Modern App development and PowerPC

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AphoticD, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. AphoticD, Aug 5, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017

    AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #1
    Outside of TenFourFox and Roccat, does anybody know of modern macOS apps being written with PPC support built into their development?

    Surely it can't be a huge undertaking to plan and span compatibility between Leopard PPC and Sierra.

    Regardless of the move to Swift, the Objective-C language only went through minor syntax changes for simplifying NSNumber and NSArray/NSDictionary interactions. However, the older syntax still works in modern Xcode.

    C Blocks are the only major architectural change to the Objective-C language that I'm aware of post 10.5 and there is a project called PLBlocks which brings full 10.6 style Blocks to the Leopard SDK.

    This makes injecting block code for callbacks and NSOperationQueue messages equal in syntax and run time handling.

    Perhaps I'm overlooking something and it is a major pain in the ass to run an intel x86_64 macOS project in parallel with PPC, but app developers have been running macOS and iOS apps off the same code base for years and those two systems run on different architectures with separate frameworks using totally different user interactions and interface guidelines. I know AppKit and UIKit have mostly the same principals but still use different methods and only similar syntax to achieve similar results.

    Is PowerPC really that minuscule of a niche market that developers have absolutely no interest in supporting these still-capable systems?

    *rant over*
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2017 ---
    *rant continued*

    Orrr... Is it a matter of developers not wanting to be held accountable for supporting an operating system which the mothership has marked as no longer secured?

    As in; Windows XP was marked as dangerously unsecured the moment Microsoft gave it a funeral and people were advised not to even poke it with a stick in case of a highly contagious flesh eating virus.

    However... XP still works and it didn't self-combust.

    It may come as a surprise to the hot shot iOS gold-rush diggers who "advanced" their skills to include macOS in their development portfolio as an afterthought to plastering their tapitytap success story to every mobile platform out there, but;

    [macOS isEqualTo: @"Mac OS X"] == YES;

    ... it's the same operating system with an updated SDK, regardless of the underlying architecture!!

    We don't need any more Mac apps ported from the iPhone with an interface rewrite. We need quality desktop "Applications", which serve a need for productivity and creativity and not just more and more consumerism!

    *now I'm done*
     
  2. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #2
    What would be good is a low resource (or rather, variable resource depending on settings) maintained web browser built with the same skill and efficiency as Coreplayer - that would be worth paying for!
     
  3. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #3
    From what I understand, Coreplayer was a freak effort of raw hardware-optimized code and not your typical object-oriented Cocoa app, with all its niceties at the cost of expensive system resources overhead.

    It would be nice, but I have a feeling that TenFourFox is as good as it gets in terms of code optimizing. And kudos to the one-wizard developer behind it. He's done a marvelous job supporting our platform.
     
  4. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Windows XP still lives in the form of Windows Embedded which will be supported at least until April 2019. There have been successful effort / hacks to retrofit the Embedded security updates back into XP SP3. I wish Leopard received the same amount of love.

    iOS developers have been enjoying the fact that the userbase has been adopting new versions rapidly: it only took 5 days for the iOS 7 market share to cross the 50% mark back in the day. So there hasn't been much incentive to support the older versions.

    The other factor here is that the developers are known to love the fastest hardware: shorter compilation times means more work gets done. A few thousand dollars every few years for a new Mac is a pragmatic investment. And fastest / latest hardware again means no love for the no longer compatible OS versions. Yes you can run a VM but realistically it won't pay the bills.
     
  5. pet84rik macrumors member

    pet84rik

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    #5
    Well, is that even possible? Yes, G5 (at least dual and quad) are powerfull enough (today), but otherwise, web is an overkill for these machines. And it will be worse each and every day. For example, simpler web is still OK in browsers like Dillo even on a G3 laptop, but load anything with javascript or multimedia of any kind.. and you (your PPC PC) are dead.
     
  6. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #6
    That's kind of my point. In the same way Coreplayer was specifically written to squeeze out every last drop of power from the G4, a browser in the same fashion would be more capable than what we currently have. But yes, even if such a browser existed, it would only be a matter of time before that folded under the weight of the WWW.
     
  7. backyardvoodoo macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Well, I can imagine a browser using a beefy cloud service on the backend to run, for instance, Firefox, then streaming the contents back to the desktop. In the same spirit as https://github.com/sidorares/vnc-over-gif
     
  8. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #8
    Perhaps we'll see a technology which places the JavaScript processing server-side somehow. Similar to how Puffin web browser provides Flash support to iOS by processing the Flash server-side and streaming it through to the iPhone/iPad.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2017 ---
    The dreaded justification for endless consumerism. Enough is never enough, is never enough, is never enough... and so on.
     
  9. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #9
    A real avenue of longevity for PPC machines would be helper hardware - either PCMCIA, USB or PCI based processing units. You might argue, why waste money on such add ons when it's less expensive to buy a better machine? All I'll say is look at the Amiga community, it's now possible to emulate an Amiga (for free) that far surpasses any original Amiga and yet there's still an increasing market for Amiga accelerators/add ons, including the new Vampire boards that emulate the Amiga chip set in hardware with FGPA.
     
  10. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #10
    I imagine the Amiga community still actively develop new software for their hardware. So accelerator boards make good sense in their ecosystem.

    I think this is where legacy Mac OS X for PPC is stuck. With the final run of multi-processor PowerPC Macs, there were very little shortcomings of the hardware itself.

    Developers were never given a supporting chance to truly optimise for 64bit PPC as the shift to Intel was a ruthless clean cut in the product line with no long term plan for retrospective support of the existing userbase.

    Apple's intention was to "upgrade" PowerPC users to Intel and not to support their own line up of hardware which was designed for, and marketed as, having an unprecedented longevity in the industry.

    There is no way that anyone who cared about Apple products in 2005 could say that they were thrilled with the news of the Intel shift.

    I know it was out of my control and I had no say in the matter, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I remember the local Sydney Apple Sales rep would come into our store to offer "Sales training" on how to sell the Intel shift to our long term Mac PPC customers. The very same customers who were given the pitch about how amazing the G5 was compared to the 'rubbish' Intel competition. Those same people who forked out upwards of $5K or even $10K per rig. It was all just money for money's sake. Apple didn't care about the product once it left their warehouse.

    I guess that sticking by Apple during their darkest (and beigest(?)) period of the 90s and into the early '00s instilled an idea that PowerPC was better than Intel/AMD and it became part of the Mac ethos. For Steve Jobs to casually flip on this ideal made it evident it was all just marketing bullsh*t.

    Regardless, PowerPC Macs are still totally useable for most productivity purposes and even creative projects, 12 years after going out of production. Despite the fact they can't work well with 4K / 8K video or VR and don't have Siri and Emojis as standard.

    The real issue is that Mac/PPC software has dried right up due to the constant pushing forward of iOS and the macOS "App Store" with guidelines intentionally designed to discourage backwards compatibility for the sake of moving more units.

    Developers are kept so busy with the latest and greatest SDK buzz of "features" in the hope they will get a shoe-in on the next billion dollar social media craze, that there is zero incentive on looking back at the past and supporting quality hardware which doesn't look to be falling apart or disappearing any time soon.
     
  11. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #11
    Well, we'd have to default to MOBILE WEB, for starters. That alone strips so much junk from websites that it makes web browsing on PPC quite tolerable. That's partly why Classilla, of all browsers, can run a lot better/faster on some tasks than TenFourFox.

    We're at that point where regular Firefox will no longer compile on PPC, much less run with any kind of workability like "real" Firefox. (Sorry, Cameron "don't call me Camster" Kaiser, but I have no better name atm for "real" FF). Roccat, while it doesn't have the Firefox issues, has Safari issues and can never progress beyond the stock Safari unless you relink it against Leopard WebKit. And LWK may very well run into an OS-specific hurdle that impedes or destroys development completely.

    Perhaps we can get CorePlayer efficiency in TFF now that we're on Feature Parity releases instead of The Camster working (and hoping) on getting the newest to PPC. Or, for a temporary solution, use Erik's TFF suggestions in the sticky here.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 6, 2017 ---
    I had to keep that last paragraph. :D It's just that good.

    I looked at it the opposite way UNTIL 10.6 hit the market. It wasn't until August 28, 2009 that PowerPC truly died. The writing was on the wall at that point, and it was PowerPC that ultimately suffered. 10.6, as I've said before, should have been the Last Gasp of the G5's, much like 10.5 was the Last Gasp of the G4's and 10.4 was that for the G3.

    They just had to get that App Store in there somehow, right? And making it Intel-only made sense (because supporting two architectures like that is brutal and leads to consumers running away because something didn't work).

    Could App Store have been saved for 10.7? Yes. Should it have been? No. G5 users could just be told the same thing that G3 users got told during 10.4--it's not for you. It would have been a slow and painful death, but said death would have been 20 times easier on the PPC world.
     
  12. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #12
    Very true, people are still writing for the Amiga.

    Exactly. The shift to Intel was inevitable as the G5 roadmap faded out of sight but it was the audacity of treating those who'd invested heavily in state of the art PPC hardware like suckers and realising it was all about marketing and money afterall that was hard to swallow. Lesson learned.

    All TFF tweaks only have a limited effect - nothing short of turning off javascript gives you the speed bump - and that breaks 99% sites.
    As you say, mobile sites win if you're on low end hardware, I can get by even on G3 by mixing browsers but it'd be nice if there was one scalable browser for all PPC sizes.
     
  13. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #13
    True. I did eventually come around of course and it was pretty wild to see the first run of Mac Pro's absolutely hammering away at Tiger with blistering speeds. Bootcamp was fun. VMWare/Parallels became essential in my workflow, so there were perks. But it was the handling of the shift which truly was ruthless and given how emotionally attached Mac users are to the product, it was heartless on Apple's part.

    Snow was cited as being so highly optimized that installing it would actually reward you by freeing up the bloat of Leopard. Little did they say it was due to cutting off PowerPC support like an infected limb.

    Guaranteed, there was a 10.6 build for PowerPC. It would be a real treat if it did leak someday.

    And, yes I believe the App Store should have waited for Lion official. What minor revision did it come bundled under 10.6.7 or something? The only reason they launched App Store on Snow was to push out Lion (for free!) upon every Mac to gain more feature parity with iOS and sell more iPhones and iPads.
     
  14. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #14
    There were rumors flying around about a PPC 10.6 over on some of the older Hackintosh boards. If it does exist, it's locked up pretty securely along with Intel builds of 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and a vanilla 10.4.
     
  15. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #15
    It would be novel but would it bring much more to the table now - still being an outdated OS?
    What would be good is either a dedicated, optimized attempt at a Linux distro or a flavour of Morphos that wasn't so Amiga-centric (or licensed to one machine at a time). Problem is, even when someone attempted a brand new OS, they came here seeking support and were largely rubbished for even trying.
     
  16. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #16
    Doubt that there is a usable version of 10.6PPC otherwise Apple would have released it at least to calm some of the fury from its pro users and businesses that had invested heavily in G5s. The decision to ditch PPC was probably taken even before Leopard was out the door.

    As for the Marklar builds, they wouldn't be much use without the prototype hardware Apple tested them on. Doesn't really matter whether they leak or not.
     
  17. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    #17
    Yep, and then it's a question of IF that old code was ever kept...
     
  18. AphoticD, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #18
    Realistically, the majority of useful open-source software which is available to Linux/PPC can, and has already been ported to Mac OS X (including Tiger and Leopard) through MacPorts and Tigerbrew.

    In my opinion, the limitations of the PowerPC platform come down to;

    1. First point obviously, the 12 year plus hardware is not capable of running current macOS software.
    2. There is ZERO interest or incentive for "modern" macOS developers to write software with PowerPC support.
    3. Linux and Mac apps available for PowerPC are not as highly optimized as the equivalent on x86.

    In most cases, PowerPC software hasn't been written to fully leverage performance technologies such as Altivec and/or the G5's 64-bit capabilities. Or, in the case of TFF, these technologies have been introduced to the mix afterwards and not from the "core" of the software.

    If there is to be a "PowerPC Liberation", it must come from within the active community of users and not by looking outside for modern macOS developers to bring exciting new apps.

    What is amazing is that ALL of the tools and literature for Mac OS X PowerPC development are given to us for free from Apple in the form of Xcode and it's included documentation. This means that there are no restrictions in educating ourselves to better our platform of choice.

    I think the real issue comes down to the fact that we are just so damn FRUGAL! And from a commercial standpoint, not a winning target market, does that equal.

    Ouroboros.jpg
    It is a case of the Ouroboros, and none of us can be to blame for the cause or truly offer a solution to our predicament.
     
  19. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #19
    It wasn't actually free; I think it was $30.
     
  20. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #20
    Right you are. Snow Leopard was $29 then they went lower and lower.. until $0 at Mavericks.
     
  21. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #21
    I don't even think there was any to be perfectly honest. What SL became was a further optimisation of Leopard without the overhead of replicating functionality for PPC. It was mostly under the hood improvements and stuff like Grand Central Dispatch might just have been possible on G5s but I doubt the rest of the polish was. I would guess the very earliest builds of SL were just stripping PPC code from Leopard without breaking anything.

    It went to $55 IIRR if you wanted it on a fancy small white flash drive, such as was bundled with the MBA 2010. Back then, a lot of people had issues downloading GBs of data over the internet with data caps or just slow connections.
     
  22. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #22
    Great post and I agree 100%. I think things will change though, as with the 8/16bit scene, as time moves on the hardware will become more scarce and it's use will be in the domain of an even small niche of enthusiasts with (presumably) more disosable income, which will provide a workable target market.

    Regarding a new OS/new apps, I'm not thinking in terms of a modern parallel to other systems as clearly PPC hardware can't cope, I just mean a tidying up and repackage of what we already know works eg ad blocking, script blocking, mobile site/user agent spoofing, Youtube-dl, Fox Boxes etc etc. It's not a great stretch to get all this working as is but you see so many newbies arrive here, ask "can this be done?" and then disappear when a long list of instructions follow. I'm not a supporter of the Linux ethic of 'you have to get your hands dirty or you don't deserve to be here' - not everyone wants to delve that far in.
     
  23. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

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    #23
    Agreed to an extent. Linux/PPC is fun if you've got the time and desire to make it work, otherwise just steer clear. This is why I've set Leopard as standard on most of my old Macs because the old software just worked and in most cases it worked well.

    +1 for your package of PPC browser enhancements. Would this be simply an installer script to pull down and activate the required TFF plugins/settings and apps/libraries for YouTube-dl?
     
  24. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #24
    No, I've no clear image nor do I know how difficult it is - not being a programmer, but for example, @Lastic did a great job with SMtube but it requires separate installation/config of Xcode and Macports which put people off, an installer there would be great.
    Or a variant of TFF that doesn't have a lock down on plugins and can call Quicktime to play video in browser or have a pref pane to choose user agent/javascript settings on a site by site basis like Omniweb used to.
     
  25. mduser63 macrumors 68040

    mduser63

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    #25
    I'm a professional Mac developer as well as a collector of old Macs (PowerPC and 68k).

    I dropped PowerPC support in the last app I work on about 3 years ago. I started development of that app on a PPC Mac running Tiger in 2006, so the codebase was relatively easy to keep PPC compatible for a long time. That wouldn't be true with a codebase started a few years later using blocks, ARC, the modern ObjC runtime, etc.

    It's not that supporting the PPC architecture itself is hard, rather, supporting Leopard means giving up usage of (very nearly) all of the many new and enhanced APIs in newer OS releases. For my own apps, the number of active PPC users is near zero, so it really doesn't make sense to spend extra time supporting PPC at the expense of new development that will benefit everyone else. I wish the situation were different, and I went out of my way to support the minuscule portion of my user base on PPC for a lot longer than most Mac developer, but it just isn't worth it anymore.

    I do occasionally do development on my PPC machines (as well as on NeXTStep), but nothing serious, just for fun.
     

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