Home > Features > Feature Article > Joe Esch: SketchUp, Cocoa and Mac OS X

AFR. I understand from fellow @Last Software employees that you had relatively little interest and experience in Apple's Mac OS platform prior to your company's decision to produce a Mac version of SketchUp. Is that correct?

Joe: Yes. Basically, I had never really even used a Mac before I got a machine to use for porting SketchUp.

AFR. Why is that? What were some of the reasons that kept you from experiencing or having an interest in the Mac platform?

Joe: I never owned any Macs, and never worked at a company that had an application that was supported on the Mac, so I had no reason or opportunity to use one. I learned software development on a number of other platforms including Windows, various flavors of Unix, Aegis and VMS, among others.

AFR. So you basically had no Mac experience until recently. Wow...

Joe: The only experience with a Mac I can remember is sitting in front of one of the real early Macs with my boss trying to figure out how to make it give us back a diskette that we had put in it -- we were looking for some button that you could push to eject it, and there wasn't one.

AFR. Yeah....(laughs), the Mac OS wants you to drag the diskette to the trash can in order to eject it, which we all agree now is pretty counter intuitive. Nevertheless it has become a legendary feature of the OS which seems counter intuitive in the same manner in which locating the ignition key in a Saab down by the parking brake is counter intuitive. Yet, just like the Saab it feels natural after using it for awhile.

So did you get the diskette out?

Joe: I think we finally resorted to using a pair of pliers (laughs). Even after using the Mac as my primary machine for a couple of years, I still find dragging my data to the trash to eject it kind of scary.

AFR. On to software. What led to @Last Software's decision to produce a Macintosh version of SketchUp?

Joe: We debated this for a long time. We thought that it would be valuable to have a Mac version of SketchUp, but we weren't sure that it would justify the development work to create and maintain it. Before the release of OS X, we thought that it would be far too difficult to port SketchUp to the Mac OS.

Finally, we decided that since SketchUp is primarily a design tool and that a lot of professionals use Macs that it would be worth doing the port.

AFR. So did you guys just make a leap of faith or did you research the market for a Mac version? I ask because at Macworld Expo some @Last Software folks told me that you guys were surprised to learn how high the Mac architectural market share was in some European countries.

Joe: We didn't do extensive market research. We were aware that the Mac had a higher market share in Europe. Some of the European companies that we talked to encouraged us to do a Mac port. We didn't really have a good idea how well the Mac version would do though.

AFR. I've heard that once you started working on the Mac OS X version of SketchUp you became very impressed with Apple's OpenGL implementation. Is that true and can you explain to us what you like?

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Home > Features > Feature Article > Joe Esch: SketchUp, Cocoa and Mac OS X




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