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.