Last time Chris and I talked business based on theatrical design. This time we will discuss developing for the Mac and OS X.

Why do you use a Mac and what got you started in programming?

I started using a Mac because that’s what my dad bought. I didn’t want him to buy it; I desperately wanted a computer that would play video games. I was really disappointed when he went with the Mac. In my old room back home I’ve got his old Tandy, an Apple II, a Mac Plus, and down in the basement is an LC 475, a Performa…you get the idea.

My first programming experience was in BASIC on the either the Tandy or the Apple–I forget which one. It was basically a pastiche program where I started mindlessly writing lines of code, adding anything I could at whatever point I happened to think of it. So, you know, start with a PRINT statement, and then a little choose-your-own-adventure style action, and oh, hey, now let’s play a little synthesized tune because I got to that part in the manual. I left that computer plugged in for a few days because I didn’t want the program to die and we didn’t have a disk drive.

What is your favorite piece of software?

The software that runs my digital watch. I don’t wear a watch anymore except when I run, but even when I wore it daily it had *exactly* the features I wanted, and zero bugs. It’s as close to perfect as any piece of software I’ve ever used.

What kind of Windows programming knowledge and experience do you have?

I have zero experience programming on Windows.

Any particular reason why not?

I’ve just never had any reason to learn. I used Macs at home and Linux machines at work and school.

What is the best thing you like about developing for the Mac?

Cocoa. Objective C.

Why is that?

They allow me to focus on solving my own problems, because they have most of the basic cookie-cutter problems already solved.

What is the worst thing you hate about developing for the Mac?

Quicktime. Exciting but buggy new APIs.

Is that related to Quicktime X? Are there any new features in Quicktime that have you really excited for QLab’s future development?

No, it’s not related to Quicktime X. (And I couldn’t tell you about it if it was!)

Quicktime X is supposed to clean up Quicktime, and I hope they succeed. Quicktime has been around a long, long time, and although it is very powerful it is also a monstrous beast of a framework, hairy warts and all.

It is certainly a good sign that Apple decided to spend an entire release cycle fixing bugs. OS X is chock full of amazing features right now, but they don’t all work as advertised. It is exactly the right time to focus on smoothing out the wrinkles. I’m very pleased they made that move. Now I just hope it works.

Do you read any Mac community blogs or websites?


Why not?

Because it’s just a computer company. In the grand scheme of things, news about Apple is not very interesting news.

My blog reading falls into these categories:

– Friends

– Baltimore

– Programming / Design / Entrepreneurship

– Politics


– Theater

There are a multitude of Mac audio applications from all sizes of companies for all skill levels, that do all kinds of things to audio like Amadeus, Fusion, MaxMSP, WireTap Studio, soundflower, etc what do you attribute that to?

OS X is a great development environment for audio. The CoreAudio team really did a fantastic job, and developing on OS X is, in general, a really rewarding experience. You can get a lot done in a very short period of time.

Apple’s App Store has caused quite the “gold rush” and has brought developers from all over the world with all kinds of backgrounds to Cocoa and mac development how do you see this affecting the desktop apps that will be developed for the Mac in the future?

You can already see design lessons from the iPhone coming into desktop applications. For example, look at the desktop version of Tweetie: that’s a great desktop app that has many iPhone influences.

In general I think we’ll see a certain re-commitment to deep simplicity. Mac culture has always had that in its genes, but I think all the work on iPhone apps will reconfirm that philosophy.

Do you see yourself entering the iPhone/iPod Touch development world? If so in what way would it be related to QLab or a new product all together?

Not until Apple opens up the platform. They’ve got a beautiful platform, but as long as I can’t be sure that my hard work would actually show up in the App Store, I’m not touching it.

Along those same lines what are some of the other apps in the Figure53 development pipeline?

Oh, I’ve got a few ideas in the works. 🙂

Many consider programming an art from in and of it self how do you see it? Are Java, Coca, .Net etc. the oil paints of the 21st century or are they the nuts and bolts that help make time saving appliances like a dishwasher or other items like that?

If I had to pick one or the other, I’d call it an art that requires engineering. Because the end goal is an artistic goal: the creation of an artistic vision. A highly functional artistic vision, but still an artistic vision.

I love it when a museum curates a show on the design of functional things. They’ll have irons and scissors and cars all up on display. Those things are functional art, which is especially interesting to me because it is art that must exist in service to something else. You could see that as a limitation, or you could see that as a way to keep you honest. I prefer to see it as the latter.

Finally Where do you come down on the Macbooks without firewire? Is this something Apple will stick to? Or do you think we will see firewire return with the next refresh? Do you think it was a good idea to remove it in the first place?

I’ve never really wanted to purchase a MacBook, so I don’t have a strong personal reaction to it. I always prefer to buy as much computer at any one time as I can afford, and then I hold on to it for awhile.

The next post will cover the program that changed sound design as we know it; QLab and its origins.