Tag Archives: os x

What’s coming in Delphi RAD Studio XE2: more details of 64-bit and Mac announced, introducing FireMonkey

Embarcadero’s David Intersimone has posted more details of what is coming in the new version of Delphi and RAD Studio XE2, to tie in with an international publicity tour.

One intriguing comment is a reference to FireMonkey:

with FireMonkey, the GPU-powered next-generation application platform, you’ll be able to create visually stunning HD and 3D business applications

Here is the teaser list of features:

  • Create GPU-powered FireMonkey applications
  • Build 64-bit Delphi applications
  • Create a single application and target both Windows and OS X
  • Extend your multi-tier DataSnap applications with new mobile and cloud connectivity in RAD Cloud
  • Connect any visual element to any type of data using LiveBindings™
  • Modernize the look and feel of your Windows applications with VCL styles
  • Create mobile-optimized web applications and standalone apps for iOS and Android devices using RadPHP

Hmm, so RAD Studio XE2 is targeting iOS and Android not with Delphi, but with RadPHP. That suggests some sort of HTML and JavaScript approach rather than a true native executable.

I was not greatly impressed with Delphi for PHP when I first looked at it. That was four years ago though, and since then Embarcadero has acquired Qadram, the third-party developer behind Delphi for PHP, so I would expect something more worthwhile in the forthcoming new version.

Update: Embarcadero’s Andreano Lanusse has posted more details about FireMonkey.

Living in an App Store world: what are the implications?

A few recent events prompt some reflections on the rise of app stores and the implications for developers and for the IT industry.

One is Apple’s OS X Lion release, available only through the Mac App Store; and the removal of the optical drive on the Mac Mini, making it hard to install shrink-wrap software.

Another is Adobe’s closure of its InMarket service and AIR Marketplace app store. Some app stores are doing better than others.

A third is TechCrunch reporting that book apps such as Nook and Kindle are being hobbled or removed from the Apple iOS store. While I cannot verify this at the moment – I still see the Kindle app in the store, and it still has a link to the Kindle web store – it is in tune with Apple’s announcement in February:

… publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

Enforcing this on an app such as Kindle promotes Apple’s own iBooks app and store.

There are lots of app stores out there, though one fewer with the forthcoming closure of AIR Marketplace, but how many of them matter? Here is my pick of the top three:

  • Apple iOS and Mac App Store – arguably two different stores, but since you access them with the same account I bracket them together.
  • Google Android Market – not a lock-in like Apple’s store, but still the primary store for Android.
  • Windows vNext marketplace – how this will work is not yet public, but the existence of a new app store in Windows 8 is widely rumoured and might be expected to tie in with what is already in place for Windows Phone 7.

Perhaps I am overstating the importance of the Windows 8 marketplace, given the failure of the Windows Vista marketplace, but given that Apple has now shown the way I find it hard to see how Microsoft can fail with this one.

Note that an app store is not just a marketing ploy. It is a software deployment and update tool.

App Stores score well in terms of usability. Another advantage is that users have a centralised mechanism for software updates, managed by the operating system. That is good for security, because it is unlikely to be disabled, and good for usability as it should mean fewer third-party updaters like those from Adobe, Oracle Java, Symantec and others.

App Stores typically enforce certain conditions on developers. In essence they must be well-behaved. For examples, the Mac App Store prohibits apps that request escalation to root privileges. Apple also rejects apps that use “deprecated or optionally installed technologies”, including specifically Java and by implication Adobe Flash or other runtimes.

This is great for security. In principle, if you decide that you will only install apps from the App Store, you can be confident that all your apps are well-behaved. On the Mac this is interesting; on Windows it would be a revolution.

What are the business implications though?

  • First, it is a significant source of new revenue for the operating system vendor. It gets a cut of everything.
  • Second, it gives tremendous empowerment to user ratings and reviews. On iOS or Android, if you want an app, you automatically search the app store and take note of factors such as user ratings and popularity. Most of us can figure that if there are few ratings or reviews, the app is not popular.

If you are a software company, getting high ratings and good reviews on app stores is now a key challenge, even more so than it is already with the likes of Amazon.

  • Speaking of Amazon, the third point is that app stores will not be welcomed by software resellers. They are simply being bypassed. Amazon is addressing this with its own App Store for Android; but can it really win against the official Google Android Market? Its MP3 store is better value than Apple’s iTunes, but has smaller market share.

Amazon has other business to fall back on, but specialist software resellers will be watching the growth of app stores nervously. Apple resellers in general are already hurting and diversifying, thanks in part to Apple bypassing them with releases like OS X Lion.

The app store revolution is good for users in many ways, especially as prices seem to end up lower than before, but there are worrying aspects. In particular, the ability of the operating system vendor to tilt the store in its own favour is a concern, and we will hear more complaints about that.

Finally, it is interesting to speculate how this may impact enterprise software deployment. Will Microsoft aim to link its forthcoming Windows app store to other deployment mechanisms such as System Center Configuration Manager? What about volume licensing sales, will resellers be able to keep hold of those? Maybe we will learn more of Microsoft’s story on this at the Build conference in September.

Adobe recommends Flash Builder, Adobe Reader users not to upgrade to Apple Mac OS X Lion

Apple and Adobe appear to have a difficult relationship, as shown by Apple CEO Steve Jobs with his Thoughts on Flash last year. Now it seems that there are issues for users of some Adobe products if they upgrade to the new version of OS X, Lion, just released.

Adobe’s FAQ on Creative Suite compatibility starts well:

Adobe and Apple have worked closely together to test that Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 and CS5.5 suite editions and individual products run reliably on Intel® based systems running Mac OS X Lion (v10.7) with optimal performance and user experience.

The FAQ adds that Creative Suite 3 and 4 also mostly work; but it gets worse:

Adobe Flash® Catalyst® CS5.5 and Adobe Flash Builder® 4.5 software are generally compatible with Mac OS X Lion; however, we have discovered issues that may degrade the user experience or affect use of the products. We do not recommend that these customers upgrade to Mac OS X v10.7.

Flash Catalyst CS5 and Flash Builder 4 will not work on Mac OS X v10.7. Adobe does not intend to update either of these products for use on Mac OS X v10.7. It is recommended that customers using these versions not upgrade to Mac OS X v10.7.

What is the problem with Flash Builder 4.5 on Lion? It seems to be to do with 3rd party components:

Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst are dependent upon a number of foundational technologies provided by third parties that are not yet fully compatible with Mac OS X v10.7. As these foundation pieces are certified on Lion, Adobe plans to undertake additional testing and issue a compatibility update to our products if applicable.

It would be good to know what these components are and whether there are real problems, or possibly Adobe is just being cautious.

There are also problems for users of Adobe Reader. Reading between the lines, it seems that Apple is discouraging the use of a third-party plug-in to render PDF in Safari, in favour of its own PDF renderer:

Adobe Reader plug-in and Acrobat plug-in are not compatible with the Safari 5.1 browser, which will ship with Mac OS X 10.7 and for 10.6 in July. Adobe Reader and Acrobat will continue to work as standalone applications on Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.6, and will render PDF documents outside of the browser. In addition, Safari 5.1 renders PDF documents natively. However, the Adobe Reader and Acrobat plug-ins will not function as expected in LiveCycle and Acrobat workflows that require either plug-in to render PDF documents in Safari 5.1

The problem is not with viewing standard PDF documents, but with documents and forms that require advanced features of the Adobe Reader to work. A partial workaround is to open documents outside Safari, but Adobe says this is not always enough:

In other cases, such as Adobe Reader, Acrobat and LiveCycle applications that utilize functionality like forms, digital signatures, portfolios, guides, 3D, extended PDFs and rights management, viewing a PDF inside the browser with the Adobe Reader or Acrobat plug-in may be required, and thus this workaround will not be successful.

and you cannot use Firefox either:

Acrobat Reader plug-in and Acrobat plug-in are dependent on the WebKit WebPlugin API and capabilities that were unique to Safari. Other browsers like Firefox, Chrome, or Opera do not have the required functionality to run the plug-ins properly.

The suggested solution is not to upgrade to Lion.

There are also some issues with the Flash Player. An inconclusive note in the FAQ suggests that hardware acceleration is not working:

Flash Player may cause higher CPU activity when playing a YouTube video. Possibly related to disabled hardware acceleration.

Update: Adobe now says hardware acceleration is OK on Lion.

In addition, if you right-click Flash content in the browser, you will find that the settings do not respond to mouse clicks.

Finally, when I fired up Dreamweaver CS 5.5 on Lion, the system informed me that there is a dependency on Java and prompted me to install it:


This went smoothly, Dreamweaver 5.5 opened and seems to work fine.

No Java or Adobe AIR apps in Apple’s Mac App Store

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines appear to forbid Java or Adobe AIR applications from being published in the store:

Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java, [PowerPC code requiring] Rosetta) will be rejected.

Since Adobe AIR is not shipped by default with OS X, any applications requiring that runtime will not qualify. Java is forbidden because Apple has deprecated its own build of Java; and while it seems supportive of Oracle’s official OpenJDK project for Mac OS X, apparently that support does not extend to allowing Java apps into the store.

Of course it is not only Java and Adobe AIR that are affected, but any apps that need a runtime.

There are many other provisions, most of which seem sensible in order to protect the user’s experience with the App Store. Some of them have potential for causing controversy:

Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them. Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected.

What defines duplication in this context? How will Apple test whether an app has “lasting entertainment value” – I presume this refers to games.

The situation on Mac OS X is different than on the iPhone or iPad, since users can easily install apps via other routes. That said, if the App Store catches on then not being included may become a significant disadvantage. Further, it will not surprise me if Apple starts hinting that non-approved apps carry more risk to the user, so that some users might decide to avoid anything without this official stamp of approval.

I wonder if Adobe will do a Flash packager for the Mac similar to that which it offers for iOS, to get round these restrictions?

Apple gives up on Xserve dedicated server hardware – looking towards the cloud?

Apple is scrapping is Xserve products, according to the latest information on its web site:

Xserve will no longer be available after January 31, but we’ll continue to fully support it. To learn more, view the PDF.

If you do indeed view the PDF, it confirms that:

Apple will not be developing a future version of Xserve

However, the Snow Leopard Server, a version of OS X tuned for server use, remains; and Apple suggests that you install it either on a Mac Pro or on a Mac Mini.


That’s all very well; but while a Mini might well make sense for a very small business, larger organisations will not be impressed by the lack of features like dual redundant power supplies, lights out management, and rack mounting, which the Xserve provides.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. One is that Apple is giving up on the server market. Largely true, I think; but my guess is that Apple realises that this type of on-premise server is under threat from the cloud. I do not see this as Apple giving up on corporate computing; that would be unexpected considering the gains it is making with Mac, iPhone and iPad. I do see this as a move towards a client and cloud, or device and cloud, strategy. In that context it is not so surprising.

That said, I imagine there are a few businesses out there focused on supplying Xserve-based systems who will be disappointed by the news. I’ve not used one myself; but from what I’ve heard it is rather good.

Apple deprecates Java

Apple has deprecated the version of Java that it ports and maintains for OS X:

As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the version of Java that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X, is deprecated.

This means that the Apple-produced runtime will not be maintained at the same level, and may be removed from future versions of Mac OS X. The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, will continue to be supported and maintained through the standard support cycles of those products.

This is not altogether a bad thing for Java. Waiting for Apple to update its official version has been a frustration for Java developers on the Mac. If Oracle now takes responsibility for delivering the JVM for OS X, it may keep in step.

Unfortunately there is not currently an Oracle JVM for OS X. Nor does the open source Apache Harmony support it. In the light of Apple’s announcement I imagine both may address this lack; though a further complication is that IBM has recently abandoned Harmony in favour of the Open JDK.

Further, in making this statement Apple is further discouraging use of Java application on OS X. This announcement should be put together with this one, in the new developer agreement for apps submitted to the forthcoming Mac App Store, a desktop version of the iOS App Store:

3.3.1    Applications may only use public APIs and frameworks included in the default installation of Mac OS X or as bundled with Xcode as provided by Apple, deprecated technologies (such as Java) may not be used.

I doubt Apple will ever attempt to lock down desktop OS X, iPad-style. But I think we will see strong encouragement from Apple steering users towards App Store installs. There will be hints that it is safer and better, the true Mac way to get apps onto your machine.

Remember the early days of Java? One of the reasons it won support was that it reduced the industry’s dependence on a single vendor and its operating system.

Plenty to think about as Apple increases its market share.

[Updated to clarify non-availability of alternative JVMs for OS X]