October 28, 2006

Why no PowerPC support in Soundbooth?

A few days ago Adobe introduced Soundbooth, a free download (in beta form) from Adobe Labs.  Notably, and happily, the app not only supports Mac OS X, but also runs natively on Mactel systems.  More controversial, however, has been the news that the app runs only on Mactel systems, not those using a PowerPC.

"The elimination of PowerPC support in Photobooth [sic] raises major issues," writes Macintouch.  I’m a little puzzled: how is it that people can refer to the "elimination" of something that never existed–namely, PPC code in Soundbooth?

Here’s the reality: Apple’s migration to Intel chips means that it’s easier to develop for both Mac and Windows, because instead of splitting development resources optimizing for two different chip architectures, you can focus on just one.  That’s all good, and it makes Mac development more attractive. Users benefit from having developers’ efforts go elsewhere (features, performance tuning, etc.), rather that into parallel, duplicate work. In the case of Soundbooth, the team could leverage Adobe’s expertise in building great audio tools for Intel chips (namely Audition) to bring the app to market faster and with a richer feature set.

Now, if you were Adobe and had started developing a new application at exactly the time when Apple told you, "This other chip architecture is dead to us," would you rather put your efforts into developing for that platform, or would you focus elsewhere?

This logic seems lost on a lot of online posters, who leap to some fairly outlandish conclusions.  "Oh my God, next thing you know, Photoshop and the other apps won’t run on PowerPC, and the next thing you know, they’ll kill Mac versions altogether and just tell us to run Windows using Parallels!"  At what point Adobe will burn Snuggle the Fabric Softener Bear in some dark pagan ritual isn’t specified, but that must be the natural next step, right??

Come on.  As regards Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, etc., these apps have been tuned for PowerPC for many versions, and therefore continuing that support is a very different matter than creating support from scratch. To put the freaking out to rest: the next versions of the CS and Studio apps are being built as Universal apps, and they’ll run great on PPC.  Someday Apple, Adobe, and everyone else will stop supporting PPC, as they did with 68k chips, OS 9, etc.–but not anytime soon.

Macintouch writes, "There are 10 or 20 million active PowerPC Macs and no excuse in the world for abandoning them and forcing people to buy new Intel Macs to run applications."  Doesn’t it seem like something would have to exist before it could be abandoned?  "That’s completely contrary to Apple’s whole approach to the Intel migration," they write.  And again, in order to migrate, you have to start somewhere (namely, on the PPC). Soundbooth is a fresh start, not a migration.

If you’re a Mac user, I think it’s important to ask yourself, "Would I rather encourage software developers to bring their titles to the Mac, or would I rather jump down their throats given any opportunity?  If Adobe were to bring other Windows-only apps to the Mac, would I be happy about that, or would I rather give them hell for focusing on features & functionality rather than a discontinued chip architecture?"

I have to ask myself, Why on earth am I devoting part of my weekend to writing all this?  Why not blow it off and get out of the house?  Maybe I should, but as a die-hard Mac user I feel like someone has to speak a little truth to the Mac community–or rather,
to that vocal little group of
zealots and forum trolls. So here’s my message for those folks: You’re hurting the Mac platform. You’re hurting the Mac community. You need to crush a little aluminum foil against those antennae of yours, because you’re hurting everyone concerned. You’re making it harder (and less appealing) for people of goodwill to make the effort to support the Mac.

In economics, Gresham’s law states that when both legitimate money & counterfeit money are in circulation, the bad stuff tends to remain in circulation while the good stuff tends
to be hoarded or exported.  This applies to politics and to online conversations: extreme voices drive out (or at least silence) more moderate, level-headed thinking. I’ve bothered to write this, and to risk catching a lot of slings and arrows, because it’s important that someone stand up and say, "Whoa, hey, simmer down.  Take another look at the situation, and let’s take a second to accentuate the positive."

At the end of the day, instead of supporting only Windows, Adobe is bringing a new app to the Mac.  As a Mac user, I think that’s great news, and I suspect the vast majority of Mac users do, too.

Grabbing the Aerobie and heading out the door,


[Update: Soundbooth PM Hart Schafer shares his perspective on the question of making Soundbooth support PPC. Suffice it to say, it’s not a “flip the checkbox in Xcode and you’re done” kind of thing.]

3:33 PM | Permalink | Comments [103]

Fireworks does MXML, Acrobat does 3D, & more

Wrapping up a packed week at Adobe MAX, on Thursday a number of teams provided glimpses of what they’ve got cooking for the future.  Jen deHaan has provided a great overview, taking notes during the session.  Some highlights:

  • Fireworks is now geared towards rapid prototyping.  Dani Beaumont dragged buttons and other widgets into a Fireworks doc, set JavaScript parameters, exported the results to MXML, and opened it in Flex.  If this trips your trigger, you can sign up for their beta.
  • Adobe is working with Yahoo on integration with the Acrobat Connect (neé Breeze) communication platform. Peter Ryce & Dean Chen showed PDFs being displayed directly through Connect (using the Flash Player).
  • Hart Schafer pointed out spectral view in Soundbooth, where you can visually eliminate unwanted noises using tools much like Photoshop’s Healing Brush.  Played a bahw-tschicka-WAaoow funk groove appropriate to Dirty Vegas.
  • Scott Fegette demoed cross-browser compatibility checking in Dreamweaver, plus a CSS Advisor on Adobe.com that lets users share solutions, add comments, rate articles, etc.
  • Beau Amber of Metaliq showed new Zoomify components written in ActionScript 3.0. Fast and smooth loading of a 1.2GB file through Flash Player. [More thoughtful chin-pulling ensues.]
  • Michael Kaplan displayed an interactive, 3D Razr phone running inside a PDF. A Flash UI inside the PDF caused a 3D hand to appear and dial the phone, which then proceeded to play Flash video on its (virtual) screen.  And at this point, the audience completely lost it.

You know, Adobe (the old, pre-Macromedia Adobe) had great technology for years, but in my experience the company was often a little shy and unassuming about promoting it. When the Adobe-Macromedia deal was announced, a designer remarked, "Adobe will make Macromedia grow up a little bit, but Macromedia will take Adobe out clubbing."  I see that now happening, and I’m getting visions of Michael rocking out to The System Is Down. :-)

3:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Paint blows up real good

The Sony Bravia "Paint" ad (also available in high res–requires QT7) looks like someone doused the Bellagio fountains with a tanker full of Punky Colour.  The spot took 10 days and 250 people to film, not to mention 5 days and 60 people just to clean up.  (Putting your eco-worries to rest, they say, "A special kind of non-toxic paint was used that is safe enough to drink.")  [Via Paul Ramsbottom]

Meanwhile Turkish film studio Imago New Media has created OÏO, featuring paint "catapulted into the air, filmed by a high-speed camera and then composited with other catapulted paint footage."  Here’s a clip.  (The soundtrack has "deservedly obscure James Bond score" written all over it.) [Via]

See also the first Bravia spot (high res), featuring colored balls cavorting around SF.

10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]
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