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Response to Dave Winer
I respond to his response, and more!

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

Dave Responds - DaveNet

First, I'm going to ignore the disrespect. I ask that all others who read Scripting News do the same.

That is fair and good. I did try to make it clear that I was attacking the arguments and not Dave personally -- but I did not succeed. I would hope that someone who throws around opinions would have a thick enough skin to take a little back. But honestly, I may have gone over the top, a little. Never forget, this is the Internet -- and my response was mild compared to most flames (I left his heredity out of it). I was focusing on the articles and views, and mentioned that a couple of times!

The author, David K. Every, got the chronology wrong. We started development of Frontier in 1988, long before the Apple Event Manager or AppleScript. We shipped UserLand IAC Toolkit in 1989, predating the Apple Event Manager by a couple of years. Frontier shipped in January 1992 long before AppleScript.

Dave wrote a response to my article on DaveNet. He was very polite, especially in the face of what I had written. I must say I really respected his politeness more than anything else I have seen from him. However, that doesn't mean that I agree with his points.

Dave stated that I had my time line wrong about AppleScript vs. Frontier. He was half right. I edited out the full story due to size. I couldn't express everything I wanted (or I would have ended up recreating War & Peace). But my points were still 100% on the mark.

I pointed out that Apple was coming out with System7, which had AppleEvents (or later 7.1 and AppleScript). Dave took that to mean RELEASED those products. Dave filled in the dates on when the products were RELEASED! It does not matter when Apple released them, what matters is when were Apple's intentions known (to create them). Whether Dave released his product first or not is not the point -- the point was when did others have the ability to know about AppleEvents and AppleScript (to know that they were going to be competing with you).

I remember talking to Apple people about IAC (inter-application-communications -- basically AppleEvents) in the mid 80's. In fact, I remembered (and verified) that on the Inside Mac Volume V (first printing circa 1988), there is a picture of the MacII motherboard with System7 ROM's. So they were already talking (in depth) about the feature set of System 7 and its' existence in 1988 -- it had been partly developed before then (but mostly only design work). Part of that feature set was AppleEvents and AppleScript (though schedules do slip, sometimes a lot). Is it reasonable to assume that if System 7 was being worked on for a year (or more), and AppleEvents was a key part of System 7, that AppleEvents would have been known about? I think so. I do remember hearing about them in this time frame. How firm they were (as far as designed) is not known -- but that they were going to be done WAS known.

AppleScript was originally going to be part of System7 (from my understanding), but slipped -- a lot. It didn't make it out until System 7.1pro (I think '92 or '93), but I knew of the goal since before System7 shipped.

So basically AppleEvents and AppleScript were known about (as a concept) in 1988 time frame (at least). Which was my point. So UserLand IAC Toolkit in '89 and Frontier in '92 were long AFTER AE and AS were known about. My point stands.

The point is even more valid, because even if Apple had not preannounced their plans (they had), it would still be obvious that IAC (which existed for decades before), and scripting (again decades before) were both not new concepts. They were both something that would add value to the OS, and would obviously be part of Apple's long term OS plans. So you would have to know that you were going to be competing with Apple "someday".

But again, do not trust me. Talk to people that were there. Make sure. Learn about the concept of IAC (which I was programming about 6 years earlier on VAX'es and DG's), or learn about scripting (same thing). It would have been reasonable to assume that Apple was going to move in to these markets.

The heads-up Mr. Every assumes, wasn't there. In fact, there were serious discussions with Apple that they would license the Software from us.

It was there, if you wanted to see it. Furthermore, this statement PROVES that Dave had prior warning that they were going to come in to his market, because they were negotiating for his software. That's kinda a big hint. But like I said, it was in the plans long before Apple got around to implementing it.

Also, we made Frontier fully compatible with AppleScript. So the author's assertion that we stood in the path of AppleScript was incorrect.

I did not say, "stood in the path of". I only said that "instead of seeing Apple as 'giving him the ability to add value to AppleScript' and 'making scripting more common place,' he just resented Apple for daring to come into his market." Frontier ended up being compatible with AppleScript. But I was stating that Dave could have seen AppleScript as validation for his product and marketplace -- but instead saw it as a threat (at least that is how I judge his response). He could have worked with Apple, instead of against them.

Results of the post!

This is a warning, never say anything negative about Dave Winer on the web, unless you are ready to receive 100's of email's agreeing with you.

Life is not a popularity contest! If most of the articles had been negative, I still would not care -- I express my opinions, and others do not have to agree. I am sure that is one point that Dave Winer and I agree on. But disagreeing with me was not the way things came down.

First let me say, "Thanks for all the support and encouragement". Based on the amount of support my article generated, it is safe to say that "Daves' opinions and attitude seem to have made a lot of people angry."

The article was just intended as a little "venting" piece by me, but it generated as much email as anything else I've done. After realizing how many eMails I was getting I started scoring. Hopefully, you will take the hint and be happy with the score, and not swamp me in more email (either way).

Here is the way it did come down --

Not Strong Enough - 5

There were 5 different people that sent me eMail stating that I was too soft! "You shouldn't have apologized at the end, makes it wimpy". As if my tone wasn't harsh enough. They thought Dave deserved a lot more.

"Good Article" Responses - 86

"DaveNet really is the biggest example of mental masturbation I've seen in a long time -- and I was a Literature major in college. So I've seen -- and done -- my fair share" -- someone who asked not to be named.

These were people that said, "Great Article", "Finally", etc. If there was a single "but" in there, it got pushed the next category down. There were many here who were on Dave's email list, and asked not to be quoted or mentioned because they didn't want to get in "another" argument with Dave. Based on those emails, it seems that he doesn't handle criticism well at all. One person said that he was kicked off of Dave's list because he questioned him. There was a strong consensus of "about time that someone said that stuff" and that Dave is arrogant and a blow-hard (of course some say that about me as well). A few did state that, early on, Dave had some insight and philosophy mixed in, but that the tone has shifted to more "Pro-MS" and "Anti-Apple" crap than they could stomach, and they had canceled their subscriptions, or were about to.

Mediocre Responses - 11

"DaveNet was funny and insightful once but it's become less relevant as Dave's monstrous ego grew larger along with his circulation." -- different person that also asked "not to be named".

These that stated that they agreed with my points, but not my delivery (grammar, spelling, or tone). They believe that I was a little over-the-top -- but many said, "But Dave is a blow-hard" or other terms. Fair enough. I reread the piece and it is a little "flaming" in its delivery -- so they do have a point.. But the article is also fairly well focused on attacking Dave Winers VIEWS and not him personally or his products. So it is more a perception thing.

I do want to say that my piece proves ono of my pet points -- that "any idiot with a computer (megaphone) can get his message out there." My information should be checked and verified as ALL information on the net. I think over time, readers will learn to trust my concepts and my points, but I am by no means perfect. These are my informed OPINIONS, mixed with the facts -- as I see them. Verify! Validate! Question! If it doesn't make sense to you, then check it out. Whether it is by me or others. I try to stress that, a LOT! It's very important to remember. I was around during all this, and I make mistakes -- imagine what reporters could do to the facts!

The "older" internet and BBS culture tends to have a "No Bullshit", "Take no prisoners" attitude. Cut to the chase, tell it like it is, and flame the idiots and troglodytes. I have been around for a while, and as such, may have some of these "rough" edges. Old timers chuckle and understand, newbies can be amazed or shocked. The reality is that us old-timers have to learn to temper our words and live in the NEW society (more main-stream internet). It is also that the newbies will learn to adapt as well, and we will meet somewhere in the middle. For some I went over the top, and I understand that. Some things I said were not "nice". I consider that life is not nice, so the truth is not always nice, and I am willing to accept any flames Dave thows my way (but refute any factual errors). That's the old internet. It is time for us old-timers to grow, and I will try to be careful in the future (delivery), but I will still not water down the truth. I hope this article is better.

Negative Responses - 4

There were a few negative responses -- two of the negative responses were from one guy. These were ones like "you were rude, and got the facts all wrong". One of the flames seemed to ignore what I wrote and implied that I was stating that Dave should not be free to speak his mind on the net, and that he liked DaveNet because Dave was willing to tell it like it is. (I guess those rules of engagement don't apply to me).

It would be hypocrisy for me to state that Dave shouldn't be free to express his opinions, and I am no hypocrite (lots of other things, but not that). Dave should be allowed to speak his mind, and I should be free to "flame" him for his opinions. That is what free speech is about -- free to speak, even when you DON'T like it. I understand that people are going to flame me for my opinions, and I am sure Dave is mature enough (both internet wise, and in real life) to realize that as well.

In fact, years from now, if I am arrogant (more so) and out of touch with the readers of MacKiDo, I'm probably going to have some "snotty up-start," crucifying me for the bad articles I write. Oh, well. Call it karma.

A couple of others were concerned that I didn't express the good points of DaveNet, or of Frontier. That's fair. I dodged discussing Dave's mail list because I am not subscribed. I do see a few of his articles (about 1 a month), and almost all of those (probably 20 total) have gotten on my nerves. That is not a fair sampling (statistically), but good enough for me to base an opinion on. I have yet to see a really good statement from him in the press. As for Frontier, I do not have experience with it. Yet almost every eMail I received that mentioned it said the same basic thing "it is neat, powerful, quirky, Dave is not welcome to feedback, and it is not tailored for end-users." Many said they used it for a while, but then went to Perl or C, others said they absolutely loved it. I personally do not know -- but I do know that AppleScript (and presumably frontier) have useful functionality for many.

Some of the positive articles stated things like "the reason Frontier was not a commercial success, was because Dave didn't adapt it quick enough to work with desktop publishing Apps". Again -- I do not know, but everyone's got an opinion. It makes life interesting.

The most valid slam was that I "used only the points from Dave's articles that proved my point." Well obviously that would be true, I wouldn't be much of a writer if I used only quotes that didn't prove my point, or worse, ones that proved me wrong. The problem is that for brevity, you have to edit, and can't say all that you are thinking. But by not writing everything, then someone will find those "omissions" and think you are trying to hide or distort something. I wasn't trying to do that -- but that is almost always how it looks. Cie'st la vie. I couldn't address every point, so I cherry picked the few that I felt demonstrated best what I was talking about.

I will try to end this article on the same note as the first article --

There are certainly a lot of people that have opinions on Dave Winer. I think most of that is because he has been asking for it, by being "the world's expert on everything." Many feel the same about me -- so I can't fault him for that -- it's just that I personally think that he is a bad expert. If he made people think in positive ways, and about new things -- then I wouldn't have a problem. I just think his stuff is usually about negative things (about Apple), and getting frustrated over ancient issues.

A few tended to confuse their hatred of Dave's many articles (or ePersona), with Dave himself (or thought I was doing the same). That is dangerous and wrong, and I do not agree with it. Keep the two separate. Even if I was not perfect in the first article (or even this one), I want to attack the points, not the person. Just because the logic is flawed does not make the person bad (or good). Heck, I have many liberal friends -- and they put up with me, and I them. I still disagree with Dave's ideas (most of what I've read) -- but let's not foster hate, spam, etc. Live and let live. If you have a problem with the opinions, attack THEM, not him -- and preferably at the time he writes them. Well, maybe a few jabs, otherwise it wouldn't feel like the internet -- but mostly the arguments.

I am fully vented now, and feel much better.

Anonymous Letter --

[You can quote this anonymously if you like, just OMIT MY NAME. I do not want to get into yet another flame war with Dave.]

I read with interest your MacKiDo Temple article (referenced on MacInTouch). I was on the AppleScript engineering team from 1991-93. Dave's rebuttal to your article is largely accurate on timing, although I don't recall seeing his IAC stuff until 1990, and in any case it was announced _after_ Apple announced AppleEvents to developers. I have no idea whether he ever met with Apple about buying his technology; that was before my time. I can say that if they were anything like the "serious discussions" he had with Apple execs later on, they must have consisted of a series of outraged, lengthy emails from Dave to every exec in sight, moving up the chain of command as each exec decided that Dave was a fool and stopped responding.

During development of AS, we tried very hard to accommodate Dave, and it was incredibly painful, like reasoning with a street crazy. His goal was that we abandon our technology and use his (or cancel the project and let him ship Frontier unimpeded). Anything less, including opening up our architecture to make Frontier a full peer of AppleScript in the Open Scripting Architecture, was still nearly impossible to get him to accept. It always seemed to be Doug Baron (his tech lead) who seemed to do all the actual work while Dave ranted -- who ended up convincing him to go along with us. So every step of the way -- from using Apple Events, to using the Object Model, to using scripting components -- Dave would complain endlessly that our approach wouldn't work and was stupid and would kill his product, then after many contentious meetings and emails would reveal that Doug had implemented it after all.

So while UserLand did make Frontier compatible with AppleScript, it was with Dave kicking and screaming all the way, losing any shreds of respect any people at Apple -- or other developers working with AppleEvents/AppleScript -- may have had for him for his past contributions. (BTW, "MORE" was at least as much the work of Dave's brother Peter, who's his complete opposite in temperament.)

My favorite anecdote was when we were putting together the alpha release of AppleScript and discovered at nearly the last minute that the new version of the Apple Event Manager broke Frontier (due to Frontier's slight misuse of an obscure Apple Event call.) We added a read-me and provided a last-minute untested new build of the AE Manager that worked around the problem. Dave went totally nonlinear and spent hours yelling on the phone with several people on the team and with management. His complaint was that we *shouldn't* have put anything on the CD acknowledging the problem or offering a work around, that this somehow was a disparagement of his product -- we should have left it as it was and made Frontier crash with no explanation. I couldn't grasp his logic at the time and certainly can't five years later...

He hasn't gotten any better. In addition to his absurd ideas, I have to say that his prose style is awful and that's another reason I don't read DaveNet.

~anonymous member of AppleScript team.

Created: 07/16/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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