My Turn

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Give Me a Word Processor

2001.02.14 -

In one and a half months, Apple is going to launch their most important product since the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984: The operating system known as Mac OS X.

Native OS X apps (carbon and cocoa) are slowly appearing on Versiontracker. Every once in a while I check out the word processing section, but there's nothing worthwhile there, only some very basic text editors that are more suited for coding than for writing.

This is really strange. I mean: word processing is the number one thing we do on our computers, but not a single software house or programmer has yet thought of building a decent one. There are ports of complicated games, high end graphic stuff, complete database servers, Apache, you name it - but not a simple little lean word processor.

Well, in the fall we'll get that very expensive elephant-like program called Microsoft Word, a piece of software that despite its millions of lines of codes still isn't able to print backwards (last page first, a useful feature with lots of inkjet printers) or remember the cursor location (handy in almost every situation). Of course there will be AppleWorks, but that is very incompatible since they removed the translators. It won't even allow you to do a simple save as RTF. You'll need MacLink 12 for that.

According to an article in Mac Addict (February 2001), building a word processor in Cocoa is a piece of cake, as long as you know objective C. It made me start thinking about learning a bit of the language myself, but I'm just to clumsy for programming stuff. I even made a mess of my Commodore 64 BASIC apps. Anyway, isn't that what we have real programmers for?

According to what I have read, Cocoa will allow you to build a Quark XPress-like app with two programmers in an old garage within a couple of weeks. So I guess if someone starts coding a word processor with WriteNow-like features, he or she'll be finished in a week.

I'll gladly volunteer to do some beta testing!

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