Saturday, 29 August 2009

Why I'm Excited about Snow Leopard

I'd really like to think that Snow Leopard is going to change the world. Well, at least a small portion of it. Think about operating system that is pretty much a feature free update (a nightmare for the marketing guys), but which is leaner and faster than ever before, while maintaining and enhancing its current feature set.

When I started programming back in the early 80s, we had 32Kb-64Kb of memory space, 20Mb hard disks were prohibitively expensive and compilations of even the simplest programmes on mainframes ran overnight. All these factors meant that programmers had to choose their functionality and their design carefully, code effectively, efficiently and with due diligence and think about doing things right one time only.

The advent of the PC, cheaper memory and disks, along with compilers like Turbo Pascal began to change the programming world. Programmers could be more complacent - their code didn't have to be so tight, they could write and compile code in increasingly shorter cycles and let the programming tools take on the brunt of the thinking.

As software became a commodity, marketing took over and rich (often useless) features became the key differentiators between products. Products that used to ship on a floppy disk, started to ship on stacks of floppies, then onto CDs and now onto DVDs. And many programmers (especially commercial programmers) became sloppier and produced buggier code which they were forced to ship by increasingly desperate product managers.

Many programmes would still love to produce good quality, elegant, efficient and effective code but are not allowed the time to do so. Refactoring and redesign are rare occurrences in the commercial world (usually only happening when disaster strikes).

So hats off to Apple engineers and product managers who appear to have got back to the golden age of software development with Snow Leopard. I can't wait to get my hands on it...

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