Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
MacApp was Apple Computer's primary object oriented application framework for the Mac OS for much of the 1990s. First released in 1985, it is arguably the first such system to be widely used, notably on a microcomputer platform. Microsoft's MFC and Borland's OWL were both based directly on MacApp concepts. It seems that Apple paid less attention to it than others, however, as it was alternately developed intensely and then ignored for long periods through the 1990s. Many Mac developers eventually give up on it in digust and moved to newer tools such as CodeWarrior's PowerPlant and Symantec's TCL. MacApp had a brief repreve between 2000 and 2001, but after demoing a new version at WWDC in June 2001, all development was cancelled that October. Even with this checkered career, MacApp was used for a variety of major applications, including Adobe PhotoShop.
MacApp developed out of a number of projects within Apple in the early 1980s based on Object Pascal, which, at the time, was Apple's language of choice for Mac programming. Writing a Mac program without an application framework is not an easy task, but at the time the object oriented programming field was still very new and considered somewhat suspect by many developers. Early frameworks tended to confirm this suspicion, being large, slow, and typically inflexible.
MacApp was perhaps the first truely usable framework in all meanings of the term. Compiled applications were quite reasonable in terms of size and memory footprint, and the performance was not bad enough to make developers shy from it. Although "too simple" in its first releases, a number of follow-up versions quickly addressed the main problems. By this point, around 1987, the system had matured into a useful tool, and a number of developers starting using it on major projects. Given the small memory sizes and slow speeds of machines of the era, however, developer uptake was not particularily widespread.
At this point the market was moving towards C++, and Apple was forced to move as well. The resulting MacApp 3.0 was subject to a long and heated debate between proponents of Object Pascal and C++ in the UseNet and other forums. Nevertheless 3.0 managed to garner a reasonable following after its release in 1991, even though the developer suite, Macintosh Programmer's Workshop (MPW), was growing hopelessly outdated. Posed for what appeared to be a success story, Apple then downsized the entire developer tools group, leaving both MacApp and MPW high and dry.
Through the early 1990s competing frameworks grew into real competitors to MacApp. First Symantec's TCL garnered a small following, but then Metrowerks' PowerPlant generally took over the entire market. Nevertheless there remained a core of loyal MacApp users who grew increasingly frustrated at Apple's behavior, which by the late 1990s had grown to outright pooh-poohing of their own product with the introduction of Cocoa. Things were so bad that a group of MacApp users went so far as to organize their own meeting at WWDC'98 under an assumed name, in order to avoid having Apple staffers refuse them a room to meet in.
These antics did not go entirely unnoticed within Apple, and in late 1999 a "new" team, consisting of members who had worked on it all along, was put together to bring out a new version. Included was the new Apple Class Library (ACL), a thinner layer of C++ wrappers for many of the new Mac OS features being introduced from OpenStep. MacApp XV was released on August 28, 2001 to the delight of many, all of whom were around to see history repeat itself only a few months later when the product was killed once again, this time likely forever.
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