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Apple upgrades Mac tool suite

Apple Computer last week brought out a new suite of development tools that officials claim offer developers a five-fold performance hike compared to the current Apple toolset.

Clearly the biggest news for the 3,800 or so developers attending Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco was the Xcode release. Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs took to the conference stage to unveil and demo the Xcode tools, which combine a Unix-based development environment, a simplified user interface, and enhanced performance technologies, including Fix and Continue, Zero Link, and Distributed Build.

Xcode’s Fix and Continue feature is designed to allow developers to make live code changes to a running application and see their effect immediately without the need to restart the application. Zero Link is a utility designed to remove the linking stage for all development builds. And the Rendezvous-enabled Distributed Build feature allows users to compile applications on multiple systems. This last feature works with Apple Xserves, according to the company, opening the possibility that Mac developers may add the rack-mounted Mac OS X Server-equipped boxes to their environments as "build farms" to help speed development.

Apple mirrored its iTunes and iPhoto consumer applications in Xcode’s streamlined interface. "Smart Groups," similar to "Playlists" in iTunes, provide a new way to organize projects; "Fast Find" delivers a consistent search interface with live indexing that refines searches as they are entered.

Jobs admitted that the tool runs slower than the popular CodeWarrior Mac dev tool, but promised to continue to strive for performance improvements. "We’re going to keep on going with this one until we get it right," he said. "We like to be really number one ... really." Apple says that there is a migration path for CodeWarrior developers to import CodeWarrior project files directly into Xcode.

Registered conference attendees received a free copy of the Xcode preview release.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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