I’m talking about the basic apps like Mail and iChat and Finder and Safari (already partly there) and the iLife suite. It would be good for the community and good for Apple.
No Risk to Apple · These things all depend on Carbon or Cocoa and Mac OS X, so there’s little risk to Apple of the apps suddenly showing up on Linux or Windows. And if Apple were really worried about that, they could publish the source code with a license that lets you do anything with it as long as you don’t produce derivative products on anything but MacOS, and back it up with some red-toothed lawyers.
The Benefits to the Community · The community of Apple users is distinguished by being better-informed and more creative than the average. If that sounds elitist, it is, but it’s also true and I can prove it. “Creative” isn’t controversial, the design professions have been Mac-heavy for a decade or more. Better-informed is obvious given that NetNewsWire is right at the top of the list of RSS aggregators, proving that the tiny minority of Mac users are way over-represented in the population of feed consumers.
This creative and well-educated group, given the chance to pitch in and make the environment better, would. In large numbers.
The Real Reason · I’m writing this because of my general irritation with a few little things about Mail, which started out pretty horrible pre-Jaguar and has evolved into a nice modern email client. There are a few things about it that are obviously broken or missing, and the community, with a few months of tinkering, would turn it from pretty good to (quoting Chairman Steve) insanely great.
For example, I’ve already written about how incredibly wrong the mailbox message-selection is (go here and search for “stupidity”); it’s not only wrong, it’s not even consistent with the way text-selection works in an individual mail message. It should be fixed. Given the chance, someone would.
The other thing that got me going on this was the fact that (unbelievably) Mail doesn’t have a keystroke for “jump to next unread message in whatever mailbox.” For those of us who subscribe to lots of lists and filter aggressively, this is a major productivity hit. Once again, given the chance, someone would fix this.
I’m Not Alone · Every time you’re reading one of the Mac-specialist sites where they’re giving advice on how to use one iApp or another, they’re always talking about how the software’s pretty good except for this or that broken feature.
Well, Apple has it in their power to fix that. Just turn the community loose and it’ll happen. What’s not to like?