Java News from Thursday, January 8, 2004

The figure that sticks in my memory from Steve Jobs' keynote on Tuesday is that 40% of the installed Mac base is running Mac OS X. If that's true, then 60% (including me) are still running Mac OS 9. Which makes me wonder: why do I find it so hard to find decent, new software for Mac OS 9? In some cases it's obvious. The software is written in Java, which Apple never supported adequately on Mac OS 9, or it's a port of old Unix software, and even Mac OS X support is an after thought. Or it's freeware written primarily for the programmer's own amusement.

However, I really do have to wonder when longtime Mac software copmpanies and hardware vendors drop support for Mac OS 9, and when nobody wants to sell to this market. For instance, I would have paio for an upgrade to the latest version of my FTP client Fetch a year ago (when Mac OS X was an even smaller percentage of the installed base) if it had offered secure FTP support on Mac OS 9, but it didn't. Secure FTP was only available on the Mac OS X version, so they lost a sale. Bare Bones lost at least one upgrade to BBEdit from me by not providing compelling enough new features on Mac OS 9. I like Net Newswire, but I don't use anything except the light version and that only for testing my own feeds because it doesn't run on Mac OS 9. I'm surprised by the number of companies just leaving money on the table

In any case, for me thyself issues will soon be moot because I'm buying a new G5 in the near future to replace my six year old G3 that still serves as my primary web surfing/e-mail/word processing desktop; so I'll be moving to Mac OS X soon. With luck, I can also move a lot of my development work onto this platform as well, though I'll still keep a Linux box handy to test the latest Java betas that always arrive a year or two late on the Mac. But I'm a developer. My non-technical wife and her non-technical office are still on Mac OS 9, and likely to remain so for years to come. So are my parents. And I see the same thing in a lot of non-developer/non-power user households and offices. If Mac OS 9 becomes untenable, a lot of these users are going to move to Windows instead of Mac OS X. (Certainly my parents and my wife's office will. They've already begun the transition. At home, my wife will probably bite the bullet and move to Mac OS X, and then complain about it non-stop for two years.) Mac OS X is more stable than Mac OS 9, but it isn't yet as easy to use. I wish Apple and third party vendors wouldn't be so quick to bury it.

JavaZOOM has posted version 0.4 of JavaLayer, an open source, pure Java library that decodes, converts, and plays MP3 files in real time wikthout requiring the Java Media Framework. JavaLayer is published under the GPL.

Version 0.11 of the Abbot GUI testing framework has been released. New features in this release include recognizeing locations in composite components such as JTree so that cells, items, values, etc. can be specified in place of coordinates and support for PopupMenu and CheckBoxMenuItme. Drag and drop recording now works in Java 1.4. Abbot is published under the LGPL.

Robert Oloffson has posted version 0.38 of Java Memory Profiler (JMP). JMP uses the Java Virtual Machine Profiling Interface (JVMPI) interface to track objects and method times in a JVM. It uses a GTK+ interface to display statistics. The current instance count and the total amount of memory for each class is shown as is the total time spent in each method. This release allows several filters to run at the same time. JMP is written in C for Linux.