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TUAW Interview series with Allan Odgaard: The Leopard delay - does it change anything?

Finishing up my interview series with notable Mac OS X developers is Allan Odgaard of Macromates, makers of the most excellent TextMate text and code manipulation app. Allan now joins Brent Simmons, Wil Shipley, Paul Kafasis and Gus Mueller in sharing some thoughts with us on the delay of Mac OS X Leopard, the iPhone and what it's like to develop on the bleeding edge.

Read on for my interview with Allan Odgaard.

TUAW: Many critics and general users are freaking out about the Leopard delay. They've been criticizing Apple for becoming less of a computer company and more of a gadget maker, and events like the dropping of 'Computer' from their name and now the delay of their desktop OS are fueling these complaints. Since it's a big topic, however, I wanted to open by getting your thoughts as a Mac OS X developer.

Leopard has a hell of a lot more to make me excited than say Vista, so I don't feel they are losing focus.

That they are also spending resources on making gadgets and selling music, well, that has me buying gadgets and music, and it strengthens the Apple brand, so this doesn't bother me.

If you've already gone Leopard-only with a product or two (or were considering it), does the October delay change that decision at all? Would it be worth it - or even possible - to switch gears/backtrack to build in 10.4 support and ship sooner?

No, not worth it. And I wouldn't have been ready with 2.0 in June anyway, so the delay is a blessing in disguise.

Also as a Mac OS X developer, what are your thoughts on the pseudo-closed nature of Apple's new gadgets? The Apple TV isn't *officially* a 3rd party device, but it appears as though Apple has left the door wide open. The iPhone, as far as we know, is still a closed device. Do you want to develop for these devices? Any product ideas you care to share?

I don't see myself doing any commercial products on the iPhone, but I'll be surprised if there aren't minor things I'd like to do with it, so definitely I would like to see it get an open API sometime in the future.

Do you think Apple should have designed at least one or the other to be wide open to 3rd parties with a publicized plugin architecture? Should the company modify this practice with its future peripheral/gadget offerings?

I hope that their long-term plan is to find ways to open it up for third party developers, but providing an API in the first version is going to be premature and would likely limit them when building future versions.

From your experience with this delay, do you have any advice for budding developers in terms of building their software for one or more versions of Mac OS X? Should they put all their bytes in one basket, or support at least one previous version?

If you want to provide backwards compatibility, it's hard to wholeheartedly embrace the new OS technologies. Since less than 10% of your potential customers are going to be stuck on the older OS, I don't think this segment should hold back your software.

Also, ignoring older versions of the OS when developing makes for a much more enjoyable process, and for many of us, that is really what it is all about, that's why we chose OS X.

Any closing thoughts on the Leopard delay, Apple's direction as a company or the impact of the iPhone? On the latter, be honest: is your credit card already eager and waiting? Or are you sticking with your [insert mobile phone here, if you have one]?

I presently have no mobile phone, but if the plan in Denmark is alright, I'll definitely get myself an iPhone.
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I of course would like to thank Allan for taking the time to chat with TUAW, and a huge thanks again to all the developers who participated. This was my first try at a large interview series like this, and I was fortunate that every developer I contacted participated in the interview. I hope you enjoyed the series, and we definitely will have more down the road where this came from.

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