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Article:
  Apple's High-Water Mark?
Subject:   Universal Binary is not a certification program
Date:   2006-03-29 12:33:15
From:   AdrienLamothe
Response to: Universal Binary is not a certification program

When you opt to use a multi-platform development kit, you have to utilize a new set of system calls in your code, link to new libraries, and in some cases utilize a run-time engine. Unless you plan to maintain the kit yourself (and have the right to do so,) you are dependant on other people for enhancements, bug fixes and insuring the kit will work for future versions of the target operating systems.


Trolltech, developer of the QT multi-platform SDK, actually open-sources their code under GPL. If you use the kit for commercial purposes, then you pay Trolltech a licensing fee, otherwise their kit is free to use. If Trolltech ever goes out of business, people can continue to enhance the kit, because they have the source code.


I've been in a situation where a company had based a critical piece of their software infrastructure on proprietary middleware. The middleware vendor was then sold to another company, at which point the brilliant founder, who was also the lead developer, left the company. From that point on, no updates were released for the product. The source code wasn't available. Worse, not having updates prevented the user from upgrading to new hardware and operating system versions. And they couldn't just throw the system away, their business depended on it. Overall, a bad situation to be in.


Cheers,


Adrien



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  • Universal Binary is not a certification program
    2006-03-30 06:53:43  jdodds [View]

    Xcode is an IDE. It's not a 'multi-platform development kit.' It is not an alternative to something like Qt. But, as Trolltech's website notes, Xcode is a supported IDE for Qt/Mac development.

    Adobe put themselves in a tight spot by not recognizing (or at least not reacting to) the handwriting on the wall regarding Metrowerks. Adobe's dependence on Metrowerks' IDE and libraries is similar to your story about the proprietary middleware.

    I don't think Xcode represents the same risk. First, if you're targeting Mac OS X then you're already depending on Apple. If Apple loses interest in computers and becomes a consumer electronics company your investment in Mac OS X development may be a lost regardless of your choice to use Xcode or not. Second, Xcode has little or no direct competition right now. Paradoxically that's good. Apple needs developers so Apple needs to support good developer tools.

    You are always "putting your coding effort in the hands of other people." Even when you are using open source. The potential advantage of open source is that by providing more options the risk factors are changed.