June 20, 2007

Thank you sir! May I please have another?!?

by Chris Randall

If you're the crafty sort, you can look at this page on the Apple site, and it might just give you hives. Big fat hives right on your face, with hairs growing out of them.

If you're not the crafty sort, you'll wonder "why?" The key cause for worry is in this paragraph:

In addition to the POSIX and math libraries supported in Tiger, Leopard enables developers to build complete 64-bit applications using the Cocoa, Quartz, OpenGL, and X11 GUI frameworks.

Guess what's not mentioned there? Carbon. That's the library that virtually all developers of audio software on the Apple platform use. You may not be intimately familiar with it, but suffice to say that Live, Cubase, Nuendo, ProTools, and even their own Logic are all written against the Carbon library. No 64-bit Carbon means no 64-bit audio apps, until all those developers port their various products to Apple's ridiculous Cocoa library and everyone learns Objective C.

Now, it's not as bad as all that. 32-bit Carbon will certainly be present in Leopard. (If it wasn't, roughly 95% of the apps written for OSX wouldn't work with Leopard.) But I wouldn't hold my breath for the next iteration of OS X having any 32-bit capabilities at all. It's not something you need to really worry about right this minute, as a user, but I'll state right here and now that if Carbon ceases to exist at all, it will effectively wipe out indie development for audio on the Macintosh.



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Jun.20.2007 @ 2:46 PM
I recognize your concerns, and also I know you won't listen to a thing I say, but for anyone else reading: I don't think it's as much of an either-or thing as you are assuming it is. You could still share the majority of your C++ code between Mac and Windows, and would NOT have to completely rewrite it in Objective-C.

C++ will continue to work just fine, and you can use Objective-C++ to mix Obj-C and C++ within the same source file. This has been working for years and it's incredibly unlikely that it will stop working; too many people depend on it.

As a plugin author, you're just about the last group who needs to worry about this. You won't have to go 64-bit until a critical mass of host apps goes 64-bit as well -- and given the inertia in the music software industry, I expect it to take ages for that to happen. For many apps there's just no reason to go 64 anytime soon.


Jun.20.2007 @ 2:50 PM
Chris Randall
I think I said your last paragraph three times already; once in my initial post, and twice in my replies. This will make the fourth. We use VSTGUI, and we go where it goes.

The entire point of my post (which no one has read to the end of, apparently) is that IF you're a user, you MIGHT want to consider the fact that SOME apps may not make the transition, and it is Something That Should Be Taken In To Account in future purchasing decisions.

That's all. It's just more annoying shit we have to deal with otherwise. You're absolutely correct, but I'll say this much: if Logic goes 64 bit and Live and Cubase stay at 32, well, we know which side our bread is buttered on.



Jun.20.2007 @ 3:14 PM
I'd love to hear more details about what you do. I noted above that I was probably wrong about it being easy.

Why would you need to branch your code to use CoreAudio? Am I wrong to focus on Cocoa CoreAudio vs Carbon SoundManager? Are you more worried about losing the Carbon UI libraries?

I definitely believe #3 could happen. Like I said, I know Apple's track record. But I don't see in this case what technical or business reason Apple would have to stop shipping 32-bit Carbon on a 64-bit OS. Apple doesn't mind pissing people off, but they wouldn't do it without a reason.


Jun.20.2007 @ 3:22 PM
On the flip, you could try to be one of the first developers to release 64 bit plugs and get a heads up on the competition. BUt that's just me practicing my positivity exercises - I'm on Live with no intention of going PC, so, as usual, I am at the mercy of thy might Software Developers.


Jun.20.2007 @ 3:30 PM
Okay, I gotcha. Yeah, you're at the mercy of VSTGUI adding a Cocoa target to their cross-platform code. Not trivial, but it's an open-source project, so it will happen if someone feels the urge strongly enough, right?

Do you have any other dependencies besides VSTGUI or does it provide everything you need?


Jun.20.2007 @ 3:44 PM
Chris Randall
VSTGUI is ABSOLUTELY NOT open source. It may look that way to an uninvolved outsider, but trust me when I say that it is not the case at all. It may happen to be in SourceForge, but we can only use the builds Arne (Steinberg) gives us, and it can't be redistributed.

As for dependencies, depends on whether you're talking about an AU or a VST. In the former case, the usual suspects, along with Carbon (VSTGUI, doncha know.) In the latter, uh... (having a look) Carbon, Quicktime, AppServices, IOKit currently.



Jun.20.2007 @ 4:41 PM
You're to be commended for doing your own in-house development on the Apple platform this long. Most folks I do business with, long-ago have contracted out their Apple ports. Have you considered this?


Jun.20.2007 @ 4:44 PM
Chris, I can understand this being a PITA for a developer; what however, would be interesting to see, is your figures. What is your split between OS X and Win32 users?

Jun.20.2007 @ 5:28 PM
Chris Randall
That wavers a bit; early in a product's cycle (like the first two weeks of sales) it is roughly 70/30 in favor of OS X. After a product has been out a couple weeks it evens out; for a long-standing plugin available on all three platforms and both CPUs like Dubstation, the final tally is around 55/45 in favor of OS X.



Jun.20.2007 @ 5:49 PM
Hmm, I'm one of those with an aging ppc (dual g5) machine. The main thing tempting me towards switching is that SSL's Mixpander card will work seamlessly with my XLogic 24 ch. converter and provide onboard DSP for some slick SSL plugins. link [www.solid-stateic.co...]">link [www.solid-stateic.co...]

The problem is that I've been using DP since version 1. I've worked with Logic and PT, but - whether justified or not - there's no place like home.

Does windows actually run audio apps better than a Mac these days? It'd have to for me to make the switch, as I am that rare breed who's never owned a Windows machine and feels queasy just looking at the desktop.


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