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Early Years and Apple II
Macintosh Development and MacPlot
• MacDraft and Mac OS X
• 3D World and Other OS X Plans
• Mac OS X Plotter Driver Development
On Being a Mac OS X Developer
Looking Into the Future

RC Well PC Draft 5 should be out, I would say, in the next couple of months. And then that should bring us up to the same standard as MacDraft.

So we are hoping to have PC versions, Mac versions and Mac OS X versions all at the same standard.

AFR What are some of the new features in MacDraft 5 that come from the OS X development side of things?

RC Well we haven't really done anything because our main goal was to Carbonize the application as soon as possible so we could try to take advantage of being one of the first serious drafting products released for OS X.

We haven't put in anything like Quartz at the moment. But we do intend to do that in the future.

AFR So MacDraft is still QuickDraw based at the moment?

RC Yes. But we have made significant changes with the user interface; we tried to comply with Apple's guidelines as much as possible and do a good job on that.

AFR Do you plan on releasing the OS X version of MacDraft at Macworld?

RC You mean in July?

AFR This July.

RC No. We aren't planning to attend Macworld in July. Probably the first time you will see it shown will be in January. We've never been to the New York show.

AFR So are you saying that you are many months away from completion?

RC No. We will be releasing it but we won't actually be at the show to show it there. We should have something to start shipping in maybe a month or so.

AFR So an OS X version in a month or so. That sounds great!

RC Yes, it looks very nice. And we have had a lot of people interested in it. You know it has been on the Apple downloads site?

AFR Yes, how has that been?

RC It has been extremely good. We've had many thousands of downloads, I think we have lost count now, but the traffic on our web site has gone up by four times when that went up on there [Mac OS X download site - to download MacDraft for OS X beta click here.]

AFR Besides MacDraft, what are other Microspot products planned for OS X?

RC We are actually working on PhotoFix, our photo editing application and also MediaAssistant, which is a media organizer. I don't know if you know much about these products.

AFR A little bit.

RC They have been sold bundled with scanners and digital cameras and printers and actually they haven't been called PhotoFix and MediaAssistant. We've been bundling them with a company that bundles similar products on the PC, and so our products have been renamed so you wouldn't have known you were using a Microspot product.

AFR Who are you doing bundles with?

RC We have done a lot of bundles with people like Ricoh, Epson and Canon. And that has been a good source of revenue for us. And we want to keep those products up to date with operating systems.

AFR What about 3D World. You introduced 3D World a number of years ago and it was very innovative at the time.

RC Right, yes...well obviously we were very disappointed when we heard Apple was dropping QuickDraw 3D [a 3D API that was and is cross-platform] So really what we did with 3D World is we took it up to 3.1. And we are holding at the moment to see whether we can use Quesa to take it forward further.

AFR The Quesa Group?

RC Yes, we did some work with Quesa in the early days. They are producing an open-source version of QD3D. And we may have to do some more work with them, because Roger Homes has told me that there is one function that is not implemented that we would need. Anyway if it is successful it would allow us to develop 3D World more. We are on hold at the moment.

3D World is a great product but we had a problem because it can do just about anything so it meant people couldn't really position it. It was made by engineers for engineers. Its scope was too wide so what we decided to do was to make some vertical market applications for it. And that's where Microspot Interiors came from. So we did the Interiors product to try to put it into a vertical market. And this of course was a low-end product for home users.

AFR Not for professionals?

RC We hoped professionals could use it but it was aimed at the home market. Although we tried to make it as simple as possible. 3D is not easy for home users.

3D World is really an engine that you can use to write vertical market applications. Interiors is the first one of those and the renderer is used by all those products. At the moment we are really concentrated on our other products but we are hoping to continue to develop 3D applications using 3D World.

AFR So will Microspot Interiors be held up for the time being?

RC We won't be doing any more development on Interiors until we decide what we do with 3D World as a whole because Interiors is actually a subset of 3D World.

AFR So 3D World is really going to become your company's core 3D rendering technology in the future.

RC Yes, 3D World will allow us to create a family of cross platform 3D applications for vertical markets with the help of Quesa..

AFR What about Mac OS X plotter driver development?

RC I thought you would ask that question...(laughter). We did some some work on that early on. And we really found that Apple's driver is like a shell. You have to write your own driver into it. And it wasn't at the time good enough for doing large format drivers. So we shelved our plans for awhile.

And we did this mainly because of our experience with QuickDrawGX...in that we spent an awful lot of time developing those drivers and finding bugs for Apple and reporting them and getting them fixed and in the end we find that they scrapped the whole technology.

So we're a bit wary of jumping in too fast before Apple is far enough along. It really seemed to me that printer drivers were the last thing they thought about with OS X, and so it wasn't working even that well for small printers, let alone large format.

AFR I See.

RC Obviously we do want to do drivers because we have a lot of users out there who would probably like to move over to Mac OS X. And of course, MacDraft is probably going to be one of the first OS X [CADD] apps so we would like to produce one.


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