Project X

SAN FRANCISCO (07/27/2000) - When OS X finally arrives, you might think it's time to put Apple Computer Inc.'s new operating system to the test. But hold your horses: until the programs you use are updated to run natively in OS X, they'll behave no differently than they do on your Mac today.

An informal survey of key Mac developers indicates that most are finding it easy to make their applications run in the OS X programming environment, known as Carbon. The biggest challenge: waiting for Apple to advance its own OS X work and pass the latest information on to them.

"We just watch what Apple's doing very closely and try to react as quickly as we can," says Brian Yoder, product architect for EarthLink Network Inc.

(800/395-8425, www.earthlink.net). Many of the developers we contacted, including EarthLink, praised Apple for the support it has shown developers. But the lack of a firm release date from Apple has made it hard for developers to set their own schedules.

Still, software makers say they're excited by the prospect of retooling applications to take full advantage of a state-of-the-art Mac OS's abilities.

And with the release of a preview version in May, applications that haven't yet become OS X-savvy are closing the gap quickly. At FileMaker Corp.

(800/325-2747, www.filemaker.com), for example, Development Manager Ken Walters says that programmers got "about 90 percent" of FileMaker Pro up and running within two weeks of receiving the latest developer preview of OS X.

OS X-native applications such as FileMaker Pro will sport OS X's distinctive Aqua interface. If a program crashes, OS X-savvy apps will be insulated. And this new generation of apps take advantage of OS X's modern memory management, so you'll no longer need to fiddle with a program's memory partition if it needs more room. So when OS X arrives, you might want to celebrate. But if you're a hard-core user of a particular program, you should hold off on the funny hats and noisemakers until that app is as ready for OS X as you are.

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