Thursday, June 28, 2007

Apple is not your friend

Well, if you've been reading my previous posts about Apple's tardiness in posting the 9a466 (or whatever it is) Leopard beta to developers who paid for ADC Select or Premiere membership, you'll know I'm not a happy bunny. WWDC attendees received that beta nearly three weeks ago now. And you know what? That beta is now available on torrent sites. Meaning that pirates out there are running a version of Leopard for which they have not paid, whilst legitimate law-abiding ADC Select members such as myself still have no access to that version of Leopard despite having paid Apple for the "latest" Leopard releases - in other words, we have paid for exactly that copy.

Do Apple care?

No, they do not.

I have written to them several times, with no reply. All developers received a general "you will receive the WWDC beta soon via ADC download" e-mail a few days ago. And when I e-mailed them to remind them that they had not replied to my earlier e-mails, they repeated the "soon" message to me.

Well, you know what? I've lost interest. I won't pay for a Select ADC membership again, and I strongly advise other indie developers to think seriously before wasting money on it. Yes, you get hardware discounts, but the main impetus for coughing up for a paid ADC account is pre-release OS X versions. Given that Apple don't honour what you pay for, I strongly recommend not buying into this scam. Sadly, it will mean that users of my software lose out a little in future, in that if I do not pay for pre-release versions of the OS, then I can't guarantee that my software will run on the first release of any new OS upgrade. But if Apple don't make available the new releases of their OS to those of us who have paid for exactly that, then what is the point? The really sad thing in all of this is that I have got so p***ed off at Apple that I have not touched Scrivener development for three weeks now. When I finally get access to the new beta I will hopefully get my enthusiasm back, but as an indie developer, with Apple treating me as though I am worthless, it makes it really hard for me to get enthusiastic about updating a help file or adding a small tweak here or there.

There really are times when I wish I had chosen to develop for Windows. Surely Microsoft cannot treat developers as poorly as Apple do? Apple is not your friend. They make lovely machines and a great OS, but they care very little for users or developers, it seems.

In fact, it seems that the Apple developer model works something like this: 1) Pay hundreds of dollars for ADC membership and an "Early Start Kit" that gives access to latest OS versions; 2) Once you've paid, the latest versions will actually be withheld unless you pay thousands of dollars for a WWDC ticket and travel across the world to attend.

Oh, and if you can't attend, it's not just the beta that is held back, but also any knowledge shared by engineers.

I don't why I'm so surprised - I guess it's just years of Macheads telling me that Microsoft were evil and Apple were Good. When you finally switch to a Mac and develop for the platform for a few years, you soon realise that Apple are just as bad as MS - they just happen to be much smaller and less popular.

So: really, really poor. Please do think twice before paying for ADC membership.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are Apple taking the proverbial?

No, but really, are they?

A couple of days ago I posted moaning about how Apple have not bothered to seed the latest beta of Leopard to paying ADC Select and Premier members who did not attend WWDC (despite the advertising on the Leopard Early Start Kit web page making it very clear that paying for membership entitles you to the latest versions of Leopard).

I am a very conscientious developer, I like to think. Whenever I come across a bug in the OS, I post it over at I have posted a number of bugs related to developer seeds of Leopard. Well, today I received an e-mail from the Apple bug reporting team telling me that they believe that in the latest - WWDC - seed of Leopard they have fixed one of the bugs I reported. They asked me to test it and get back to them on whether it is, indeed, fixed.

So I repeat my question: are they taking the ****? Because they haven't released the WWDC beta of Leopard to anyone who did not attend WWDC, so how on earth can I test this? I replied with a very terse e-mail asking them to keep the bug report open given that there was no way I could test until I received what I had already paid for - namely, the latest developer seed.

What really worries me more than anything in all of this is that I can find no evidence of other developers getting really riled by what I see as seriously questionable behaviour on the part of Apple. Surely there must be other developers out there who feel that Apple are behaving immorally in all of this? Apparently not. At most, other developers are sighing, "Oh, I've been through the release cycle before, it always takes them a month or two to get this sort of thing up on ADC," as though that makes it all okay. Oh well. I guess I just have an overdeveloped sense of justice / desire for Leopard / desire to receive from a company what I have rightfully paid for (delete as appropriate, I just don't know any more).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Leopard beta for the rest of us?

As you may or may not know (and whether you care is a different matter entirely), today is the last day of Apple's WWDC (World Wide Developers' Conference) in San Francisco. If you're an Apple buff, you've probably seen the keynote, showing off Leopard. Yes, the keynote was a little underwhelming. Leopard looks fantastic, but it does seem odd that after being told that it has 300 new features, of the ten that His Jobsness previewed, 8 had already been revealed at last year's conference. Still, it looks like the biggest release for a while, and unifying the interface is a Good Thing.

You may also have heard that developers attending the conference were given the brand spanking new Leopard Beta to take home with them. Now, this has me mightily - well, vexed. I paid $500 this year for the Apple Developer Connection Select membership, which includes Leopard seeds. I run the latest developer seed and the developer tools upon which I rely for Scrivener crash constantly. As a developer and a paid-up member of the Apple developer program, I am outraged that they have used the beta as a carrot for attending their developers' conference. It annoys me doubly because I would have really liked to attend WWDC this year, but it was just not possible. I live in the UK, which means that - for a start - on top of the ticket price I have to pay a small fortune for a flight and a hotel. But more of an issue is that, as a shareware developer, I also have a day job. I can just see the look on my headteacher's face when I tell her that she needs to book a supply teacher for a week because I am attending a conference in the US...

WWDC tickets, incidentally, cost just under $1,600. I have seen comments from developers on the web saying that, having paid this money, they are entitled to a feeling of smugness about getting their hands on the new beta. But are they? If the conference is not worth $1,600 without the beta carrot (hmm) then what is the implication? Of course, it is worth it. I would have loved to go not because of the idea of getting the beta into my hands first (that would just have been an added bonus). No, the main reason would be for the sheer number of useful sessions, to be able to talk to Apple engineers and get tips on developing for Leopard, or really harnessing the power of OS X. I could have cornered an engineer and got them to help me start adding AppleScript support to Scrivener. That would have been worth more than a Leopard beta, and I am gutted that Apple don't provide some smaller conferences with engineers available in the UK or Europe.

But... the beta. I need the Leopard beta to ensure that Scrivener works perfectly on Leopard. I need it to continue development without continual crashes. (And yes, seeing the new dock and menu bar for myself would be nice too, I don't deny it.) But more importantly, I have *paid* for the Leopard Early Start kit. Leopard have my cash, and now they penalise me for not attending a conference in another country that I just could not possibly have made.

Who knows? Maybe the new beta will be available for download for ADC members on Monday. If so, I will be happy and not to aggrieved that the release wasn't simultaneous. But based on previous WWDC seeds a lot of speculators have been suggesting that it could be nearer a month or two before the beta is made available to non-attendees. Should that be the case, I won't be signing up for ADC next year, that's for sure.

ADDENDUM: As the obsessive-compulsive I am, I signed into the Leopard Dev Center (available to paying ADC Premier and Select members) today in the vain hope that the beta may have been posted. I normally sign in a different route, so I hadn't noticed this before, but right at the top of the Leopard Dev Center is the title "Leopard Seeds" with this text beneath it:
Download the latest pre-release versions of the Mac OS X Leopard and Xcode 3.0 as soon as they become available.

Are they taking the proverbial? Because beneath that is still the old Leopard seed from a couple of months ago, and no sign of the actual latest pre-release version, the WWDC beta. What's even worse is that Apple are selling the Leopard Early Start Kit on the promise that those who buy it will get the very latest seed. Check out the Leopard Early Start Kit page, where you will see this promise:
Fast track your Mac OS X Leopard development by downloading the latest pre-release versions of Mac OS X Leopard and Xcode 3.0

Which is, of course, exactly why I purchased my Select membership in the first place. Note the key words here: latest pre-release versions, as they become available. Yeah, yeah, I know - I should get a life. When (if?) they finally do seed the beta to the rest of us, I'll be happy as a pig in mud and forget all this anger (which leads to fear which leads to hate etc). But that's not really the point. The point is that Apple seems more interested in penalising developers for not attending an expensive conference than in providing them with the tools they need to make excellent Leopard-ready applications as soon as possible; and this mindset indicates that Apple cares very little for independent shareware developers who live overseas. Like, oh, say - just for example - me.