Rev's Mac-Centricity (Was: Plea to sell Dan's book widely)

Dan Shafer revdan at
Sat Aug 7 13:19:03 EDT 2004


You knew I'd have to chime in here. :-)

Not simply to be contrarian, but I do not believe RR has any serious 
chance of making real inroads into other platforms. Period. No matter 
what they do. Over the decades -- yes, decades! -- I've been in this 
business, I bet I've seen 100 or more development platforms, languages, 
and tools emerge that would have made Windows programmers more 
productive and efficient. Not one of them thrived. Only a few survived.

Now you could go through the list and find something wrong with every 
one of them, I'm sure. A reason they failed. But I submit that if in 
all that time, no new language or tool that wasn't backed by a huge 
company (Microsoft in particular but also Sun and IBM and, for a while 
at least, Borland) ever made real inroads. My belief -- and I confess 
that it is only a belief, not something I can support with anything 
stronger than my own experiences an insights -- is that Windows 
developers are principally if not exclusively interested in developing 
for the Windows platform and that the Bandwagon Effect results in the 
vast majority of them using mainstream tools. Hell, Java doesn't even 
have significant presence among pure Windows developers; it's been 
shifted to the enterprise/server side of the equation and Microsoft is 
on the verge of dislodging even that penetration.

Oh, sure, there is a minuscule number of programmers who experience a 
Smalltalk or a Revolution or an Objective C and say, "Wow, I can be way 
more productive than my competitors with this. I think I'll use it 
instead of C++ or C#." And some of them stick with their 
out-of-the-mainstream tools. But most don't. Eventually, the fact that 
95% of their colleagues are using other tools with widespread library 
support, fellow programmers to exchange code and ideas with, and all 
the other components of the Bandwagon Effect drag most of them back to 
the mainstream tools.

This is true even on the Mac. Only a minority of desktop app developers 
who develop  for the Mac are ultimately interested in selling Windows 
products. (I'm not saying this *should* be the case, but it's a reality 
nonetheless.) CodeWarrior lets hard-core C types deliver cross-platform 
but they're a bit player on both sides of the fence. Apple's dev tools, 
esp under OS X, are awesome and powerful. Every single Mac programmer I 
know uses them and not Revolution despite the fact that they could use 
Rev and greatly expand their market. In some cases, they are working 
for an all-Mac customer or client base. In  others, they just don't 
care; they'd rather build apps with all of the coolness and nuance of a 
Mac app and forego the Windows marketplace than compromise. In effect, 
this is another face of the same argument you make for why RR needs to 
make the product less Mac-centric: developers on those "other" 
platforms want to see tools that feel like those platforms.

At the end of the day, RR has to find niches where cross-platform 
development is important or even critical. Those niches exist. But they 
are not mainstream programmers on either platform (and certainly not on 
*nix, whose developers seem to prefer Open Source tools). To delude 
itself into thinking it will *ever* make significant inroads into any 
traditional programming market would, I think, be the end of RR. I 
think they should focus exclusively on  the folks I call Inventive 
Users who are not full-time professional coders, who can make a tool 
switch without a huge technical or social cost, and who are at least 
interested in if not motivated by the possibility of cross-platform 

As it happens, I think that audience is at least 10 times as large as 
the professional programming audience and vastly more receptive to new 
development tools and technologies. But reaching that audience is 

On Aug 6, 2004, at 11:15 PM, Chipp Walters wrote:

> I also believe there is too much 'Mac' centric focus in RR. The GUI is 
> completely Mac based, and so is much of the marketing focus. Though, 
> this does represent the 'low-hanging fruit', RR won't ever truly make 
> inroads onto other platforms w/out a concerted marketing effort by the 
> company.

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