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If the experience of developing for the OS is terrible because the documentation is terrible, well...an operating system without a thriving application ecosystem is an operating system that is not long for this world. No matter how good the OS may be. Computing history is littered with the corpses of better operating systems (Amiga and BeOS and every UNIX other than Linux come to mind) that didn't have the app ecosystem to keep them alive.

Obviously, Apple isn't hurting, but it can take a long time for anyone to notice that a huge tree is rotten in the middle. I don't know if that's true of Apple; they've been pretty successful in the transition to mobile, and their iOS ecosystem seems very healthy, but, if the terrible docs are a company-wide issue, it might be a slow-moving disaster. Docs are unsexy enough to where I could believe Apple would completely fuck them up, just because nobody wants to work on the unsexy stuff and nobody thinks about it when things are going so well for the company.




I'm just being charitable and assuming Apple knows what it is doing - e.g. assuming "malice" instead of stupidity.

For example, macOS is themeable under the hood. Nearly all Cocoa controls are defined as vector graphics in an "art file", rather than hardcoded in the library. This was probably not done with themability in mind, but is just a side effect of good engineering. I bet there was a meeting where the engineers said "we have this great feature where we can change the theme of all Cocoa apps", and it was decided to not expose that feature for reasons like "brand recognition" and having all macs look alike for support reasons. I'm pretty confident that happened because Microsoft did the same and locked down themes with Windows XP (and somebody stated their reasoning), and also the GNOME project removed theming from the main UI and crammed it into a scary "tweak" tool (one dev said basically that theming is not a desired feature for them).

Similar logic applies to other things, like the kernel interface.

I fully understand why they come to such decisions - but I as a user and developer (and interested in "hacky" things) would love these things to be documented.

I don't think the status it is hurting their bottom-line, or the quality of mac apps (yet). Cocoa stuff seems to be documented decently enough. But I agree, they have to be careful if they don't want to fall behind.


AmigaOS is more of a zombie - it's still being developed, and has spawned at least two "offspring" in MorphOS and AROS that are both still developed (and ported to new hardware in the case of AROS in particular).

And AmigaOS was a shining beacon of efficiently surfacing apps online early on. Aminet [1] provided a robust mirror system and ability to browse a big catalog (still online and updated) of downloadable AmigaOS software. It was a large part in letting AmigaOS remain viable for users much longer than it otherwise would have for most.

[1] http://aminet.net/


Sure, and I used my Amiga until well after CBM died; I didn't switch to a Windows PC until after Windows 95 came out (and then switched to Linux soon after). But, it's hard to argue that the smaller application ecosystem didn't hurt it. There were good applications for most tasks, but the big names were absent, and businesses rarely chose Amiga for that reason (and a few other reasons).


I agree about that - didn't mean to imply otherwise. Though it also quickly got expensive (I'd argue that for a while in the mid 80's it was cheap as a PC alternative - my dads PC was slower than my Amiga 500, had no graphics abilities, had less memory - it's two benefits were a 20MB harddrive and compatibility with PC apps; for that he paid about a $3000 premium).

In fact, part of the point I didn't put across very clearly is that things like Aminet demonstrates how important that ecosystem is. Amiga would have become useless to most users far earlier if we didn't have incredibly well curated sets of applications, and amazing dedication to maintenance (e.g. even today people are releasing their own bug-fixed versions of system libraries and the like) - it took a lot of effort to try to compensate, and it still wasn't enough.




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