
How incredibly limiting and unfair. For myself, I've set my own goals, as a man and as a person and they have nothing to do with Bill Gates.
I'm pretty satisfied with myself. I don't believe that having the most money makes you the most happy. Your comments are, in the case of this man, inaccurate.