The Dashcode Mystery

Last week it became apparent that the rumors of Apple working on a Dashboard widget development tool were right on the money, when Dashcode started shipping with new MacBooks. But Apple itself has not made any mention of the fact, and the tool is not present in the recently released update to the Xcode suite. Did Apple deliberately ship Dashcode, or was it an accident?

Well, curiosity may have killed the cat, but it never did me much harm, so I downloaded Dashcode to see what the fuss was all about. At first sight, it looks like an elegant and polished tool, but after actually trying to create a widget with it, I can say unequivocally that Apple did not intend to release it at this juncture in time. Either that, or Apple’s QA department is in dire straights.

The Dashcode that I tested would have to be the buggiest Apple release in history, even surpassing the already legendary iWeb 1.0! Simple things like changing fonts or resizing buttons leave the UI in an invalid state, with drawing flaws that can only be cured by deleting the afflicted element. Undo/Redo also does not seem to work properly in many cases. I can’t believe that such fundamental flaws would have been left unchecked.

My view is that development on Dashcode 1.0 is nearing completion, but that it was not intended to be released just yet. The overwhelming silence coming from Apple would seem to support this. When was the last time Apple released something and didn’t make a song and dance about it? Even a simple home speaker system gets a ticker tape parade.

It’s more logical to assume Dashcode is destined to be officially released in Leopard. We may well hear the real story from Steve Jobs himself at the WWDC in August. Either way, Dashcode looks like a nice addition to Apple’s development tools, and I look forward to the official 1.0 release.

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