Sunday, August 3, 2008

Question 1: the status of Carbon programming in 2008?

An important function of this blog is trying to have a channel to communicate about the contents of Indie Fever and thereby to improve the understanding of the Mac Indie world and with it the quality of information in the subsequent research phases.

In a blog post Kevin Waltzer points to the fact that I downplayed the importance of contemporary Carbon development in the Mac Indie community. In his words: "It even goes so far as to assert that independent Carbon development, for all intents and purposes, is dead.". I did did not use that exact phrase, the closest to it is 'When it was announced in 2007 that 64 bit Carbon support was not going to be part of future operating systems it finally became obvious that Cocoa was the unquestionable future of Mac OS X'. (page 24,25, all information on Carbon is in paragraph 2.3). But Kevin is right in the fact that the research and the interviews gave me a strong impression that Carbon development by now should be regarded a transitionary programming environment. Without knowing what kind of technology they used in advance it turned out that all my interviewees were either Cocoa developers or developers who only used Carbon if they had no other choice. Carbon was an interview topic, but most of the interviewees interpreted Carbon as a technology which was not extensively used by smaller Mac developers. According to Kevin, I am at least partly wrong.

The primary objective of the research program is not to give an exhaustive overview of technological possibilities, neither to judge upon the qualities of it. The primary objective is to understand the economics and the underlying social and cultural roots of Mac Indie development. But it is true that the thesis concludes that the attractiveness of Cocoa is a significant motivation for Mac development. Most of the collective resources (sites, tutorials, blog posts) seem to have a strong tendency to emphasize Cocoa development. Kevin’s remarks do raise a few questions on the contemporary role of Carbon development. As I understand from his post there still are a significant number of Carbon Indie companies active.

-Are these 'older' companies ? (with all respect to old software and companies, old does not necessarily mean dated)
-How big is the Carbon Indie world compared to the Cocoa world?
-How many new Carbon applications are under development today?
-How interconnected are the Carbon and Cocoa Indies?
-Are there Indie companies around doing both Carbon and Cocoa development?
-Do they use the same non-Apple resources?
-Do Carbon developers see a future for Carbon development?
-Are there any (non-technical) aspects of Carbon development different from Cocoa development (different culture, different ethos)?

Summarized: how are the findings of the thesis applicable to Carbon developers?, what did I miss out on in the research (apart from the fact that paragraph 2.3 could have had more nuance)?

Some of these questions I will be able to tackle in the quantitative survey which is scheduled for october/november. But quantitative research (an online questionnaire) has limitations when it comes to interpretation of results. Kevin’s blog post does point to the fact that I will need to interview a ‘Carbon Indie’. Suggestions of whom to talk to are welcome, as are any thoughts on this subject, because I might have missed an important angle here.