Home > Mac OS X > The brains behind Apple’s Rosetta: Transitive The brains behind Apple’s Rosetta: Transitive Submitted by ajam 2005-06-08 Mac OS X 19 Comments A Silicon Valley start-up called Transitive is supplying Apple Computer with a crucial bridge to enable the move to Intel-based computers, but skeptics worry about performance problems that have plagued similar products. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 19 Comments 2005-06-08 7:41 pm I think Apple would be smart if they offered a discounted upgrade to their pro apps for people who get a new Intel Power Mac or iMac. 2005-06-08 7:48 pm Let’s remember that software companies can start developing on Intel Macs pretty much now. They therefore have one full year to get whatever their next version is running on both x86 and/or PPC. The people buying new machines would most likely be the type of person looking for the latest software as well, and thus will be buying those upgrades in that time period as well, assuming they haven’t already paid for them in the support contract. For many of these vendors, like Adobe, they already have versions running on both PPC and Intel, thus they have already resolved the issues dealing with the porting of the base processors. Which reminds me, all of that hand tuned vectorization of Adobe apps for x86 will now come along *for free* on OS X. Woohoo! 2005-06-08 8:25 pm Transitive is also used by SGI on their Altix/Prism (including the new Prism deskside workstation) so that IRIX programs can be run on Linux/Itanium 2005-06-08 8:33 pm The brain behind the *name* and *concept* of “Apple’s” Rosetta was me. But Apple stole it outright from my website. WHEREAS (in my OS): “The DOORS API will include TurnStyle, a special resource that only handles things from other operating systems in an ‘interpreter’ and ‘morphing’ type fashion. In conjunction with Rosetta (found in the InFOE File Manager), incoming data of other types can be converted into NOVIO’s native formats on-the-fly, or simply wrapped with code and made ready for use within the digital environment.” 2005-06-08 8:39 pm …And you dont think the name and idea had anything to do with the several hundred year old Rosetta stone, which was found in the Egyptian city of Rosetta, that facilitated the deciphering of ancient hieroglyphic texts? quit posting this crap in every forum you can find. Brilliant name for an os too, Doors, didn’t take any hints from Microsoft on that name did ya? 2005-06-08 9:20 pm Let’s remember that software companies can start developing on Intel Macs pretty much now. They therefore have one full year to get whatever their next version is running on both x86 and/or PPC They can start porting now, and a few, like Adobe, who will get pallet loads of Transition Kits for free and maybe an engineering support team as well, might put a guy or two on it, part time. Assuming they really can port Photoshop overnight (don’t bet on that), it’s not the same thing as shipping it. QA testing on a PS level program (which has to be done 100% for EVERY version) takes forever and costs a fortune. And they can’t use external testers, since there are no x86 machines yet. In Adobe’s place, I’d clean up my codebase as part of writing the next major version (CS3), and shoot to have an inhouse alpha compiling when CS3 ships, around Mac86 launch time. Then I’d do nothing for 6 months and see how the new boxes sell. If Apple gets enough computers of adequate spec into consumer hands, I’d maybe talk about paying for QA and releasing a Universal in CS4 (2007-ish.) If Mac’s aren’t selling well enough, well, it’ll be up to Rosetta until the next year. A lot of people would be happy with Mail & iLife, both of which are already ported and probably work great. Unfortunately, putting out low spec machines too early (that WILL get used for Photoshop and the like) will make the platform look bad. Starting with high end machines maximizes the performance edge that Pentiums will hopefully have a year from now, and looks good (if they sell) to big companies that are waiting for marketshare numbers. Apple needs the first machines to be just slow enough (emulated) to cause a mild level of complaints, but fast and cool enough that the complaints go to Adobe for not providing PS86. Ain’t that cynical? Welcome to the commercial software business. For the record, after a very gloomy initial reaction, I think Apple will be okay, after a couple of rough years. 2005-06-08 9:38 pm (Anonymous wrote) “…And you dont think the name and idea had anything to do with the several hundred year old Rosetta stone, which was found in the Egyptian city of Rosetta, that facilitated the deciphering of ancient hieroglyphic texts?” Exactly where my idea came from. As that facilitated the ability to translate from one language to another, I figured it was a cool motif and idea to go with for something related to an operating system and data of various sorts. “Brilliant name for an os too, Doors, didn’t take any hints from Microsoft on that name did ya?” No. I didn’t. It’s not the name of the OS. Perhaps you should reread, and cease jumping to conclusions. –EyeAm 2005-06-08 10:26 pm Due to the fact that they had rock on the keynote presentation that resembled the Rosetta Stone I’d guess that’s where they got the idea and frankly you better hope you invented Rosetta before 1998 when Apple first used Rosetta as the name for the handwriting recognition software used in the Newton OS. But I’m sure your theory of Apple purposely stealing the name from a small hobbiest OS is much more convincing. 2005-06-08 10:55 pm Assuming they really can port Photoshop overnight (don’t bet on that), it’s not the same thing as shipping it. QA testing on a PS level program (which has to be done 100% for EVERY version) takes forever and costs a fortune. And they can’t use external testers, since there are no x86 machines yet. Porting architectures isn’t as easy as a recompile. I never said it was. Many of the issues that would come up with Apple changing base processors have already been addressed by Adobe’s cross platform apps since they already have them running on those other processors. There will certainly be particular issues that will invariably come up when they call into system libraries, et cetera, but much of the work has already been done. The bigger problem will be for companies that have not ported apps to x86 before. 2005-06-08 10:56 pm Boring! Yes, it’s difficult to sit down and write a dynamic translator, but it’s not nearly as hard as writing a static binary translator, and you don’t get 1/100th the performance. Translating Objective-C apps from PPC to Intel is trivial. When’s the first Intel Mac come out? A year? Hmm.. wonder if I can get my decompiler ready by then. 2005-06-09 2:09 am does this mean that people still using their god awful os 9 apps in os x still need classic or will those apps just run natively on the p4, with rosetta. also what is supposed to happen to the classic environment in os x. isn’t it supposed to disappear eventually along with carbon? 2005-06-09 3:22 am Rosetta will definitely not support OS 9 apps. btw: It will also not support apps that require a G4 or G5 processor or Altivec. 2005-06-09 4:46 am Rosetta may or may not support Classic apps. However, other solutions like SheepShaver or PearPC will once ported, so if you require MacOS 9 you still have that option open. 2005-06-09 12:49 pm It is unbelivable how lazy journalists are. And whichever writer from CNET News.com (S. Shankland and I. Fried) has not even took the time to read this URL before they wrote their article: http://www.transitive.com/history.htm Transitive is a spin-off of the University of Manchester (UK), and I do not remember Manchester to be anywhere close to the Bay Area. 2005-06-09 3:16 pm sounds like a rework of FX32!/em86. 2005-06-09 4:48 pm Adobe are an extreme example. I was under the impression that photoshop was written in PowerPlant. This means that they have to move Photoshop from one code base in CodeWarrior for both PPC and x86 to one code base in CodeWarrior, and one in XCode – that’s not trivial. If the CEO of Adobe hadn’t got up on stage and pledged to do it, I’d have doubts that they would. 2005-06-09 5:45 pm “sounds like a rework of FX32!/em86.” So far as I can gather, the big difference is that Transitive does not save any converted code to disk for use the next time the program runs. If it did, it would be a translator. As it is, it seems to be what everyone else calls a JIT emulator – which is useful enough, but not as sophisticated as FX!32. Anyone know better? 2005-06-09 5:50 pm “does this mean that people still using their god awful os 9 apps in os x still need classic” They may be using very good OS 9 programs. Why do you assume that because a program could run on Mac OS 9, it must be a bad program? I doubt if Apple would have survived so far if all the programs on the older Macs were bad. I’m sure there were excellent programs that never got converted or replaced. The consumerist idea that everything you use must have a “NEW” sticker on it is simply false. 2005-06-10 7:13 am The consumerist idea that everything you use must have a “NEW” sticker on it is simply false. Very true. But I think he might be saying that those programs were god awful when forced to run them in the classic environment. And apparently Classic is no more on an Intel Mac.