Big Improvements to Mac Development Coming

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Mac OS X is a platform that affords development in many languages. However, the most influential branch, and the one Apple focuses on the most, is Objective-C and the Cocoa framework. At the recent WWDC, Apple introduced significant improvements to both Objective-C and their Xcode IDE, according to Tom Yager writing for Computerworld.

"With Leopard," Mr. Yager wrote, "Apple makes its most concerted run yet at drawing developers into creating applications that exploit the full Mac platform, starting with Xcode 3.0, a dramatic set of enhancements to Appleis free and official IDE."

The changes to Xcode 3.0 avoid the trap of added complexity for those who dislike a monster IDE full of toolbars, modes, and windows. For example, a developer can now see warnings right in the source code without opening a window with build messages.

In addition, Code Sense presents a drop down list of code completion options. Dramatic improvements were made to scrolling speed, and code can now be "folded" in order to focus on the overall structure of the code. Shading of code areas allows the author to focus on specific blocks of code.

Finally, Objective-C gets some much needed improvements. "The greatest of these features is garbage collection," Mr. Yager observed. "The bane of Mac developersi existence is the need to manually track memory and resource allocation during the course of an applicationis operation. That becomes a big challenge as objects are passed around by reference. Garbage collection addresses this by automatically freeing resources and allocated memory when theyire no longer needed. It takes a toll on performance, but nothing near the penalty imposed by a move to a dynamic language like Java or C#."

Mr. Yager, a luminary in the Apple universe, predicted that the "result will be more high-performance native-code applications for the Mac, and that will be a windfall for Mac users post-Leopard."

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