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Apple Launches Reference Library 46

Posted by pudge
from the woo-hoo dept.
andy55 writes "If you thought Apple's online dev resources were already the best out there, they just got better. Apple has announced the launch of their new ADC Reference Library. Named features are: powerful search options, added navigation, 'Getting Started; docs on key technologies, and a more consistent organization. Impressively, the first search I ran in their search engine on a painful Mach-O dev issue I've been fighting for the last week turned up the key obscure tech info I needed!" Meanwhile, skrysakj writes "Apple has launched a new Reference Library. I always thought their help/references for Developers was spotty (either non-existent or dead on) so this should be a welcome change."
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Apple Launches Reference Library

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  • Great stuff (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiktokfx (699424) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @12:32PM (#8621142)
    However, in reference to the "spotty references" on developing... there's plenty of reference material for those who look... nice heavy folder full of documentation in the developer tools installation.
  • Paranoid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2004 @12:42PM (#8621196)
    Even though I have no prior reason for distrusting Apple, I get the feeling that eventually this information will be accessible to developers paying a premium rather than those of us who signed up for the free account.

    Anyone know if the ADC is going to replace the current /Developer/Documentation that comes with OSX? 6 years ago I used to sit and while away the hours reading man pages and HOWTOs in Linux, and since I bought a PowerBook I find I'm doing the same kind of thing with their docs which I have locally installed. The ADC (that's Apple Developer Connection, not the monitor connector ;) looks awesome, but a local, offline copy would be even better.

    I guess I could always buy a printer...
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      after looking at the way the directory is set up, maybe you could try wget
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Informative)

      by the_proton (257557) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @01:18PM (#8621368)
      The local offline copy should be part of the next Xcode release. The documentation that comes with Xcode is just a snapshot of what was on the various areas of the ADC site as the software was released.

      - proton
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jwthompson2 (749521) * <james@plainprog r a m s.com> on Saturday March 20, 2004 @01:18PM (#8621369) Homepage
      I think your paranoia is somewhat interesting but the current model that Apple has with distributing XCode and other development resources freely with their operating system is the most valuable model. Heck, MS is talking about have command line development tools available in the default install of Longhorn. The concept of 'every user a developer' is something Apple is and will continue to benefit from if they maintain their current stance.
      • Re:Paranoid (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heck, MS is talking about have command line development tools available in the default install of Longhorn.

        debug has been a part of the default Windows install for years ;)

      • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jamesbrown1000 (39200) on Sunday March 21, 2004 @01:15PM (#8627925) Homepage Journal
        I agree wholeheartedly.

        I started a new job in January and my supervisor is a big AppleScript guy. From that, I've started learning AppleScript Studio in Xcode. There isn't much I can't do with AppleScript and shell scripts, and that's led me to write my own little apps in the past month or so.

        Every user has the power to make his own software. How cool is that?
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Unregistered (584479)
      I doubt it. The main thing that hurts Apple is the lact of apps available. I doubt they would do anything that would scare off potential developers.
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Graff (532189) on Sunday March 21, 2004 @02:26AM (#8625721)
      Even though I have no prior reason for distrusting Apple, I get the feeling that eventually this information will be accessible to developers paying a premium rather than those of us who signed up for the free account.

      Actually, if anything Apple has gotten more free with its documentation. It used to be that Apple sold huge tomes called "Inside Macintosh" which described the inner workings and APIs of the Mac. There were at least 2 dozen of these books which covered every inch of programming on a Mac, gathered by topic. Each of these books would run $35 or so. You didn't need every one of them but it really helped to have about a half dozen of the key ones, so figure about $35 * 6 = around $200.

      As Apple entered its current Mac OS X stage it began to take on more and more of a open-source flavor. Documentation was being distributed along with free programming tools, prices were dropping to become a registered developer, a free type of registered developer appeared, code was being released back to the community with minimal licenses, etc.

      Right now it is the best time to be an Apple developer. It literally costs you nothing to become an official registered developer. If you do pay for one of the higher levels of being a registered developer you get significant price breaks and free stuff which pays many timed over for the price of registering. Students can pay a pittance of $100 and they get way over $500 in benefits. Apple staff is very responsive on their mailing lists and there are a ton of new developers out there who share your enthusiasm and who are willing to help.

      As a worst case, even if Apple does change its policy (not likely because they WANT people to program for the Mac) and starts charging for programming documentation it is unlikely that the free programming information out there will disappear. That's because EVERY version of Mac OS sold in the last few years includes this free documentation. There's no way that Apple will change its APIs fast enough to make that documentation obsolete for at least a decade. Yeah a command here or there might get depreciated but Apple takes their time in truly tossing anything out. You will be fairly safe using old, free documentation that you can get freely off a Mac OS X cd from a few years past.
      • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bar-agent (698856)
        The Inside Macintosh volumes were incredibly useful. The thoroughly covered all aspects of a topic, and had a really good cross-reference.

        But then they stopped putting out Inside Macintosh. Everything started being documented in technotes and hard-to-find articles.

        But it looks like Apple's definitely got their act together as far as content goes. Now all they need is a better look-up system in their mailing list archives.
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pudge (3605) *
      Apple has put all its developer docs online, for free, since 1996 or earlier (when I started downloading all the Inside Mac volumes in PDF). I see no reason to suspect they will start charging money any time soon.
    • I don't know why you'd get that feeling. It is in Apple's interest to make the docs available as widely as possible. As for developer docs on your local drive, they're included with every release of the developer tools.

      -jcr
  • by Chief Typist (110285) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @02:16PM (#8621679) Homepage
    The newly release Reference Library is very well organized and makes finding things much easier. Good job, Apple! It's been a long time coming!

    There's still a problem, though. Much of the "state of the art" documentation is actually happening on the Mac OS X and Cocoa mailing lists. It's good to have reference materials, but if you're looking for information on the latest & greatest addition to the OS, go search the archives [mamasam.com].

    You'll find that you can get answers directly from the developers before the reference materials are formalized and made public. As an example, in the months following last year's WWDC, there was a ton of information on the lists about the new Cocoa Bindings. As a developer who wants to stay on the leading edge of Mac OS X product development, this is invaluable.

    Also, the guy that is running the mailing list archive, is looking for donations. If you are a developer who uses these archives, PLEASE DONATE.

    -ch
  • good for beginners (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bodrell (665409) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @02:18PM (#8621686) Journal
    Apple has done everything in their power to make developing software for OS X as easy as possible. There's the tutorial for the "Currency Exchanger" program, to get started with Project Builder, and there is always to option to throw together a shell script if the whole build process is too scary.

    I don't know shit about programming, but I'm learning. And having a bash shell, with actually useful commands, is really helpful to that goal. So many people don't understand the appeal of a command line, or think that you have to pick a nice GUI or a nice CLI, but that's bullshit. Someone actually asked why I would care about the GUI if I spend so much time with the command line. It seems obvious to me--I can carry on everyday operations with apps familiar to me, but can craft more and more complex helper apps/scripts in my free time. Much simpler than rebooting into Linux when I feel like experimenting, then getting frustrated that I can't burn a CD because the procedure is too complex and having to reboot into a more idiot-proof OS. I welcome any enhancement that makes development easier for the ignorant (like me), and avoids rebooting.

    Oh, and I don't want to hear anyone try to compare Windows' cmd.exe with a bash shell. I do use the Windows command line, but it's a total cripple compared to any UNIX shell. Sure there's Cygwin and Mingwin (or something like that), but they aren't very integrated.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2004 @03:24PM (#8622091)
      Oh, and I don't want to hear anyone try to compare Windows' cmd.exe with a bash shell.

      Too bad :P I like cmd.exe and use it every day. Some features it has that give it some respectability:

      • Redirection operators < > |
      • Logical operators && ||
      • Macros somewhat similar to bash's. Try doskey macro_name=command_line
      • Ability to redirect stderr to stdout Try 2>1 or 1<&2
      • User-defined file descriptors (or in Windows-speak, handles). >&3 >&4 and so on up to 9
      • improved looping. for /l %a in (start,step,end) do for_body for iterative loops.
      • better text file parsing. Try for /f. You can read in a text file, break it up into tokens and pass the tokens to a command. You can also do that with command output or strings.
      • Tab completion
      • /dev/null workalike. Redirect to NUL instead.
      • directory stacks. pushd and popd
      • Ability to read in input and store it into a variable. set /p variable=promptString
      • Advanced arithmetic. set /a can do modulus, bitshifts, bit flipping, compound assignment, xor, bitwise or, bitwise and
      • improved decision selection. if string operator string body The operator can be equ for equal, gtr for greater than, and so on.
      • grep replacement, findstr. Has the ability to use regular expressions.
      Anyway, cmd.exe is not as crippled as command.com. It is much more capable and useful. It can even somewhat hold its own against Unix shells.
      • by quecojones (108609) <quecojones@@@quecojones...net> on Saturday March 20, 2004 @04:14PM (#8622408) Homepage

        So, basically, you're saying cmd.exe has all the stuff bash and, I assume, most of the other UNIX shells have had for ages?

        About time. 8)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        without screen it's pretty useless.

        Add the fact that there isn't a decent editor like vim or emacs. I just double-checked Windows 2003 Server command line, and the about box says "MS-Dos Editor Version 2.0.026 (C) 1995". They haven't updated the QBasic pad, in an operating system that's supposedly cutting-edge.
        It can even somewhat hold its own against Unix shells.

        No, I'm sorry. It cannot.
        • Boy, if this isn't a case of, "I know what I know," I'm not sure what is. But then I just said that. ;^)

          Folks, it's all zeroes and ones. All we're really talking about here is running & interacting with programs from standard input and reading from standard output. I imagine you could gentoo together a nice, bare version of Linux that had as few (or many, as your half-filled glass may appear to you today) applications available as there are by default in Win2k.

          Personally I quite enjoy cmd.exe and u
  • Things I miss. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BibelBiber (557179) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @06:38PM (#8623234)
    Some of the things I miss from ADC is that documentation updates that seem to be on a regular basis are not downloadable. I don't have access to the net all the time I develop so it would be nice to have it completely offline. As well a search function would be nice. I have it aliased in my apache so a simple php search would be convenient.
  • AppKiDo (Score:5, Informative)

    by rixstep (611236) on Saturday March 20, 2004 @08:30PM (#8623741) Homepage
    Don't want to tout someone's product, but seriously: if you're a pro here, you can't make it fast or far without Andy Lee's AppKiDo. It's easy to Google to, and it's free.

    What Andy does is parse the actual documentation you already have on disk, but he does a much better job of it than Apple. Searches are better, faster, more flexible, and so are the renderings.

    It's one of the truly indispensable programs out there.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:03PM (#8636689) Homepage
    ...this is a another sad case of Apple regressing to the mean.

    From 1984 through, say, 1998, Apple documentation was some of the best documentation I've ever used. (And I've used the VAX/VMS documentation that came in thirty-or-so China-red binders). Apple documentation accurate, well-written, well-organized, thorough, complete, and written in a down-to-earth developer-to-developer tone of voice.

    Meanwhile, my colleagues developing for Windows were struggling with DDK components that were "documented" only with sample code, getting hints and tips from magazine articles, or reading "official" MS material that mixed an enormous amount of propaganda with the technical information.

    Unfortunately, one of the things that appears to have come in with the NeXT subculture is a more casual attitude toward documentation. Perhaps they were too much in a hurry to release OS X (did I actually say perhaps?) Perhaps it's a not-so-benign influence of open-source development. I still find all too often that the header files are as good or better documentation than the documents.

    OS X documentation is much, much better than it was, say, a year-and-a-half ago, so hopefully this is being addressed. But it really is a pity to journey from superb documentation to inadequate documentation, then climb slowly up to sorta-OK documentation.

    The release of the hardbound Inside Mac volumes 1-3 had a tremendous impact within a certain now-defunct Fortune 500 minicomputer company. One director was running around slamming it down on peoples' desks and saying "Look at this! What does it say about Apple? They expect their software to be around forever!"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Unfortunately, one of the things that appears to have come in with the NeXT subculture is a more casual attitude toward documentation.

      Not hardly. NeXT was noted for excellent documentation, particularly the NeXTSTEP concepts doc.

      The long and short of it is, Apple simply has a lot more to document than they ever did before, and they're doing the best they can to get it out the door ASAP.

      If you have specific (keyword SPECIFIC) issues with any of apple's docs, file a report at bugreporter.apple.com. Just
    • "... a certain now-defunct Fortune 500 minicomputer company."

      A now-defunct minicomputer company? Yup, that sure narrows it down.

  • To the best that I can tell, none of the documentation is actually new, they just put a nice index page up which makes it possible to find things that you are looking for. All of the documentation was available previously, if you could find it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Apple documentation does not specify what goes with which version of what operating system, nor does it mention what other dependencies use might entail. Microsoft documentation always states clearly which function calls require what - and what OS. Developers can adjust their code accordingly and at least leave the user with 'graceful failure', ie 'Sorry, this application requires Microsoft Windows blah-blah and Internet Explorer 14.0.'

    The Apple stuff does none of the kind. Oh it's there all right - it's j

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