Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Apple Cripples Non-Apple Software"

Source: FlickrIt didn't come as no suprise to me when I first saw this sensationalistic title appear on Slashdot two days ago. But it was sad to see how a wonderful piece of work like that produced by Vladimir Vukićević in his blog post got distorted and taken out of context (or at least part of it) for the purpose of the argument.

As Vladimir was looking how to give Firefox 3 for OS X some performance boost he did quite some research and testing to locate origins of bottlenecks that made OS X version of Firefox a black sheep in the past - at least compared to it's Windows and Linux siblings.

During his research he discovered that Apple was using some undocumented methods to give Safari some boost in performance. Not realy a very nice thing to do for sure, yet he still emphesized that there are other non-programaticall ways for gaining the same boost. But the news of Apple's Evil had already began to spread in the wild and blow out of proportion.

Personally I think Apple was right this time not to publish this part of API - David Hyatt himself said that this code was more of a hack and they themself are not happy with that part of WebKit's code. As any developer knows publishing hacks is never a realy good idea - even using hacks is not a good idea but sometimes due to time constraints or some other reason you just have to use them.

One one side, using them can get you in such an awkward position as Apple has arguably found itself in, yet publishing information about them is still wrong - you lose the ability to fix the problems and remove hacks in the next release and are faced with maintaining them for a forseable future. Unless, of course, you want to be hated by developers using your API for making such (dramatic) changed over night.

But one is still left wondering if there are some other hidden and undiscovered cookies in Apple's jar. They are, after all, only a company and even if most of it's empoyees are open-source minded, there probably hides a genious or two in the dark corners of Apple that thinks otherwise and could destroy Apple's reputation on this matter and create a picture of another company with Microsoftish malpractice.