Fly MacBird Fly
Wednesday, January 5, 2000 by Dave Winer.
We've been sitting on the sidelines of the Open Source world, waiting for the right moment to get UserLand and its community into it. We've watched, as Linux, Apache, SendMail, Gnome, KDE and Zope go forward. We saw Apple enter the Open Source world with Darwin. We listened, thought, asked questions, learned, waited.
There's still a chasm, a gap to be jumped, but it's narrowing. There are ways for us to work together. We had to change, for sure, and so did the Open Source world. Now, enough change has happened, and on Monday, UserLand took its first step by releasing MacBird as Open Source.
MacBird is a draw program with grouping and alignment that's used to design and run graphic user interfaces.
On 1/3/00 we released the source code of MacBird using the MIT License.
So far, Open Source has been centered on server software. MacBird will help push the cursor toward users. It's all about user interfaces.
MacBird implements the user interface standard set by the Macintosh in the 1980s. It gives KDE and Gnome a target to shoot for. MacBird is what user interfaces will look like in the post-web era.
MacBird is the continuation of the journey started by Apple's HyperCard in the 1980s. First we had graphic user interfaces. Then we had the Internet. Now it's time to have both.
MacBird is Open Source software that comes from the Mac. It isn't the first, after all Python got its start on the Macintosh. But it's different because instead of loosely supporting Macintosh as an afterthought as many Open Source tools do, this software supports the Macintosh first.
In the age of the web MacBird has new relevance, because it employs UI techniques and consistency that have been lost as "coolness" became the standard, not ease of use and user performance.
MacBird wants to be cross-platform, to include the most popular user platforms, Windows, Mac, Be, Java and Linux, in a compatible network of graphic user interfaces that go beyond what web browsers can do. And of course since it's Open Source it can be baked into the browsers, probably quite easily.
MacBird can also provide a discussion platform to teach C developers how to talk with user interface designers and vice versa. MacBird is close to what designers want. It's not perfect, tweaks and performance enhancements are totally possible. But it's much closer than anything that the Open Source world has created so far, imho.
My greatest hope for MacBird is that it can foster a conversation between Mac people and the gutsy revolutionaries who are pioneering Open Source software. We want to play, so let's do that.
We call our company UserLand because that's where our focus is and always has been. Servers are so important that we've built our own, but our work remains centered on the revolution that web *users* can create. To do that they want friendly user interfaces that don't surprise them. The no-brainer way to do that is to connect the Mac design community with the geek community around a mature base of free software.
Many thanks to Brad Pettit for helping with this source release. He put in two full days over the New Year holiday to get MacBird building in a modern Mac development environment.
I was very glad to get Brad's help. We worked together on MORE in the 1980s, so I like working with Brad, he's a thoughtful and generous and skilled programmer and designer, and he knows how to work on my code.
So thanks Brad and Happy New Year!
Today is a particularly good day to announce the Open Source release of MacBird, because it's also the opening day of MacWorld in San Francisco. What a perfect day to introduce the Mac world to the Open Source world, in a whole new way. Developer to developer, we can bring the magic of the Mac user experience to the new worlds of Open Source software.
More MacBird and Open Source philosophy here:
And the source code can be found here:
The other day we sang about the Blackbird. Fly Blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night. All your life you've just wanted to be free.
Fly MacBird fly!
PS: I'm also thinking about Apple. It would be great to have them embrace the bird!
PPS: I just realized that a penguin is a bird too. Ye-hi!