So this guy, drunkenbatman, is upset with the way Apple’s development process for Mac OS X has kind of exploded in breadth but at a cost of depth; not enough developers and too many apps to work on. Not enough time for each app means more bugs and less polish.

I pinged him my sad story about that tiny Preview bug, since I know he digs that kind of thing, and as a result, that bug has fallen across many more eyes than I would have really expected. Some people say its not even a bug; that inodes shouldn’t be used because they’re not portable across file systems; etc. But those comments are missing the big picture: that there are people writing applications at Apple who don’t know the way the Mac works.

The most interesting comment, in my eyes, demonstrated some understandings of Apple’s inner workings:

Well, if you have broad knowledge of Apple’s development team, this wouldn’t surprise you. There are critical parts of OS X Server written by interns. Apps like Preview have very small developer teams, so you really fall back on individual competencies. Apple has been adding developers as a pace that must have easily outstripped the supply of experienced and interested OS X developers long ago. So new hires are Windows/unix/open source experienced, Cocoa is a whole new animal to many of them, and Apple tends to hire rather talented and experienced developers, which means they want to do things their way.

This all sorts out, but it takes a version or two from what I can see.

Okay, so what to do about this sort of thing? On the one hand, responses from bugreport.apple.com that demonstrate inadequacy are reasons to hold the system in despair and make us want to reject the whole thing.

On the other hand, well, bugs do get fixed, even if the vast majority are simply marked duplicate and not fixed for another 18 months. And in the cases that the community can educate the developers in Apple (as backwards as that may be), the opportunity should be grasped as firmly as possible. The Radar bug reporting mechanism is the only crack in Apple’s closed-wall approach that the whole community can reach through, and as a whole it’s up to us to help them in the situations where/when it’s needed, rather than shooting down the only people actually capable of helping us.

Only through experience can these newly-minted Apple developers get a feel for how they should be writing their applications, and positive feedback from the community is a fantastic way to do this. I wondered about the applebugfriday meme for a while trying to decide if it would do more harm than good: lots and lots of extra bugs being reported in the system so much so that the infrastructure to deal with them collapses. I’ve come to conclusion, however, that this isn’t the case, and (provided that people actually file unique bugs, or at least re-submit bugs with new spin over ones they’ve read about) that applebugfriday is perhaps the only way to add the level of polish to Mac OS X and its apps that it is currently missing.

So let’s cross our fingers that there are people listening and learning, (and that applebugfriday is a well replicating meme) and file away our little insignificant bugs until the whole operating system sparkles.