Look into My Quartz Crystal Ball

Look into My Quartz Crystal Ball

There is something that I’ve been wondering about MacOS X (read 10). It has to do with Apple’s decision to base OS X’s screen imaging on something called Quartz. What is Quartz, you might ask? Well, it’s based on Adobe’s PDF format. It offers superior graphics and text handling. But it is this fa*ct that it is based on Adobe’s PDF format that I find most interesting. Working with Adobe with the implementation of Quartz Apple has made sure that they will not be working in obscurity.

Quartz will in all inevitability become something quite leading edge and since it is built into the OS, you will find that there will be better integration with other products and services not only from Adobe, but also from other companies that adopt and use the technology. By working with Adobe Apple has, in essence, assured that it won’t be left behind with this screen drawing and imaging technology.

That is important in and of itself. Apple has learned the importance of mass adoption of any technology it uses. Why are Macs using PCI Slots and PC 100 RAM these days? Why are they using TCP/IP? Because they are industry standards.

Working with Adobe makes definite sense. Will we see that Quartz incorporates not only Open GL but also QuickDraw technologies? I think we will. I was reading that Stone Design has a program called “Create” that they had written for Mac OS X Server. You may remember that Mac OS Server has Display PostScript (DPS). However, the consumer version of OS X and the next Server version will be using Quartz.

Stone Design has decided to completely rewrite “Create” for Mac OS X from scratch. And guess what? They said it was much easier than expected. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it has to do with the incorporation of OpenGL and QuickDraw? Kind the best of both worlds? Could be. Now of course this is pure speculation on my part, and I’m sure that if anyone in the know reads this, they may clue me in, either to my proximity or complete missing of the mark.

Ok, so we know that Quartz is powerful, and easy to write code for, what else does it have? Well, how would you like to place a PDF file directly into your email? Got a series of photographs you’d like to include in your email to a friend? No problem, just place the PDF you made of the digital photos from your birthday party complete with captions in your email.

Even more importantly, as programs are written with Quartz in mind, you will see a definite blurring of the lines between Quartz and PDF. What if any document you created on your Mac could instantly be saved as a PDF? What if anything displayed on your screen could be captured as a PDF, and instantly accessible by anyone on the web? Remember that weird error message you got while trying to install a program? Well, through a simple keyboard shortcut you could capture it, place it into an email or on a web page for your favorite Mac Guru to review. He could analyze it and send you recommendations about it and how to solve the problem.

But Quartz gets better.

What does PDF stand for? Portable Document Format. What does Merriam Webster http://www.m-w.com define a document to be? One of the meanings I found was “a writing conveying information.” And what does that include? Well, brochures, reports, spreadsheets, a thesis, a short story, a book, novel, or even a textbook.


There have been 160,000 iBooks pre-ordered. A goodly number of them are for students. What if Apple were to purchase say… oh ,I don’t know, the rights to electronically publish every textbook made by say… MacMillan publishing? Who knows, maybe even the rights to several other publishers of textbooks.

What if Apple included either in let’s say, AppleWorks, the ability to call up these PDF-based books via a centralized Mac running OS X Server? A student could be sitting in class and download the chapters he needs to read before heading home. He could download a searchable, printable, and easily displayed copy of just what he needs. Nothing to carry home but his iBook. Not bad, eh?

With his AirPort card installed, he doesn’t even need to “get wired” to complete this transaction. He simply logs onto the school’s server with his unique school ID and downloads the information. When he registered for the class, the royalty for the textbook automatically gets registered in a database. And if Johnny forgets to download his homework before leaving school? No problem. He can log onto the school’s server and download in an instant from home. No fuss, no muss, and no more, “My dog ate my textbook” excuses.

Think about it. A textbook-less school. One that each and every single textbook is on a Mac Server running Mac OS X. Each child using their iBook for the purpose of accessing the information they need for each and every class.

No more books that have to be renewed every few years for the school. If a mistake is found in the textbook, MacMillan simply downloads the corrected version to the school at no extra charge. No reprints, no addendum, nothing to get lost or photocopied over and over again. Simply the most up to date information for that textbook. The amount of storage needed by the school would decrease dramatically! No more shelves, no more storage closets devoted to books that will be turned out in just a few years due to federal regulations.

Guess what else? It won’t be long before Amazon.com goes out of business. Why? Well guess who will get into the direct marketing of their products? You bet your boots every single publishing house in the business. Much cheaper to set up a bunch of servers containing not only the hottest best sellers for download over the internet, but also every single book they have ever published than it is to print them and distribute them. No more “out of print” books. They all exist and are available for purchase via the internet. Xanadu here we come!

And not only will your Mac display these natively on your screen but there will be options to print them to your full duplexing printer complete with binding for those of us that still prefer to sit on the beach and read our favorite prose completely unwired and undisturbed.

Heck, even your favorite monthly, My Mac, could be published in a magazine format ready for download each month for you to throw into your briefcase, portfolio, or to keep on your Mac for your reading pleasure.

This could be what the Mac is coming to. I’d sure love it. Wouldn’t you?

Look a little deeper into my quartz crystal ball and maybe you’ll see what I see.

Bob McCormick

Leave a Reply