Cocoa Geek

Me: It’s funny how there’re all these developers at the conference—I probably read many of their blogs online—but I don’t know what anyone looks like. Like, I think that was Mike Ash, who writes really good posts about the Objective-C runtime…though even if I introduced myself, it’s not like I’d have anything to say to him…

Coworker: Okay, I don’t want to make fun of you but that is really geeky.

In honor of my first WWDC as a full-time employee at Apple, here are a few programmers who I would get a little fanboyish about, which is okay because I don’t get fanboyish about mainstream celebrities:

  • Mike Ash is the one I think I saw at the conference, wearing a lab coat. His Friday Q&A blog posts are well-researched, informative articles about the Mac and iOS frameworks, and I’m pretty sure he knows more about the Objective-C runtime than anyone outside of the actual runtime team.

  • Andy Matuschak is actually around my age and also now works at Apple, but he basically invented third-party software updates on Mac OS X with a framework called Sparkle, released in 2006.1 If you own any third-party Mac software that checks for updates itself, rather than through the Mac App Store, it’s almost certainly using Sparkle. And did I mention he was in an a cappella group in college?

  • And finally, though he’s not a legendary programmer (that I know of), John Gruber is probably the most well-known and respected tech writer concerning Apple products and such—not necessarily for the general public, but for people in the Apple software industry. He’s biased in the same way as the rest of us design-first junkies, and hey, he invented the original version of Markdown.

Of course, I can also look at where I work, and see that my boss Ted Kremenek basically created the Clang Static Analyzer used in Xcode (and available as a standalone download for Linux and OS X). And his boss is Chris Lattner, who invented the LLVM frameworks that underlie Apple’s compiler and analyzer and debugger and code completion and indexing, as well as many projects outside of Apple. My immediate team-members have helped add new Objective-C language features, create migration tools for existing source code, invent the checkers that make the static analyzer engine useful, implement the latest features of C++, and plenty more. And the people in the rest of the Compilers group…

So I’m in a good place. And maybe someday I too will be a “the guy that invented X”.

  1. Not only is that five years before Apple launched the Mac App Store, but it actually predates the iPhone. Not just the App Store on the phone, but the device itself. ↩︎