Apple Acquires ScehemaSoft?

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
7,417
8,487
An unconfirmed tidbit notes that Apple may have acquired Vancouver, BC based SchemaSoft.

SchemaSoft's website can be found at http://www.schemasoft.com/ and lists Apple Computer amongst their previous clients.

Of note, one of their products offers a software library for reading and writing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. The readers/writers are described to work on all versions of Windows, Macintosh, Palm OS and Symbian OS.

(Again, as an unconfirmed rumor, it should be taken as such. Any further confirmation or denial would be appreciated.)
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
They've been paying DataViz over the years to provide conversion services for Appleworks and including it on and off with the OS's 3rd party application in the install on the machines restore disk.

Would be an interesting direction, and hopefully make iWork a stronger package.
 

TheMasin9

macrumors 6502a
Dec 22, 2004
585
0
Huber Heights, OH
iwork rev b

Could be aquisition for improvement of iwork.

edit: not that iwork is bad, maybe a better spellcheck/grammarcheck as well as sheets, an excel type app.
 

BWhaler

macrumors 68030
Jan 8, 2003
2,763
2,543
This is a desperately needed acquisition. iWorks conversion is poor, at best.

Smart move by Apple. Very smart.
 

John Lockwood

macrumors newbie
Oct 6, 2003
4
0
London, UK
Could be good for third party developers

The most important thing SchemaSoft develop is in my opinion a developer library that other developers can use to read and write Microsoft OLE based file formats. See http://www.schemasoft.com/tools/structuredstorage.html

This has been used by Apple and Adobe amongst others.

OLE format files include those produced by Visio, MS Project, PowerPoint, etc.

It has been a great disappointment uptil now how stupid some Mac developers have been in this area. For example, 99% of Project type programs for the Mac cannot read and write MS Project .mpp format files. This is despite the fact the vast majority of PC users still use that format (rather than the newer XML format), and despite MANY requests from Mac users wanting compatibility with that format. Instead these foolish developers require Mac users to go through messy work arounds involving emailing or uploading files to be converted by a PC server. If you are working on a customer site (doing Project Management) then this is often unfeasible as many larger customers secure their networks so that unauthorised computers (i.e. your own laptop) cannot get Internet access.

Equally 100% of developers of Visio type applications for the Mac have made the same stupid mistake. Again the vast majority of PC users are using Visio use .vsd format files rather than XML format files.

While I can understand that if the SchemaSoft library did not exist third party developers might either not have the required information to do it themselves or the time and ability, this is obviously not true since the software already exists for Mac OS X. I don't believe cost is a justification either as I would pay more for a product that could read and write PC format files than for one that could not. Note: SchemaSoft even use Visio as an example!!!

Without TRUE file compatibility these Mac developers are significantly reducing their sales potential. For example my own company will not buy copies of this type of software without this functionality. Instead we are forced to use Virtual PC.

ProjectWizards see http://www.projectwizards.de/en/ are the only developers currently who have a MS Project compatible product (called Merlin) for the Mac which can read and write .mpp format files directly. We have therefore bought a copy of this program.


I have brought this library to the attention of the relevant developers such as Computer Systems Odessa (developers of ConceptDraw). We would potentially buy many copies IF it could directly read and write Visio .vsd files (it cannot). Computer Systems Odessa have also developed LeadingProject (an MS Project type program) and again they don't support proper file formats (only XML).

If Apple do buy SchemaSoft then potentially they could make this programming library available for free as part of XCode and therefore available to all Mac third party developers.

Third parties would then have no excuse for not providing full file compatibility.

ConceptDraw - Visio - .vsd support = no
LeadingProject - MS Project - .mpp support = no
Merlin - MS Project - .mpp support = yes
xTime - MS Project - .mpp support = no
AEC FastTrack Schedule - MS Project - .mpp support = no
 

le_bigMac

macrumors newbie
Mar 5, 2005
8
0
New York City
A good thing for potential switchers

Wether you love or despise Microsoft products, the hard reality is that the Office suite is the standard in office apps and if Apple makes their products more inter-operable with it there will be additional incentive for potential switchers to step into the lovely world of Mac.

Ironically, the best way to end Microsoft's stranglehold on Word, Excel etc may be to embrace it, not to offer a similar but incompatible product. If non Microsoft products such as Open Office and iWork can gain traction, Microsoft will find it harder and harder to charge for their products, as well as lessening its influence in keeping the Office Suite in a proprietary format.
 

displaced

macrumors 65816
Jun 23, 2003
1,408
140
Gravesend, United Kingdom
Sure, iWork, etc. are good uses for this tech.

But what screamed at me is: Spotlight.

Acquiring this sort of talent would be invaluable in making Spotlight usable with even more file formats right out of the box -- without waiting for a reader plugin from Microsoft.
 

ClimbingTheLog

macrumors 6502a
May 21, 2003
633
0
Free iWork?

Hmm, I smell a free iWork for Mac & Windows in the future.

Apple doesn't need to compete with Windows - it needs to compete with Office - Microsoft's real lock-in/killer-app. That's what prevents switching.

That's alot to give away with no revenue stream to back it (ala iTunes) so consider this theory half-baked until there's some way to make second-order money on it. Third-order money hasn't motivated Apple to date.

Maybe.... they're going to open source it and contribute it to OpenOffice. Always in motion in the future.
 

dj_ryan

macrumors newbie
Jul 21, 2004
8
0
another one bites the dust

This is interesting, I wonder what Apple is planning on doing with the existing employees. I don't think many of them would be willing to move to Silicon Valley - the company is big on employee growth and culture. I know the area they work in, and its a fab place to work, much better than the south bay area.
 

BillyShears

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2003
313
0
ClimbingTheLog said:
Hmm, I smell a free iWork for Mac & Windows in the future.

Apple doesn't need to compete with Windows - it needs to compete with Office - Microsoft's real lock-in/killer-app. That's what prevents switching.
Microsoft makes Office for Mac. That's not what prevents switching.
 

d.perel

macrumors regular
Feb 3, 2005
204
0
BillyShears said:
Microsoft makes Office for Mac. That's not what prevents switching.
I think what prevents switching is fear that there is no Office software suite for Mac, and the ignorant salesmen who project this image. Apple should emphasize that its own software is relatively Office-compliant (maybe not as much with Excel) and then remind customers that the Office suite IS available for mac.

Everyone always says that Macs seem so great BUT... (issue with cost or Microsoft compatibility) :rolleyes: They'll come around sooner or later
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
Macrumors said:
Of note, one of their products offers a software library for reading and writing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. The readers/writers are described to work on all versions of Windows, Macintosh, Palm OS and Symbian OS.

(Again, as an unconfirmed rumor, it should be taken as such. Any further confirmation or denial would be appreciated.)
Hmmm....built in ability to read excel and word files right from the OS anyone? God. I know several people that would soil themselves and seriously consider the Mac for such an ability. Esp if you didn't have to load bulky word/excel. *drools*
 

varmit

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2003
1,830
0
Do you think they could have used them to make iWork open Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files and what not. That is where I see that coming from. Please note it said previous client, so they have done their job for iWorks, and this is possibly not and acquisition.
 

Sunrunner

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2003
593
0
BWhaler said:
This is a desperately needed acquisition. iWorks conversion is poor, at best.

Smart move by Apple. Very smart.

Is document conversion really Schemasofts sole asset? Is there anything else Apple may be trying to integrate?
 

Sunrunner

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2003
593
0
BillyShears said:
Microsoft makes Office for Mac. That's not what prevents switching.

That may be true, but I still seem to get disbelieving stares whenever I tell a PC user that. What Apple really needs is to take some of that $4 billion in cash and get some good dang advertising.
 

elo

macrumors regular
Feb 6, 2003
140
0
Sunrunner said:
That may be true, but I still seem to get disbelieving stares whenever I tell a PC user that. What Apple really needs is to take some of that $4 billion in cash and get some good dang advertising.
That is *so* true.
 

Sunrunner

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2003
593
0
elo said:
That is *so* true.
Just imagine the kind of advertising they could pump out for ~2 billion or so. They could take up all the commercial time on the major networks for a month straight!
 

le_bigMac

macrumors newbie
Mar 5, 2005
8
0
New York City
You hit the Mac nail on the head...

Sunrunner said:
That may be true, but I still seem to get disbelieving stares whenever I tell a PC user that. What Apple really needs is to take some of that $4 billion in cash and get some good dang advertising.
Absolutely, positively and completely true. With all of the great things Apple has brought forth, helmed by the brilliant Steve Jobs, it really makes me wonder how they conduct their marketing campaigns. Yes, Apple and their long time advertising partner Chiat Day have created some of the most compelling and memorable ads. But in the end, Apple is doing a horrible job of promoting technologies which it has had for quite some time. For one thing, while it's true that Microsoft makes Office for the Mac, who the hell in the PC world knows about this? Then there's a price issue as well. What about voice recognition, Ink or even smaller things like Expose? What about the built in web server in OS X? What about excellent networking, file sharing and media compatibility with PC formatted disks? What about the brilliance of its iLife suite? Superficially speaking, Macs and PC's have the same type of user interface: menus, icons, a desktop and it's all controlled by the mouse. Look beyond that simplistic view, and you find all the refinements and details that make using a Mac such a positive experience.

If Apple is to make a dent with it's advertising, it has to do more to lure PC customers than dancing black silhouettes with white wires flying about and minimalist ads of aluminium PowerBooks.
 

Morky

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2002
178
135
NYC
This is the most interesting news in ages. Why page 2?

Microsoft understood long ago that controlling file formats thwarting cross-platform technololgies was how they could control the industry. That is why Office file formats are difficult to decipher, it is why they attacked Java and Netscape, it's the reason for ActiveX in IE. Microsoft Office as an application suite itself is not important; it is the document formats that makes it necessary.

The thing is, file formats for Office can't change that quickly and their complexity is, after all, finite. If Schemasoft's filters are good (by that I mean perfect), Apple is in a position to make an Office suite to compete directly with Microsoft. If the suite is really good, MS will kill MacOffice, but it won't really matter. After IE and Office, the significance of MS apps for the Mac drops off.

At this point Apple would be in a position to port the suite to Windows and attack Microsoft's second-largest source of revenue. The caveat is that Office is very mature and Apple would need to have nearly full feature parity and perfect Office filters before even releasing the software. Things could get interesting.
 

granex

macrumors member
Jul 23, 2002
82
0
Morky said:
Apple is in a position to make an Office suite to compete directly with Microsoft. If the suite is really good, MS will kill MacOffice, but it won't really matter. After IE and Office, the significance of MS apps for the Mac drops off.
File format is one thing, but duplication of functionality is another. Just because you can read "Track Changes" information doesn't mean that the software can handle that information. It's the format to display/functionality transition that can the biggest problem. TextEdit does a pretty good job opening MS Word RTF files, but it doesn't know what to do with all of the extra information.
 

bit density

macrumors 6502
Mar 5, 2004
398
2
Seattle
Morky said:
The thing is, file formats for Office can't change that quickly and their complexity is, after all, finite. If Schemasoft's filters are good (by that I mean perfect)
Sorry Morky, it is not quite that simple...

It is not enough to *understand* the semantic content of the file, your next step is to be able to map those semantics to another program. Which means that you have to have another program rich enough to map those semantics...

But the hardest part, and possibly the most difficult to accomplish is not only do you have be able to map the semantics, your composition engine and renderer has to behave 100% of the time exactly the same as the target's.

This will turn out to be extraordinarily difficult. It is hard enough to create a reasonable composition engine and renderer in your own universe, but to actually divine, understand, and duplicate the composition and rendering of another engine, and to do that and still maintain performance, is *not* a reasonably finite problem. Composition and rendering can be the result of the cascading of hundreds, and thousands of individual decisions. And if you do not duplicate those decisions properly it can and will result in dramatically different looking documents. Enough so, that it will not be *perfect*.

We can continue to try to obtain unobtainium, or we can try and create the best apps we can that meet customer needs. I don't want pages to be my word substitute, I want pages to be the best it can be at what it does. And if it suits my needs it may be my word processor. It may be my page layout program. But it doesn't need to be the same as my previous word or layout program. Wow me. Make me want to change.
 

emulator

macrumors 6502a
dj_ryan said:
This is interesting, I wonder what Apple is planning on doing with the existing employees. I don't think many of them would be willing to move to Silicon Valley - the company is big on employee growth and culture. I know the area they work in, and its a fab place to work, much better than the south bay area.
From ThinkSecret:
SchemaSoft has about 40 employees, according to its Web site, although sources report that there have been a handful of layoffs since the acquisition.
 

Toe

macrumors 65816
Mar 25, 2002
1,101
2
Sunrunner said:
That may be true, but I still seem to get disbelieving stares whenever I tell a PC user that. What Apple really needs is to take some of that $4 billion in cash and get some good dang advertising.
Does Apple sell Macs?

According to all their advertising, they are nothing but an iPod/iTunes company. If you go to http://www.apple.com/hardware/ and click on "TV ads" it goes straight to http://www.apple.com/ipod/ads/ as if an Apple ad is identical to an iPod ad.

Come to think of it, I cannot remember a Mac ad since colorful iMacs were dancing around on my TV.

Hopefully with Tiger they'll realize that they're also a computer company and maybe put a dollar or two into promoting the most kick-butt operating system ever. Not to mention the best deal on a computer ever (when you consider all the free software you get with it, and the fact that it can do more than scan for viruses and spyware all day).

edit: oh wait... now I remember the iMac G4 playing peek-a-boo. Still... it's been a while...
 

Toe

macrumors 65816
Mar 25, 2002
1,101
2
BWhaler said:
This is a desperately needed acquisition. iWorks conversion is poor, at best.
I don't have much issue with Pages' conversion (except for borders). But I do mind that it does not natively open and save Word documents. It will convert a Word document, and it will export a Word document, but there is no way to double-click a Word document, edit it, then press command-S and save a Word document.

If they want to replace Office they simply have to do that. Well... and make Cells, or whatever their Excel replacement could be. Perhaps this acquisition has something to do with spreadsheets as well...