About this site
















Thanksgiving 1997

Tuesday, November 25, 1997 by Dave Winer.

It's been quiet on Scripting News, as we take apart our Mac web development system and put it back together as a cross-platform system.

In October we started using the Windows software to manage the home page and mail pages on the scripting.com site. In November we smoothed things out so we're almost ready to release a public beta.

Almost! I keep wondering how close to perfection it will have to get before I'm willing to let it be judged. All I can say is now we're close. A little more pushing and a public beta will ship.

On Saturday we got somewhere we've wanted to be for about a year and a half. We produced a new test release of Frontier, version 5.0a18, that runs on both Mac and Windows. That was a major milestone!

Write once run anywhere Permalink to Write once run anywhere

Write once run anywhere is not our marketing slogan (it's Java's), but it could be. We have a large body of scripts, ones that manage the file system and local area network, ones that produce web content and manage sites, that don't care what operating system they're running on.

They can do deeply powerful things on Macs, and while it's more limited on Windows, if you have a high-end machine, we run incredibly fast on relatively inexpensive desktop or notebook hardware.

You can build Mac-only LANS with our software, or Windows-only LANs, or you can mix and match. You can do your base work on a Mac desktop but take it on the road with a ThinkPad.

We think this reflects where the creative geek community will be in early 1998. We can make it safe to work on a Mac, because any day you can move your site to Windows, learn how the keyboard works, and move on from there, with nary a glitch.

Or we could return the favor and offer Windows and Unix based web developers new reasons to respect the Macintosh. (I'm even more stubborn than people give me credit for!)

Comparing platforms Permalink to Comparing platforms

A couple of weeks ago, when I saw how fast Frontier is on my 200Mhz Dell box, knowing that 300Mhz machines are now available, I thought I would never use my PowerMac 9500 again, the performance difference is that great, it's so stunning.

One tester said that launching Frontier on Windows is so fast, it's like doing a Get Info in the Finder on the Mac. He's so right!

But Saturday, doing work on the Mac, I understood in a new way, how much deeper the web scripting culture is on the Mac. I included three menus, one for the Finder and one for MSIE and Netscape, filled with scripts that have no counterparts on Windows.

I could have included glue for Eudora and a shared menu there too. The connection to web servers is there on the Mac, not yet on Windows. Today, websites are still LANs, so the Macs will continue to play a significant role in our websites for some time.

I use both systems without fear Permalink to I use both systems without fear

We're quieter than Java, but we share the same cross-platform religion.

I've come up with a new tagline in the footnote at the bottom of each of our web pages: "At the moment we're using {platformLink ()} to work on this website."

The stuff inside the curly braces is a macro. If the page is generated on a Mac, it links to macos.apple.com. If it's generated on a PC, it links to an appropriate page on www.microsoft.com.

I use both systems without fear. I've made the investment in Windows, both in paying for the port of the base software, and in mastering the Control key and MDI and other Windowsisms.

It's a bit of a pain, being bi-platform, but at this time, it's worth it.

Adam Bosworth Permalink to Adam Bosworth

Yesterday I met with Adam Bosworth, adamb@microsoft.com.

I've known Adam for many years, since he developed the beautiful Reflex database at a startup he founded in the mid 80s; as he moved to Borland to work on Quattro and Paradox; and then to Microsoft to do Access and lead the development of Dynamic HTML.

Now he's working on XML. At the beginning of the meeting I said I was unimpressed with XML. But I wondered if someone could do an application with XML that was interesting and exciting.

Carefully and slowly Adam sketched his vision of big databases communicating with modestly powerful clients, allowing users to access and update information thru a web browser interface. In his picture, data flows from server to client and back to the server, thru text files in XML syntax to represent the data being transmitted.

Adam wanted to meet because he felt our object database could be good client and mid-level server software in the system he's designing. Without a doubt, it could.

We have an almost-perfect structure, managed by an outliner that keeps getting better, for modeling the kind of information that needs to flow thru his XML interfaces. We could perform storage and provide programming interfaces for working on his data in lots of different places.

Similar visions Permalink to Similar visions

Our interest in this has less to do with Adam's vision, and more to do with an opportunity we see to merge the worlds of email, the web and databases.

The need is felt right here on my dual (sometimes dueling!) desktops. Email is almost useless, the web is easy but the two flows don't work together. What's needed? What we got, almost. (We need to implement indexing for our database.)

Technologists who want to catch up, I've written about this stuff in several previous DaveNet pieces, including Sandboxes, 4/9/97, and Fat Web Pages, 3/26/97.

Our "fat" format could easily turn into XML, and if that happens, it would immediately be compatible with the data modeling schemes that Microsoft and perhaps others are contemplating. They could use our technology to solve their problems, and we could add anything they develop to enhance our system.

As stated many, many times in DaveNet, our religion includes working with others. We'll work with anyone who's doing excellent stuff and is willing to invest alongside us in compatibility and moving each other forward. In other words, I don't mind empowering Microsoft if they're willing to empower me.

Thanksgiving 1997! Permalink to Thanksgiving 1997!

Switching gears...

Thanksgiving is a big holiday, a uniquely United States event, like July 4 or Memorial Day, but even bigger. People get on planes, travel across the country to be with people in their families. It's a time to put differences aside, even if only for the moment, and give thanks for what is. The expansionist spirit of the United States meets Buddhism!

Thanksgiving is a positive holiday. The glass is half full! A fire in the fireplace, a full belly, the people who raised you, or who you grew up with, or who you're raising, close by. A chance to look them in the eye, raise a glass, and say thanks.

Did they have Thanksgivings during the Great Depression or the Civil War or two world wars? Yes, I think so. Were people any less grateful during times of strife than times of prosperity? If they were playing by the rules of Thanksgiving, not.

No one is less deserving on Thanksgiving. Rich people serve food to homeless people. We put aside our normal hierarchy and look for the person, not the bank account, house, car, education, spouses, children.

So, whoever you really are, Happy Thanksgiving...

And thanks for being who you really are!

Dave Winer

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